TamilaruviManianshares with Marie Banu about his youth movement that works on Gandhian principles
Shri. TamilaruviManian began his political career as a congressman in 1966. After the split happened in the Indian National Congress party, he joined the Indian National Congress. For some years, he served in political parties like Janata Party, Janata Dal, and Lok Shakti. He then joined the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC). After the merger of TMC with Congress, he continued his career in Congress and served in politics for over 40 years. He resigned from the post of General Secretary of Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) on 23rd February 2009 because of the party’s position on the Eelam Tamil issue. He has founded the GandhiyaMakkalIyakkam on 2nd October 2009.[
In an exclusive interview, Shri.TamilaruviManian shares with
Marie Banu about his youth movement that works on Gandhian principles.
What motivated you to launch the GandhiyaArasiyalIyakkam in 2009?
When I started Gandhian People Movement, most of my friends advised me not to indulge in this. They said that no one would join my movement and therefore not to unnecessarily waste my time on this. But, I had firm belief that my movement would be a success as today’s youngsters lack proper guidance and proper leadership.
My intention was to uphold probity in public life. I tell the youth who want to join my movement that they must be, first of all, very clear in three things. They should not crave after money; power; or name and fame. Whatever they have within themselves, they should contribute it for the welfare of the society. They should not expect even a pie from the society for their own benefit. So, this is the first prime aim of my youth movement.
We have enrolled more than 48,000 youth for the movement so far. They are doing a wonderful job and are now pre-occupied with a signature campaign against Tasmac. We aim to collect one crore signatures and submit it to our Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil nadu on 2nd October, 2012.
Your speeches have been inspiring and informative. What are the books that you read most?
My interest lies in four areas. My prime interest is literature and I have read both English and Tamil literature. Particularly, in Tamil literature, I have a strongest fascination towards Sangam (ancient) literature—EttuThogai, Padhitru-p-pathu, Silappatikaram, and KambaRamayanam. I get values and ethics only from those books. I also read English literature. I have read Shelley, Milton, and in fact all literary work of Shakespeare.
I am also interested in philosophy. From Plato to J. Krishnamurthy, I have widely read philosophy. My next area of interest is religion. I read Bhagavad Gita, Quran, and the Bible, and don’t discriminate one from the other. Every religion teaches only one thing: Love your neighbor as yourself.
My area of interest is history. I read more than 12 hours in a day and don’t waste even a minute. I read even while I journey, be it by train or plane or any mode of transport. You can get whatever you have lost, but not your time.
You have been stressing education through mother tongue. In a competitive society, how do you think that this would help our youngsters to seek employment in India as well as abroad?
I don’t advise the youth to confine with learning only their mother tongue. They have to know their mother tongue in order to learn values. But, to eke out his life, it is necessary for him to know English.
I used to say that English is the language of humanity. It is a universal language. One may not be able to read Spanish, Latin, Greek, or any other foreign language; but their works are definitely translated into English. So, if you know English, you can accumulate knowledge and be familiar with all sorts of literature, science, and philosophy.
English is a medium that would enrich your knowledge. It is therefore essential to know to read and write English. But, at the same time, if you are a Tamilian, you should know your mother tongue—Tamil. I used to say: you honor other languages, but worship your mother tongue.
There is an instance from Bharathiyar’s life that has been shared by Va Ra (V.Ramaswamy) in Bharathiyar’s biography. It states that when Bharathiyar was in Pondicherry, Va Ra went from Mayavaram to meet him. When Va Ra spoke in English, Bharathiyar called his wife Chellammal and said: “Some foreigner has come here and I don’t know what he is trying to say. Ask and let me know what he says.” Va Ra realized his fault and started speaking to him in Tamil.
Bharathiyar’s intention was that, when one Tamilian meets another Tamilian, they have to convey their feelings and ideas only through their mother tongue.
Today’s youth are turning violent; impulsively reacting; and at times even causing damage to public and private property. Given this scenario, how have youth responded to your movement which preaches Gandhian principles?
We cannot blame the youngsters alone for this. The parents should be teachers and the teachers should be the second parents for the children. The parents pour their love on their children, but at the same time do not know how to groom them. They thrust their impulsions, opinions, and ideas on them. Kahlil Gibran has said that children come through you and not from you. You pour love on them, but don’t thrust your passion, impression, or ideas on them.
But, it is contrary now. The quality of education is deteriorating. Earlier, people were seeking education to augment their knowledge and the sole aim was not to earn money. But now, everything revolves around money.
Your advice for social workers?
If you want to be a social worker, first you need to do selfless service. In Les Misérables, Victor Hugo says: Life is to give, not to take. So, whatever you have, give it to others. Without expecting anything from the society, you have to sacrifice whatever you have. This is the prime quality which a social worker has to inculcate within himself.