IDEAS OF ARIGNAR ANNA
Dr. Vedagiri Shanmugasundaram,
M.A.(Eco.), M.A.(Pol.Sc.), M.Litt., Ph.D., D.Phil(Oxon.).
to Article Titles
Arignar Anna was without equals in the art of speaking
and persuasive charm of fellowship and simplicity. I have heard
his teacher of English Professor. R.Krishnamurti and his mentor
in Economics Professor C.D.Rajesvaran, both of them also my teacher
to bear testimony and to speak in high admiration of scholastic
and oratorical achievements of Anna – (C.N.Annadurai as
he was known in his student days.). the banners announcing in
1930 and 1940’s, the meetings he would address always carried
the degree M.A.(in Economics) which in the early thirties was
of very high international standards. For each question paper
to be answered, a student may have to read ten or fifteen standard
books; few politicians were M.A.’s and invariably many of
them took a government service or the legal profession. Anna’s
contemporaries in the M.A. classes like Professors K.S.Sonahcalam,
S.Velayudham and Mr. K.Ragurama Mudakliar all of them still active
refer to the extraordinarily shy but the extremely accomplished
intellectual powers of Anna.
I have know him as a student of Pachaiyappa’s College during
1945-48, the crucial years, making the end of the second War,
the visit of Cripps Mission and the passage of Indian Independence
Act, Twelve Years after Anna was Chairman of the Economics Association
of the Pachaiyappa’s College. I was called upon the should
er this responsibility, and as the College orator it was my rare
privilege to move the Indian Independence day (15th August 1947)
resolution in the Pachaiyappa’s College. The Campus by then
had shifted from George Town (in the days of Anna) to Chetput,
but eh tradition of Pachaiyappa’s having some of the best
staff in the State continued, and in Socio-economic, nationalist
and patriotic movements it was Second to move. Periyar E.V.R.,
M.K.Gandhi, Thiru Vi.Ka., Anna, T.Prakasam, C.Rajagopalachari,
C.P.Ramaswami Iyer, Dr.A.Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar, and his twin
brother Dr.A.Ramaswami Mudaliar, Dr.C.R.Reddy – most of
the great orators, statesmen, economists and patriots choose the
College for major addresses. It is in this tradition Anna grew
up, and he in turn was a frequent visitor. The Congress, the Justice
Party, the D.K., and later the D.M.K. party drew liberally from
the patriotic fervour of the intellectuals of that institution
of which Anna was an outstanding preceptor.
We may delineate Anna’s thoughts under four heads
1. Historical realism to the point of anti-colonialism.
2. Fabian Socialism with an aura of cultural nationalism
3. Welfare economic meant to grapple with mass poverty and ignorance
4. International humanitarianism, transcending narrow restraints
of oriental Caste or accidental classes.
The 1930s were years of depression. The work of J.M.Keynes especially
his General Theory has not become the bible of the economists.
Alfred Marshall’s Principles of Economics was the mainstay
of the scholars of his generation. And yet Anna was so well read
in Greek, Roman, European and Indian History that he anticipated
the Socio-economic revolution of the post independent era. We
may briefly allude to his non-chalant attitude to a job in Government
or to the luxury of being the second in command in the palace
of a millionaire. These offers came within his reach but he spurned
them. When the aristocrats of Europe encouraged works like that
Proudhon (Philosophie de la misere), Karl Marx wrote a rejoinder
– Poverty of Philosophy(1847). The Communist Manifesto was
published by Marx in 1848.
The basic question to be raised is the extent to which Adam Smiths
Wealth of nations of 1776, Marx’s Manifesto of 1848, the
Russian Revolution of 1977, and the Fabian Socialism of 1920’s,
have influenced Anna’s economic ideas. His masters and political
preceptors were many. He had great regard for the leaders of the
Justice Party who formed the liberal tradition of economies in
Southern India then known as Madras Presidency.
However, after the introduction of the Government of India Act
of 1935 and the defeat of the Justice Party in the later elections,
Periyar E.V.Ramaswamy emerged as the undisputed Dravida Kazhagam
leader Anna moved the famous resolution as the youth leader denouncing
the holding of title given by the British and beckoning the masses
to rally round the anti-colonial banner. Both EVR and Anna were
against social exploitation and far more devastating in the its
many sided effects. Anna was influenced considerably by the writers
who spurred the Amercian people to the Civil War. Abrahan Lincoln
and his fight against slavery constituted an inspiring epoch for
him. Garibaldi and Mazzini figured in his oration to nurture cultural
Pandid Nehru in Trinity College at Cambridge and Anna in the Pachaiyappa’s
College at Madras had the same intellectual influences instilled
by the Fabian Socialism ideology of Britain. George Bernard Shaw’s
exposition of Socialism. H-J Laski’s Grammar of Politics,
A.C.Pigour’s Economics of Welfare were basic reading materials
for both of them. When Beatrice and Sidney Webb visited USSR,
Soviet communism had fascination for them, they were quietly adopted
for British conditions through a process of historical gradualism.
Violence and revolution were defused by Parliamentary democracy
and plurality of device or religious device right of Kings was
exploded by liberal writers. The modern state according to Laski
Believed in economic rights, and duties. The early Greek idea
which treated aliens and traders as less than equal had given
place to the socialist ideal of equality of occupation, and of
men and women. The Violent overthrow of the Government yielded
place to “the bloodless revolution of the ballot boxes”.
Professor C.E.M.Joad taunts socialism as a hat that has lost all
shape because everybody wears it. Anna was a socialist in thought
had action. His precept was that one can see the divine being
in the smiles of the poor. It a time when he was the uncrowned
monarch among the people of Tamil Nadu, if he had cared he could
have become a millionaire. But he chose to remain the state of
a common man. He was suffering from cancer in the lost year of
his life which necessitated the use of “air-conditioned
house and car” on medical advice, but he chose to live in
his own little house and use the Indian made old model cars and
rejected the Government owned air-conditioned bungalows or the
state owned luxury limousines. We may also recall his simple dress
consisting of a plain dhoti and shirt and equality as an article
of faith. Young or old, right or poor, worker or proprietor –
they were all the same to him.
was steeped in studies of economics when Lionel robbins wrote
his famous definition of Economics, in which the positive approach
of neutrality between ends was propounded, (1932). Within a few
years Rev.Father P.Carty an eminent student of Alfred Marshall
and Professor of Economics at Street,.Joseph’s College,
Trichirapalli gave a rebuttal arguing for economic welfare and
equity in contrast to Robbins’ concept. The Welfare nation
of economies was also found in Professor Marshall’s works
and a more scientific and comprehensive view of Welfare emerged
from writing of P.Carty and A.C.Pigou.
Anna rejected the pure and positivist theory of economics and
upheld the welfare school. There are many new branches like the
study of human resources and other values. The uniqueness of Anna
was that he could stand before listening Senates and get the applause
for his speeches in his mother tongue, Tamil, the oldest living
and spoken language of the World.
Welfare economics relates to the culture, health, literacy, Shill
formation, etc., which together stregthen the role of the individual
in a society, Political aspects of Welfare including “Voting”
to get consent, and “Market Price” to determine the
economic choice. Anna was a great believer in the participation
of the people in making a Government which to him is a continuing
institution. He retained the Civil Service, except where careful
consideration and well-reasoned economic thought gave way to innovations
Removal of the worst forms of poverty are tasks to which economic
planners have to address themselves. It is a long term process
and need radical institutional changes.
There are days when one hears of the North-South dialogue and
the need to reshape the world order. Willy Brandt in his plea
for change seeks peace, justice and jobs. The whole programme
for survival is entitled North-South dialogue in which former
Prime Ministers and outstanding representatives of many countries
participated. Anna’s concept of North South related to regional
disparities within India. He argued that every region in India
should have a high degree of state autonomy, and decentralized
decision making powers. What was considered a chauvinistic creed
by many of them, has become a major policy instrument all over
the world. The world today is witnessing revolutionary changes
in global transport and allied activities. When Anna went to Europe
and was a Chubb Fellow at the Yale University he was acclaimed
as a true internationalist. Within India, when there was a threat
of Chinese Aggression, he amended the D.M.K. Party’s constitution
to give up the demand for succession.
One needs a comparative study on Anna and Thorstein Veblen a great
institutionalist. Social, economic institutions provide the framework
and the rules of the economic game. To Anna first things should
come first. Food to meet hunger, Teachers of high ability to educate
the people, and Steel and Cement to house the people, would have
been his priorities. Anna was a realist; what he promised was
“one-rupee-a-measure of Rice” to the people. He soon
realised that the food production has to be increased and budgets
recast to enforce the policy. This announcement was made in the
context of May Day celebrations in honour of the working class.
It is to be understood as an ideal rather than a more official
announcement. Unless social change preceded, even the exit of
the British rule would not change the order of the economy. This
was largely the difference between Anna and his compatriots in
the 30’s and 40’s in Southern India.
Anna is a Tilak and South India, a Fabian economist and the foremost
theoretician of the federalist welfare economy.
for Research and Anna Studies
An agenda for research along these lines is the desiderata of
the day. Affection and respect bordering on veneration which engulf
the memory of Anna almost fifteen years after he passed away,
is as rich, fabulous and incomparables as it was in his days.
His mortal remains were laid to rest in Anna square, built with
great imagination and foresight by his beloved followers. At the
time of the I World Tamil Conference his statue was erected and
unveiled by a great internationalist and also his mentor Dr.A.Ramaswamy
Mudaliar. These are physical movements for him and they do not
History demands that his contemporary draw before long an agenda
for research and pursue it.
(1) In his last letter and testament he have a call for federal
India. Economic tederalism at home and abroad could be a fascinating
theme for scores of scholars to work irrespective of race or nationality.
(2) Cultural economics, of his times pertaining top language books,
journals, newspaper social habits and customs will constitute
an innovative tribute to Anna.
(3) The role of the intellectual should be identified and encouraged
in transforming the thought of all times and all peoples of the
world into action programmes for contemporary societies and relevant
to their skills and aspirations.
(4) And Anna was a great lover of books and thoughts of eminent
men. Summing up of Somerset Maughm or Exposition of Kural to Yale
University scholars would keep him as delightfully happy as he
was when he thundered forth to tens of thousands of his audience
on the heritage that was of the Tamils and the bias in which they
find themselves. It is to the good fortune of the Science of history
that many are alive. Anna studies would be stronger for recording
the “Oral History” of Anna – Just as the Nehru’s
oral history has already been assembled by Nehru Memorial Fund,
and other bodies. We should assemble and authenticate the recollections
of Arignar Anna in terms of facts and reflections which the following
have already recorded or could, if alive and alert could record
for us. Anna, was ably assisted and adored by many and those who
did research on Anna in Economics, Political Science and Tamil
Departments in India and abroad have to be consulted.
Apart from a Bibliographical appraisal a comprehension oral history
of his writings in the Popular Press, the dramas he acted, his
conversation with cultural, economic and political associates,
his impact on Tamils abroad, require men of the zeal of Professor
K.Swamination, who in his decades of continuous endeavour has
brought out many volumes on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. We need
teams of dedicated Scholars and savants (not just those who could
parrot like repeat his words or worse still misread his ideas)
- to pursue the ideas of Anna who in life and death inspired countless
millions to rare highlights of cultural, economic and political
awareness of the two thousand year old race of Tamils.
Bibliography in Tamil and English should include
(2) Newspaper Collections;
(3) Booklets found in many Libraries.
The research should be his extensive Tamil Sources and
writings of his early political associates and also
1. Occasional speeches of Anna
2. Radio Talks of Anna
3. Felicitation Address of Anna
4. Assembly Speeches of Anna.
5. Convocation address of Anna.
6. Inaugural and all presidential address of Anna and other Souvenirs
Idealistic, fullest and optimum utilization of funds collected
in his name is desirable. In his life time large sums were endowed
in the Universities of Madras, Annamalai and Madurai to Study
Tirukkural, which was widely popularized by the rationalist movements
of his days. Now Anna studies and attracting massive funds; what
we need are mature men to guide the youth who are highly motivated,
widely read and devoted intellectuals, - to place Anna in the
world of learning along side Rouseau and Periyar, Lincoln and
Ranade, Veblen and Laski.
Superstition, poverty, ignorance and lack of self respect should
be replaced by rational consciousness and determination to discharge
duty, dignity and discipline. This is a long time process; it
provides Sequential Causation for success. These are qualities
which have made the German and Japanese, British and the more
recently the Russian and Chinese economies grow. The lesson is
clear; Anna knew the broad landscape of economic achievements.
And his fellowmen of current generation have these lessons to
learn, and paths to tread.