Dr. Vedagiri Shanmugasundaram,
M.A.(Eco.), M.A.(Pol.Sc.), M.Litt., Ph.D., D.Phil(Oxon.).

Back 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 and

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 nationalism.

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.

Anna 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 and changes.

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.

Agenda 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 suffice.

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
(1) Oral Records;
(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 on Anna.

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.

முகப்பு | இலக்கியம் | அரசியல் | வரலாறு | புகைப்படங்கள் | பேரவை | தொடர்புகொள்ள

Website owned by Anna Peravai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Founder of this website: Dr.Anna Parimalam