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Sticking to his roots

At the ripe old age of 90, K.S. Tilak still has the fire in his eyes and likes to exhibit his oratory skills

PHOTO: C.V.SUBRAHMANYAM

K.S. Tilak

On August 15 in 1986, when speed post was first dedicated to the nation, one person in a remote village in East Godavari sulked, while the nation rejoiced over the new postal delivery system. Brooding over the delivery system, he mentioned to his associates, a bunch of social workers in their late teens, “From today the rich will receive their letters faster, while the poor will receive them late. The gap of disparity between the rich and the poor is enhanced.”

The profound statement was from the veteran socialist leader, freedom fighter and Member of Parliament of the first Lok Sabha (1952) from Vizianagaram, Kandala Subrahmanya Tilak.The nonagenarian was born on July 15, 1920 in Visakhapatnam, and from the age of ten was actively involved in the freedom struggle. He followed his uncle, Kandala Sarveswar Sastry, a noted freedom fighter, for about five miles to participate in the Salt Satyagraha march from Vizianagaram to Visakhapatnam, only to be reprimanded and sent back home mid-way in 1930.

“Having been brought up in a nationalist environment, as my father and my uncles were all hardcore nationalists, the idea of joining the freedom movement was sown early in me,” says veteran leader.

He plunged actively into the movement while pursuing B.Sc. at Banaras Hindu University. At the age of 18 years, he was elected as the student leader in the campus.

Even at the ripe age of 90, he still maintains a clear idea on socialism. “Political freedom from the British regime was important, but equally important was the socio-economic equality, post independence. The Congress party did play a stellar role in obtaining independence from the colonial rule, but it seems that the entire ideology had derailed once they had come to power.”

He believes that the future of the country lies in the hands of the younger generation who rely on non-violence, democracy, secularism and socialism.

K.S. Tilak now lives in Adivivaram, behind Simhachalam Hill, with his wife, daughter and son-in-law. He now spends his time reading and serving his visually impaired wife.

SUMIT BHATTACHARJEE

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