Secular and Democratic India on the Threshold of the New Millennium
Hundreds of tributes have been paid to Comrade EMS Namboodiripad. I would like to add mine to them by pointing to three facets of his personality which I came to know in my association with him for nearly 15 years. His high, I would say total, integrity has been universally acknowledged. Nobody has dared throw even a pebble against him on that score. But I come across one aspect of his integrity, which is rare and is to be found in our modern annals perhaps only in the case of Gandhiji. In early 1960s, I don't remember the exact year when, his son passed his matriculation from Kerala and came to Delhi where Comrade Namboodiripad was then residing, to join a college, he had to pass a bridge course to be able to do so. The bridge course was offered in some of the colleges. I being a college teacher and known to Comrade EMS, he asked me to help his son get admission in a college. I told him that he should approach the Delhi Communist Party leadership who had high connections and who could get his son admitted without any hassle in the best college available for the purpose. He told me that he did not want to get any official favours of this minor sort even if they came through the intermediation of the Delhi Party. Instead, I should help his son get admitted through the normal channels in whichever college his son's merit entitled him to. This also meant that his son might not get admitted at all. Comrade Namboodiripad said that he had approached me only because he knew me personally and was a college teacher. On the other hand his taking personal interest in his son's admission would inevitably imply a personal favour to him by the educational authorities. Friends, all of us know that many of us have and can make a personal sacrifice, but the capacity to put at stake one's children's future is quite uncommon.
* Formerly professor of History at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Social Scientist, Vol. 27, Nos. 9 - 10, Sept. - Oct. 1999