Jain (Deemed-to-be University)’s Department of Languages in collaboration with Rujuvathu Trust organized the first U.R.Ananthamurthy Annual Memorial Lecture on the occasion of 85th birthday of the doyen of Indian Literature– Prof. U.R.Ananthamurthy.The program witnessed the presence of writers and intellectuals like Girish Karnad, Ramachandra Guha, Girish Kasarvalli, N.Manu Chakravarthy, Vanamala Vishwanath, Vivek Shanbhag, Capt.Gopinath, Mukund Rao and many more eminent personalities from various parts of Karnataka.
The program began with Dr. Mythili P.Rao’s welcome address, followed by the dignitaries lighting up the lamp and alumni Ms. Meghana Bhat’s heavenly rendition of Vaishnavajan to tene re kahiye which gave an auspicious touch to the program. Dr. Sandeep Shastri, Pro Vice Chancellor, Jain (Deemed-to-be University) recalled the memories of his working along with Prof. U.R.Ananthamurthy and how as a writer and a public intellectual he altered the geography of the national literary landscape. Dr. Shastri in his inimitable style gave Shabdanjali to Prof. Ananthamurthy. This was followed by the most awaited moment of the evening- Shri. Gopalkrishna Gandhi delivering the first U.R.Ananthamurthy Annual Memorial Lecture.
Quite an ingenious way of painting a picture on a larger canvas with a minimum bricolage at hand, former diplomat Gopalkrishna Gandhi connected dots from a microscopic level to a macroscopic level. The first U.R. Ananthamurthy Annual Memorial Lecture etched its beginning in the history of many more memorial lectures to come as it sought to Gandhi’s stirring talk on ‘Individual Liberty’. There is a dearth of individual thinkers in the present times. Loud discussions with arguments and counterarguments now restrict themselves to favoring political parties and not the nation at large. Conflicts in thoughts are a rarity but propaganda-conflicts occur most often. In this context, Gandhi humorously remarks that if there are conflicts then it is between the parties that are already dead and those parties that are yet to be born.
The freedom of speech and expression that a writer has, is subjected to various criticisms, not academically but politically. Placing U.R. Ananthamurthy’s writings, ideologies and approaches as the base, Gandhi elaborated on how an individual must resort to expressing an individual mind and not the mind of a herd. In a witty style of giving an illustration, he said that Independent MP’s or Independent-minded MP’s are almost extinct in today’s ‘democratic’ nation. There was madness when the initial layout of political agendas was set in order to construct a framework for our nation’s governance; this madness had a certain order nonetheless. Sadly, this orderly madness did not last long, and soon we came under the leadership of those charlatans who justified their extreme insanity as righteously sane.
According to Gandhi, he notes and remarks that the problem lies in our very approach to perceiving and accepting our nation. India is a country that has multiformity, heterogeneity, irregularity, and individuality. These are qualities that are ought to be celebrated, just like the acknowledgment of ‘normal’ can be possible through defining what is ‘ab-norm’. The binary is misunderstood and ‘individuality is out, conformity is in’. When conformity seeps in, there is the absence of brain/mind but there is an overarching presence of brawn/muscle. Gandhi’s concluding remarks travel on the line of thought that India, as an abode of many cultures, must and should witness not just the emergence of individual minds/dissents but also the sustenance of these thinking minds. Shri. Gandhi concluded his lecture by thanking Jain (Deemed-to-be University) for inviting him to deliver the first U.R. Ananthamurthy Annual Memorial Lecture.