Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “There is properly no history only
biography”. Thomas Carlyle in his ‘On Heroes, Hero Worship and
Heroic in History’ said- “The history of the world is but the
biography of great men”. Yes, history is moulded by the
personalities and accomplishments of certain exceptional
individuals. These outstanding individuals, creators and leaders,
alike have in common the qualities of “Genius” and the way to
recognize “Genius” in historical personage is to look for
achievements that exert a rare influence over contemporary and
succeeding generations. For the most part, to be identified as a
genius, an individual must become famous, and the fame must be
attained for making durable contributions to the cultural and
political endeavours. Thus, genius is identified by accomplishment.
M.Arunachalam was born on 4th march 1944 to
Mr.Moockiah and Mrs.Muthammal in Vellanaikottai village, in the
district of Tirunelveli, southern most part of India. It is a small
village at the foot of western ghat region. The days when there was
no electricity and traveling facilities as we have now, Arunachalam
enjoyed life as a son of an agriculturist in the green fields
enjoying nature in its unpolluted form, helping his parents in the
fields, taking care of the crops and livestock. Swimming was his
favourite hobby in which he excelled.
He is the second son of a family of six
children- having an elder brother, two younger brothers and two
younger sisters and was the second graduate from his village after
his elder brother. From childhood he experienced the social evils
like untouchability, economical injustice, colour race and casteism
all which gave him the determination to do something for the society
and decided that politics is the only way by which he can serve his
He suffered several humiliations during his
life as a student, but he was firm and the sufferings he had
undergone had strengthened his resolve to become somebody in the
He made a strong decision to study well,
convinced that education alone would unlock the doors of
opportunities and pave way for advancement- for without knowledge
and education, there can be no power.
He finished his schooling in Pulliangudi
and Vasudevanallur, walking 2-4kms daily.
He did his pre-university course from
V.O.Chidambram College Tuticorin, graduated from St.Xaviers college,
Palayamkottai, had his post-graduation from Gandhigram University,
Dindugul, and Bachelor of Law from Law College, Chennai.
During(after his degree, post graduation
and law college studies) the holidays Arunachalam did not want to
sit idle so he worked in offices like National Small Savings
Corporation and All India Radio, Trichy.
After he got his law degree, his ambition
of becoming a lawyer was fulfilled. He started his career as a
junior advocate under T.S. Ramanatha Iyer – a straightforward,
upright person with Gandhian principles who was called ‘Tiger of the
bar’ in Tenkasi.
By sheer hard work and perseverance, he had
a roaring practice, soon he established an office for himself and
expanded it with four colleagues and two juniors. He was selected
for the post of Munsif for Pondicherry Sessions court, which he did
not want to join. He was always ready to subordinate his personal
advancement for the cause of the country and for the cause of
depressed classes for whom he was the only hope.
Despite several acknowledged handicaps and
limitations, Arunachalam rose from very humble beginnings entering
politics at an early age and was quickly enticed to national
politics at his young age. As a mere party volunteer, he was Youth
Congress Secretary in Tirunelveli (District Congress Committee). In
1977 he first contested, won and became the Member of Parliament
from Tenkasi (Reserved constituency). That was the period when The
Janata Party formed its Government in the center for the first time.
Since power did not matter to Arunachalam he was ready to be in the
opposition. As a man of Gandhian Principles he did not hesitate to
stand by the democratic values of his party.
Throughout his long political career he was
steadfast to his loyalty to the Congress and the Gandhian moral and
political ideology and he never felt himself persuaded by the
rationalist, atheistic, religious, iconoclastic, communal and
secessionist ideologies of his time.
Drawn by an irresistible inner spirit of
nationalism he reached the possible highest rank in the
country(Union Cabinet Minister), also achieved a high reputation for
his record of performance as a competent and efficient Member of
Parliament during his six consecutive terms of his office to the Lok
Sabha making up two decades and an outstanding national leader. He
provided an unprecedented kind of leadership with simple, astute and
He had attained popularity, which was
unique. There were other leaders who were respected, looked upto and
loved but the adoration which M.Arunachalam had, could hardly be
rivaled by many others. The impact of M.Arunachalam in the
socio-political life of Tamil Nadu is so unassailable that even his
better political adversaries had to invoke the political traditions
of M.Arunachalam for their political survivals.
During his long and busy life, he came in
close and active contact with a number of state and national leaders
and his relations with them, how he reacted to them and their social
and political activities, and how he, in his turn influenced them is
a matter of particular interest to one and all. His position in the
country’s affairs brought him close to a number of prominent
personalities and often he was called upon to intervene and settle
disputes in the organization, which he did successfully for the most
part, on the basis of his knowledge of men and matters and using his
innate talent for effecting a consensus in complex political
situations. Thus more than even as a national leader, M.Arunachalam
as a man, deserves to be studied and understood.
The barriers in the society were raised by
customs, traditions, religious dogmas and social superstitions. The
social structure was built on inequality. Jawaharlal Nehru had once
regretfully concluded that this was done deliberately.
His ways of speaking, walking, eating, and
dress command themselves to the millions to whom these were familiar
ways with nothing outlandish about them. Behind these obvious facts,
which are sufficient explanation of his power and hold on the
electorate and its chosen representatives, there is also the fact of
his remarkable, and presumably innate appreciation of the mechanics
of real politics in a democracy.
He was an easily approachable person. To
the downtrodden the mere thought of coming into contact with him
gave them a thrilling experience. To the public who attended his
meetings wherever he went, he was a wonder for them. To the
officials who worked with him he was an astounding figure packed
with knowledge of whichever portfolio he held. To the opposite party
people he was a friend who used to help them in whatever way
possible. To the youth he was a role model who admired their leader
who emerged from the lower strata of life. To the youth he was a
morning star who became a youth congress leader at the age of 33 and
a Member of Parliament at the age of 32. To the common public, he
was an easily available person – the first Member of the Parliament
who was available in Tenkasi itself (the others had their residence
His success must be attributed to his
objective assessment of the balance of real forces and the total
absence of any desire just to please him or demonstrate his power.
The enormous power and significance that have occurred to
Arunachalam have gained steady popular consensus.
He learnt from his experiences - and did
not hesitate to share them, which proved him an uncommon man of the