This is not the India we fought for: Paramagouda Harakangi

Hubballi: Fitness may be the new mantra of the young in an India that celebrates its 71st Independence Day on Wednesday, but it has been a way of life for  93- year -old Paramagouda Harakangi of Negalur village in Haveri taluk , who took part in the struggle to free it. And 71 years later is saddened by a nation, that he says is "Not the India of his dreams."

His health regime is so gruelling even today that he could put any young man to shame. Although a nonagenarian, he runs 7 kms every day,  practises yoga  and eats only the right food. He may be the oldest among the 10,000 people of his village, but is full of youthful zest,  helping people get government benefits like ration cards and loans and teaching yoga free of cost to those who approach him.

A staunch follower of the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, the retired teacher, who served a three-year jail sentence at the Yerawada Central Jail in Pune from 1943 to 1946 during the freedom movement, wakes up at 5 am every dayand runs barefoot on a tar road towards the neighbouring village  of Guttal, breaking into a walk  every few hundred meters and then, does yoga!

Mr Harakangi does not suffer from diabetes, blood pressure or other diseases that are rampant in independent India today. He has  never worn glasses. He has perfect vision. He remembers falling ill only  once in his lifetime when he was imprisoned at the Yerawada jail where he suffered from typhoid. 

“I eat vegetables, fruit and gruel made of ragi flour . I do not have any bad habits and have never eaten non-vegetarian. I  read Basavanna's Vachanas, the Bhagavad Gita, newspapers and books to keep myself up-to-date with current affairs. I don't forget to walk although I do forget to do pooja sometimes,” smiles Mr Harakangi, who is the father of 10 children.

When in jail, the freedom fighter held a satyagraha and was served onlygruel and given clothes and caps made from waste gunny bags as punishment and remembers being treated at the Pune hospital after being beaten by his British jailers. And it was on August 15, 1948 that the staunch Gandhian got married at the government school in Negalur beneath the flag soon after the Independence Day celebrations.  But he laments  the growing corruption  and communalism in the country today. “This is not the India of our dreams,” he says regretfully.   “We struggled  to get freedom by sacrificing food, sleep,  and our peace of mind. And I am pained by the growing corruption in politics, bureaucracy and judiciary,” he ends sadly. 

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