The Lighthouse

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KG Kannabiran
KG Kannabiran
Age: 80
Profession: Human rights lawyer, president of PUCL
Amused: That he, the Maoist supporter, had to abandon physiotherapy in Nepal halfway because of the Maoist revolution Photo: Syed Mazher Ali

KG KANNABIRAN, national president, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) will be 81 in November. For quite a while now, he has been saying that he is “waiting in the departure lounge.” However, this does not mean he has withdrawn from public life. On the contrary, on any given day, the Hyderabad-based lawyer could be addressing gatherings, leading delegations, speaking to the media or even continuing his law practice. Says Kanna, as he is affectionately known, “These days I get up early and go to a nearby park. I am always walking. Indeed, I am training my legs to walk and carry me.” He needs heavy doses of insulin twice a day, but he works as if he doesn’t have diabetes or failing vision. “I read, write, eat well and have two large glasses of whisky in the evening. My mental faculties are perfect,” grins Kannabiran. However, he confesses, “after I got an inoperable cataract, I am unable to see the keyboard clearly and sometimes press one key for the other.” That hasn’t stopped him from authoring two articles in the last fortnight – one on Section 377, citing the example of Oscar Wilde and the other on PV Narasimha Rao’s book on Ayodhya.

24 Gantalu (24 hours), Kannabiran’s memoirs, have been serialised in a Telugu weekly and will soon be published in a book. The title signifies eternal vigilance, the proverbial price of democracy. The urge to fight for democratic values is the force that drives Kannabiran to work — and live life to the fullest — at 80.