Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Civil Society of Gandhi’s Imagination-Dr. Ravindra Kumar

“If national life becomes so perfect as to become self-regulated, no representation becomes necessary. There is then a state of enlightened anarchy. In such a state, everyone is his own ruler. He rules himself in such a manner that he is never a hindrance to his neighbour.”M. K. Gandhi

Just in the above short statement of the Mahatma, we could more or less perceive a civil society of his imagination. In other words, we could draw an outline of the civil society of his dreams. How? Before comprehending and realizing it, and that too along with its significance in the current perspectives, it is contextual if we become familiar with the word meaning and general concept of civil society.
There are two words in civil society: civil and society. Here civil in fact connotes to civilized, which again is an adjective of the word civil. Civil undoubtedly relates to the human being, a civic. Moreover, along with civic, referring to his place, the city, it specifies characteristics, works and programmes of both of them. Similarly, the word civilized reveals high qualities of man, the civic, evolutionary culture, behaviour and work. Particularly, features like good conduct, control, organization, and the wish for peace are within its ambit. They are essentially included in it. System, cooperation and continuous steps towards development are its foremost signs.
Human society, with which only the word civilized can be associated, is generally a group of people related to each other through persistent relations; people share the same geographical territory under one authority and within the ambit of one culture in general, more or less, carried out in their day-to-day practices. They step forward for the safety of existence and progress.
If we define society from the word meaning viewpoint, it is in fact derived of the Latin word ‘Societas’; that again is the creation of ‘Socius’, a noun of the same Latin, which describes unity of the people, organization and the process of their harmony. Hence, society is an organization, which connects those who come within its ambit culturally. It accords unity to them and make them co-sharers of all the gains.
In short, a civil society is the revelation of social structure of men, which is full of high values, human characteristics and practices.
After becoming familiar with word meaning and concept of civil, civilized and society, now it is appropriate to examine the statement of the Mahatma, which has been quoted in the beginning of the discussion at hand. 
From the above-mentioned statement of Mahatma Gandhi, the following four points emerge categorically:
1. Perfect national life;
2. State of enlightenment;
3. Self-rule [self-control and discipline]; and
4. No hindrance to neighbour [Harmony and cooperation with others]
A civil society of the imagination of the Mahatma could be well perceived in these four points existing in his statement. These points may seem us hypothetical, moral and simple, but in reality they are full of high human values and the acid test of a civilized life. As much, these points are made the subject of human behaviour as the true development of society is feasible; success for the establishment of a civil society of the imagination of Mahatma Gandhi is possible. Let us now discuss these points one-by-one!
Perfect National Life
A perfect national life of the perception of Gandhi, although cannot astray of Ahimsa [non-violence]1 with morality and ethics in public affairs as its foremost features, but the Mahatma especially and essentially desired respect of freedom of each and every one in such a national life. In other words, he stressed on freedom in equal proportion for one and all. In his own words, “…Weakest should have [along with freedom] the same opportunity as the stongest.”2
On the basis of this, Mahatma Gandhi visualized a national life. More or less it was the reflection of his concept of Swarajya, stepping towards the establishment of the Ramarajya.
State of Enlightenment
The second feature of civil society of Gandhi’s imagination could be observed in his stress on the state of enlightenment. In it, one and all individuals, society and nation are expected to be fully conscious of their respective duties. In place of asking for rights, to know and perform duties are in fact the basis of a true state of enlightenment. With the performance of duties, one attains rights naturally. In the words of the Mahatma himself, “Rights accrue automatically to him who duly performs his duties. [Not only this], in fact, the right to perform one’s duties is the only right that is worth living for and dying for. It covers all legitimate rights.”3
It is the duty, if performed well, which along with making individuals conscious, lead them to the true pathway to all-round development. For this, it is necessary that all, individuals, communities, societies and nations, well perform their respective duties. Therefore, Gandhi laid the stress on it. Categorically, enlightenment by performing duties and by enlightenment the rise and welfare of all [Sarvodaya] was, for him, a concrete means of Swarajya, therefore, the Ramarajya.  
Self-rule [self-control and discipline]
Self-control by discipline is the acid test of a true human being that paves the way to self-rule in the best manner. It is the state opposite to such liberty, which burdened some others. Rather, it must continuously develop humanity on the one hand, and should make freedom meaningful on the other.4 Moreover, it should accord strength to the rule of the people5 and develop the spirit of sacrifice in one and all.
Mahatma Gandhi was of the firm opinion that discipline develops the spirit of sacrifice in man and where discipline and sacrifice both exist, people while fighting non-violently against injustice and oppression, march forward towards the establishment of a civil society.6
Thus, self-control by self-discipline plays an important role in preparing concrete ground for self-rule, which is necessary for true human development, worldly and spiritually, in other words, for a civil society of the imagination of the Mahatma. Moreover, Gandhi considered it to be the foremost duty. To quote him, “[Those] who accept the ideal of attaining self-control as the highest duty of man, and are fired by a genuine and undying faith in their mission, and are sleeplessly vigilant and active, their labour will light the path…”7
No hindrance to neighbour [Harmony and cooperation with others]
The fourth feature of civil society of Gandhi’s imagination, particularly having the statement of the Mahatma, quoted at the commencement of this discussion, as the nucleus, could be observed in his own words never a hindrance to his neighbour’, which means not to interfere in others’ affairs while carrying out day-to-day practices. In these words remains the spirit of ‘Live and Let Live’, which is symbolic of tolerance and forbearance. Further, certainty of others’ freedom and fraternity also seems to be there. With cooperation and coordination of people, there is a call to step forward for large scale welfare at individual, community, society and national levels.
Especially, tolerance and forbearance always escalates the spirit of cooperation and coordination in men. They, by transforming conflicts and resolving disputes8, pave the way for peace. In the state of peace, people after becoming free from confusion, fear, terror and violence, march forward continuously for welfaristic causes with courage and zeal. Hence, they strengthen human values and contribute in getting society more and more civilized.   
Thus, the above four points from Gandhi’s own statement, to a large extent, clarifies the imagination of the Mahatma about a civil society. All the four points -- perfect national life, state of enlightenment, self-rule and no hindrance to neighbor -- in fact, instead of being important for a civil society of the imagination of Gandhi, are equally essential and inevitable for any of the civil societies. These points are filled with morality that itself is one of the fundamentals of civilization9,  ethics, equality in opportunities, and simultaneously, they ascertain freedom to one and all. Further, in them there is a call for duty, consciousness, self-control and sacrifice in the larger welfare of humanity. High human values along with the expectation of ‘Live and Let Live’ emerge in them. The role of any of these in the making of civility cannot be denied or underestimated. Therefore, the Gandhian vision of a civil society can also not be undervalued.
Critical Analysis
All those who are familiar with Gandhian philosophy, know that it is fully within the ambit of Ahimsa. Not a single aspect of his views is untouched by non-violence and its complementary values including morality. How then a civil society of his imagination can be unaffected by it? For this reason many in the world, while commenting on Gandhian views, try to declare them to be just hypothetical. They talk of their being the part of ethics and moral studies, which have been taught by others also from time-to-time. They question of a further ideal in them.
In reply to these kinds of suspicions, it could be asserted with certainty that despite making Ahimsa and other values complimentary to it the basis of his views, the Mahatma never asked to bring any viewpoint within the domain of perpetuity. He called for bringing every human value, including Ahimsa, a subject of refinement so that it could prove to be all- welfaristic in prevailing circumstances of space. Many of his Ahimsa-based actions well prove this fact and they are simultaneously capable of removing all such suspicions. Further, they are capable of proving significance of Gandhi’s ideas in the current perspectives.
Mahatma Gandhi categorically called for not to adhere to any view or philosophy just for the reason that it had been the most effective on a certain point of history. He declared any of the blind following to be foolishness. Refinement in ideas as per the demand of time and space is necessary; their conduciveness and practicability in a prevailing situation is inevitable for the larger welfare of humanity. Hence, it is enough to prove the relevance of Gandhian views. There is a need to make fair examination of Gandhi’s ideas pertaining to a civil society of his imagination and along with this, to work in this direction.
1. He, particularly having the concept of democracy in the centre put forth in Harijan on November 11, 1938, “If they [states] are to become true [to work in the largest interest of people and perfect] for equal welfare of all, they must become courageously non-violent.”
2. Gandhi, M.K. Harijan Weekly, May 18, 1940     
3. Ibid, May 27, 1939       
4. In this regard Mahatma Gandhi went to the extent of saying in Young India on June 3, 1926, “The highest form of freedom carries with it the greatest measure of discipline and humility. Freedom that comes from discipline and humility cannot be denied, unbridled licence is a sign of vulgarity injurious alike to self and one’s neighbours.    
5. For, he had put forth in Young India on July 7, 1930, “Democracy [government of the people] disciplined and enlightened is the finest thing…” And, as written by him in Harijan also on May 27, 1939, “A democrat is a born disciplinarian…”     
6. Gandhi, M. K. 1947. India of My Dreams. Ahmedabad [India]: Navajivan Publishing House
7. Gandhi, M. K. Harijan Weekly, November 21, 1936
8. Admitting the importance of tolerance Gandhi wrote in Young India on July 30, 1931 that without tolerance we would unable to settle our differences, disputes or conflict.
9. The other two are: non-violence and freedom.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chaudhary Ranbir Singh: A Great Son of Mother India-Dr. Ravindra Kumar

“Peasantry is the soul of India. India is a country of peasants and agriculture being its most valuable ornament. The more development is made in the agriculture field, more we develop at the national level. The real growth of India could be measured with prosperity and self-sufficiency of peasantry.”-Chaudhary Ranbir Singh [Hooda]

Chaudhary Ranbir Singh [Hooda] was one of those brave sons of Mother India who staying on the forefront of the battle for India’s freedom from the shackle of British imperialism fought with courage under the leadership of Mamatma Gandhi; who after independence worked day and night for rebuilding the nation, for the rural masses, peasantry in particular.
Born on November 26, 1914 in a Jat Kisan family of Sanghi village of Rohtak district [Haryana], Ranbir Singh studied at the Vaishya High School and the Government College of Rohtak and completed his graduation in 1937 from the Ramjas College of Delhi. His father Matu Ram was a progressive and respected farmer of the area and an ardent supporter of education for rural people, which in fact could pave the way for studies of his own son, Ranbir Singh.
Those were the dayswhen Mahatma Gandhi was busy with the nationwide preparations of the final fight for the freedom of India. How then an enthusiastic, nationalist and freedom lover youth like Ranbir Singh could astray from the call of the Mahatma? With a firm determination that “We are born for the nation, our Motherland, India, and it is our foremost duty to liberate it from the alien rule at any cost”, he, not only became a lieutenant of Gandhiji in the region, but also jumped in the battle. Staying in the forefront he participated in the Individual Satyagraha [1940-41] and the Quit India Movement [1942], and for his nationalistic activities he became a tough challenge for the imperialists. For this, he was imprisoned four times and kept in the several jails including the Central Prison of  Lahore, Ambala, Firozepur, Hisar, Multan, Rohtak and Sialkot.
For his organizational abilities, understanding of rural India, mass contact and nationalistic approach, he became a leading figure; therefore, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly of India [1947]. Along with this, he became a member of the Interim Parliament [1950-2], and was also elected to the First and the Second Lok Sabha [in 1952 and 1957 respectively] from the Rohtak Constituency. Moreover, he was elected to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in 1962 and soon thereafter was inducted to the Punjab Cabinet as the Minister In-charge for Power and Irrigation, where his role and contribution in the development of the Bhakhra-Nangal Project remained noteworthy. After the formation of Haryana he again as a Minister in the State Cabinet served the masses in the best possible manner.
Chaudhary Ranbir Singh worked for the welfare of the masses. He founded many educational institutions in rural areas with the purpose of imparting education among poor and making the people self-reliant. Among them the name of Subhash School at Kharkhande and schools at Munger Bilibilan and Polangi are worth mention here.
Perhaps it was he who was elected to the seven different houses namely the Constituent Assembly of India, the Central Legislative Assembly, the Interim Parliament, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and Vidhan Sabhas of Punjab and Haryana respectively and thus created a history. He was a solid voice of rural masses, Kisans in particular. It is well evident from all of his speeches in different house and suggestions he made from time-to-time as a member to different committees of Parliament. His exemplary works are still the source of inspiration for the youth of the country.
Chaudhary Ranbir Singh breathed his last on February 1, 2009 at the age of 95. The Post and Telegraph Department of India released a stamp in his memory and tribute on the occasion of his Second Nirvana Day on February 1, 2011.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tribhuvandas Kishibhai Patel: A Great Community Leader and Freedom Fighter -Dr. Ravindra Kumar

“Accountability, dedication, honesty, sense of sacrifice and sincerity are essential for success in public life. Those who lack any one of them, they never achieve expected success, nor they become ideal and icon for others.”-Tribhuvandas Kishibhai Patel

Born on October 22, 1903, in a Patidar Patel family of Anand town in Gujarat, TribhuvandasKishibhai Patel was one of the closest associates of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. He came in contact with Vallabhbhai in 1920 at the age of just 17 during the course of Non-Cooperation and Swadeshi Movement. But soon due to his sincerity, honesty, hardworking temperament, a sense of discipline and interest in constructive works particularly among the rural masses he impressed Vallabhbhai and the Mahatma both. Further for his organizational ability he was selected as one of the conductors for the historical farmers’ agitation in Bardoli in 1928 by Vallabhbhai Patel himself. Thereafter he jumped with zest in the national liberation movement under the leadership of Gandhiji and staying in the forefront participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement (1930), the Individual Satyagraha (1940) and the Quit India Movement (1942) in particular, and was each time imprisoned for long time.
Tribhuvandasbhai started his work with the Kisans of the district of Kheda by the end of forties of the Twentieth Century with the sole purpose of making them self-reliant and prosperous as they were exploited for years by indigenous and overseas merchants, both. They used to purchase milk and its products from peasants on very low or nominal prices. With the inspiration and guidance of Sardar Patel himself he could successfully bring the farmers of the district within the fold of the Kheda District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union, established in 1946. Further, with Verghese Kurien, as its manger, he himself being its chairman started working in such a planned way that the world famous Amul Dairy Project came into being, which ultimately paved the way to the White Revolution in India.The achievement of this could be well perceived from the current real pool consist of 2.8 million milk producers as its members with milk collection of 9.10 million litres perday and total revenue equal to 2.15 billion US $ in the year 2010-11.
Tribhuvandasbhai was a visionary and a man with extraordinary mind. He had once said to the author of this piece in Ahmedabad, “Country and society cannot be strengthened by small mind even with a great man. It can only be strengthened by great mind even with a small man.”
His incomparable work of the Amul in Anand itself proves the above fact. For this, he was, and is, rightly recognized as the father of the cooperative movement as well as the ‘Operation Flood’in India. In fact Amul, for its unprecedented achievements became an appropriate model for rural development in India and many other nations of the world. Amul, spurring the White Revolution in India, made the nation largest producer of milk and products related to it in the whole world.
Besides this, Tribhuvandas Patel took initiatives to launch several programmes through NGOs for women and child health, i. e., maternal and infant carein Kheda district, upliftment through cooperatives in approximately six hundred villages of Gujarat, and village health in the state of Gujarat.  
For his exemplary work and great contribution for the rural masses, Tribhuvandas Patel was conferred the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1963 under the category of Community Leadership and the Padma Bhushan by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the President of the Republic of India in 1964. Besides, he was twice elected to Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament, between 1967 and 1974 as a candidate of the Indian National Congress.
He breathed his last on June 3, 1994 at the age of 91.