WHAT comes first in the life of a nation—sociology, philosophy, politics or economics? The world over, there is intense debate over what drives a nation. Economy building without a clear social roadmap cannot yield any progress to ameliorate the condition of the masses. A nation without a defined socio-political roadmap is just a geographic presence on the world map. For the past 23 years, India followed an economic agenda driven by market forces. Though India progressed, the soul of Indian-ness was missing. The GDP growth rate appeared to be satisfactory, but over the past decade Indians had started questioning why they were under a compulsion to follow the agenda—in toto—of those sitting in the US and Europe. The mirage of taking every Indian to a wonderland made UPA I and II implement even those policies which were partly inconsistent with or irrelevant to the spirit of the emerging young India.
Every nation absorbs the thought processes of its social and political leaders in its development agenda. The latter does not appear overnight, but is orchestrated over time by great leadership. NarendraModi is a Prime Minister in a different league. His socio-political thought process is totally different from the political milieu ruling the nation for the past 67 years. Modi, in his first speech as Prime Minister and parliamentarian, while replying to the debate on the President’s speech, said, “We have grown up with the teachings of DeendayalUpadhyay, Mahatma Gandhi and Ram ManoharLohia. All three have taught us that the priority of development should be oriented in such a way that the last man of society should be cared for.” Why did Modi mention Gandhi, Lohia and Upadhyay in his speech? The reason is very clear: the three thinkers propounded the formula that all roads of development have to pass through a village.
The gfiles cover story is an endeavour to understand the philosophy of Gandhi, Lohia and Upadhyay. Though Modi has not presented any blueprint or roadmap detailing how the villages of India will be developed, advocating the ideas of Gandhi, Lohia and Upadhyay signifies the direction governance will take shape in the years to come. Gandhi had stated that India cannot develop without developing its villages; if it were to so happen, the said development would be incomplete. In Lohia’s concept of Chaukhamba Raj too, development centred around the village. RSS and Jana Sangh leader DeendayalUpadhyay believed in “a decentralised polity and self-reliant economy with village at its base.”
Veteran Journalist BN Uniyal has elaborated on the idea: “Modi may hate isms and ideologies and however much he may despise vacuous theorising, he must know that a bureaucracy as large as India’s cannot work without some sort of an overarching philosophical grounding. America and China, the two countries he seems to admire, have not achieved what they have in a philosophical vacuum. China has changed radically over the last some decades from a totalitarian Marxist-Leninist-Maoist regime into a vigorous free market economy, but it has not abandoned its Marxist underpinning… American modern management practices too have not evolved in a philosophical vacuum.”
Senior writer Shubhabrata Bhattacharya says: “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. Narendra Damodar Modi, born in 1951, seems to be doing just that, 63 years later. A NayaDaur of governance has been set in motion.”