Neidal U. Anto , Tuticorin, has brought out a festschrift on J.L.P.ROCHE VICTORIA on the occasion of his 50th memorial day that fell on October 15th 2012.
The introduction to this book has been given by two eminent persons— Vareethiah Konstantine of Nagercoil, and Prof. Fatima Babu of Tuticorin.
The observations of Vareethiah Konstantine deserve to be noted and seriously considered by our readers. In a rough translation , it runs like this;– ‘’The fall of a society is the direct result of forgetting its past or its history. To lift up a fallen society , the only and the most appropriate way is to remind that society its history.
How are we to remind a society its past, its history ?
It is by collecting epigraphic evidences,
It is by collecting documents,
It is by collecting palm leaf references,
and in the absence of all these,
It is by collecting oral and folk traditions and placing these for their knowledge, before the society.
Not only by these alone one can remind a society of its past. The past can be made known to a particular society
by celebrating its leaders;
by trumpeting their identities; and
by extolling local leaders and their achievements as symbols of resurgence of their society.
He further adds that the seashore villages need to dust off their History; and should read them. They should celebrate their leaders who gave themselves up in the cause of lifting them up.
If these – viz. reading their own history and celebrating their leaders were to happen – then there would be resurgence of the presently, fallen sea -shore communities and societies; which would further provoke them to bid for their political rights.
Prof. Fatima Babu ,who in her remarks has bemoaned the slip the community – which once could boast of wealth, culture etc– had suffered in the recent past , prescribes the study of biographies of stalwarts of our community as the remedy for the ills ,our society suffers from.
So, study of history of our community and biographies of our stalwarts at macro and micro level are important for the community to get out of the slough in which it finds itself today.
It is to fulfill this , Neidal U. Anto, a well known teacher, writer, and speaker from Tuticorin has penned this book on Chevalier JLP Roche Victoria.To his credit, it should be said that he has written already a biography on Rao Bahadur Cruz Fernando.
The author has coverd JLP’s ancestory, his early education, his role in the freedom struggle, his concern for the fishermen his social activism, his political role in pre as well as post independence era, his business acumen and success, and his contribution to Tuticorin port in the most presentable form.
While giving a summary of his writing , we underscore the observations of Vareethiah Konstantine and Prof. Fatima Babu and request serious reflection.
The elementary school education of JLP was at St. Xaviers, Tuticorin between 1906 and 1908;his High school education was at St. Joseph’s,Trichy; and College education was at St. Aloysius , Bangalore, between 1914 and 1917; and professional education in Commerce was at Davar’s college, Mumbai. While at college ,he was very good at Tennis and was felicitous in the use of English language in conversation –skills that helped him later in public life.
*IN THE BUSINESS WORLD.*
In business he excelled his contemporaries. . Starting as a partner in F.X. Pereira and Sons, in 1922, he became an agent of Scindia Steam Navigation company for Tuticorin in 1922, itself, and rose up to be the most important Agent handling Export and Import in Tuticorin port within two years of his induction at the port.
His success goaded him to start Pereira and Roche in 1944 which became an important entity later in various Ports in India. It started handling ,–Shipping Corporation of India. B.S.N. line Bombay, and Kothari Chemicals. The success in these ventures brought for him the Directorship of East India Steam Navigation Company. In 1947, he became the Director of the Enterprises (INDIA) Ltd and became a Member of the Governing body of Indian Mercantile Marine Training ship(Dufferin) Bombay. Besides these avocations connected with ships and ports, he became a Director of the Enterprises India Ltd, Tinneveli Tanneries Ltd, Tuticorin Salt Refineries Ltd. He planned a chemical factory in Meelavittan and did preparatory works but had to abandon it due to certain unhealthy competition by a rival company.
*IN FREEDOM MOVEMENT*
He effectively participated in the Indian freedom movement by financing , and by physically participating in the various agitations and by confabulating with various leaders.Though he was an important business man, he did not hesitate when many notable businessmen hesitated to align themselves with the freedom movement. He was considered by the freedom fighters so important that even Gandhiji used to come and halt in his house when ever he sojourned at Tuticorin.
*IN RURAL INDUSTRIES.*
He believed in Gandhi’s dictum that the progress of India lies in its villages and took Gandhi’s advise on rural development so seriously that in 1944 in one of his villages, MANGALAGIRI he established rural industries like Piggery, Poultry, Cattle farming, Tannery, Papermaking, Handlooming,etc and trained rural folks much before independent India thought of Block Development Schemes. Not only did he contend himself with starting such industries, but he took pains to provide market for them by organizing exhibitions for sale of goods produced. He also ran a MONTHLY called GRAMA INDIA in Tamil and English , and published many essays of Gandhiji—especially of economic nature.
*IN BHARATHA WELFARE.*
He , in the company of Joseph Sebastian Miranda and a few others founded the BHARATHA MAHA JANA SANGAM in 1920 and established branches whereever the Bharathas lived. He was very active in the organization and also organized the youth wing of the Sangam in 1922 to provide training to youth to lead. In 1932 ,he presided over the Bharatha Mahajana Sanga Manaadu in Rajakkamangalam, and organized the Bharatha Lady’s Conference also at Rajakkamangalam and got it presided over by his wife Mary Pereira. The most important job of the Sangam was to encourage education among the Parava children by offering scholarship, and by conducting Summer Classes. Realising the damaging role played by in the lives of Paravas, he organized an Anti Liquor Group . He was keenly interested in adult education, and in supporting marriages of hapless.
He established the Fisheries Technological Institute at Tuticorin in 1942 and desired inculcation of new methods of Fishing . Anticipating the troubles that might engulf traditional fishing methods and industry, he introduced training in various facets of shipping industry. He also believed that the youth should not rely only in fishing and sea trades and gave training in various rural industries in his Mangalagiri project.
On 5-8-1960, in a consultative meeting of the community he delivered a speech, which reveals clearly his deep love for the community. He regrets the indifference of the community to avail themselves of the opportunities offered by the Government. He feels sad that the community had not whole heartedly grabbed the aadvantages that flowed from the Government Special Schemes for the fishermen as in laying of roads to our villages , of construction of our houses,of building of vallams, of accepting subsidized fishing equipments nets etc. He also passionately pleads for Government grants for scholarship to our children.
Much before Gandhi thought of Prohibition in 1930, Chevalier JLP in 1922 started an organization called THE BAND OF HOPE into which he encouraged people to join after taking an oath that they would not touch liquor. For implementing this scheme, he consulted the American prohibitionist DR. PUSSEY FOOT JOHNSON .He also took the wise counsel of Poet . M.P. Mascarenhas and conducted serious propaganda against drinking.
He was interested in getting our people to be literate. Towards this , he took a lot of pains. He consulted many stalwarts and finally pitched upon Dr. FRANK .CLAWBACK of Phillipines and got his advice and started ADULT EDUCATION programme in Tuticorin—mind you much before the Government thought of such a project! ONLY, IN 1970 THE GOVERNMENT ADULT EDUCATION PROJECT CAME TO BE IMPLEMENTED but JLP brought this system in 1935 itself. Dr. FRANK .C. CLAWBACK of Phillipines visited Tuticorin thrice– in 1935, 1938, and in 1939 — and reviewed the implementation and progress. In recognition of the services he renderedin this field , he was appointed the President of Tamilnadu Adult education Board and Vice President of All India Adult Education Board.
*IN SCOUT MOVEMENT*
He was the pioneer of Scout Movement in Tuticorin. He believed , a disciplined set of students is a dire necessity for the progress of the Nation, hence he started the Scout Movement in 1937 and fostered it firmly. His service was so good that the All INDIA SCOUT MOVEMENT awarded him the “THANKS BADGE”.
*HIS SCIENTIFIC TEMPER*
To make Tuticorians understand SIR C.V. RAMAN , the NOBEL LAUREATE, he conducted an exhibition on RAMAN EFFECT.
*HIS ROLL OF HONOUR.*
A. He was one of those who organized
1.The Gymkhana Club of Tuticorin.
2.The Indian Officers Club of Tuticorin.
B. He was the founder, Secretary and Treasurer of Rotary Club of Tuticorin. He was the Rotary Governor of South India and Ceylon.
C. He was a Member of the Senate of Madras University.
D. He was a Member of the Central Government Fishery committee.
E. He was President or Chairman of the following organizations.
1. Tinnevely District Co-Operative Central Stores.
2. Tuticorin Milk Co-Operative Society.
3. Tuticorin Co- Operative Bank.
4. Mangalagiri Egg Marketing Society
F. He was vice chairman of Tuticorin Port Trust..
G. He was a member of the Central Government Fishery Committee.
H. He was also an active member of reconstruction committee, 2nd world war.
He was the chairman of Tuticorin Municipality from 1926.He was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1937 , 1946, 1952. He was Minister for Food and Fisheries between 1949 and 1952.
Recognising the yeoman services, JLP rendered to communities, His Holiness puis XII raised him to be a knight of St.Gregory in 1952. Hence he is a Chevalir.
What brims uppermost in my mind when I finished reading ANTO’S book on JLP, is that JLP was an unique personality who aspired for the good of every one; and God abundantly blessed him in his life time to shine bright in the firmament. May we have many more of his ilk!.
It used to be said that Bernard Shaw’s Prefaces are more important than the plays he wrote. May I say that the introductions given by VAREETHIAH KONSTANTINE and PROF . FATIMA BABU to the book are as important as the book by NEIDAL . U. ANTO.
by A.X Alexander