Mr. T.J.S George, are you listening ?

via HK correspondent published on November 17, 2005

The late Ramnath Goenka, founder of the Indian Express group of newspapers, once remarked that while the journalists of the pre-independence days worked like missionaries, the modern day journalists are mere mercenaries. RNG, as he was popularly known, is proved correct by the way most of our modern day scribes present news.


What prompted me to write this was a column by Mr TJS George, a journalist of international repute (he is the founder editor of the now defunct Asiaweek and a former editor of the venerated  Far East Economic Review) who penned an obituary on late president K R Narayanan. The column which appeared in The Sunday Express dated Nov 13 accuses late Sir CP Ramaswami Iyer, the former Dewan of Travancore of rejecting the application of KR Narayanan for a lecturer’s post in Travancore University due to the former’s ‘caste bias’. Mr George has also alleged that it was BJP which denied Narayanan a second term as the President of the country.


Mr George is the editorial advisor to the New Indian Express. His peer late MP Narayana Pillai has rated him as one of the top-notch authors of his times. “Even the Englishmen were amazed by the standard and quality of George’s English language,” Pillai wrote in one of his columns. Why I reproduce it here is to seek an anticipatory bail from the esteemed readers for the poor quality of my English.


Let’s come to the allegations by Mr George against Sir CP. It has become a routine practice for all the so called pseudo secularists to blame Sir CP for all the ills happened in Travancore during the pre-independence days. “He was a dictator, megalomaniac and womanizer,” accuses the Left brethren and a section of the population in Kerala (I do not want to quote the name of the section. Already I have been labeled a communalist and Hindu fundamentalist by my ‘secular’ colleagues). Dr Sreedhara Menon, the one and only eminent historian alive in the state has written a number of books in which he has criticized Sir CP. But Dr Menon proved his impartiality in writing history the moment he came across some documents which revealed facts contrary to the general beliefs. The professor was quick enough to pen down the details for future generation. Some of the books published by Dr Menon on the life and times of Sir CP prove beyond doubt that the latter was a democrat, humanist, nationalist and secularist to the core.


Sir CP took over as Dewan of Travancore in 1936 on the pre-condition that the Royal Family would throw open the doors of the temples in the state to all castes.  â€œIt was on the eve of the Maharaja’s birth day in 1112(1936 A.D.) that the Temple Entry Proclamation was promulgated. The Proclamation was received throughout India with delight and admiration. It was welcomed by the whole civilised world. To the Hindus it was matter of pride and fresh hope. The repercussions of the Proclamation were so great that the Christians and Muslims were so great that the Christians and Muslims were equally warm in giving it a hearty reception. Sir CP referred to the day of the Proclamation as a unique occasion in the history of India and specially of Hinduism,” says the Public Relations Department website of the Government of Kerala.  


Sir CP was the highest paid lawyer in the country much before his assumption of the office of the Dewan of Travancore state. He represented the princes and kings of the erstwhile princely states in the country. He had hundreds of juniors belonging to different castes and religions. N Shivraj, a Dalit lawyer, was CP’s favourite junior. Sir CP used to have his brunch at The Grove, his palatial bunglow, along with his juniors and other staff members before proceeding to the court. “One day CP noticed that Shivraj was missing while lunch was being served. He asked for Shivraj and one of the juniors told him that Shivraj kept off the dining room because of his Dalit background. CP stopped his meal and declared that he would eat only in the company of Shivraj. Next day onwards Shivraj started taking food from the Grove. CP was particular that Shivraj should sit next  to him during lunch,” says Dr Nandini Krishna, Sir CP’s great granddaughter.


Shakunthala Jagannathan, CP’s grand daughter, who was present at The Grove at the time of this incident has mentioned about it in detail in her book. Shivaraj went on to become the Mayor of  Madras. He was the founder president of the Republican Party of India. (It is another thing that the clever BR Ambedkar hijacked the party!).


The allegation against Sir CP might have been raised by people with some vested interests.


Then comes yet another charge by Mr George it was BJP which denied Narayanan a second term in Rashtrapathi Bhavan. Mr. George forgot that Narayanan was elected to the highest office of the country with support from BJP, the then main opposition party. Well, I do not think that Narayanan was a super human being who deserved a second term in office. Rajendra Prasad was the only president who was given a second term and that too because of his role in the freedom struggle. Why Narayanan should be given a second term which was denied to presidents like Dr S Radhakrishnan, VV Giri, SD Sharma and RV?


George accuses that BJP did not like the pro-active image of Narayanan during the Gujarat riots. It was alleged by Narayanan sometime in 2004 (two years after his retirement) that the NDA government did not listen to his request to deploy army in Gujarat to quell the riots. Narayanan could have called a press conference then and there itself to let the world know that the Vajpayee administration has ignored his directive. That would have been the end of the NDA dispensation itself. Why did he keep quiet for 24 months before coming out with this charge? Was it a case of sour grapes?

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