Raja Ramanna, the scientist and Mulk Raj Anand, the novelist. Their obituaries were written last week, which highlighted the multi-faceted personalities of both. but what was common between them was their love for India and their desire to see it truly great. Ramanna was as good a pianist as he was a physicist. Anand was the pioneer of art magazine in India. Anand set off from his house after his father, who was then in the Indian army under the British, got angry with him about his son'sinvolvement in freedom movement and his going to jail. Under Gandhiji'sprodding, he set out on a pilgrimage all over India. He ?discovered? India in her people, the living cultures, the decaying monuments and uncared for precious heritages. In an interview in late 1999, when he was already 95, Anand vividly recollected how stunned he was on seeing the beauty of the Ajanta cave drawings. Down south, the sculptures in Mahabalipuram made him speechless. His lack of knowledge about his own country'scultural heritage set him thinking. The birth of the Modern Art Research Group (MARG) and its magazine by the same name was a result of this. The magazine was launched in 1947. Each issue documented in detail the various aspects of Indian art and architecture. Though the Leftists had claimed Anand to themselves, it is clear from his interview that he was influenced by George Orwell briefly and was pulled into socialism, but never to the communist bandwagon of rejecting anything Indian. Men of his stature are not many. Some of his most known novels are Coolie, The Untouchable and Two Leaves and a Bud.
Ramanna, though he got his doctorate in England, was fiercely nationalist in his approach. He vehemently supported the cry to make India a nuclear-capable State. He was critical of the Narasimha Rao government for reducing the funding for atomic energy programmes. His autobiography Years of Pilgrimage is a commentary on India'spolicy and progress in science. Interestingly, Ramanna has also written a book The Structure of Music in Raga and Western Systems. He was well-versed in both Indian and Western classical music.
Call it coincidence: Ramanna went to England for his higher studies on a scholarship of the Tatas, and J.R.D. Tata supported the MARG magazine of Anand by giving advertisements and office space. They made their lives a worship and left indelible mark on the sands of time.