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s. r. ramaswamy
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Sondekoppa Ramachandra Sastri Ramaswamy is a renowned Indian journalist, writer, environmentalist and intellectual with more than 50 books and 1000 articles to his credit. His writings essentially mirror the literary, cultural, nationalist and developmental problems that are contemporaneous to the present day scenario. His outstanding support to "Voluntary Rural Development Initiatives" in the Indian state of Karnataka bear testament to his sense of social responsibility. He has additionally come to spear-head the renewed "Swadeshi" movement in the nation. Among his major campaigns was a movement which he led for restoration of people's customary rights over community lands threatened by ill-planned Government forestry policies. One such crusade saw him take an uphill battle against a well-known conglomerate all the way to the Supreme Court of India accompanied by noted litterateur Dr. Shivaram Karanth - which ended in thousands of tribal populace being protected against eviction from their native region in the state of Karnataka. S. R. Ramaswamy is the founder of "Samaja Parivartana Samudaya", a voluntary organization working in Karnataka towards social transformation, tribal upliftment, citizen rights' empowerment among other issues at rural as well as urban levels.
S. R. Ramaswamy hails from a Brahmin family of Mulukanadu ancestry. He was born to parents S. Ramachandra Sastri and Sarasvatamma on the 29th day of October, 1937 at Bangalore. His mother smt. Sarasvatamma hails from the illustrious "Panyam" branch of the "Mulukanadu" clan. S. R. Ramaswamy's ancestor Yagnapathi Bhatta or Yagnam Bhatta was a famous court poet in the court of Immadi Kempegowda. He is the great grand-nephew of Maha Asthan Vidwan Motaganahalli Ramshesha Sastri and Asthan Vidwan Motaganahalli Shankara Sastri and nephew of Dr S. Srikanta Sastri & Motaganahalli Subramanya Sastri. He is the younger brother of renowned journalist of yesteryears S. R. Krishnamurthy. S. R. Ramaswamy has inherited a scholastic tradition of research and erudition from this illustrious ancestry.
His forays into the world of journalism began with a short stint at William Quan Judge Press at Bangalore in the late 1950s. By 1972, S. R. Ramaswamy was a Chief Sub-Editor at popular Kannada weekly "Sudha' and continued there till 1979. Since 1980 till date, he serves as Honorary Editor-in-Chief at "Utthana" and "Rashrottana Sahitya" at Bangalore. S. R. Ramaswamy has dedicated close to five decades to the world of journalism, writing, literature, environmental issues and social movements across the country. Across the decades spanning from 1960s to 1990s, S. R. Ramaswamy came under the influence of such intellectual giants as D. V. Gundappa, V. Sitaramayya, A. R. Krishnasastri, P. Kodanda Rao, Rallapalli Anantha Krishna Sharma and Yadav Rao Joshi. His association with D. V. Gundappa over two decades saw him penning many of D. V. G.'s dictations, thus becoming his "eyes" & "ears", so to speak. ! Such a close embrace over the years led D. V. G to acknowledge S. R. Ramaswamy in his book "Jnapaka Chitrashale" as the brother he possibly had in an earlier life..! Proficient in a number of languages ranging from Sanskrit, Hindi, German, French, English, Kannada & Telugu - S. R. Ramaswamy's works defy boundaries of culture, nationality or regional identity. In fact, his earliest piece - a review of "Paul Valery: The Quintessentialised Intellectual" (published in P.E.N in 1972) serves to illustrate his scope of intellect: -
"It is one of the curiosities of Paul Valery's many sided literary activity that notwithstanding the versatility of his writings and the steadily increasing sway he gained over the French mind during the first three decades of the present century (21st), the clue to an understanding of his life and work is found to be in what is probably one of his earliest works - "Une Soiree avec. M. Teste" (An Evening with Mr. Teste) published so far back as 1896"
S. R. Ramaswamy is proficient in Carnatic and Hindustani Classical Music in addition to the Classical form of Indian dance - Bharatanatyam. This proficiency is largely attributed to his close association with noted composer, singer and writer Rallapalli Anantha Krishna Sharma (pictured in photograph) and V. S. Kowshik - the well-known maestro of Bharatanatyam. His personal collection of L.P. records numbering in the hundreds encompass the best of both Carnatic and Hindustani Music.
S. R. Ramaswamy is an acclaimed art critic. In the 1950s and early 1960s, he assiduously promoted the Russian painter Svetoslav Roerich by authoring and editing two fine books chronicling the many exhibitions the painter had hosted across continents over the years. These two volumes have in them rare photographs of Svetoslav Roerich with many a distinguished heads of state and art aficionados alike. These volumes were published in 1974 by the William Quan Judge (W. Q. Judge) Press, Bangalore for limited circulation and are seldom found in libraries today (book pictured). He has also interacted with such well known personalities as art critic Venkataram, Gandhian economists L. C. Jain and Sri Kumarappa.
S. R. Ramaswamy additionally holds the position of Secretary at the prestigious "Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs" (GIPA), Bangalore - an independent, non-party and non-communal organization endeavouring to serve as a center for education of the public for democratic citizenship. GIPA seeks to co-operate with, and seeks co-operation from the Government and all public institutions in the country for the greater good. Founded by D. V. Gundappa and steered in it's early years by retired Chief Justice of Karnataka Nittur Sreenivasa rao, it is now being ushered into the new century under the able leadership of S. R. Ramaswamy.
He has accomplished the most commendable task of organising four programmes a month, 12 months in a row about a year in advance - indeed a testament to his organisational and administrative acumen.
An avid reader of English classics and best-sellers, S. R. Ramaswamy's personal library of books would have numbered close to 50,000 had it not been for his philanthropic nature of giving away many a book to friends and relatives alike. His jovial disposition is still remembered and cherished at the offices of Kannada weekly "Sudha" where he was Chief Sub-Editor for many years. It is said that Ramaswamy would without fail entertain his colleagues every day to a joke or two at India Coffee House. In his private moments, even to this day he remains a very good raconteur of jokes and anecdotes from his vast collection. Driven by the ideal of "simple living and high thinking", S. R. Ramaswamy is very much a self-made man. Devoid of a University education, he has amassed a vast repertoire of knowledge by sheer hard work, dedication and perseverance. His proficiency in the arts and his keen acumen involved in his writing bear testament to his genius. A stickler to principles and high ideals, S. R. Ramaswamy has on numerous occasions turned down invitations to visit foreign countries. Despite an United Nations invitation to a Global Environmental Summit (at Rio) in the 1990s, he declined it on grounds of an unwillingness to leave the country.
Author of several memorable works such as "Kolminchu" a biography of Subhash Chandra Bose, a biography of "B. R. Ambedkar" and "In the woods of Globalisation" among others, he has even translated many a book into Kannada. His biography of "B. R. Ambedkar" has been translated into numerous Indian languages. His work in 1989 on the economic, social and ideological realities at turn of the century titled "Shatamanada Tiruvinalli Bharata" was accorded the prestigious "Kannada Sahitya Akademi Award". He has received twice the "Canara Bank Award" for his articles on "Life of Soliga Tribals" (1983) and "State of Land Reforms" (1984). He has also received the "Aryabhata Award" for Journalism in 2006 and the "Karnataka Rajyotsava Award" for his contribution to Literature in 2008. Recently, he was awarded the "Mythic Society Centenary Award for Scholastic Achievements" in 2009.
The Karnataka Madhyama Academy awarded S. R. Ramaswamy "Person of the year" for five decades of service to journalism in 2011. The Karnataka State Open University conferred upon S. R. Ramaswamy a Honorary Doctorate "D. Litt" for lifetime contribution to literature and journalism in 2011. (pictured)
Here is a short list of his works: -
1. "Mahabharata Belavanige" (1972)
2. "Svetoslav Roerich" (Ed.) (1974)
3. "D. V. G. - a biography" (1976)
4. "Udaya Shankar" - a biography (1979)
5. "Sripad Damodar Satwalekar" - a biography (1980)
6. "Aravinda" - Pt. Seshadri Gawai Felicitation Voulme (Ed.) (1985)
7. "Samaja-Chikitsaka Ambedkar" - biography co-authored with Chandrashekhar Bhandary (1990)
8. "In The Woods of Globalisation" (1995)
9. "Swadeshi Jagruti" (1994)
10."Swadeshi: Ondu Samvada" (1994)
S. R. Ramaswamy has remained a bachelor dedicating his time extensively to writing, reading, editing and delivering lectures. He resides at Bangalore, India.
S. R. Ramaswamy's 1995 work "In The Woods of Globalisation" dealt in detail the effects of Globalisation on a predominantly agrarian Indian Economy. The book was set in the backdrop of the "Liberalisation" policy embarked upon by then prevalent Congress government. His astute analysis and comparative deductions help clear the air on many of the accepted dogmas of our time. An outspoken supporter of the "Swadeshi" movement, S. R. Ramaswamy moulds the pre-independence "Swadeshi" movement to better suit contemporary economic realities. A few excerpts from the said book are shown here:
".....What one now sees is not a mere aberration or a temporary phase. The majority of people have realised that this is institutional failure of the policies pursued so far. The 'Solutions' of yesterday have turned into 'problems' of today. The world trade, which was once considered to be the mother of all solutions, has itself been creating a plethora of problems. That vehicle has been damaged, parked on the wayside and stood on its jack, awaiting repair. The western countries, never tired of preaching 'liberalisation' to the entire world, themselves are creating trade barriers like NAFTA. The U.S. and Japan are now engaged in an open trade war (1995)...."
On a renewed "Swadeshi" movement
".....The Swadeshi movement came to be identified as a part of our freedom struggle. Swadeshi, which long ago had been propounded by personages like Mahadev Govind Ranade and later Lokmanya Tilak, was used as a war cry by Gandhiji. Even at that time he made it clear that his idea of Swadeshi was not confined to the immediate context but that it was a pervasive concept. He called for the re-establishment of the natural values of our civilisation which had been eroded for various reasons. The boycott of foreign goods, salt satyagraha, non-cooperation campaign, and finally the 'Quit India' movement - all these were different expressions of the struggle for restoration of the self-identity of Bharat. It was not merely for their foreignness that Gandhiji protested against the institutions of the British. He opposed the very idea of anyone's imposing of an idea or institution on others. He made it clear more than once that he would oppose even the national government if it imposed its policies against the will of the people. At that time, of course, the government was not representative of the people at all.! Attempting to internationalise economics while retaining the nationalistic shape of politics is an impossibility. Our government has not only accepted such policies paving the way for more Westernisation of society, but also has been arrogantly propagating them through the government machinery. This has at the practical level been complemented by reduction of import duty, slackening of regulations etc. It is therefore not wrong to say that the government has been the chief broker of Westernisation...."
On Price-Determination, Taxation
"....Some decades ago it was felt that the perversions of the 'licence-permit' raj (as described by C. Rajagopalachari) would be taken care of under the competitive 'open-market system. Perhaps in a genuinely 'free' market such distortions would have been controlled. But it is only monopolies which have been parading themselves under the banner of 'free market' for the last many decades. Consolidating their monopoly has been the major endeavour of the industrial and trade barons. Shukraniti and other Hindu texts have said that downward moving price is a sign of a healthy economy. Another directive of the smritis is that taxes must be at the lowest possible level. Lower taxation is possible in the Swadeshi economy since the role of government would be limited......"