JUST ABOUT three decades ago there lived here a selfless leader, an upright politician and a sacrificing son of the soil. Yet how many of us know of his greatness? It is to the credit of Ramana Communications that it has produced a film on K. Kamaraj, a diehard Congressman of the Nehru era. Making a film on the life of the distinguished personality, who remained a bachelor all his life and served the country till his last breath, surely allows no scope for any of the formula stuff that the filmgoer is so used to. And hence offers the investor absolutely no commercial guarantee. But undeterred by the risk, Ramana Communications has taken up such a venture.
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Kamaraj joined as an apprentice in his maternal uncle Karuppiah’s cloth shop after dropping out of school. He would slip out from the shop to join processions and attend public meetings addressed by orators like Dr. Varadarajulu Naidu and George Joseph. His relatives frowned upon Kamaraj ‘s budding interest in politics. They sent him to Thiruvananthapuram to work at another uncle’s timer shop.
At the age of 16, Kamaraj enrolled himself as full-time worker of the Congress. He invited speakers, organized meetings and collected funds for the party. He also participated in the march to Vedaranyam led by C. Rajagopalachari as part of the Salt Satyagraha of March 1930.
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Even during the days of the freedom struggle, the Congress organisation had broadly indicated that the society which it envisaged after achieving independence was not the conventional type of society but a progressive one based on the modern concepts of social, political and economic equality and justice. The Indian National Congress, until Mahatma Gandhi assumed its leadership was confining its attention to political freedom. Mahatmaji not only spread the message of freedom to the farthest corners of India, but also devoted his attention to the eradication of poverty and misery among the masses. When the masses realised that the Indian National Congress stood for the betterment of their economic condition and their social progress, they joined the organisation in large numbers and gave them massive support.
Kumaraswami Kamaraj played a leading role in shaping India’s destiny from the passing away of Jawaharlal Nehru to the Congress split in 1969. He was born humble and poor in a backward area of Tamilnadu on July 15, 1903. He was a Nadar, one of the most depressed castes of Hindu society. His schooling lasted only six years. At twelve he was a shop assistant. He was barely fifteen when he heard of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre which was the turning point in his life. Two years later when Kamaraj saw Gandhiji at Madurai the path was chosen. He became a member of the Indian National Congress.
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Kamaraj had an uncanny talent for assessing men after a short acquaintance. In carrying his colleagues with him, he believed in consensus. In implementing programmes and schemes, he was ruthless to a fault. He was unsparing in extracting work from bureaucrats but at the same time treated them with respect. He had supreme self-confidence and could do business with any diplomat of international repute on equal terms. He was not conversant either with Hindi or English, but that did not stand in the way of his interacting with leaders at the national level. His grasp of the problems of the masses was extraordinary and that endeared him to the millions who looked up to him for alleviating their misery. His life was an illustration of how greatness and simplicity can go hand in hand.
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