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Dawn of a Naya Daur

Modi heralds change with Gandhi-Lohia-Upadhyay talisman

JUNE 26, the day the Modi governmentcompleted a month in office, was also the 39th anniversary of the beginning of the darkest period of the history of the Republic of India—the 19 months of Emergency—which was also touted as ‘AnushasanParv’. The period between May 26, 2014, and June 26 also saw the promulgation of discipline (anushasan), with government offices in New Delhi witnessing the revival of governance. But this time draconian powers were not used. The shasan of NarendraDamodarModi ensured anushasan. The leader has led by example. The long working hours put in by the Prime Minister have made the ministers and, subsequently, officialdom come out with stories of how work begins at 9 am and continues till late evening. Golf enthusiasts in the private sector are finding it easy to find slots to tee off in the Delhi Golf Club as word has gone round that the PM takes a dim view of those officers who find time during working hours for the game.

The New Delhi of June 2014 has seen the Indian capital undergo a metamorphosis. Modi’s writ runs: there are no media leaks of cabinet meetings. Modi has instructed his team to tell the media what has to be said and not create scope to speculate. In the past, non-Congress formations were a delight for the media. Leaks and plants were available aplenty. Suddenly, there seems to be a lull. Not that embedded journalism, which has become a tool of governance internationally after the Americans perfected the art during the Kuwait-Iraq campaign, has been discarded. But the very fact that the Prime Minister has not rushed to appoint a media adviser shows that Modi is at peace with the media. He knows that the spillover of the goodwill of the election campaign can be drawn on for a while. And the lack of governance in the last days of the UPA has created a situation in which every drop of governance offered by the new regime is being imbibed as nectar. Hopes have been raised. The Prime Minister’s candid statement on June 12 that elected MPs are custodiansof the hope and aspirations of the people and his call for a collective spirit in Parliament to take the nation forward have indeed electrified the national discourse.

The first Prime Minister born in free India seems determined to introduce a NayaDaur(New Era) —to borrow the title of the 1956 BR Chopra movie. That movie showed how tradition and modernity could be harnessed side-by-side for the good of mankind. Modi seems determined to write a new chapter in India’s developing history. In his maiden speech in Parliament on June 12 (which was historic because he was the first Prime Minister to speak in Parliament as a first-time MP and PM simultaneously), Modi invoked as his icons Mahatma Gandhi, Ram ManoharLohia and DeendayalUpadhyay. All the three leaders stood for the rights of the downtrodden (reaching the fruits of development unto the last rung of society). They epitomised simplicity in thought and action. All were votaries of the greatness of ancient Indian tradition and culture. In his June 12 speech, Modi said, “I respect other traditions but live by my tradition,” reflecting the thoughts of histhree icons.

FOR a Sangh Prime Minister to swear by Upadhyay, who was general secretary of the BJP’s mother party, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, between 1951 and 1968, is not surprising. If a BJP majority has been established in the Lok Sabha, credit goes to the seeds sown by Upadhyay. (Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder of the Jana Sangh, had once commented, “If I had two Deendayals I could transform the political face of India”).Though in power 46 years after Upadhyay’s death, Modimay well be emerging as the proverbial second Deendayal envisaged by Mookerjee. And transforming the political face of India is certainly his avowed mission.

But why Gandhi and Lohia? Gandhi was a fellow Gujarati whom Modi adores. As much as he adores the other eminent son of Gujarat who dominated the freedom movement, Sardar Patel. Lohia was neither from Gujarat nor was he a member of the SanghParivar. Modi, who has given a call for a “Congress-mukt Bharat”(an India sans the Congress party), draws his inspiration from Gandhi’s post-Independence call for winding up the Indian National Congress. Lohia, who began his political career in the Congress (in 1935 as the secretary of the party’s foreign affairs department), had drifted away to lead the socialist movement—he died as a leader of the Samyukta Socialist Party (SSP). In 1963, Lohia had authored the doctrine of anti-Congressism and began the process of uniting non-Congress parties, sans the Communists, into a formidable Opposition, with a view to oust the Congress. It was Lohia’s effort which saw the initial decline in the hegemony of the Congress in the 1967 general election. Non-Congress parties, under separate State-specific formations of the SamyuktaVidhayak Dal (SVD), formed governments in many States. Even the Communist Party of India—the original CPI—was roped into this exercise (the newly launched CPI-Marxist stayed awayat that stage; though they were tojoin forces with other non-Congress parties a decade later).

Gandhispeak on Governance

Shaping Indian politics


“Everybody is eager to garland my photos and statues, but nobody wants to follow my advice… They call me a Mahatma but I…am not even treated … as a sweeper,” Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi reportedly told a friend. “I find myself alone. Even Patel and Nehru think I am wrong; they wonder if I am not disoriented with age… Maybe all of them are right and I alone am floundering in darkness.”

Quite surprisingly, the man who once said, “Leave India to God, to chaos or anarchy, if you wish but leave India,” was himself absent from the Central Hall of Parliament after Independence, trying to contain communal violence in the slumsof Calcutta.

His philosophy pegged around freedom, non-violence, welfare and equal opportunity for all. A man who coined the terms PoornaSwaraj, or complete freedom, and Satyagraha, or non-violent direct action, against colonialism and imperialism, his influence on Indian politics can be seen behind terms like ahimsa, satyamevjayate, gram udyog and civil disobedience. You may not agree with him, even criticise his notions, but you cannot ignore him. That’s the importance of the frail old man who shaped governance and politics in independent India.

Gandhi’s most significant contribution to Indian politics was the concept of Gram Swaraj, or village self-rule, as a means to fight poverty, backwardness, empowerment of people and socio-economic development of India. Gandhi realised that the real soul of India lives in the villages and real development of the country was meaningless unless the villages were developed.

Swaraj for him meant self-government—not just good government—and a continuous effort to be independent of government control, foreign or national. “Real swaraj will come, not by the acquisition of authority by a few, but by the acquisition of the capacity by all to resist authority when it is abused,” he said.

“Swaraj for me means freedom for the meanest of our countrymen… I am not interested in freeing India merely from the English yoke,” he said.

A unique figure in Indian history, he wanted to show people how to solve their own problems.

IT was said that if one took the Grand Trunk Road from Calcutta (now Kolkata) to Amritsar, no Congress-ruled States were to be found. Modi’sCongress-mukt Bharat thus has its roots in Lohia’s pioneering call in 1963 and the (short-lived) SVD experiment in 1967. All SVD regimes also had elements from breakaway Congress groups—Ajoy Mukherjee’s Bangla Congress (President Pranab Mukherjee was one of its stalwarts), the Jana Congress formations of Chaudhary Charan Singh (UP), Mahamaya Prasad Sinha (Bihar), GovindNarain Singh (Madhya Pradesh), Kumbharam Arya (Rajasthan) and the Utkal Congress of BijuPatnaik. Thus, the Gandhi-Lohia-Deendayal doctrine essentially stands for non-Congress rule.

The death of Lohia in October 1967 and the demise of Upadhyay in February 1968 were twin setbacks to the bid for non-Congress unity. Though from different streams of politics, these two leaders met in April 1964 to work in tandem to oust the Congress from power.

THE death of Jawaharlal Nehru in May 1964 and the succession struggles within the Congress then and again in January 1966 when LalBahadurShastri passed away in Tashkent while negotiating peace with Pakistan, provided fertile ground for anti-Congressism. Post Lohia and Upadhyay, the Navnirman movement in Gujarat, the JP movement which followed and the imposition of Emergency in 1975 provided the sinews for the growth of anti-Congressism and the formation of the Janata Party post the Congress rout in the 1977 general election. Like the SVD experiment, the Janata experiment too was shortlived. The dual membership issue—the fact that a sizeable section of the erstwhile Jana Sangh members also owed allegiance to the RashtriyaSwayamsevakSangh (RSS)—put paid to the Janata experiment. A meeting between Lohia acolyte Raj Narain, who had defeated Indira Gandhi in Rae Bareli in 1977, and Sanjay Gandhi in the drawing room of an industrialist in West Delhi’s Pusa Road in the summer of 1979 drove the last nail into the coffin of the Janata regime. The Congress triumphantly won the mid-term election in late 1979 and anti-Congressism again became a pursuit of the opposition parties.

Ram ManoharLohia on Governance

Father of the socialist movement


“Log meribaatsunengezaroor, lekin mere marnekebaad” (People will surely listen to me, but after I am dead)—this remark clearly indicates that Ram ManoharLohia was either out of sync with his own time or far too radical for it.

Dr Ram ManoharLohia was an intellectual among politicians, or a politician among intellectuals, who stood for the rights of the common man and liberation from oppression and exploitation. An outspoken democrat and humanitarian, he fought against all inequalities and injustices of life. A man who dared to criticise Hitler and his Nazism, he was anti-imperialist, admired Karl Marx, but still a socialist. One of the greatest ideologues in Indian politics, Lohia was one of the first to say that poverty was India’s enemy No. 1 and an economically strong India could only emerge after banishing poverty. He predicted: “Tomorrow’s leaders will not be national leaders, but those of localities and villages.”

Lohia was introduced to the Indian freedom struggle by his father who was a follower of Gandhi. Lohia was so influenced by Gandhi that he pledged his support and joined the Satyagraha movement at the age of 10!

A chance meeting with Nehru marked the beginning of a love-hate relationship and the two agreed to disagree on many issues and occasions. During the Quit India movement, when the top political leadership, including Gandhi, Nehru, Azad and Patel were in Jail, Lohia printed pro-freedom literature titled ‘Do or Die’ and started a secret radio station, Congress Radio.

A contemporary of Jayaprakash Narayan, Lohia strongly opposed the partition of India and was one of the first to suggest unification of some 650 Indian princely States.

Among Lohia’s several contributions to Indian politics was the concept of Chaukhambha Raj, or four interlinked levels of governance, in India. Chaukhambha stressed the need to strengthen panchayati raj institutions as an instrument of social change. Lohia wanted to involve the masses in the reconstruction of post-Independence India and volunteered to build a dam on the Paniyaririver called the LohiaSagar Dam.

A die-hard socialist, Lohia gave impetus to the socialist movement in India. He was a man of action who practised what he preached. He was against glorification of any individual—Gandhi, Nehru or Ambedkar. Lohia left behind no property or bank balance, just his school of thought.

Veteran Jana Sangh leader NanajiDeshmukh was responsible for cementing the Lohia-Upadhyay bond. He invited Lohia to an RSS shivir(camp) in Kanpur in 1963. When asked by the media what he was doing at an RSS event, Lohia replied “Main sanyasiyon ko grihasth banane gaya tha (I was attempting to lure these ascetics into domestic life)”. Lohia wanted RSS workers to join the mainstream of politics. It is ironical that a decade after his death, a section of his avowed followers raised the dual-membership issue and caused a chasm that saw the downfall ofthe first non-Congress government at the Centre.

IN the early 1980s, a number of opposition conclaves were held—in Calcutta, Srinagar, and Hyderabad— where attempts were made to unite against the Congress. Janata Party president Chandrashekhar’s long padyatra was instrumental in spreading anti-Congressism from Kanyakumari to New Delhi. The assassination of Indira Gandhi turned the tide in favour of the Congress and its young leader, Rajiv Gandhi, in 1984. But the triumph was shortlived as 1989 saw a non-Congress government in power. The Congress thereafter came to power in coalition set-ups, but never quite recovered its prima donna position. For 25 years after 1989, no party gained absolute majority till Modi caught the imagination of the people and led the BJP to majority along with its NDA allies.

Upadhyay was essentially a philosopher. He advocated antyodaya, or integral humanism. He saw a link between dharm-arth-kaam-moksh(religiosity-wealth-human activity-salvation). He felt that while creation of wealth should be rooted in religiosity, human activity must be endeavoured with salvation in mind. By religion he essentially signified being scrupulous and conscientious. Gandhi had also advocated fair business, with the wealthy treating their wealth as being held in trust for the good of society. Lohia was a socialist in thought and action. Modi’s axiom, ‘minimum government, maximum governance’, traces its roots to the thoughts of Upadhyay. A santulan(equitable balance) between dharm-arth-kaam-moksh is the root of this doctrine which advocates an equitable social order.

DeendayalUpadhyay on Governance

Visionary behind the lotus bloom


“If I had two Deendayals, I could transform the political face of India,”these were the word the legendary Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee used to describe PanditDeendayalUpadhyay, the man behind the concept of Akhand Bharat.

A meeting between him and Ram ManoharLohia resulted in a historic joint statement on April 12, 1964, exploring the possibility of an Indo-Pak Confederation as Partition was neither good for Hindus or Muslims.

Upadhyay described his dream as: “We are pledged to the service not of any particular community or section, but of the entire nation. Every countryman is blood of our blood and flesh of our flesh. We shall not rest till we are able to give to every one of them a sense of pride that they are children of Bharatmata.”

One of those who shaped the ideologies of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which later transformed into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Upadhyay is remembered for his integrity and alternative model of governance and politics. His treatise on Integral Humanism, the guiding philosophy of the BJP, provides a holistic perspective for political action and statecraft, consistent with the needs of the human race. He visualised India as a decentralised and self-reliant economy with village at the base.

According to him, Independence was meaningful only if it became instrument for expression of the Bharatiya culture. He firmly believed that independent India should not ignore her ancient culture or Indian-ness, or Bharatiyata. He was not averse to use of technology, provided it was adapted to suit Indian requirements. “Western science is universal and must be absorbed… to go forward, the same is not true about the western ways of life and values,” he said.

He met the founder of RSS, Dr Hedgewar, and was so inspired that he decided to become a pracharakand appeared for a competitive examination in dhoti, kurta and cap. He launched the monthly ‘Rashtra Dharma’ magazine, weekly ‘Panchjanya’ weekly and daily ‘Swadesh’.

Upadhyay teamed up with Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee after the latter’s resignation from the Union Cabinet following differences with Nehru, and went on to strengthen the Jana Sangh as its general secretary for 15 years. He became the President of the party in 1968 but the jaws of death soon snatched him away.

When the Janata Party formed a government in Rajasthan in 1977, Chief Minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat from the Jana Sangh background introduced antyodayainto the government programme. The work done by Shekhawat with the administrative acumen of his trusted senior bureaucrat, MithaLal Mehta, was the forerunner of the food-for-work programme, which later blossomed into a Central scheme. MGNREGA, touted by the UPA regime, has its roots in Upadhyay’sAntyodaya. The BJP government has said that it will extend MGNREGA into a scheme to benefit the rural community. The UPA-sponsored scheme, though noble, only ensured wages; in the new dispensation, income generation will go hand-in-hand with asset creation.

Modi’s axiom, ‘minimum government, maximum governance’, traces its roots to the thoughts of Deendayal Upadhyay

DON Quixote and Sancho Panza are not the best examples to emulate—unfortunately, the UPA leadership ignored this. What Rahul Gandhi and his implementing minister, Jairam Ramesh, perhaps did not realise was that across the world distress wage generation was always linked to asset building. The US used the Great Depression to add to national assets. The UmaidBhavan Palace in Jodhpur is an example of how employment generation and asset creation was implemented by the indigenous States in the days of the British Raj. This tradition was resurrected by the government of Harideo Joshi in Rajasthan when the State faced severe drought in 1985-88. Irrigation tanks were dug and local self-government infrastructure was built. Alas, the compulsions of ostrich-like politics in the Congress put an end to all that when Joshi was unceremoniously removed in 1988. UPA dispensations two decades later apparently were oblivious to these facts of history. With Modi inpower, one hopes that antyodayawill percolate unto the last.

Modi has said that the country’s economy would be benefited a lot if urban amenities were provided in rural areas”suvidhaashaharki, aatmagaonki”. He stressed the need for greater focus on agro-technology that includes agro-based industries and better soil-testing facilities, inter alia. He has mentioned that 100 new modern cities will emerge over the years. In this too, he has drawn from Upadhyay’santyodayaand from the thoughts of Gandhi as well as Lohia. As leader of the Congress Socialist Party, which functioned as a ginger group within the Congress, Lohia produced a hypothetical blueprint in 1941 for Indian cities which would self-administer and make the mass public realise the importance of economic robustness for the nation’s future. These cities were to be run by public participation, where even the police would not have to be a burden on the State.

Many ideas of Lohia have formed the basis of several policies in post-Independence India. His idea of wasteland development has already been transplanted through the Drought Prone Area Development Programme (now called Integrated Wasteland Development Programme). Common guidelines for watershed development have also been drawn up to providea focused approach to wasteland development. Lohia pressed the people to construct canals, wells and roads voluntarily and he himself volunteered to build a dam on the Paniyaririver at Pathredi near Bhiwadi, close to Delhi, which is now called the LohiaSagar Dam’.

“Satyagraha without constructive work is like a sentence without a verb,” Lohia said and led building of public assets by participating in shram-daan in villages. Modi, in his June 12 speech in the Lok Sabha, has also highlighted the virtues of shram-daan for infrastructure building.

A common stream in the thoughts of Gandhi, Lohia and Upadhyay is their commitment to the hitherto deprived sections of society. In his electoral triumph by cutting across caste barriers which hitherto plagued electoral politics in India, Modi has upheld the doctrine of the three icons, especially Lohia, who held that India had suffered reverses in history because people viewed themselves as members of a caste rather than citizens of a country. If over the next five years Modi is able to consolidate his mandate of 2014, then the dynamics of the Indian polity will undergo a change for the better.

Another area where the stamp of Gandhi-Lohia-Upadhyay is visible in the Modi dispensation is foreign policy and the approach to neighbouring countries. Lohia had been with Gandhi from November 1946 onwards till the Partition in August 1947. He was with Gandhi in rural Bengal when Nehru hoisted thetricolour at the Red Fort in NewDelhi. Like Gandhi, he was unhappy with the Partition.

On April 12, 1964, during Nehru’s lifetime, Lohia issued a joint statement with Upadhyay which questioned the rationale behind the Partition and called for a ‘confederation’ approach in India-Pakistan relations. There was no SAARC then. By strengthening SAARC and promoting better neighbourly relations in South Asia, the spirit of the Lohia-Upadhyay joint statement is reflected in Modi’s approach to foreign policy.

An area where the stamp of Gandhi-Lohia-Upadhyay is visible in the Modi dispensation is foreign policy and the approach to neighbouring countries

Artillery guns have played a big role in the history of India. Bengal’s NawabSiraj-ud-Daulah lost the Battle of Plassey in 1757, not only due to the treachery of Mir Jafar but also because of the demoralisation of his troops when Indian artillery guns burst in the battlefield. Thus the muskets of the English East India Company paved the way for British rule. The Bofors scandal cost Rajiv Gandhi, with his 400+ majority in the Lok Sabha, his credibility (though till date the facts have not been fathomed). Since the Bofors imbroglio, no one was willing to take a decision on the Army’s requirement for heavy artillery and even for other equipment for the armed forces. As a result, imports were being necessitated. It is understood that now, instead of pursuing the UPA’s preference for acquiring M777 howitzers at Rs 30 crore a piece from the US, the new regime is allowing the Indian Ordnance Factories to develop an indigenous gun at a cost of Rs 14 crore a piece. Dhanush,the India-developed howitzer, is undergoing final trials at the Pokhran range. If this happens, then indeed it can be said “Achchhe din aane wale hain”. Happy days are here again, so it seems.

With a new regime in harness, it is time to celebrate. Calibration can wait. The new regime, guided by Gandhi’s gramutthan (uplift of villages), Lohia’sChaukhamba Raj (strengthening panchayati raj institutions) and Upadhyay’santyodaya(integral humanism) is at work. SP Mookerjee floated the Jana Sangh in 1951 to provide an alternative to the Congress. NarendraDamodarModi, born in 1951, seems to be doing just that, 63 years later. A NayaDaur of governance has been set in motion.

PM’s reply on motion of thanks on President’s address in Lok Sabha

Elected MPs are custodians of the hope and aspirations of the people, says Narendra
Modi and calls for a collective spirit in Parliament to take the nation forward

PRIME Minister NarendraModi described the elected Lok Sabha MPs as custodians of the hope and aspirations of millions of Indians. He thanked the people for voting for stability, good governance and development, and said that the government was committed to fulfilling this responsibility, while replying to the debate on the motion of thanks on the President’s address to Parliament in the Lok Sabha. Modi said he had carefully heard the views of more than 50 MPs, and saw a constructive atmosphere throughout the debate. The hopes of 125 crore Indians echoed in the House. This, he said, was a good sign. He said it was natural for some MPs to ask how and when we would be able to fulfil the people’s aspirations. Giving the example of the beginning of his tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister, Modi said he had expressed an intention in the VidhanSabha then that he wanted the villages of Gujarat to get 24-hour power supply. Similar apprehensions had been expressed then. But that desire had been achieved.

The Prime Minister said that, for this government, the President’s address was not a mere ritual or tradition, but an inspiration which had its own sanctity. He called upon all members of the Lok Sabha to work towards achieving the goals of the government.

Talking of the common man’s faith in India’s democratic traditions, he said this faith was worth showcasing to the entire world. He remarked that India had more voters than the population of the US and Europe. The Prime Minister said that if the government did not pay heed to the needs of the poor, the people would never forgive it. Therefore, the government would devote all its efforts to empowering the poor, and giving them the strength to fight poverty.

He referred to the term “rurban” mentioned in the President’s address and said that the country’s economy would benefit if urban amenities were provided in rural areas—suvidhaashaharki, aatmagaonki. The Prime Minister said there must be greater focus on agro-technology, agro-based industries and better soil-testing facilities. Despite being recognised as a global leader in information technology, India still did not have real-time data of agro-products. Giving the example of Sikkim, that has emerged as a big producer of organic food, he asked why the entire North-East cannot be made an organic hub to meet the emerging global demand for organic produce. He said India has agri-universities, but the transition from “lab to land” is not happening to the extent that it should. The Prime Minister said his promise to reduce inflation was not an empty slogan—it was a resolve, because the poorest of the poor too must have sufficient food to eat.

On the issue of gender equality, Modi said that women need to become partners in decision-making—“50 per cent of India’s population needs to be made equal partners, and need to feel secure.” He said the recent events in Pune, Uttar Pradesh, and Manali must force all of us to introspect and corrective measures must be taken. The country will not wait for long, our conscience too will not forgive us if we do not act, Modi said. Modi made a fervent appeal to all political leaders across the country to stop psychologically analysing rape. “Can’t we keep quiet?” he asked political leaders.

Referring to India’s demographic dividend, the Prime Minister said this only underlined the need for skill development, which should be accompanied by a spirit of “Shram-evJayate”—giving dignity to labour. Our identity in the world must change from “Scam India” to “Skill India”, he said. Referring to the Gujarat model, Modi said that it has tried to imbibe all the best practices that were being followed in different parts of India. India is a diverse country and, therefore, any best practice being followed in any part of India should become our model. The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction that a competition on development is now emerging among States. He said his government does not believe in adopting a big brother attitude towards the States, but believes in cooperative federalism.

Concluding his reply, Modi referred to the freedom struggle and how Mahatma Gandhi had turned it into a mass movement. “We need to make the quest for good governance a similar struggle.” He asked for a resolve to present a clean India—Swachh Bharat—to the memory of the Mahatma on his 150th anniversary in 2019. He urged all MPs to resolve to ensure that every family has a house with basic amenities of water, power and sanitation, on India’s 75th anniversary of Independence in 2022. The Prime Minister said a way would be found to achieve this and he would seek the help and cooperation of all senior leaders in this endeavour.

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