A moment in history

A moment in history

From the albums

A moment in history

This photograph was taken at the HAL aerodrome in June 1960 when the then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru came to Bengaluru for the Bangalore Junior Chamber Chapter Convention that was held at the Glass House in Lalbagh.

I received him at the airport. I was accompanied by two of my best friends, KA Netkallappa and K Subbarao Ramaswamy. ​Both were an integral part of the functioning of the Junior Chamber. The three of us were more like family than friends.  The Bangalore Junior Chamber Chapter was a part of​ the Junior Chamber International, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation of young people aged between 18 and 40.

  It had members and chapters in about 80 countries. It was founded in Mexico in 1944 to encourage​ young people to become responsible citizens, and participate in efforts for social and economic development and promote international co-operation, goodwill and understanding. I was the president of the Bangalore chapter of this organisation (Bangalore Junior Chamber — which was also referred to as Bangalore Jaycees).

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the keynote speaker at the convention in 1960. After a few years, I went on to become the national president of the Jaycee movement in India. I was born in M​ysuru ​in 1930 and moved to Bengaluru a few years later. I did my schooling in St Joseph’s Indian High School and completed my graduation thereafter in Arts from St Joseph’s College.

I later joined the family business. KA Netkallappa, K Subbarao Ramaswamy and I met everyday at ​South Parade which is now MG Road. We would chat on a variety of topics over a cup of coffee for hours together. Both Netkallappa and Subb​arao were very warm and friendly people. Interestingly, our families too got close with time.    

Back then, the roads were almost empty and we could almost count the number of vehicles on the street. I still remember how the traffic police on the roads were so​ alert those days and would fine anybody who rode a cycle without a headlight. Bengaluru in my younger days was indeed a pensioner’s paradise. But today, it is not the same.  

When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited Bengaluru, he had​ come home and shared a meal with us before he returned. Pandit Nehru would stay at the Residency, now better known as the ​Raj Bhavan, whenever he visited Bengaluru and I would accompany my father to visit him. He did not​ have much security personnel with him and I was fortunate to spend some quality time ​with him.

Thanks to my late​ father H Battanlal Gupta’s​ association with the freedom movement, I also had the privilege to interact with Mahatma​ Gandhi as well. As a young lad of 16 years, I also had the privilege to stay at a camp in Panchgani, Maharashtra ​where ​Gandhiji​ had prayer meetings​ and I was fortunate enough to work as a young volunteer at the camp in 1946.​

 Both these visionaries believed in simple living and high thinking. I was impressed and influenced by their lives and thought process. The memories of that bygone era are still ​alive in my mind.

Gyan Prakash Gupta (As told to Nina C George)

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