MV told Gandhi not to prolong Satyagraha

Imprint: Clippings of Deccan Herald  on Sir MV published since 1960, on display at an exhibition in the City. DH Photo

Giving the clarion call — Industrialise or Perish — Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya had taken it upon himself to implement it in letter and spirit, turning Karnataka into a leading industrial State.

However, Visvesvaraya’s philosophy was quite antithetical to Mahatma Gandhi’s firm conviction: “Industrialise and Perish.” Adamantine as they were, both had vehemently contested each other’s opinions through a series of letters, although they were good friends outside of the arguments they had.

Admiration for Gandhi was not alien in India. But the boldness to contest some of his tenets of “nation building” could have been imbibed only in a visionary person like Sir MV — a man of tireless determination and commitment.

After all, he didn’t even pray to god. “I have not sinned to bow my head in front of anybody,” Sir MV was quoted as having said to one of his relatives, who invited him to visit the temple at Tirupati by his grand nephew Satish Mokshagundam. This for a man born a century ago in a family of temple priests.

Quoting a few of Sir MV’s letters, Satish told Deccan Herald: “They (Gandhi and MV) were good friends, no doubt. But, Sir MV had problems with some of Gandhi’s views as he thought they would affect the process of industrialisation, which, according to him, was the way forward for India.”

Visvesvaraya had, in a letter, which is currently in the Sabarmathi Ashram, told Gandhi to stop the Sathyagraha movement (the non co-operation movement) as soon as what he set out to achieve was accomplished and had advised him against prolonging it.

But Gandhi, Satish said, was not impressed. “MV, being the kind of visionary he was, had feared that Sathyagraha would give rise to “unionism” in factories which could be detrimental for industrialisation, thereby, affecting the development of the nation. But Gandhi had replied saying it was the right of every man to protest to seek ‘justice’ in a non-violent manner,” Satish quoted.

Visvesvaraya visualised the future of the country in economic empowerment, and in some sense, so did Gandhi. However, their views, given their approaches, were varied.

While Gandhi said cottage industries was the way forward, Visvesvaraya reposed his faith in big factories. “MV believed that big factories had to be created as they would provide employment to a lot of people, which was the need of the hour,” Satish said.

They never agreed on these things till the very end, but that did not prevent them from discussing various things or even write more letters. The Visvesvaraya National Memorial in Muddenahalli is trying to procure many such letters of Sir MV, said Satish, President of the trust.

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