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Sunday, August 14, 2011

They got us Independence - Remembering some Buildings associated with Nethaji and Gandhiji

A Nation must remember its martyrs who gave its freedom.  We became independent in 1947 and 64 years have rolled since.   Do You Sardar Vedaratnam Pillai ?  -  Quite unlikely and confusing ! -  Sardar is a title of Persian origin – Sar would mean head while dar means holder.  Sardar is a title in use for  Indian Princes, noblemen and aristocrats. 

The Delhi police has imposed  22 conditions on Team Anna for its scheduled fast from August 16 and the Prime Minister late on Saturday night rebuffing the Gandhian leaders appeal to intervene,the stage seemed set for another round of confrontation between the government and the anti-corruption crusaders.  The police demanded a written undertaking that the activists would vacate Jayaprakash Narayan Park in three days and that at no point would the number of people at the park exceed 5,000,something which was termed unconstitutional by former law minister Shanti Bhushan and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal,both prominent leaders of the campaign.  Here is somebody fighting against corruption but the Govt. wants to exclude all important leaders from the purview of the Lokpal and have it instead for all NGOs and others……………………………

Sardar Vedaratnam Pillai (1897 - 1961) was a great patriot and freedom-fighter.  He was a leader of the Indian National Congress and a famous philanthropist who served as a MLA for three terms over a period of 14 years.  He is known for his heroic contributions in the salt march of Vedaranyam in 1930, alongside C. Rajagopalachari.  In the year 1931 Vedaratnam was conferred with the title of ‘Sardar’ at the meeting of the Tamil Nadu Agriculturists and labourers at Tirunelveli, for his exploits in the Vedaranyam Salt March.  He was honoured with a commemorative stamp in the year 1997. 

At a time when Gandhi led the famous Dandi salt march, a similar march was held at Vedaranyam, which is now part of Nagapattinam District.  Earlier known as "Thirumarikaadu" in the ancient era, Vedaranyam has been a famous Hindu place.  Appar and Sundarar competed to sing and show their talents at this place.  In this coastal town, the primary activities include : salt-manufacturing, fishing, salt water prawn culture and agriculture.  The saltpan industry provides direct and indirect employment to thousands of people. 

When British imposed tax on salt, there were protests spread over the entire Nation and on 30th April 1930, Rajaji, Sardar Vederatnam and others led a salt march at Vedaranyam and were promptly arrested.   On the occasion of Independence, it is our duty to remember such glorious leaders.  Perhaps a visit to any of the historic places would imbibe a sense of patriotism and evoke understanding of the trials and tribulations underwent by those martyrs. 

The Modern World is filled with amazing variety of things to see – both natural and man made.  Yet a visit to a Historical site would give a more satisfied feeling.  Some of them may not be in their pristine form yet even the ruins would tell you the story of their unbearable sufferings !  You have them everywhere, be it Vellore where the first major uprising took place;  Tuticorin, the place of greatmen like VO Chidambaram Pillai; Ottapidaram of Bharathiyar; Shencottah of Vanchinathan fame; Tirupur from where the Kodi katha Kumaran emerged; Panchalankurichi the erstwhile kingdom of  Veerapandiya Kattabomman and many many more….  

Inside Madras (Chennai) there are many places like Fort St George known for their historic significance.  There is the house where Mahakavi Subrahmanya Bharathiyar lived.    There are many more monuments which are not exactly in the limelight.  All of us know the present landmark in the city – the Express Avenue Mall (a stone’s throw away from the Office building of Royal Sundaram) – sure most of you had been there – if only you had ventured another 100 meters on the Bharathi Salai (Pycrofts Road), you could have seen this building..  this place actually dots many coir shops seeling brands of beds, pillows, curtains and more – all ensuring comfortable sleep.  But behind them lays a strong building which has seen it all – where the greatest of the National Leaders Gandhiji and Netaji Subash Chandra Bose are remembered.   In the year 1939 and again in 1940, Nethaji stayed here.   
The plaque proclaiming the stay of Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose

TOI today has a report that the  house was built by  S P Aiyaswami Mudaliar in 1930s and his grand son S P Dhananjaya  lives on the spacious second floor with his family. Mudaliar also built a special room on the third floor in honour of Gandhi and got the Mahatmas bust installed on the top along with a conch and a globe depicting the map of undivided India. The building was named Gandhi Peak and the statue was unveiled by leader-statesman C Rajagopalachari.  The biggest event was Bose coming to stay at the house in 1939 soon after he left the Congress and formed the Forward Bloc party.

The house where Nethaji stayed

There is another building in Triplicane High Road which was Gandhiji visited and dined not once but twice.  Very few know the significance of this building,  where once  was a Marriage hall named Nelson Kalyana Chathiram; years later it turned out in to a shop selling fruits and fresh vegetables (Triplicane Pazhamuthirsolai); now there is another departmental stores - people do shop there without realizing the historic significance of that place...

Place visited by Gandhiji – he also dined here.
Anywhere else, these would have been declared heritage buildings and people would flock.  Here it is apathy of the Government as also the people.  It is time the Government complies a list of such  heritage buildings, based on their historic and cultural importance, and preserve such structures for posterity

Jai Hind.  Long Live the Nation.

Happy Independence Day

With regards – S. Sampthkumar

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