Mr. P.G.R Sindhia is a professor turned politician. He is a veteran political leader and former minister in Karnataka. Was elected MLA from his constituency for 25 years – won 6 times and served as a minister for nearly 18 years!
Mr. Sindhia strongly feels teachers are the biggest strength of the country. Childhood days were not easy for him yet with perseverance, education and courage he fought against many odds. He gives credits of his own achievements to his mother and teachers. Excerpts of a recent conversation.
I was born in a very ordinary family but my grandfather had a vision to educate his children 100 years back. So he moved from Kanakapura taluk, Maralwadi village to Chennai along with his family. He took a small house on rent. My father and his two brothers were enrolled in the school. My uncles studied well and later became very famous but my father ran away from Chennai and went back to the village.
He settled in the village and participated in public life. During that time it was only 10 years our country attained freedom so the values of the freedom movement were still respected in the villages. He was a gram panchayat member. He earned low income from farming done on the few acres of farmland we had. My mother was an illiterate lady. They admitted me to a Kannada medium government primary school in a village called Doddamaralavadi.
I took my primary education in the village. After that, my parents were not able to send me to the high school! Somehow my mother and father had difference of opinion regarding my education. My father told, “Why this fellow should go to high school? Let him be in the village, do agriculture on whatever land we have. Let the other boy study (my younger brother).” And they both quarreled! He gave his verdict that I will not go to the high school. On the contrary my mother was adamant for education. Somehow she got five rupees and gave it to me ensuring my father remains uninformed about it!
I went to a place called Harohalli, 12 kms from my village. All by myself, I walked the entire distance and took admission in the high school. It was a Kannada medium. The daily routine was to get up early morning and get ready for the school. My mother used to cook food for me and pack it in a box. I used to carry the same and walk down to the school. It was 24 km walk every day for me. It continued for three years. My father never knew that I am going to the high school for almost a year!
I passed my SSLC with distinction! Everyone in the family was happy including my father. By then, my father’s elder brother who studied in Chennai was selected by the British. He retired as Colonel in the Indian Army. In 1950 he served the Maharaja of Mysore as the Commander in Chief. They were staying in Bangalore. He was a very honest Colonel. Bhagavad-Gita was on his tongue and he practiced it sincerely. Colonel, Shamarao Sindhia was a very big name.
My other uncle went to Burma. He too worked in British government. After retirement they all settled in Bangalore. My cousins were doing engineering so my mother had a desire that her sons also take up engineering! The thought became the reality…
Parents sent me to National College, Bangalore. This was the first time I started wearing chappal after I reached the college! I was wearing a half pant and shirt, carrying my own food but no money in the pocket! In National College hostel, I met HN. There was no accommodation in the hostel as it was full. He was kind enough to accommodate me in his room.
In the National College, HN used to recommend me for all extra-curricular activities such as debates, drama, sports, swimming, basket ball and kabadi etc. Participation in these activities helped me largely to groom myself from intellectual aspect. I became notified debater in Kannada. In addition, there was one Begane Ramaiah, who later became Development Minister of Karnataka. In all inter college debates competitions at state level, district level and LOG level always Begane Ramaiah won the first prize and PGR Sindhia fetched the second prize. Those were golden years of my life. It was then continued at RV College of Engineering.
In those days engineering was five years course. I got the admission in one of the prestigious college in the country, R.V. College of Engineering. We had best of the faculty at the institute.
My mother was my first teacher. She lived for 80 years. She didn’t knew to read or write at all! Her father named her as Saraswathi hence she knew importance of education. She was so happy when I did my engineering in R.V. Engineering after my pre-university in National College.
I had very good teachers in primary and high school. In primary, I remember my teacher Mr. Muttumestru. He taught Kannada. All students used to fondly call as Muttu sir. Then there was Mr. Madaiah and Mr. Veer Brahmachar. They taught me Geography and Mathematics respectively. I can never forget my primary school teachers.
In high school, I learnt values by Gandhi from Dr. L. Narasimhaiah, freedom fighter. He is still alive and settled in Tumkur district. These days he visits different schools teaching Gandhi values. Mr. Gopal Krishna Bhat taught mathematics.
These are some people who really inspired me! HN is no more and none of my primary teachers. Even today I have a great respect for all of them. They were not only teachers but are my ideals in personal life. Even today, I maintain high regards from bottom of my heart for my primary or high school teachers as well as HN and teachers from engineering college. Whatever values I have in my life it is because of them. I owe all the accomplishments in life to my Mother and these teachers.
Rich man in our village was father of Mr. M.V.Rajshekaran, the former union minister. He must be 80+ now. He gave good education to Rajshekaran. The first graduate in our village was Rajshekaran. He did BA from Delhi. He also went to Japan in those days. Once he came to our government school. That time I was 10 years old. He spoke about agriculture, Japan, and other things. Listening to him I thought can I not do it? Rajshekaran had a handsome personality too. He became my role model.
Interest in Politics
In engineering college, I was not interested in public life. However one incidence changed it all! A tussle happened between the state transport undertaking conductors, drivers and the students in my college campus. As the college campus was located at the outskirts of Bangalore, authorities did not take good care of students. It was worse as sometime students were beaten too. I felt very bad seeing this and protested. That made the students to elect me as the President of the College Union. I continued that for 3-4 years. Ultimately in 1971-72 the Bangalore university student council elected me as the president in 1971, Arun Jaitley was elected from Delhi where I came in contact with him. Venkaiahnaidu was selected from Venkateshwara university.
During the same year I came in contact with ABVP, Akhil Bharateeya Vidyarthi Parishad. It is the student wing influenced by BJP. I held the position of All India Secretary. Also Arun (Jaitley) and Venkaiah (Naidu) held the same position. After completing education though I got a Government job I choose to become a full time worker of ABVP. Along with Arun and Venkaiah, I worked across the country. Three of us set up the universities councils of ABVP.
In 1975 because of my ABVP all India background, I was detained under MISA, Maintenance of Internal Security Act. I was kept behind the bars for nearly 20 months in Bangalore and Belgaum Jail. In the jail I had a close interaction with other anti-congress leaders namely Mr. Advaniji, Mr. Vajpayeeji, Mr. Ramakrishna Hegde, Mr. J.H. Patel, Mr. Deve Gowda, Mr. Micheal Fernandis and Mr. Lawrence Fernandis. They all encouraged and lived with me personally. Living together for 20 months in most struggle days was a great experience to me. I feel it was my second degree in the jail! Then of course I came out from the jail and was made the youth president of the Janata party in Karnataka.
In 1980, there was the downfall of Janata Party. The Government of Janata Party lost power. We did not know what to do! Till this year I was working for people be it inside the jail or outside the jail. Life was full of struggles yet I was working persistently as Youth Leader! Same year I got married. To meet the financial responsibilities I became lecturer in a college.
Inspite of being in job as lecturer I did not leave the party contact. Mr. Bomaiah, Hegde, Deve Gowdaji and Patel, all wanted me to contest. On their insistence I contested the assembly election. By God’s grace since then I have continuously maintained my constituency for 25 years. I won 6 times and then I became a minister of 17-18 portfolios for nearly 18 years. I lost the last assembly elections because of my own mistakes. Now I am devoting much of my time for students and youth movement. I taught in engineering college for 4 years.
Being lecturer, great experience
To be honest, I did engineering for five years and was a very good student but teaching engineering undoubtedly I cherished most! To teach I had to study much more. Every teacher and students needs to study forever if they want to live happy and peaceful life. Money alone will not give everything! It is vital to have values in life, learn, transform and adapt accordingly. Without adaption no student will respect the teachers.
Teachers are very big strength in this country. In Karnataka itself we have more than 10 lakhs teachers from primary to high school, to PG. So if it is 10 lakhs in Karnataka then all over the country it should be more than a crore. So this is a very big strength. My message to the teachers is that they are doing a wonderful work. No doubts about it!
Precisely after 1996, they are trained well. The year brought a change with globalization and privatization. It has become reality of the world! The order of the world has changed. Issues have changed. Our subject also has to be changed. Our attitude has to be changed. Thus our teaching methodology has to be changed too. It has become mandatory that our teachers are trained.
Training need not be restricted only in the classroom. Now it is easy to explore with internet. Teachers must have the attitude to learn, learn and learn. If they learn things they will be instrumental in making a better India and better world for all of us.
Indian youth in politics
There is no better form of governance in this world other than democracy. There is no better form yet we need to evolve. So in democracy everybody has to participate. I agree that there are no role models in Indian politics as of now! I had heard about John Federal Kennedy, I knew something about Indira Gandhi, they were ideal, role models. Today we have none! But still I feel the youth power is the biggest power on this earth and particularly in our country so they must have the will to drive the world in better direction. Narendra Modi has become the prime minister not because of any money power! He has become the prime minister only because young people wanted a change and they changed it. Again if they are disappointed they will look for some better region. Therefore it is proved that only the youngsters who can bring in a change.
If we go back and see the independence movement in this country, who changed and who fought for independence? That was the first independence struggle we had! We became united, we accepted the constitution, after that the constitution was changed, again the youngsters fought. 1000s of them went to jail. In 1977 nobody thought we were inside the jail but none of us knew that we are going to come to power and we are going to form a party. So it is the youth again! Similarly I hope the present prime minister will deliver. I sincerely wish that what he has said development, development and development actually takes place. What he has been talking about better economic order and using the youth forces in good work is implemented. He has taken up the right issues!
For example – India can produce the best man power in the world whether it is nurses, teachers or ordinary plumbers. For that we need training, training and training. Youngsters have to rise up to the occasion. I hope the present prime minister will deliver! We have to wait and watch. We cannot simply pass judgments. Therefore, youth should actively watch, get involved and work hard. I don’t say that every one of them should come into politics but must think on social issues. Indian politicians also do realize that the youngsters in their minds and hearts don’t like the present day politicians, their style of functioning and the corruption in particular. Youth are tolerating all this. There is a realization but it is a slow realization because everybody wants an easy life! When easy money comes they grab, that is been the approach so far but I think it will change for sure.
Bharat Scouts and Guides
Bharath Scouts and Guides is an international uniform organization. Approximately more than 5 crore youngsters in more than 200 countries are involved in this movement. The organization was started by Mrs. And Mr. Baden Paul in London in 1907. The objective is to teach art of living, better living to the youngsters. It has four main intensions towards which the activities of the organization are directed. Number one is discipline and number two is secular. It has an all-time prayer, a wonderful prayer that applies to both sets of people – who believe in god and who do not believe in god. At number three, it addresses good living and environmental issues such as forest conservation, water conservation and soil conservation. Number four is intentions of helping others that is seva service.
Perhaps Baden Paul has taken ‘seva’ from the Christianity service, environmental from all parts of the world and they started this. It is very interesting because this kind of discipline and thoughts should be embedded in youngster’s heart and mind at the young age. So what he has done is upto age of 10 years, boys and girls are called as Cubs and Bulbuls respectively. Next, between the age group of 10-15 years the youngsters are called as Scouts (boys) and Guides (girls). Above the age group of 18 years boys are referred as Rovers while girls as Rangers. Most of the college students are called Rovers and Rangers. As of date, upto the age group of 25 years more than 50 lakhs boys and girls in India have enrolled themselves as members of this organization. It is headquartered in Bangalore.
Most of the states have state association, district association, local association (at taluk level), unit leaders (below the taluk level association). Every unit has maximum 30 members (15 boys and 15 girls) and one teacher. Minimum members in unit are 8. Teacher could be from Government or private schools. Right from primary school and upto professors they are involved in it. In Karnataka state itself we have enrolled around 4 lakhs boys and girls this year as members of this organization. They are supposed to meet on every Saturday for half an hour or one hour, discuss and get trained in all these things. This is the main purpose of the organization.
Objective is the ideology and then there is a methodology. To imbibe all these things it is mandatory to practically feel it. To achieve the same we conduct lot of camps. We have training centres in most of the district places, we have offices, we have beautiful campus, and one near Doddaballapur, given by Late Maharaja is more than 100 acres. Another beautiful place we have is near Davanagere, called Kondajji camp. Late Kondajji Basappa, the late former minister took the responsibility for the development of the camp. He was the chief commissioner of Karnataka for more than 15-20 years. He preached teaching of Mahatma Gandhi.
In all these camps we organize a residential program for 3-7 days for boys and girls. During this period we teach them all kind of things more than 80 arts like archery, firing, star gazing, swimming and athletics etc. Also soft skills are taught like how to be bold, how to speak, how to conduct a program and how to behave with others, what service can be done for the society and so on. It is all done in well-crafted syllabus. We conduct prayer at the end of camp. So in all those prayers something is taken from Guru Granth Sahib, Bhagavad-Gita, Islam, Quran and Bible. Youngsters are taught one main lesson not to hate others. There are encouraged to practice their religion on their own and have no objection to other communities instead treat one and all with harmony. These things are talked in 200 countries.
At state level, every two years we conduct camps, festivals, they are called as Jamburi’s. We conduct national level which is called as Jamburiat. We also have international Jamburi in every four years. More than 20-30 thousand boys and girls come together from more than 200 countries and they stay there for seven days. No luxury comforts are provided. Scouts and Guides basically introduce children to hard realities of life that has to be faced. If there is a difficulty they have to face it too. When even there is a distress in the society, these people go and serve as volunteers.
Suppose there is a festival in the village, our people will go and work as volunteers. Suppose there is a blind man who requires some assistance, our boys and girls will go and help them. These kinds of things are imbibed in them and then this organization is run by teachers. 99% are teachers. Therefore teachers are also taught about these methodology and ideology. Same as students we have camps for teachers too.
We also conduct exams and give medals. These takes place in various stages namely Pravesh, Pratham, Rajyapuraskar and Rastrapathi. So even the President of India, we have examination. More than 2000 children all over the country will be selected. Whoever gets the Rastrapathi award generally will be very meritorious boy/girl of the guide. My experience is 10-15% of the IPS in the country have undergone the training of Bharath Scouts and Guides.
The organization is partly funded by state Government. We spend more than Rs. 15-20 crore every year, out of which government will assist with Rs. 3-4 crores. Rest is collected from the public. The local associations across the 200 taluk are given Rs. 50 thousand for conducting the camp but they are able to collect more than Rs. 5 lakh from the public. Our society responds for the cause of the children, for the cause of good things! Amongst all the states Haryana is the best chapter of Scouts and Guides. Other active states are Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Chief Minister of Karnataka state is the President of Bharath Scouts and Guides. Education minister becomes the Vice President. I hold the hold the position of State Chief Commissioner. In some way all the officers from public department, higher education council gets involved. So in the process the government is aware what we are doing! It is a great movement.
Of course there are minus and plus points. But all together it is a great organization. We teach values of life- the art of living. We have our own resources, our own buildings that Maharaja and subsequent government has provided.
I have been associated with this organization from last 35 years! As a student I could not because I am from a rural village. I could not undergo this training. In 1982-83 when I was a minister, I was made district president. At that time Bangalore rural was district and I was the president. It was 15-20 years ago. Later I took the position of state vice president. Besides I am life time trustee of these properties. It is close to my heart!
Everybody is talking of development! What is development? Development is limited to infrastructure like airport, roads and building. Secondly what is economy? It is nothing but investment. So in the nutshell development and economics has become the mantra of all political parties across the globe. Nobody talks about socialism!
I met Fidel Castro as the representative of India at the age of 26 in Cuba in Havana. In all we were about 100 from India and I was one among them. TThey wanted to turn Cuba into capital east just like America. They brought 30 thousand youngsters from all parts of the world, they made us to see USSR and then they took us to Cuba, they made us to understand the equality. Today nobody talks about such wider vision. There is no communism! There is no socialism!
Indo- China Friendship Association of India
I am president of Indo- China Friendship Association of India. It is recognized by the embassy of China in Delhi. In 2001, a high level delegation went to China. It was lead by Mr. Kagod Thimmappare and other delegates were Mr. Siddaramaiah, Mr. M.P. Prakash, Late Byre Gowda, Mr. Deshpande, Mr. Mohan Pandit and myself. In all we were 10 of us.
We visited nearly 10-12 cities. We could see the change happening. We saw in the park people listening to western music, dining, dancing, something about computers, learning English and so on. Interestingly which ever book shop we went right from Yangin upto Beijing in all 10-12 cities we enquired about Das Kapital. Nobody had Das Kapital copy! Today in China, whatever may be the form of Government, they may be talking of development but ultimately what they want is economic power of the world!
As told to Kartik Isvarmurti, Managing Editor, India School News.
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About Shri P.G.R Sindhia
P.G.R Sindhia is an Indian politician. He was born on 19th September 1949 at Dodda Maralawadi, a village in Kanakapura Taluk, Bangalore. He is known for fight for social justice and communal amity, no matter whether he is in the ruling party of in the opposition. His family members were valiant warriors in the service of Maharajas of Mysore, held senior positions in the King’s army and won the appreciation of the Mysore Kings.
He took preliminary education in his village and higher education in Bangalore. He holds a degree in Civil Engineering from a prestigious R.V.Engineering College, Bangalore. Exhibiting leadership qualities during his college days, he was the President of the Bangalore University Students’ Council during 1972-78 and Secretary of ABVP. .
Mr. Sindhia was the President of Yuva Janata in 1977 and General Secretary of State Janata Party in 1978. Mr. Sindhia got himself involved in rural reconstruction works in his native Kanakapura Taluk even while teaching in an engineering college. After two years he gave up teaching and devoted all his time for rural activities. He became popular among the masses because of his dedicated social work, humility and friendliness towards one and all.
He was elected as a member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in 1983 and became Minister for Health and Family Welfare in the cabinet headed by Sri. Ramakrishna Hegde. Later, he was also the Minister for Irrigation.