“I think a social worker should have voluntary poverty”—H S Doreswamy
In Indian Freedom struggle chronicle, only handpicked freedom fighters stuck to Mahatma Gandhi’s perspective of staying away from power politics of independent India. Pingali Venkayya, who was featured in Kalam Fan Club post, was one such stalwart who remained anonymous and away from the limelight in Independent India. This post is about a similar personality Harohalli Srinivasa Doreswamy who is energetic at the age of 99 to fight for the cause of needy in Independent India— a mission he has imbibed since his school days of British India. H.S Doreswamy, unlike many of his contemporaries, decided to stay away from the political cult and instead be a social worker of true sense who is detached from muscle and money power that current day politics is burgeoning with.
H.S Doreswamy was born on 10 April 1918 in Harohalli village of Mysore state now Karnataka. Unfortunately, at the age of 5, he lost his father Srinivasa Iyer and was brought up by his grandfather and mother. When he was in High school (9th standard), he read Mahatma Gandhi’s book ‘My Early Life’. This changed his entire perspective about the nation and prompted him to be part of Indian freedom movement. On completion of his schooling he relocated to Bangalore and during intermediate college days, he got an opportunity to attend a freedom movement awareness program at Banappa Park in Bangalore. This meeting further reinforced his zeal to be part of Indian Freedom movement. Later he went on to pursue B.Sc. The year he completed B.Sc, i.e. the year 1942 coincided with the Quit India Movement started by Mahatma Gandhi, and it gave impetus to Doreswamy’s ambition.
Entry into Indian Freedom Movement
On completion of graduation, H.S Doreswamy started teaching physics and maths for high school students. As aforesaid this was the time Indian freedom movement was gaining momentum and August 1942 Gandhiji started Quit India Movement. Doreswamy along with his brother H.S Seetharam and two friends Sardar Venkataramaiah and A G Ramachandra Rao jumped into Indian freedom struggle. Their mode of operation was innovative and effective. Mainly they used to prepare Time Bombs and drop these Time Bombs in Post Boxes and British Govt. Offices by tying them to the tails of rats. These bombs were effective in destroying the official documents maintained by the British administration.
Entry to Jail as Prisoner of freedom struggle
Based on the inputs from one of the freedom fighter called Ramachandra who was arrested for carrying time bombs even Doreswamy was detained by police and was sent to Bangalore Central jail where he spent 14 months and according to him Jail was like a university where he mastered the two principles of Gandhi Non-Violence and Sathyagraha and learnt Hindi and Tamil languages. According to him, Freedom Fighters will not find the life in jails a difficult proposition if they are ready to get detached from family. The life at jail gave a new dimension to his freedom fight as he didn’t resort back to throwing bombs instead mastered the power tools of Non-Violence and Sathyagraha.
S Doreswamy married a girl by name Lalithamma in the year 1950. It was love at first sight situation for him. He met Lalithamma in a friend’s place, and both of them played a game of dice in which she not only emerged the winner in the game but also managed to win his heart too. Doreswamy recalls the moral support his wife extended to him as he used to be always away from the family. This girl though initially was upset with the situation later learned to support her spouse’s fight for the nation.
Building Indian Cultural Central with a Newspaper and Book House
Doreswamy was keen on spreading the activities of national movement across the masses. He started publishing a newspaper that used to come up with series of articles against British Govt. He even started a Book House where literary stalwarts like R K Narayan and K S Narsimhaswamy used to spend time. British Govt. was closely monitoring the activities of this press and eventually seized it in the year 1947.
Innings-2 as Social Worker in Free India
After India got her independence on August 15th, 1947, many of the freedom fighters got involved in Indian politics and administration. Even Doreswamy’s brother Seethram went on to become Mayor of Bangalore city. But Doreswamy wanted to remain away from power politics and associated himself with downtrodden classes like slum dwellers, homeless and poor landless farmers, cobblers and porters. It was at the same time Acharya Vinoda Bhave had started Bhoodan Movement to persuade landlords to donate a piece of their land to the landless people of the country. He traveled extensively from village to village to create awareness about Bhoodan Movement. He used to travel 24 days in a month to make this a big success. He used to get an honorarium of 100 Rupees which he used to give to his wife to run the family.
Second Entry to Jail for Criticizing Indira Gandhi
During 1975 India witnessed Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Doreswamy couldn’t remain a silent spectator for this dictatorial attitude of the prime minister. He wrote a strong letter to the P.M demanding to dissolve emergency and warned her that he would otherwise take the issue to every village mobilizing the public against this dictatorial attitude. P.M couldn’t withstand the braveness of a common citizen. She arrested him citing the draconian Defence of India rule. Doreswamy spent four months in jail. But the court gave a verdict that a citizen has every right to question P.M in a democracy and ordered for his release.
Agitations, Fights & Rallies at age of 90
Today, H S Doreswamy is in his 99th year of life, but he joins hands with agitators in all types of fights against the misrule of governments. He went all the way from Bangalore to Belgaum traveling 500 KM to protest against the govt to provide land to poor and needy by confiscating it from land grabbers and land mafias. A team of MLA A.T Ramaswamy, Justice Santosh Hegde and AAP party led a rigorous fight against land grabbers and persuaded Govt. to bring legislation. He also joined hands with common citizen groups to fight against proposed Steel-Flyover in Bangalore, and the protest succeeded in making the govt to step back from the decision of building steel bridge thus saving thousands of trees.
In an interview to BBC, he has clearly mentioned that age-related problems are haunting him but his zeal to fight for the needy has not diminished. His humility has to be accepted by all of us as he never wants to consider himself as the biggest freedom fighter from Karnataka. Instead, he tells that stalwarts have left the mother earth and he is alive kicking!
Kalam Fan Club wishes this great social worker longer and healthier life so that his presence will send shivers down the spine of every govt and they will mend their ways.