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Grand old man of Bangalore does some soul-searching

Staff Reporter

Pandit Sudhakar Chaturvedi sounds off on corruption and nepotism

— PHOTO: K. MURALI KUMAR

YOUNG AT HEART:Lokayukta N. Santhosh Hegde helps Pandit Sudhakar Chaturvedi cut his birthday cake.

BANGALORE: The rampant corruption and nepotism of those in power has left a veteran freedom fighter wondering why he fought for freedom in the first place. Pandit Sudhakar Chaturvedi, who celebrated his 113th birthday on Monday, said: “I sometimes wonder if this is why we fought for independence and freedom.”

Mr. Chaturvedi, arguably the city's oldest resident, was speaking to the media at an event where he was gifted a special wheelchair on his birthday by Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde at his office on behalf of IDL Foundation, an NGO working for visually challenged and senior citizens.

Arrested 31 times

A staunch Gandhian, Mr. Chaturvedi was arrested 31 times for his participation in the freedom movement.

He was also part of the mass, nationwide protests that rocked the country in the wake of the Jalianwalah Bagh massacre.

Urging the Lokayukta and similar agencies across the country to work more rigorously to eradicate corruption, the frail centenarian said: “Although we have attained swarajya, surajya (good governance) is still a distant dream.”

The way ahead

He further pointed out that this can only be achieved if self-aggrandisement gave way to self-satisfaction and spirit of sacrifice. “...Only then can a corruption-free society be established,” he said.

An associate of Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Chaturvedi, who participated in Jallianwallah Bagh protests and was arrested several times during the freedom struggle, said: “Simple, truthful life is the secret of longevity,” he said.

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