I feel inspired by the tremendous power of common man: SR Hiremath

Bangalore, Jan 2: Sangayya Rachayya Hiremath, the anti-corruption crusader from Karnataka who took on the mining mafia in the state, was felicitated [Read here] as the Karnataka Person of the Year 2013 by Oneindia on Thursday.

[Watch video here]

The 69-year-old activist gave a brief interview to Oneindia on the occasion.

Here is a look at what he said.

Oneindia: What made you interested to join the social field even though you have an engineering and management background?

Hiremath: There are some reasons which inspired me to take up the social cause. In my childhood, my mother encouraged me to go through the Geeta Pravachans and Sharana Sahityas (which has flourished during the 12th Centuty Lingayat movement). I was taught that work is not just worship but its heaven and imbibed some key humanitarian principles like not to tolerate injustice and wrongdoings.

Another person who left a deep influence on me was Dr Shivaram Karanth, with whom I had the fortune to work for 15 years. Once, he gave an enlightening speech in Bijapur in Karnataka where he gave a speech on Pitri Runa (debt to the father) and Matri Runa (debt to the mother) and also to show respect to our teachers. But what is also important is Samaj Runa (debt to the society) and we need to contribute back to the society or else the standard will only decline.

Noted economic thinker E F Schumacher's Small is Beautiful: a study of economics as if people mattered is also another work that influenced me deeply. He also stressed that the society invests in you and you must return something to it.

Oneindia: Do you see any people in today's times who are equally inspiring?

Hiremath: Today, what really inspires me is the tremendous power of the ordinary men and women. When thousands of Satyagrahis stood in front of the Harihar Polyfibres in silence (Hiremath had led a successful environmental agitation against the polluting of the Tungabhadra River by the said company in 1983 affecting the environment and human beings), you copuld see the eletricfying effect.

The effect of the movement even reached Bangalore. Even the factory was shut. The power of the ordinary men and women is a big inspiration for me. We followed Gandhi's principles from his seminal work Satyagraha in South Africa and they are effective still today.

Oneindia: There are so many agencies fighting for a cause. How do the youngsters chalk out a direction?

Hiremath: The greatest inspiration is the people and as a result, there are organisations that have the power and confidence to do things that may otherwise look impossible.

Oneindia: Is there a lack of organising power to get the youth energy together? Caqn they really be a change

Hiremath: The protesters who gathered at the India Gate after the Nirbhaya gangrape case were without a visible leader like Gandhi, Jayaprakash Narayan or Mandela but yet they made a mark and withstood the police oppression. The rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is one phenomenon but the women's protest is a magnificent story. The way an intern challenges a former SC judge, it's a positive development. The media is doing a very good job. It has to be more organised.

Oneindia: Are you joining the AAP?

Hiremath: I support the AAP's inititive but I have a way of working, which is more a political movement than a political party. The AAP is very badly needed as an effective tool but a movement is also required for an enlightenment and I am more interested in that. However, having said that, I will campaign for them for we all are in the same boat.

Oneindia: Why do you target corruption at the top?

Hiremath: Taking on the corrupt at the top always sends a signal of caution down the ladder and there is a possibility of such practices getting a check.

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