Glory for George: Author Gita Ramaswamy helps keep the legacy of a revolutionary alive

It has been 50 years since Osmania University’s famed revolutionary was martyred, but his legacy still continues to grow, thanks to the works of social activist and author Gita Ramaswamy.
Gita Ramaswamy
Gita Ramaswamy

HYDERABAD: George Reddy was a force to reckon with. It’s been 50 years since his death, but his ideas and what he stood for continues to stay relevant. On the occasion of the semicentennial death anniversary of the famed revolutionary, author Gita Ramaswamy speaks on how his movements and demise inspired her. She speaks to CE on how these ideals stand equally relevant in today’s time when communalism and monopoly favouritism are weeding into our society and how she has been fuelling the flame of a rising phoenix.

George Reddy was a Ph.D. scholar in nuclear physics at Osmania University. He belonged to a family that emerged out of an inter-caste and inter-religion marriage, the turbulence of which led to he and his siblings being rejected by their extended families. All these led to him leading revolutions against corruption in the university management and rampant sexual harassment of women students. He went on to lead movements against Right-wing student organisations that gained control over students which sadly led to his death in the hands of ABVP goons. His slogan ‘Jeena hai toh marna seekho, kadam kadam par ladna seekho’ still echoes in the minds of countless students who take a stand against various kinds of oppression.

An activist herself, Gita has come a long way from unshackling familial-Brahminism to becoming a Naxalite, facing the Emergency, leaving Naxalism and finally becoming a part of a historic land and wage struggle led by the dalits of Ibrahimpatnam.

She who has been long inspired by George’s life and martyrdom, says, “In my own life, when I came across George’s ideas as conveyed to me by his friends, the sense of freedom that his death conveyed to me was immense — one should fight for what one believes, one should fight against injustice of all forms, and one should never fear death — a living death is what one should fear.” To students of universities facing caste-based prejudice, Gita says, “Fight, fight and fight! Never give up, never say die, but always be open to compromise because justice should not remain a mere ideal, but should be ‘doable’ in all senses of the word.”

She adds that George was one person who successfully broke all stereotypes in his short life of 25 years. Her social and literary work goes hand-in-hand with the image of George being honoured at every step. “I have never given up on the ideals of fair play and justice in my work. Work and its importance to society shrinks as we age, but not the self and its ideals,” she says.

On the occasion, Gita launched her book, Land, Guns, Caste, Woman: The Memoir of a Lapsed Revolutionary. “The book focuses largely on my work with agricultural labourers in Ibrahimpatnam of Rangareddy district and their movement against bonded labour, caste discrimination and land entitlements. It also gives a background of my upbringing as a Brahmin woman, my experiences in the Naxalite movement and the Hyderabad Book Trust.”

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The New Indian Express