அறிஞர் அண்ணாவின் ஆங்கிலப் பேச்சு

Annamalai Convocation Address
Arignar Anna

(Part 2)

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We, the Tamilians have been holding aloft this ideal for more than two thousand years and hence we find in pura nanuru this passage,

"உண்டால் அம்ம இவ்வுலகம் . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
தமக்கென முயலா நோன்றாள்
பிறர்க்கென முயலுநர் உண்மை யானே!"

As inheritors of that rich legacy, you are best fitted to overcome even the environment and serve society to the best of your abilities.

Anyone, who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it. A strength which becomes clearer and stronger through its experience of such obstacles is the only strength that can conquer them – says Albert Schweitzer.

Though the problems in various countries are of a similar nature, the peculiarity attached to the problems of our country is of a pronounced nature.

Ours is not a case of starting from scratch - had that been the case the only thing needed would have been the intensity of effort to be put forth. Ours is a case of erosion of the mind – we are not in search of fields, but have to engage in the task of fertilizing it, irrigating it, we are not in search of ideals, but are engaged in the more intricate task of classifying, codifying and verifying layers of ideals. We are not wanting in culture-but have to cleanse it from the cob-web of time and de-adulterate it. In short, we have to re-discover ourselves, and re-construct our entire thought. Ones task to-day is to allow fresh air and sunshine and regain the original shape and stature – that which made us well-known is distant lands and climes.

Our literature, art and architecture are fine specimens of human intelligence – but they bear the ravages of time and also the effect of currents and cross currents so that to-day we have to listen to the foreign historian or scholar in order to realize the “glory and grandeur” of our own country.

Age commands veneration –but unless it is recuperated, decay sets in. Our culture and civilization are hoary, but we have allowed scars and wrinkles to disfigure them. It is our duty therefore to re-discover and re-construct what is ours and enrich it by drawing liberally upon the achievements of other countries.

Our problem is not want of a system –in any branch of knowledge. We have fine specimens in all spheres. We claim also –and that rightly –immortality for our systems, but we have not succeeded in keeping them fresh and young, effective and energetic, for we have allowed them to decay.

If a system has to endure, says, Dr.Radhakrishnan, it must be perpetually young and ready to change. In other words, it must be capable of accepting new ideas, have the resilience of mind which the young have, have the openness, flexibility and spirit of adventure by which they accept what is given to them and transform it out of recognition.

Eos, a goddess falling in love with a mortal, prayed to god to grant immortality to the lover-‘yes’, said god, and the mortal gained immortality. But he grew old, infirm, senile, decayed –and what was a feast once to the eyes of Eos became a sight to shun and grieve over –and he who gained immortality longed for death – for what is life if it becomes a prey to decay? Then Eos sighed and said, “ I prayed for immortality for my lover, forgetting to pray for perpetual youth.”

We in this country are facing some such situation – and we are in charge of the task of rejuvenating our culture and civilization – our entire thought, instead of attempting that, we have been, for too long a period, doting upon the decayed forms attempting to defend them from critics and currents of new thought. and while other parts of the world, after persistent and patient search after truth, have arrived at new conclusions and are scaling new heights, we are content to sit near the shattered rampart and narrate past glory. Our religion has degenerated in to rituals, our society which was once classless and casteless has degenerated into water–tight compartments of caste and creed and all the while, we have kept either silent or have been supplying defence to superstition and orthodoxy by offering to liberally allow this state of affairs to exist, despite condemnation and protest, and, more than that, whenever a doughty warrior comes forth to fight against the evils prevalent, we decry and denounce him as an annihilator of noble values and hoary systems. Periyar Ramasami represents and symbolizes the fury and frustration in a sizable section of society at this state of affairs. To allow systems to degenerate and at the same time denounce those who champion the cause of rationalism is but to perpetuate superstition and orthodoxy and allow this society of ours to get decomposed.

Universities offer the proper forum for a free and full discussion of these intricate problems and graduates trained here are to go forth as emissaries of that social reconstruction which is long over due. The country looks to centres of learning like this University to enable the people to pursue the path of progress, braving difficulties and if need be, courting danger.

Graduates of the Annamalai University, let me call upon you to carry on the crusade against caste which cannot co-exist with democracy, against superstition which cannot co-exist with science and against tyranny of various dimensions which cannot co-exist with liberty , equality and fraternity.

Pursuing vocations for your and your families’ well being, you have to perform your duty towards society . You are to become torch – bearers of rationalism – and rationalism does not mean repudiation of basic and fundamental truths and maxims, but the annihilation of dubious modes of thought and action. You have to work hard with daring and dash, for we have to clear cob-webs which are centuries old and let reason reign supreme.

Another peculiar feature of our times is the fact that we are a nation in the making, and if in their anxiety to forge integration, some confuse unity with uniformity, it is the duty of men trained here to clearly enunciate the principle and see to it that, in the name of unity, no part of the country is made to become the vassal of another part-knowingly or unknowingly. We cannot be a party to foul play, however worthy the goal. Just on the eve of independence, Rajaji stated with an acumen all his own, “our political experiment is really like melting iron and metals and pouring them in to a crucible and making an alloy, an alloy which can stand wear and tear . It is not like the chinaware that other people have turned out in their countries. Their democracies were easy to make – like plastics. But we are dealing with metals.” National integration is a goal, worthy and much – sought after, but neither in the field of language nor in the economic sphere, could we tolerate injustice and domination. That is exactly why this government was brought into existence – it represents the determination of the people to be coerced into accepting Hindi as the official language.

When we plead for the continuance of English as the link language, some people do misrepresent us and misinterpret our motive. They trot out untenable arguments and disputable statistics, bring in the bogey of disintegration and want to silence people by threats and troops. Problems were never solved by autocratic methods – and this problem of language is intimately connected with our way of life, not for the present alone but for the future as well.

The government of Tamil Nadu has stated in unmistakable terms that Tamil and English can serve all our purposes, the former as the official language of this state and the latter as the link language. If it is accepted and the most emphatic of hindi protagonists do accept that - if it is accepted that English can serve admirably as a link between our state and the outside world, why plead for hindi to be the link language here? What serves to link us with the outside world is certainly capable of rendering the same service inside India as well. To plead for two link languages is like boring a smaller hole in a wall for the kitten while there is a bigger one for the cat. What suits the cat will suit the kitten as well.


Continued . . .
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

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