The autobiography of a statesman becomes not only a human document but a foot-note to history when facts are held sacred and the self is kept under check.
In this first volume of his memoirs, Shri C. Subramaniam tells the story of the first five decades of his life with candour. With characteristic humility, he calls his memoirs 'Hand of Destiny.'
The title of the first volume, 'The Turning Point,' derives from the Salt Satyagraha of 1930 in which Mahatma Gandhi marched to Dandi to break the salt law. It was the 'Pinch of Salt' that changed the lives of millions, shaking the very foundations of the mighty British Empire. This was also the turning point in the life of the author.
There is something for everyone here — the layman, the student of public affairs, research scholars, politicians and the younger generation. There is also a lesson for everyone: to succeed in life hard work, adherence to ethical values and loyalty to ideals are needed.
Swami Ranganathananda writes in his benediction :
"I consider these Memoirs a timely publication and recommend it to all our people, especially to our bright and ambitious young men and women, from whom our nation expects much and who will be capable of transforming it from its present sorry state of a big country with small people to that of a well-developed great nation with great and high-minded people."
Shri C. Subramaniam (b. Jan. 30, 1910), popularly known as 'C.S.', is one of the few Indian statesmen of whom it could be said that he was a friend of truth, of soul sincere, in action faithful, who gave no false promises, served no private end.
As Minister, both at the State-level and at the Centre, Shri Subramaniam played a significant role in various fields of national endeavour—education, agriculture, planning, industry, science and technology, finance and defence. Well-known as the 'Father of the Green Revolution,' he is a seasoned parliamentarian and an accomplished writer and author of several books.
He has been associated with Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan—the largest comprehensive, apolitical, national cultural organisation of India with an international outlook — for several years. He became its President in 1990.
1932 : Graduated in Law : Joined the Civil Disobedience Movement as a Congress volunteer and was imprisoned. 1936 : Practised law in Coimbatore. 1941 : Participated in the Individual . Satyagraha and was jailed. 1943 : Detained for taking part in the Quit India Movement. 1946-52: Member of Constituent Assembly and Provisional Parliament. 1952-62: Madras Legislative Assembly Member and Minister concurrently in charge of Finance, Education, Law. 1962-67 : At the Centre : Union Minister of Steel, Mines and Heavy Engineering, Food and Agriculture, Community Development and Co-operation. 1971-77 : Minister for Planning, Science and Technology, Industrial Development and Finance. 1979 : Minister for Defence. 1990-93 : Governor of Maharashtra.
When I attained the age of 70 in January, 1980, I retired from active politics but continued to be very much in public life. Then many friends suggested that I should write the story of my life in view of my long and varied experiences in public affairs and administration as also interaction with many great personages In and outside India. I had my own hesitations because my mentor, Rajaji, was always against autobiographical writing.
Some time in 1989 the Nehru Museum, New Delhi, offered to record my 'Oral History' and asked me to dictate my experiences for about four to five hours. I agreed and the team came to Madras. I started dictating my life-story. The first day's session lasted for about three hours and the leader of the team said that he found the account fascinating and suggested that I could continue my dictation as long as I wanted. The recording went on for more than eight days covering about 22 hours. The Museum offered to transcribe my recording and give the tapes to me so that I could make use of them in case I wanted to write my life-story. Many friends insisted that I should write my experiences for the benefit of the younger generations. Half-heartedly, I started dictating my story again and my eldest daughter, Aruna, took it down in long hand.
Then came, in February 1990, my appointment as Governor of Maharashtra. My secretaries suggested that I should resume the work on my life-story. My Joint Secretary, Shri K.C. Nainan, offered to assist me by taking down my dictation at least one hour in the morning everyday. This was the beginning of this book.
As I went on dictating, I felt that it would not be possible to compress in a single volume all that I had to say. After discussions with Shri S. Ramakrishnan, Executive Secretary and Director-General of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, I decided on bringing out three volumes - the first one covering my early life, student days, freedom struggle, Constituent Assembly period and ten years as Minister in the Cabinet of the erstwhile composite State of Madras; the second volume covering my experience in the. Central Cabinet from 1962 to 1967 under three Prime Ministers - Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi; and the third volume covering the events of the critical days of the Congress split, the Emergency and other related matters.
I propose to bring out a fourth volume containing my reflections on national problems.
The title 'Hand of Destiny' has been given to the series, because I am convinced that 'destiny' has played a significant role in my life. I have also avoided using the term 'autobiography' but preferred 'Memoirs'. The volumes contain not only an account of my life but contemporary historical events of national importance during six eventful decades - 1930-90.
This volume bears the subtitle 'The Turning Point' for the reasons given within. The second volume, which deals with my efforts at modernising Indian agriculture hailed as the 'Green Revolution,' is given the same title. The third volume, 'In The Battle Line,' deals with the Emergency and the turbulent days of the seventies.
I am beholden to revered Swami Ranganathanandaji who has been a source of constant inspiration to me, for his 'appreciative' benediction.
I must acknowledge with thanks the invaluable help rendered by Shri Nainan, my Joint Secretary, who painstakingly took down my dictation and obtained all the reference books. I should also express my thanks to Smt. Achala Shetty of Madras, for vetting the first draft. The draft has also passed through the hands of Prof. S. Ramaswami, former Chief Professor of English, Presidency College, Madras and Dr. V.S. Sethuraman, formerly of the Annamalai and Sri Venkateswara Universities.
The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan is publishing these volumes. I am particularly thankful to Sarvashri S. Ramakrishnan, T. Parameshwar, V. Sivaramakrishnan and Subba Rao of the Bhavan for seeing this volume through the press. They came up with helpful suggestions at every stage of the preparation of the volume. Sarvashri C.K. Venkataraman, K. Subbarayan and Sudhakar Raje went through the proof with meticulous care. Shri D.R. Amladi, former Asst. Director of Archives, Maharashtra, prepared the index in record time. The cover for this volume has been tastefully designed by Kum. Veena Gidwani of the Design Shop of the Tata Press.
It is my earnest hope that these Memoirs would help the readers, particularly the young generations and research scholars, to have a peep into the history of the freedom struggle and independent India's efforts to realise the socio-economic objectives set out in the Preamble to our Constitution:
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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