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V V Giri

Thursday June 16 2005 12:48 IST

By Karmayogi

When India was invaded time and again before the British took over in 1857, Punjab was the Gateway to India. As Delhi was the capital, all the invaders marched towards Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. It was given to the Punjabis to defend the lives of all India. No wonder they have become warriors of world renown apart from the Gurkhas.

If Punjab was the hot battlefront, Uttar Pradesh was the hinterland from where leadership issued the orders. Cool deliberation is not given to the soldier on the field. One reason why the Prime Ministers of India hailed from Uttar Pradesh could be this historical-geographical circumstance.

A departure was made by Morarji Desai and Narasimha Rao. In the Indian army the South Indians have earned a poor name as fighters. Sri Aurobindo describes the Maharashtrians and Tamils as philosophical. Philosophy carries no power. In its own way, it qualifies for some kind of leadership.

It was Sanjeeva Reddy who said that the highest post a South Indian could aspire for was the Presidency. Starting from Rajaji, the last Governor-General, Radhakrishnan, V V Giri, Sanjeeva Reddy, Venkataraman and now Kalam have occupied the Rashtrapathi Bhavan. It is quite a number of the dozen Indian Presidents.

May we say the philosophical South is also given the leadership without real power, a characteristic of philosophy. Public life being what it is, still one does not rise to the very top without real capacities and recognisable values.

I call values spiritual skills. V V Giri was sent to Kerala as Governor because doctors advised his wife to live near the sea. One of his staff members got married at that time. The wedding was at Cuddalore. Giri, the Governor, decided to attend the wedding. It was a generous gesture. The Cuddalore Municipality hastened to accord a civic reception to the visiting dignitary.

Giri was introduced to the local VIPs. Among them was one Purushothaman who was the labour union secretary in 1938, when Giri was its president. Seeing Purushothaman, Giri exclaimed in pleasant surprise and embraced him. People were debating who could translate Giris speech. Giri emphatically said, When Purushothaman is here, why look for a translator? His sincerity was simplicity and was touching.

As soon as politicians rise and occupy a post in the Cabinet, they become worldly wise and discourage their old friends. Such men have risen high by talents. One such became a Central minister holding an independent portfolio. He avoided his friends and soon lost his job, never to return to the Cabinet in the next 30 years.

Giri rose to become the Vice-President and then the President. No rule can fix such developments. But one thing cannot be escaped. Talents raise one. Values uphold it. Slighted values slight the person. I am tempted to say there is nothing so valuable as values. Values lend man his inner lasting values as a member of the society.

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