New Delhi: "I swear by Jairamdas. A truer man I have not had the honour of meeting," Mahatma Gandhi had once said of Jairamdas Daulatram, who wore many a hat during the freedom struggle and once staved off an impending rift between the Mahatma and senior Congress leaders by suggesting a compromise to cool tempers.
A member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted India's Constitution, Jairamdas quit his seat in the Bombay Legislative Council to join Gandhi's Salt March and heed his call to boycott foreign goods, served as Food Minister in Jawaharlal Nehru's cabinet, as Governor of Bihar, and later Assam, during which time he was instrumental in the Indian Tricolour being hoisted at Tawang in the North-East Frontier Agency (now Arunachal Pradesh).
Born into a Sindhi family in Karachi, Jairamdas Daulatram (July 21, 1891 to March 1, 1979) had a brilliant academic career throughout and started a legal practice after obtaining a law degree but soon gave it up as it often led to conflict with his conscience.
He came into contact with Gandhi in 1915, who had then returned from South Africa, and became his devoted follower. Four years later, at the Amritsar session of the Indian National Congress in 1919, he worded Gandhi's resolution in such a way that it avoided an impending rift between the Mahatma and his other Congress colleagues, including veterans such as Lokmanya Tilak and Deshbandhu Chittaranjan (C.R.) Das.
"Jairamdas, that cool-headed Sindhi, came to the rescue," Gandhi recalled years later. "He passed me a slip containing a suggestion and pleading for a compromise. I hardly knew him. Something in his eyes and face captivated me. l read the suggestion. It was good. I passed it on to Deshbandhu (Das). 'Yes, if my party will accept it' was his response. Lokmanya said, 'I don't want to see it. If Das has approved, it is good enough for me.' Malaviyaji (who was presiding anxiously) overheard it, snatched the paper from my hands and, amid deafening cheers, announced that a compromise had been arrived at."
Since then, Gandhi came to repose great faith in Jairamdas, referring to him as "one of the greatest persons in India".
Jairamdas also had the trust and affection of Sarojini Naidu, who described him as a Lamp in the Desert because of his services in Sindh, which was mostly a desert. His ties with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Rajendra Prasad were also very close.
When Gandhi was launching the Salt March in 1930, he wrote to Jairamdas: "I have taken charge of the Committee for Boycott of Foreign Cloth. I must have a whole-time secretary, if that thing is to work. And I can think of nobody so suitable like you."
Jairamdas immediately resigned his Bombay Legislative Council seat and took up his new charge, making tremendous success of the boycott of foreign cloth.
Jairamdas participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-22), the Salt March (1930-31) -- during which he was shot and wounded in the thigh when police opened fire on agitators outside a magistrate's court in 1930 -- and the Quit India Movement (1942-45) , being imprisoned by the British authorities.
It was at the instance of Jairamdas, during his term as Governor of Assam (1950-56) that Ranenglao Bob Khathing, a Naga from Manipur who variously served as a Major in the Indian, as a civil servant and a diplomat, accompanied by T.C. Allen, a British Intelligence officer, reached Tawang on February 7, 1951 and raised the Indian Tricolour).
Jairamdas played a major role in the preservation of Sindhi literature, being one of the founding members of the Akhil Bharat Sindhi Boli in Sahit Sabha (All India Sindhi Language and Literature Congress).
In 1967, Sindhi became the first language added to the original list of the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, a move that recognised the linguistic identity of Sindhi refugees uprooted by the partition and accorded it political recognition. This had significant implications for other linguistic minorities whose relationship with territory was not coterminous with a linguistic state or who spoke languages other than the dominant language of the linguistic state in which they lived.
Jairamdas Daulatram died in New Delhi on March 1, 1979, aged 87. —IANS