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Tribute to Dr. K.R. Narayanan

Late Dr. K R Narayanan
October 27, 1920 - November 9, 2005

Four years ago on 9th of November mother India lost its humble son who despite being born into conditions of extreme poverty in a small hut on a hill, under thatched roof of House No.456 in Ward 5 in Perumthanam near Uzhavoor in Kottayam District of south-central Kerala could manage to rise to the highest ranks in India’s government and occupied the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Krsocheril Raman Narayanan, the only Dalit to have reach the Presidency overcame several obstacles to complete his education. When he was in Upper Primary, he had to walk to school for about 15 kilo meters daily through paddy fields. Further, he often listened to school lessons while standing outside the classroom, having been barred from attending because he was not able to pay the nominal school fees. His parents could not afford the luxury of buying books for him and his elder brother who dropped out from school due to asthma, used to borrow books from other students, copy them down, and give them to Narayanan. He completed his intermediate at C. M. S. College, Kottayam (1938-40), and obtained his B. A. (Honours) and M.A. in English literature from the University of Travancore (presently University of Kerala), standing first in the university.

At various points of time he worked as a college lecturer and journalist, before becoming a career diplomat and turning to politics.

Gandhi, Ambedkar and Nehru were the three leaders who helped mould his ideas. He was aware of the differences in their approaches; and yet, strove to synthesize their views so as to bring out the essential unity in diversity underlying our very nationhood.

He was a scholar, educationist and diplomat rolled into one. That a person of his background could attain such heights is a tribute to Indian democracy.

In his last article that appeared in The Indian Express after his death, he wrote: "While celebrating the achievements of our Independence for the last 60 years, we must question ourselves to find answers for the empowerment of the people who are on the margins of the society. Any attempt in that direction is an attempt not only for the empowerment of India, but also enlightenment of those people who are in important positions determining the destiny of this country."

Let us salute our philosopher guide after whom the CDMS was rechristened as Dr. K. R. Narayanan Centre for Dalit and Minorities Studies. We proudly remember him, his immense moral strength and courage, his words and his vision that will continue to inspire the future generations of learners at Dr. K. R. Narayanan Centre for Dalit and Minorities Studies (CDMS).