‘The world was his oyster for a Nehruvian Indian’

CHANDRASHEKAR HARIHARAN writes from Bangalore: It is difficult to explain some cruel ironies of life.

Late last evening , a senior journalist called me out of the blue to ask if I had heard of the demise of Prof H.S. Krishnaswamy Iyengar.

Ironic, because here was a man I had known, off and on, for all of 26 years, but who had never once written about me or the work our company had been doing. Yet, in his very last column in life, published in Star of Mysore three days before the end came, he had chosen to focus his attention on the work we were doing.

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I had known HSK for a brief while in the early 1980s when I was a journalist filing stories on business, economy trends and so on for newspapers/ magazines I worked for. Our first meeting was one where he abruptly stopped and asked, “You said you were an accountant, is that right?”

I nodded.

“You must be doing economics, young man! Why are you wasting time as a scribe?”

A year later, some chance events had me doing further studies in the area of economics. HSK had sown the seed. I have always played down those early years I spent learning because it’s been a ‘waste of time’ as far as I was concerned. They never came in handy for the directions I chose to take in the next 25 years.

HSK didn’t think so.

I met him a couple of years ago at a wedding of a mutual friend’s daughter. We could only exchange some pleasantries amid the noise and bustle. I was meeting him after nearly 15 years, and I could see he still did not approve of my moving away from academics!

Another senior journalist of the ’80s was with us, and HSK remarked to him that he thought I had wasted my years ‘doing business’.

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HSK used to teach economics at D. Banumiah‘s College in Mysore. He counted as friends legends like Dr C.D. Narasimhaiah, who was a giant among English teachers of the world, without any doubt. Many of our current writers like A.K. Ramanujan were CDN’s students.

HSK himself had as many admirers, several of them professionals whom he mentored quietly, in his own self-effacing way. He was part of another generation. A person who couldn’t suffer stupidity; a ‘Nehruvian Indian’ who knew less of his own interest, as of the larger interest of the world and his country.

In June 1983, when I covered the series of meetings at the National Economic Forum that the then chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde had called in Bangalore, with V.K.R.V. Rao and other eminent economists participating in the colloquium, HSK came up to me on the third day and said, “You seem to be an indignant young man!”

I did not realize what he was saying until I went back to see what Business Standard had published that morning of my report with a byline.

I had said something mildly disparaging about Ashok Mitra and his ambivalence on market capitalism. It is another matter that the directions that people like Dr Mitra gave to West Bengal eventually made Bengal the strident pro-capital state that it became later under Jyoti Basu.

Oh, there was another time when P.R. Brahmananda, the eminent economist who propounded the seminal food-for-wages theory in 1969, was explaining a nuance of some recent economic development at a meeting I had at his sister’s house in Basavanagudi.

HSK happened to be there. And he sat quietly, observant, not offering any comment. But that was HSK. It was not easy to get him to ‘talk economics’. But when he wrote his column, in Kannada, he had a way of deriving simple homilies out of what would otherwise have been complex theory.

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Twenty-five years later, I am still indignant about many things. I guess it is not easy for some of us to accept all that is not right in the world around us.

With HSK’s passing away, a part of me died yesterday. He was one of the last bastions of integrity and a larger sense of purpose. There will be some of us who will miss him in a time when a whole new generation of people who have not seen suffering, simply don’t understand what it takes to uphold such principles as this wonderful man did.

It was a strange feeling, personally, to read HSK’s last column. You can see that he has quoted me a fair length, although he didn’t meet me or call! He must have gleaned what he has written from what he had read in the news and on the web about our work.

HSK probably had a premonition of The End.

He was probably making amends to me by finally conceding that there is some good, finally, coming out of all my ‘wasted years’!

Here is that last column of his. Read it if you have the time, knowing that the man is no more. Wonder what he would have said to me, if I had had the chance to meet him.

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GREEN FRENZY CATCHING ON

By H.S. Krishnaswamy Iyengar

Our mother earth was once fully dressed in green. When man appeared on the scene, he began to denude the earth of its green cover. The earth cannot bear to be bared. Man is beginning to see that ruthless felling or trees and cutting of shrubs, plants and creepers indiscriminately will spell his disaster. He is half-heartedly trying to rectify the situation by planting trees and adopting other measures.

Indians are nature-lovers. ‘Going green with envy’ is an English saying. In India all Hindu homes go green on festival days. They are decorated with green mango leaves. Green is the symbol of plenty.

Our epic poet Kuvempu goes into raptures when he sees green trees, creepers, plants and bushes. The hills and valleys are painted green. Green here, green there, green everywhere. The body becomes green. The mind also goes green, he exclaims. One of the colours on our national flag is green.

Though at the national or international level not much is being done to restore the earth’s greenness, some sane individuals are taking it seriously and trying to prevent the green house effect. A campaign is launched in urban centres to see that the flagrant violation of nature’s domain is prevented.

Going green does not mean only planting trees. Even the homes should go green. Bangaloreans are perhaps pioneers in this regard. The people of other cities go ‘green with envy’ when they see that Bangalore is blessed with a salubrious climate. The well-meaning citizens of Bangalore have realised how precious their climate is. It is not only pleasant. It is life-giving.

Those who want to own homes in Bangalore now aspire to have one which is eco-friendly. They are going after suitable designs of houses which conform to this norm. One advantage of Bangalore is that its weather helps builders who construct green homes. Weather is an additional favourable factor.

One of the largest developers of green homes, Chandrashekar Hariharan, CEO of Bio-diversity Conservation of India Limited (BCIL), feels that there is a surge in the demand for green homes. The new way is becoming popular. But it has not yet become a path-breaking revolution.

Some well-to-do people desire to have green homes as it is considered to be fashionable. They want to have a home which is unique, on seeing which the neighbours would go green with envy. The people at large are slow to realise its importance. Those who come forward to build green homes set an example to others to emulate.

Green movement is not new. The term eco-friendly need not be explained to anyone. Solar panels, biogas, electric cars and such others are familiar. But the concept of construction of eco-friendly homes is new. Builders and developers interested in green homes claim to have constructed a number of homes and apartment houses. The numbers they given are only estimates. It is not yet possible to assess the extent of the spread of the movement.

Says Hariharan, when the idea of green homes was mooted in 1995 people laughed at it, saying that it is utopian. But today his organisation has completed six projects in the last ten years. Construction work is in progress in the case of four.

The first project of this organisation called ‘Trans Indus’, consists of 70 homes built over an area of 47 acres of land. BCIL is rendering consultation services to those who are in need.

The enthusiasts of green homes want to remove the wrong conception about the green home. They think that going green is very costly and say that they cannot afford it. The builders are trying to dispel this belief. The advocates of green homes maintain that the cost of building a green home is the same as that of an ordinary home. As in other industry here also the scale of construction plays a decisive part in the cost.

The Government is said to have framed certain norms to be followed in the construction projects. The Ministry of Environment and Forests has given a mandate to all the builders that builders with project above 20,000 square metres, will have to get environmental clearance from the Ministry. They must install rain water harvesting systems and sewage treatment plants, as well as solar panels.

Anyone who opts for green home should remember that one wanting to go green should change his life style. Habits must be changed. Solar cooker must be used. Water treatment plant has to be installed. Urinals must be waterless.

Green homes make the person go green in every aspect of his life. Green here, green there, green in front and green behind, green everywhere. These words of Kuvempu can be realised.

The hand-book on green homes says that for washing machines the soap that should be used is prescribed. It pays attention to every part of the home to be and one has to observe the rules. Eco-friendly materials must be used in construction. The life styles of the people who live in the homes are also important.

A green home is one that is built by using local materials. Rain water harvesting system is essential. Flush tanks must be of low capacity. Unleaded paints must be used sparingly. Handcraft is preferable to machine. Green indexed electronic goods are preferable to others. The plot on which the home is being built must have bio-diversity environment.

Courtesy: Star of Mysore

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