Sir PT Thiaga Rajan : Great Minds

Sir Ponnambala Thiaga Rajan (1892 – 1974) was one of the prominent leaders of the Justice Party. He was briefly the Chief Minister of Madras Presidency in 1936. He was also the last President of the Justice Party. Sir P. T, as he was fondly known, attended The Leys School, Cambridge and later, Jesus College, Oxford. He graduated in history and law, and practiced as an advocate for some time before joining the Justice Party.

Sir P.T’s son P.T.R. Palanivel Rajan was Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly from 1996 to 2001 and his grandson, Palanivel Thiaga Rajan is the present finance minister of Tamil Nadu.

While the credit for passing the Hindu Religious Endowment Bill in 1926 goes to the Justice Party, the renovation and rehabilitation of many ancient temples in the south owe much to the personal contribution of Sir P.T.  

The connection of Sir P.T to the Nilgiris, particularly Ooty, was long and intimate. He was a regular visitor to the hills every summer before and after independence. He used to stay in Lawley Institute where a portrait of him still hangs. Many issues of national and state importance were discussed in the cool climes of Ooty with fellow party members and other stalwarts who were also regulars to the Ooty season.

Sir P.T was the editor of Justice Party Golden Jubilee Souvenir in 1968. His welcome address and the article on the Tamils is a comprehensive compendium on the history of the Justice Party and the leading lights of the Tamil society of his time. Some timeless excerpts from the volume.

“Cleverness without character is worse than useless and often proves dangerous”.

“University and secondary education produced efficient subordinates and not leaders. A radical changes in the educational  policy will  likely to meet with opposition  from vested interests.”

“In office the officials came to look upon the ministers as their masters when as a matter of fact they should have conducted themselves only as the servant of the public. The government is different from the ministry. The government is a continuing one and the ministry is a changing one.”

“In spite of the assurance given by Pundit Nehru that English would be the associate language as long as non-Hindi States want it attempts have been made to force this language on unwilling states. I may perhaps be permitted to say that the attitude of the people of southern states may be the beginning of the Federation of Southern States visualized by the founders of the Justice Party.”

“Students indiscipline is agitating the minds of not only the parents but also of politicians and governments. I should like to impress on the students that student career is a period of preparation for battle of life. Failure in preparation means failure in battle.”

“If democracy is to be made safe for India, the voters should be allowed to vote for any candidate without fear or favour. In order to ensure this, the police should observe strict neutrality. A well trained and contended police force will be an asset to society and ensure freedom and safety to the citizens.”

“Our leaders in all walks of life should subject themselves to strict disciple and punctuality and then by their practices set an example to the present generations. Our MPs and  MLAs should view their responsibility  in the proper perspective. The country should come first and the party next.”

“Friends would like to know what should be the future of the Justice Party. In a parliamentary democracy, if you follow the British practice , there can be only two well defined parties – party in power and party in opposition. Already there are two parties functioning – The Congress and the DMK. Our party will be superfluous and will be a misfit in the existing context. “

Men may come, men may go, Parties may appear and disappear. Empires rose and fell. Civilizations flourish and disappear. Justice Party as an organization may disappear. But the principles for which the Party stands are of eternal value and will never perish.

Nilgiri Documentation Centre

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