Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vithalbhai J. Patel: A Great Freedom Fighter and Parliamentarian -Dr. Ravindra Kumar

The role of Vithalbhai J. Patel (1873-1933) in the freedom struggle of India and in the development of democratic institutions of the country is significant. Indians must acknowledge his noteworthy and exemplary contribution.
          Vithalbhai Patel was one of the front rankers leading the compatriots in their fight for freedom from colonial rule in the Indian political scene when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 1915. Vithalbhai, along with stalwarts like BG Tilak, GK Gokhale, Dinshaw Wacha and Firozeshah Mehta, became a well-known public figure. He worked with organizations like the Gujarat Sabha, the Gujarat Political Conference and the Indian National Congress in the effort to awaken the masses particularly peasants and common men in the Gujarat region.
          Vithalbhai’s role in the Kheda Kisan Satyagraha (1918) and the Non-Cooperation and Khilafat Movement (1920), launched by Gandhiji was immense. Further, in 1923 he along with his younger brother Vallabhbhai Patel, lead the Nagpur Flag Agitation and actively participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930. Along with Subhas Chandra Bose Vithalbhai successfully drew the attention of crores of people all over the world when he travelled widely outside the country for the cause of India’s freedom between 1920 and 1933.
           The second great work, which Vithalbhai accomplished, and which will be remembered by generations to come, is how he emphasized on the need to develop stable democratic institutions in India.
           For the first time in 1913 he was elected to the Bombay Legislative Council as a representative of the District Local Board of Gujarat. As a member of the Council he along with people like Gokuldas Parekh constantly raised issues relating to farmers and common men on the floor of the House on the one hand, and about rights of elected representatives on the other. It was also to the credit of Vithalbhai’s efforts that the Compulsory Education Bill and the Ayurvedic and Yunani Medicine Bills were passed by the Bombay Legislative Council. Not only this, he drew the attention of the House to the injustices to women after the enforcement of the Hindu Law. To quote from a portion of his speech in the House, “Hindu society cannot exist unless it has victims (women) who are forcibly compelled to live the life of falsehood and cowardice…”  
          Besides the Bombay Legislative Council, Vithalbhai Patel was elected to the Imperial Legislative Council in 1918 and to the Viceregal Legislative Council in 1919 respectively. In both these institutions his work was extraordinary and significant. Further, in 1924 he was elected as the Mayor of the City of Bombay where his nationalistic approach asserted him to refuse to receive the Viceroy, Lord Reading. He resigned his Mayorship rather than receiving the Viceroy who was recognized as a symbol of the state of the country’s subjugation.
         The same year in 1924 Vithalbhai Patel was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly as one of the candidates of the Congress Swarajya Dal and in 1925 as the first Indian President of the House where he created history. Particularly, during his tenure as the President of the Central Legislative Assembly healthy traditions were set out when democratic institutions matured in an unprecedented way. Vithalbhai had not only maintained the dignity and status of the chair by deciding that the Viceroy wouldn’t enter the House with pomp and retinue but would enter from the President’s chamber and occupy a chair next to the President. This practice was never witnessed before. He also didn’t permit the Commander-in-Chief to address the House till an apology was received for disregarding the House by absenting from the House when his speech was under discussion. For, in his obituary to Vithalbhai, Nalini Ranjan Sarkar had written in the Amrit Bazar Patrika on October 24, 1933, “He had created traditions for the honour and self-respect of the House.”   
          Such action, besides being a great freedom fighter, illustrates his checkered parliamentarian life. Nationalism, selflessness, indomitable courage and firm belief were the main facets of his personality. These can be considered his legacy for his compatriots, the ideals to be followed by those concerned for the prosperity of the nation and growth of democracy. His life exemplifies the performance of social responsibility, national unity and integrity.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Technology and Peace - Dr. Ravindra Kumar

At the outset while initiating discussion about relations between technology and peace, or role of technology towards establishment of peace, or a debate on the effect of both on one-another, it is necessary that the meaning of technology and peace be understood separately, and light thrown on the purpose of both of them.

In simple words ‘technology’ means practical knowhow. The English word technology is derived from the Greek word ‘Technologia’. Further, ‘Technologia’ comprises of two words, ‘Techne’ referring art, skill and craft while the second, ‘Logia’ depicting study and analysis. It elucidates knowledge of a particular discipline. In short, the word ‘Technologia’ comprised of above-mentioned two Greek words and ‘Technology’ which when transformed in English language came to mean the state of art in a particular period. It introduces to the world the knowhow i.e., skill in practice [at all levels and in all spheres] of the period concerned, along with the tools used in making the skill practical and dynamic. Hence, technology is entirely a subject of practice or behaviour. Simultaneously, it reveals development and is symbolic of dynamism and progressiveness. Categorically, progress at all levels and in all walks of life is the foremost characteristic of technology. Technology has always played a vital role in progress and sometimes in unprecedented development. It doesn’t matter if development relates to revolution in any particular branch of science [including the field of printing or communication], or in the economic sphere.

Generally, peace is supposed to be a state free from violence, struggles and disputes. Especially in a state of cooperation, goodwill and harmony when social relations prevail then it is known as the state of peace. Particularly, the western concepts relating to it [peace] with the purpose of welfare and security in socio-economic sphere at local, national and international levels declare the atmosphere free from enmity and hate to be the state of peace. Along with this, they also urge for equality and honesty in political relations.
Along with the West, in the middle-east Asia words such as aloha, calm, salaam and shalom, emerged as synonym to peace and also reflected respect, justice, harmony and friendliness. As these words include action and for which practice is essential, peace thus cannot be a situation of status quo, or a motionless state. For, thousands of years ago, it was clarified by the Vedic philosophy that peace was not static. Peace was not inactive; rather, peace was active, dynamic and a powerful state, and it inspired people to step forward towards the assured development without any hindrance.
Moreover, peace creates enthusiasm in men creating dynamism and thus enabling them to meet any situation. Peace encourages a human being to do something more, besides his own development. It supports the achievement of a goal in life. Peace, despite being an end itself, works as the best means in achievement of one’s goal. Peace fills man with courage. It enables to creation of a conducive environment and thus enabling the pathway to development, therefore, fulfilling its meaning and purpose. Those who observe peace in a direction contrary to it and who try to connect it with a state of status quo or perpetuation, inactiveness and compulsion, are incorrect as they do not understand the true meaning of peace and its intent.

Technology and Peace
After becoming familiar with the word-meaning and purpose of technology and peace, we clearly observe certain common characteristics of both. These are as follows:
1. Both are the subject of practice and action;
2. Both have dynamism in their roots; and
3. Both are the subject of refinement and development as per the demand of time and space.

Besides these three extraordinary characteristics we find technology becoming a tool on the one hand and peace for calling for their use in the welfare, progress and prosperity of all on the other. Thus technology appears becoming the basis of the search of a new and useful tool and peace by connecting that search with human values, and preparing a ground for its positive use and thus hoping for the welfare of the entire humanity. Technology and peace are thus supportive and connected to one another. Moreover, I venture to say that the state of peace has always been, and is the basis of adaptability and success of technology and it will remain so in future. We must bear this fact in our mind and should also understand that technology is not for destruction at any level and in any walk of life. The use of technology for any kind of destruction is in fact against the meaning and purpose of it.
Peace is the glory and beauty of technology. Magnificence of technology remains in its peaceful and all welfaristic use. Simultaneously, its glory remains in its association with the high human values and through this in making the life worthy and prosperous. This is the only truth. Hence, technology and peace are supplementary and encouragement to each other.