The attraction of higher education in Japan first brought V.C. Lingam here from Singapore. "I read a few books, and I thought why not?" he said. That was a very long time ago. He is 93 now, and a permanent resident of Japan.

When he first arrived he studied the language for a year. He enrolled in university, but did not complete his undergraduate studies. Instead, he gave himself fulltime to a cause he judged greater than himself: Indian independence.

Geography and circumstances played big parts in Lingam's life. He was born into a large, wealthy Indian family in what was then Malaya, where his father owned rubber plantations.