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VOL 18 : NO.1, March 1998


Top News




The Bhavan, USA joins our nation in honoring the embodiment of the pristine divinity of music M.S. Subbulakshmi and the elder statesman C. Subramaniam who has remained the conscience of the public and the stern upholder of the values of integrity and fairness, on the occasion of their being honored with the nation's highest award - of Bharat Ratna by the Government of India.


The legendary Carnatic vocalist M.S. Subbulakshmi popularly known as M.S. who enthralled audiences at home and abroad for over five decades, has been honored with the nation's highest civilian award 'Bharat Ratna', making her the first musician to be awarded this distinction.

The 82 year old 'Sangeeta Kalanidhi', who began singing since she was 13, later became famous for her role in ‘Meera’.

After a brief stint in films, mostly Tamil, she took to carnatic music as a fulltime passion, bagging several awards along the way like the 'Isai vani', Sangeeta Kalanidhi', 'Padma Bhushan', 'Padma Vibhushan' and the Ramon Magasaysay award. One of the greatest classical vocalists of her times, MS sang only for charity for a number of years.

Tears had welled up in Gandhiji's eyes as Subbulakshmi sang "Vaishanva janato Tene Kahiye, Jo Pir Parayi Jane Re" (only they are religious who understand the sufferings of others).

In 1953 Jawaharlal Nehru, presiding over a recital by Subbulakshmi in aid of the Ramakrishna Mission in New Delhi said, "though accustomed to public speaking, I find it not too easy to address on this occasion. Subbulakshmi's music has a moving quality and whenever she visits Delhi there is a thrill among the people whom she carries away by her melody. Who am I, a mere Prime Minister, before a queen of song."

Born on September 16, 1916 in Madurai, Kunjamma as she was known as a child, grew up in an atmosphere of music. Without any formal lessons in music the little girl sitting in her modest house in a lane near the famed Meenakshi temple used to hum along with the notes of the nadaswaram which filled the air during festivals and the strains of veena played by her mother.

It was a dream-come-true for Kunjamma who used to roll a piece of paper into the shape of a speaker and sing through it when she cut her first disc at the tender age of 10 in Madras.

Soon, she graduated from providing vocal support to her mother to solo performances. Endowed with good looks, she took to the silver screen in the backdrop of the freedom struggle and the social reform movement. Her first role In 'Seva Sadanam' (1938), focused on women's liberation.

After her marriage with T. Sadasivam, a freedom fighter who took to film making, a couple of films followed. The film 'Meera', was a runaway success and MS became a household name across the country.

Subbuiakshmi also got the Ramon Magasaysay award in 1974. Spirit of Freedom award in 1988 and the Indira Gandhi award for national integration in 1990.

In Chennai, Subbulakshmi said she was not in a position to fully rejoice the award of Bharat Ratna, as it is hardly two months since her husband and freedom fighter T. Sadasivam passed away.

"I am grateful to the President for conferring upon me the highest honor of our land, which I accept in all humility," she said.


Shri C. Subramaniam, elder statesman and former Governor of Maharashtra, has been awarded the nation's highest civilian honor Bharat Ratna.

A multifaceted personality, Subramaniam, born in 1910 into an agricultural family at Pollachi in Coimbatore district has been active in politics from his early days. His involvement in the freedom movement brought him imprisonment in the very year that he obtained his law degree. Elected as a member of the Constituent Assembly of India, he a hand in the framing of the Constitution of the Republic.

Shri Subramaniam functioned as the Leader of the State Assembly in the Madras Legislature for 10 years from 1952. He became the Union Minister in charge of Steel (1962-63), Mines and Heavy Engineering (1963-64), Food and Agriculture (1964-66), Food, Agriculture, Community Development and Cooperation (1966-67). His contribution was significant in the area of agricultural development which made him the 'father of Green Revolution'.

After a spell of two years as Chairman of the Committee of Aeronautics Industry, he became politically active and became interim president of the Indian National Congress during the critical days of July-December 1969. Later he became a Cabinet Minister in Charan Singh's Cabinet. taking over the Defense portfolio from July 1979. Shri Subramaniam became the Governor of Maharashtra in February 1990 and continued in that position for a little more than three years. Returning to Chennai, he started a movement against corruption along with the former President Shri R. Venkataraman.

Shri Subramaniam is presently the President of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. As an elder statesman his views are often sought on political and constitutional issues affecting the country.

Expressing his gratitude to the President for the honor, Shri Subramaniam said it was not just the award which gave him pleasure but the fact that he was able to serve the nation in various capacities to the best of his ability. The Green Revolution was the greatest effort in which millions of farmers participated and thousands of scientists contributed to its success. "I share the award with all of them."

Homage to the Mahatma

The Bhavan has designated the year 1998 as the Year of Non-violence to honor the memory of the apostle peace Mahatma Gandhi on the 50th anniversary of Mahatma's martyrdom (January 30, 1948 - January 30, 1998). Several events have been at its centers in India and abroad in of the Mahatma.

The Bhavan, USA organized a program of Bhajans, poetry reading and speeches on January 30, 1998 to mark the inauguration of the year-long observance of the 50th anniversary of Mahatma's martyrdom.

Dr. E.S. Reddy, former United Nations Assistant Secretary General and an authority on the apartheid movement in South Africa and author of several papers on Mahatma Gandhi, spoke on the Mahatma and the relevance of his message of non-violence in the modern world. He pointed out that the Mahatma's philosophy of non-violence was embraced by many people struggling for freedom around the world. Mr. Harsh K. Bhasin, Consul General of India also spoke on the occasion eulogizing the services of Mahatma in South Africa and his philosophy of truth, peaceful coexistence, etc. The audience was spellbound when he said that the President of South Africa Mr. Nelson Mandela told him that India gave Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to South Africa and the latter gave Mahatma Gandhi to India.

Several enchanting poems on India and Mahatma in different languages were recited by Mrs. Ranjana Kumar (poem - Lead Kindly Light by Cardinal Newman), Mr Amrit Inamdar (a poem by Rabindranath). Dr. Soma Vira (her Hindi poem on Mahatma), Mrs. Ambalika Misra (Hindi poem on Mahatma by Sohanlal Dwivedi), Mr. Ram Gadhavi (Gujarati poem on Mahatma by Kavi Dula Bhaya Kag) and V. Gayatri (Tamil poem in Mahatma by Subramania Bharati).

Thereafter, Mrs. Sanjukta Sen and her students and Mrs. Deepa Awal, Mrs. Kumkum Bhasin and Mrs. Ramakrishnan rendered soul-stirring bhajans which made the evening memorable. The program was planned by the Bhavan International conducted by Mr. Prakash Parekh.

S.M. Sivaraman

In 1947, Gandhiji observed Independence Day by 'wiping the tear from every eye'. He was not in Delhi but touring Bengal. He was consoling the communities affected by Partition. Partition was a major historical event - one that affected the form and the people of two nations, India and Pakistan.

1997 is the time for stocktaking. The nation is indeed a pale shadow of what it was.

There was a time when just after Independence there was great promise and hope held out. A new nation had emerged in the world order and people looked up to the political system to deliver the goods.

Fifty years hence, we just do not seem to have moved forward. Gandhiji was a person with vision and had anticipated many of our current problems. Even today we are faced with: a growing population, poverty, a corrupt political system and social unrest.

Is there still hope? Yes, we as a nation are still young and have a lot to learn. And there are seven points which the country has to avoid in order to grow:

(a) Politics without principle: There are absolutely no morals in today's political system. It is a system of "you scratch my back and I'11 scratch yours". Corruption is rampant. To Gandhiji, politics meant serving the masses. But today the masses are served with the vote-bank in mind.

(b) Wealth without work: scriptures were not against practice of acquiring wealth but certainly against wrong and devious ways being used to acquire it. Wealth, like fame, has to be earned through hard and honest work.

(c) Commerce without morality: Today, in terms of notoriety, the world of commerce is as bad as the political arena. The Mahatma said business should be done keeping in mind how it would affect others. But in India today, business fuels politics. Look at the scandals coming to light every day.

(d) Pleasure without conscience: One's pleasure should not hurt anybody or anything, said Gandhiji. Pleasure is lasting after a person achieves his/her goal by hard work and perseverance.

(e) Education without character: The purpose of education is to make a man a man, said the Father of the Nation. But what do we have today instead? Schools and colleges are churning out degrees by the dozen. And do students have character? Gandhiji's message is clear from this Sanskrit poem: "Nothing is lost when wealth is lost, something is lost when health is lost and everything is lost when character is lost."

(f) Science without humanity: Gandhiji objected to the extermination of people in the name of science (the atom bomb), the suffering inflicted on the population in the name of technology (pollution) and the unnecessary mechanization of industry (power looms). Use your hands as long as you can, he said. Have a scientific temper by all means, but remain humane.

(g) Worship without sacrifice: The Mahatma was against hurting others. He said, "do not show off your bhakti by torturing animals or indulging in egoistic nonsense. God does not need our money or our show."

These are seven principles worth remembering. These are seven small but powerful steps in helping the nation grow.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madras

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