Former Union Defence Minister George Fernandes, who had his roots in Mangaluru, is remembered as a down-to-earth human being by admirers and relatives.
Michael Fernandes, his younger brother and former legislator, recollected, “Some of my brothers - we were six, including George - had our primary education at St Francis Xavier’s Higher Primary School which was then, an elementary school.
George was born on June 3, 1930. He was named as George as his birthday coincided with the birthday of King George V.
He secured admission for the fifth standard at St Francis Xavier Elementary school and studied one year there. George’s name in the school register is mentioned as George Mathew J Fernandes, with register number 1440. He was admitted to the school on his birthday, June 3 in 1939, when he was nine years old”.
Arthur Fernandes, another close relative, recalled, “During summer vacation, we used to spend time by playing games at George’s house in Kapikad in Bejai.”
George’s maternal grandmother’s house was on Bejai New Road. But there is no trace of these two houses as high-rise buildings have come up there now.
Seminary to Socialism
After SSLC, George left the city to join a seminary in Bengaluru. He left the seminary in 1949 and joined the Socialist Party. In the following year, he migrated to Mumbai.
Ammembala Anand, a childhood friend of George Fernandes, said “I and George were classmates at Bejai School. Later, he joined St Aloysius School. Our friendship continued despite studying in different schools”.
George’s father John Jose Fernandes wanted his son to be a priest and thus sent him to Bengaluru in 1948. However, he came out of the seminary as a socialist, Anand recollected.