ANDHRA PRADESH

Self-reliance still a far cry: freedom fighter

Staff Reporter

ELURU: "Independent India is still depending on foreign countries in many ways,'' says the nonagenarian freedom fighter, Male Krishna Rao, who was honoured at a function at Sir C.R. Reddy College here on Thursday as part of the centenary celebrations of the "Vandemataram'' movement.

Mr Rao, a resident of Eluru, met Mahatma Gandhi during the latter's visit to the district at the age of 10 and was jailed for his active participation in the `Salt Satyagraha' movement. He made a bonfire of foreign clothes at the Peraiah Koneru Centre in One Town here and engaged himself in the promotion of khadi following a call given by the Mahatma.

Long way off

Mr Krishna Rao told The Hindu that the country still needs to go a long way in attaining self-reliance. "We still need to be in a position to export goods and address the basic problems such as food, shelter and poverty which confront the country even after some six decades after Independence,'' he observed. Dependence on foreign countries like America for aid was inevitable until the country attained self-reliance, he added. The younger generations were oblivious of the spirit of Vandemataram movement that electrified millions of people in the pre-Independence period, he said. "The present leadership is not able to digest the underlying philosophy behind the Vandemataram movement and Gandhian ideals. The only art they (present day leaders) master is fighting for power and holding on to the positions,'' he pointed out. "The country is badly in need of a leader like Gandhi at this juncture to fight the evils and defend its sovereignty,'' said.