Thursday, January 19, 2017
Going east on Kutchery Road, you might be surprised by a pair of lions sitting atop gate posts. They may have appeared regal at some time, but now they are crowded out by overgrown peepul shrubs, to the extent that the name on the gate post is part obscured. If you get close, you can make out that the name of the manse is Farhat Bagh.
The twin of this gate post carries the name of its owner: V. Ramadas. It also announces his qualifications: B.A., B.L. If that does not convince you, he has added his professional title: Vakil. That title broadly applies to any lawyer, but Vemavarapu Ramdas Pantulu was a specialist in realty and land rights. He also dabbled in politics, and was one of the featured speakers at the 'First Andhra Conference' in 1913. In the Second Conference the next year, the Farhat Bagh vakil seconded a resolution to carve out the Telugu-speaking areas of the Madras Presidency into a separate province. In that he foreshadowed the Madras Manade movement; he seems to have faded out of politics after that, but reappears as a leading light of the cooperative movement, holding office as President of Indian Co-operative Banks Association between 1927 and 1944. In 1935, he also became the Founding Editor of the Indian Cooperative Review.
He had given over his library and a "...part of home in Mylapore..." to the Institute of Co-operative Research and Service to continue his work. Whether that home was Farhat Bagh, or some other, is a question I am unable to answer right now. There were no signs to indicate any cooperation happening there; but maybe it is just that I cannot recognize those signs!