This eminent parliamentarian, Madabhooshi Ananthasayanam Ayyangar was born on 4 February 1891 at Tiruchanur near the spiritual town of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. He had his initial education in the Devasthanam High School at Tirupati. After that Ayyangar moved to Madras for higher studies. From the Pachaiyappa's College, Madras, he obtained his B.A. degree. In the year 1913 he earned a degree in Law from the Madras Law College. By that time Ayyangar began his career as a Mathematics teacher in 1912.
After passing the Law examination from 1915 he ventured into the legal profession. Within a span of short time, he established himself as a professional lawyer. He has an unusual ability to memorize cases and this soon earned the reputation of being a 'walking digest of case laws'. As he was deeply concerned in ameliorating the judicial system of the country, Ayyangar did not treat his profession only as a means to earn his livelihood. He aimed in order to make the law used for the greater perspective that would met up needs of the people of India rather than see it as an extension of the British judicial system. For that reason, he stoutly urged on independence of the Judiciary and recommended the Government of India to raise the status of the Federal Court to that of a Supreme Court. The humiliation and the hardships faced by the Indian people moved him and he became concerned in eradicating this humiliation from its roots.. Ayyangar, an activist lawyer, has also been the President of the Bar Association of Chittoor, his hometown.
At a very early age, Ayyangar was drawn into the freedom movement with the Indian National Congress Party. He was one of the leading figures of the Indian National Congress within his home State, which was leaded the National Movement against British colonialism. At that time Gandhiji called for 'Non-cooperation' with the British establishment. During 1921-22, for one year Ayyangar suspended his legal practice. After that in 1934, when the Congress drew back its policy of boycott and decided to contest the elections for the Central Legislative Assembly, with the objective in hand was to fight the Government from within. Ayyangar was voted to the House with an irresistible majority. Ayyangar soon made his mark as a dynamic debater in the Assembly with the well-equipped facts and figures and by his innate debating skills. A European writer was motivated after the noteworthy performance of Ayyangar in the Assembly which led him to refer him as the 'Emden of the Assembly', adverting to the German submarine of that name, which caused untold disaster to the Allied Navy in the early days of the Second World War.
For taking part in the 'Individual Satyagraha Campaign' and later in the 'Quit India Movement' of 1942, Ayyangar endured imprisonment for nearly three years, between 1940 and 1944. Ayyangar was concerned in a variety of other activities directed towards the social unrestraint of the subjugated sections of the society, apart from taking active part in the movement for political freedom for the country. Highly stimulated by Gandhiji's beneficial programs for combating social evils like untouchability, Ayyangar was in the front position of such movements which were launched to ensure temple entry for the Harijans and the elimination of untouchability in his home State.
Later, as the President of the Harijan Sevak Sangh, Ayyangar pioneered several programs for the economic and social uplift of the Harijans. He even was interested in the co-operative movement and in the activities of the local-self Government institutions in Chittoor. Later, he was elected Director of the Co-operative District Bank of Chittoor. Ayyangar has been one of the top-ranking leaders of the Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh and held several important positions in the Party before Independence. He served as President, District Congress Committee, and Chittoor. Consequently, he was nominated to the Andhra Provincial Congress Committee and the All India Congress Committee. During 1946-47, he was also the Secretary of the Congress Party in Parliament.
Ayyangar has also served as a member of the Constituent Assembly. It is when the decision wake up to separate the Constitution-making functions of the Constituent Assembly from its legislative functions then Ayyangar was chosen to be the Deputy Speaker (Legislative) following the consequent election of G.V. Mavalankar as the Speaker of the Constituent Assembly. He also delivered his service in the Steering Committee of the Constituent Assembly. Ayyangar sustained to be the Deputy Speaker of the Provisional Parliament, during 1950-52. When the Provisional Parliament constituted an Estimates Committee for the first time in 1950, Ayyangar was the chosen to be its Chairman. He competently carried on its meetings and established a name for the Committee. In 1952, when the First Lok Sabha was instituted, Ayyangar was the foreseeable choice to be its Deputy Speaker. When he discharged his duties as the Deputy Speaker, Ayyangar was already engaged with the responsibilities of being the Chairman of the Estimates Committee of the Lok Sabha for two more years. He has also been served as the head of the Railway Convention Committee in the next two years until he was elected collectively to control over the Lok Sabha on 8 March 1956, on Speaker Mavalankar's sudden demise.
Thus becoming the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and occupying such dignified office, was a height of a legislative career that began in 1934 with the Central Legislative Assembly. Ayyangar had a rich fund of experience and knowledge of the working of parliamentary institutions and their practices and procedures with which he had already proved himself to be a very eloquent and successful parliamentarian. He was intensely dedicated in maintaining the parliamentary norms. He had a tremendous sense of humor, which not only helped liven up parliamentary dealings but also at times enabled him to make a point more forcefully and pleasantly on the floor of Parliament.
Though the tenure of Ayyangar as the Speaker of the First Lok Sabha was short but he had established himself as the worthy successor of the high traditions in parliamentary life, which was established by Speaker Mavalankar. From the very beginning, Ayyangar constantly attempted to sustain and strengthen the traditions and conventions already brought into India's parliamentary system. He was endeared by all sections of the House, with his objective and unbiased conduct. At that time there was no official Leader of the Opposition in the parliament. It was Ayyangar who with the respect and regard treated the supporters of the Opposition. He had managed to maintain and ensure a balance between the Government and the Opposition. Ayyangar was once again the unanimous choice of the House to be its Speaker for the next five years, when the Second Lok Sabha was constituted in 1957.
As the Speaker Ayyangar made innumerable rulings and observations, which would thoroughly express his political image, lawful insight, and also exhibits his high regard for the parliamentary procedures. He ruled with accuracy and intelligibility. There are a number of Rulings and Directions made by him, which settled many complex parliamentary issues in those shaping years of the Indian Republic. Ayyangar's observations are today fundamental part of the large volume of established parliamentary practices and procedures in India like Adjournment Motions, Bills, Resolutions, Standing Committees, Calling Attention Notices, etc. A rule by Ayyangar was clearly laid down as a matter of civility to the House that all articulations of policy or change of policy or proclamations of new policy must first be brought to the notice of the House. This firm personality dealt with the members on issues, which had a bearing on the decorum in the House or respect to the Chair.
The issue, which received Ayyangar's special attention, was the Indian Parliament's relations with other Parliaments of the world. He led several Parliamentary Delegations to other countries only for this purpose and to the Conferences of International Parliamentary Associations. In the 49th Inter parliamentary Conference, which was held in Tokyo in 1960, he had been the Leader of the Indian Parliamentary Delegation. With these conferences he saw the opportunities to evolve standardized practices and procedures in the Indian Legislatures and to discuss matters of common parliamentary interest. Ayyangar continued to be associated with a large number of socio-cultural and educational organizations from the time while remaining an active parliamentarian, even in later years, after leaving active political life.
These organizations included the Harijan Sevak Sangh, the Ram Vilas Sabha, the Dramatic Associations of Chittoor, the Constitution Club, and the Indian Association of World Federal Government. In the General Elections of 1962, for the third time Ayyangar was elected to the Lok Sabha. But, he resigned from his membership soon after the elections to serve as the Governor of Bihar. Nearly three decade-long distinguished parliamentary careers came to its end with this. Through this long period of service, the institution of Parliament and the country in general, unquestionably, benefited extremely from Ayyangar's knowledge, his parliamentary skill and his broad vision of politics, religion and of national problems. On releasing the office of the Speaker in 1962, Ayyangar was showered with the praises that echoed the shimmering tributes paid to Dadasaheb Mavalankar in 1956. The fundamentals of a strong and healthy parliamentary culture were laid in India with the contribution of these two distinguished Speakers. India's autonomous institutions owe a great deal to their untrained commitment to parliamentary institutions and to their alertness in upholding the dignity of the House. They are also owed to the prestige of the members and the values of parliamentary democracy and to their relentless efforts in evolving sound parliamentary procedures and practices.
Ayyangar's furthermost contribution after parliamentary life perhaps, was in the field of education. Indology, Comparative Religion, Philosophy, Sanskrit, Sanskrit Literature are the fields where Ayyangar has an authority. As an erudite scholar, he had also command over on a wide variety of other subjects. He took great interest in the study and propagation of Sanskrit and Indian Culture, throughout his life. He also for sometime served as a Member of the Central Advisory Board of Education and as the Chancellor of the Rishikul University. In 1954, acknowledging his contributions to the field of learning, he was bestowed the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature by the Shri Vaishnava Theological University, Brindavan. Sri Venkatesa Patrika, Ayyangar also had a book on Indian Parliament, 'Our Parliament'.
Ayyangar was a campaigner of secularism and a titleholder of the cause of religious unity in the country as he was the believer in the essential unity of mankind. The maltreatment of religion for political purposes and the spreading communal feelings affected him severely. To him mass awareness about the true content of all religions would be the best way of awaking people against the dangers of communalism. His views on the harmful caste system in the country were equally significant. Ayyangar was one of the earliest national leaders to join the fight against the evils of un touchability and caste system during the struggle for Independence. Historically caste system was not an inventive part of the Indian societal fabric as Ayyangar believed.
The notion of high caste or a low caste, according to Ayyangar, there was no such thing. The only thing which is present there is only a higher state of consciousness and a lower state of consciousness, neither of which had anything to do with birth. So on the basis of this one can deny of the right of worship to anyone on the basis of his birth. It would be an offence against divinity itself. It was this belief that forced him to support the claim of the Dalits for entry into the Hindu temples, for which he became one of the best-known fighters for the uplift of the Harijans, during the days of the freedom struggle.
Ayyangar retired from active political life, after serving a full term as the Governor of Bihar and returned to his hometown, 'Tirupati', to spend the evening of his life. At this stage Ayyangar remained very active. He worked for the Sanskrit Vidyapeeth at Tirupati and more than a few charitable organizations. This active life kept Ananthasayanam Ayyangar busy till he breathed his last on 19 March 1978, at the age of 87.
(Last Updated on : 25-01-2014)
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