E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Ajji was reading the Mahabharatha and closed the book just as I entered.
“Hegitthu, Ajji? How was your Bharatha vaachana?”
“Alvo! Karna’s extraordinary character is so inspiring. He gave off even the Vajra Kundala to Krishna masquerading as the old Brahmin, fully knowing it was life-threatening for him. He donated every bit of what belonged to him. Truly he was a Dani, the eternal donor.”
“Adikke alva ajji, he was called ‘Dana Shura Karna.”
“I know but compare him to our present-day leaders. Even the money collected for victims of natural disasters are gobbled up. How can our leaders buy plane tickets from that money, kano? Paapa alva?”
“Papa? Punya? You think they can even distinguish one from the other. They keep saying, ‘I have been serving people for the last 50 years. Janaseveye janardhana seve and all that’.”
“The poltishans made t-shirts out of the money collected for rehabilitation of victims of floods who have nothing to wear. Naachike, maana maryade ne ilva? Don’t they have a sense of shame?”
Ajji’s sense of outrage was the same as the collective outrage of the nation against politicians who connived to spirit Warren Anderson out of the country.
Ajji continued: “Also people who were afflicted with floods, uprooted from their houses in North Karnataka are still living under zinc sheets in hot summer temperatures. It is worse than sudugadu. Is it not callousness that our government that is patting itself on its back about the success of the global investors’ meet cannot rehabilitate the victims even after a year after the tragedy? It is like rubbing salt on the wounds. They are treating people like cattle.”
“We are hypocrites—all of us, each one of us. We talk of pooje, puraskara, dharma etc. We don’t hesitate to loot the hundis or steal the sarees and ornaments that devotees donate to the deity. We even collect money from the poor and very poor for disaster victims and gobble ‘em up.”
“Eega ‘Nanna seveye Janardhana seve antha aagide‘. ‘Let me look after my interests by hook or crook,’ that is the dictum.”
“We had such great selfless people serving the State. I have heard Sir M. Visvesvaraya gave away his entire profitend fund of Rs 2 lakh to start a polytechnic institute in Bangalore. When the Maharaja asked him to name it as Visveshvaraya Institute, he refused and called it Sri Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic Institute.”
“Very true Ajji, except it is provident fund not profitend fund. Eega adu ‘Profittu nanna Fund’ aagide!”
“Former chief minister S. Nijalingappa did not even have a house of his own, despite being a chief minister and president of the Indian National Congress Party. Our maharanis pawned their jewelry to raise funds for the construction of Krishnaraja Sagar dam.”
“Nija Ajji. Even the royalty were selfless as against some of our present day leaders who behave as if they are royalty but go about making money by illegal means.”
“Howdappa howdu. Each poltishan thinks he is Maharaja and probably has more money than what Maharajas ever had.”
“Ajji, you mentioned Vishvesvaraya. I was reading of a small incident concerning him and his mother Akkachamma. Visvevaraya was very strict about not using official facilities for his personal matter. That included the car, even pencils and candles. Let me read out from his biography*:
“Once, Visvesvaraya’s mother Akkachamma returned from their village Muddenahalli with him in the government car. She was not keeping good health and was not able to get down from the car.
“Visvesvaraya directed the driver to drop her at her house in Chamarajapet.
“Aware of the rectitude of her son she said, ‘No’, got out of the car with some effort, rested for a while and left for her house in her son’s personal car.
“He exclaimed, ‘Mother. You are proud of your son being a Dewan, but I am much more happy and proud at your refusing to use the government car for personal use’.”
“We had such great and selfless people to lead us our State. Now, all we have is a bunch of hoodlums trying to line their pockets at every opportunity,” sighed Ajji.
*From ‘Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya’ by V.S. Narayana Rao, National Book Trust Publications, 1988, page 133
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