Shri. Chintaman Deshmukh,
I was ever so glad
to receive your message on the occasion of the inauguration of the Alagappa College Of
Physical Education. The function went off well. It was indeed a happy coincidence that the
message which you had sent as a good and valued friend, was read on the very day on which
you assumed your new office as Chairman of the University Grants Commission, with which
our Colleges at Karaikudi will get connected in many ways.
I must first tender
my thanks to you for your kind message and simultaneously offer you my congratulations
assumption of your new office. You may remember my writing to you even in my earlier
letter expressing my prayerful wish that your great talents be utilised in the service of
the country even after your resignation from the Ministry of finance. Little did I realise
then that prayer was going be so quickly heard and answered. That you have accepted this
position on an honorary salary Re1/- is just like you. The country generally and the
Universities particularly, are gainers by your assumption of this great office.
I have always
cherished the desire that the group of colleges here (Karaikudi) should one day or the
other be made into a Central University. With the passing of time, this wish of mine is
getting strengthened. Indeed I have mentioned this to you more than once.
You have visited the
institutions at Karaikudi and it is not for me to say how suitable it is for a Central
University in the South. I am, however, rather upset to notice that the case for Karaikudi
does not appear to have been properly understood. I refer to the deliberations of the last
meeting of the University Grants Commission, the results of which have been communicated
to me by .your Secretary, Mr. Samuel Mathai on 8/8/1956.
I find that the case
against Karaikudi is urged on three grounds - (i) inaccessibility, (ii) inadequacy of
water supply and (iii) smallness of the town
It is difficult for
me to appreciate the argument about inaccessibility. There is an airport at Tiruchirapalli
connecting Bombay, Ceylon, Madras and another airport at Chettinad hardly five miles away
which is in sound working order though just at present there is no scheduled flight to
that place; but the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research is taking action to
introduce regular services connecting this airport with the main aerial routes. Karaikudi
is on the main railway line from Madras to Colombo and the Boat-mail passes through it.
There is also another airport at Madurai which is only 50 miles from Karaikudi. You will,
therefore, realise that Karaikudi is a day's journey from any important place in India.
You will pardon my surprise that Karaikudi should, in these circumstances, have been
The argument about
water supply is a very old one and was used unsuccessfully when proposals were under
consideration many years ago to start the Central Electrochemical Research Institute here.
There are twenty tube wells in this area and the supply is copious. There are in this
campus 2500 students, not to mention the staff of our six colleges or of the Central
Electrochemical Research institute. It is already a township in itself with hostel
accommodation for 2000 students and staff quarters for nearly 200 persons towards which
Madras and Central Governments have given loans. The staff of the Central Electrochemical
Research Institute have their own quarters. The argument about inadequate water supply is
an exploded one and could have been used only by those who do not know the history of this
particular controversy, or have not visited Karaikudi in recent years.
As to the size of
the township, you will excuse my saying that it is not advantages to locate a University
in or near a gigantic city with its industrial and political atmosphere which affects the
placid life of a University Campus and distract the students into dangerous diversions.
The big Universities of the World like Oxford, Cambridge and Hydelberg and Yale are
situated in towns of comparatively small size, whose importance is due to the University
itself and not to the size of others activities in the city. From the point of view of the
development of a proper college life, I venture to state, that Karaikudi is a town of the
right size and served with sufficient amenities. The Colleges are located just outside the
Municipal area in a vast campus of well over 1200 acres. I may also state, though perhaps
I may be mistaken about it, that the letter from Mr. Samuel Mathai seems to suggest that
Karaikudi may not be an ideal place for starting a University. There is no question of
handing over the management of the existing colleges and the various faculties attached
thereto, so as to form a Central University. The transactions is a legal and financial
one, rather than an effort at creating anything new.
You will not, I am
sure, consider it necessary for me to repeat the argument that the South does require a
little more recognition than it has so far received at the hands of the Center.
I am still in bed
and I am unable to sit up properly, much less get about. But I am carrying on as best I
With kindest regards
to Mrs. Durgabai Deshmukh and yourself.