It has become a ritualistic practice to celebrate different kinds of days at least one a week like teachers, women, mothers, fathers, children, energy conservation, environment protection, cancer eradication, etc by holding an official seminar where some dignitaries make some perfunctory remarks which are reduced to few sound bites by the media which are duly ignored by the public.
Can we celebrate world consumer day, March 15th this year in Mysore in a different way by reflecting on the significant contributions by some of the consumer activists -past and present-to keep the consumer movement active in Mysore? This is in line with the exhortation made by our former President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, who suggested that we Indians are more critical in finding faults rather than praising and admiring our heroes.
I would like to suggest four such activists who all happen to be members of Mysore Grahakara Parishat. They are Dr. H. A. B. Parpia and Sri C. V. Nagaraj and late Prof Ananthswamy and late Sri D. K. Ranganathan.
It was Dr. H. A. Parpia, a former director of CFTRI despite his busy national and foreign assignments came forward to take up the responsibility of managing MGP as its first President. His passion to improve education from pre schooling to university level, constant involvement to solve transportation problems in the city by interacting with just about every police commissioner since 1989, promote communal harmony and above all his desire to uphold the rule of law in every sphere of activity are to be applauded. He was chairman of people’s education trust for a number of years. Even now at the ripe young age of 86, he still has the enthusiasm to get involved by taking part in any activity including protests by MGP. There are literally hundreds of high ranking retired professionals in our city today. How many can we recall as active in solving city’s civic problems?
In early 90s, MGP had organized a campaign to remove lead from petrol. The protest was to take place at K R Circle. There were just five to take part in the protest even after distribution of thousands of pamphlets on the dangerous effect of lead by MGP. One of them was late Prof Ananthswamy, a retired principal of Engineering College in Amaravathi. He had come after reading about the protest. Since then he became active in MGP and later he became the President. He was also responsible for starting MGP’s Kannada monthly paper, Grahak Patrike. How many retired professionals and there must be thousands in Mysore, come uninvited to take part in protests organized by some of the leading NGOs and give support to a deserving cause? We all know how politicians are able to manufacture alarge crowd and we are critical of them. But do professionals think like Prof Ananthswamy that it is one’s duty to fight for a well deserving cause?
Late D. K. Ranganathan, a retired railway employee had the reputation as “tiger” of Metagalli. Though he was past 65, he took active interest in MGP activities as its first treasurer. Despite his age, he was ready to go to any government office, or approach any merchant and demand the quick and timely resolution of consumer problems. He did not hesitate to walk miles on MGP work even in the hot sun to keep official appointment. After his death a park in Metagalli was named after him. Unfortunately, since few years, the park has been renamed. Is this the way, we pay respects to our hero, a leading social activist?
The fourth consumer movement hero of Mysore is a retired scientist, C. V. Nagaraj who has given more than 1800 food adulteration demonstrations in and around Mysore. Despite having many ailments, even today he is ready to devote time to promote consumer awareness among the young and old. He has involved even elementary school children in his demonstrations. Rotary, Lions, and various schools invite him all the time to present lecture-cum- demonstration on rampant food adulteration in our city. Mysore has two food laboratories and various educational institutions from where thousands of scientists have retired. It is indeed a sad commentary on the educational system of our country that these scientists are not inspired by C V. Nagaraj to get involved to eradicate the criminal activity of food adulteration in our city.
It is our hope that by reading the great contributions of these four consumer heroes of Mysore, more Mysoreans will get involved not essentially with MGP, but any other NGOs or even start their own. We need “million mutineers” to paraphrase V. S. Naipaul to bring about a vibrant consumer movement in Mysore.