This is an edited version of the Keynote Address delivered by Atul Jain, General Secretary, Deendayal Research Institute on the occasion of 104th Birth Anniversary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay, in a virtual meet organised by the Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Chair, Alagappa University, Tamil Nadu on 25 September, 2020.
“Today, we are celebrating the 104th birth anniversary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay. We bow down in the memory of one of the greatest sons of the soil. We all know him as the President of the erstwhile Jan Sangh, a political party which transformed India’s fortunes in its new avatar today. But he was much more than that
- An assertive nationalist.
- An ideologue.
- A thinker.
- A philosopher.
- An economist.
- A journalist.
- An author.
- And an organizer par-excellence.
In his tenure as the chief architect of Jan Sangh, the party’s electoral graph never saw a downtrend. It was always going up, steadily. Alas, his life was cut short by his mysterious death, an a very young age, so to say. He was not even 52 when he was found dead on the railway tracks in Mughal Sarai. A city, now aptly named after him.
Immediately after the country attained independence, the ruling elite at that time was groping in dark as to what should be the model of our development. They were oscillating between capitalism and socialism. Sometimes, between market economy and sometimes for a controlled regime. We all know, that we had to pay a very heavy price for their indecisiveness.
The rulers at that time were far away from the ground realities of India and just tried to find solutions in alien models to mitigate the sufferings of the crores of people. Deendayal Ji was pained to see all this. In the very initial days of independence, he started cautioning our policy makers from the pitfalls of foreign influences. We had barely come out of one, and were falling in the trap of another.
Pandit Ji, as he was fondly called exhorted Indians to become Bharatiya. And look for a truly Bharatiya approach, that is enshrined in our ethos, our environment, our own resources, our own strength. And above all, our own talent.
In 1965, he encapsulated his treatise in four famous lectures of his that he delivered in Bombay, now Mumbai. And he named his political philosophy as ‘Integral Humanism’. It, in fact, was not merely a political philosophy, but he laid the road map for the political and national leadership in the future.
Today, when we are meeting to celebrate his birth anniversary, it is time to revisit some of the basic and most prominent principles that he laid down before us. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi exhorted the nation to work for Atmanirbharta, that is, self-reliance.
This was the basic tenet of Pandit Ji’s philosophy. He often said that to achieve self-esteem, we must first become, self-reliant, atmanirbhar. And vice versa is also true. Self-esteem alone can bring in atmanirbharta.
He said, that it cannot be done by economics alone. It cannot be done by social science alone. It cannot be just solved by modern management systems or the state of the art technology. There has to be a holistic model of development. And this holistic model should comprise the right dose of every ingredient. A right blend of all the nutrients that the national polity needs. But above all, he advocated an assertive and emotional bond with the nation – with its collective consciousness, which he called the Chiti.
Contrary to the concocted belief, he was not averse to technology. PanditJi, in fact, gave us two very pertinent mantras – deshanukool and yuganukool. Deshanukool means, what is anchored to our roots. And yuganukool, means that we march in tune with the current times. That is contemporisation of the development model.
Of course, he always cautioned us against the pitfalls of mindless globalization and asked the country to first become powerful to withstand possible arm twisting by the mighty. That is the true spirit of atmanirbharta. Which has been amply articulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In the wake of this Covid pandemic, the spirit of atmanirbharta is haunting us with more severe force. It has become more intense with the kind of situation that is prevailing on the borders. Pandit Ji always laid great emphasis on securing our borders. On internal security, he always advocated a no-nonesense approcah.
He said that these were the most important pre-requisites if we were to embark upon the path of self-reliance. Government’s Make In India resolve five years back was a decisive step in this direction of atmanirbharta. The way we have strengthened our defence all these years has strengthened our national resolve also.
The wave of self-esteem has brought in our resolve to attain self-reliance also. DeendayalJi gave the country an intrinsically Bharatiya solution to their problems – that is of restrained consumption, of maryadit consumption. In the present-day parlance, the UNO has called it ‘sustainable consumption’. In its SDGs. The SDG 12, to be precise.
He was of the view that unrestrained consumption breeds greed and artificial needs. Thus, causing human distress. And this finally leads to all kinds of distortions in our total well-being. Including policies.
They then become market oriented. And then we tend to lose the path of self-reliance. To this end, he said that we should only concentrate on our basic needs, basic machinery, basic infrastructure, decent education, high moral values, bonding with our traditions, our culture, our nature. But his dynamism knew no bounds even 6 decades back. He was a strong votary of free trade and industry, of course, with necessary regulation, preferably, self-regulation. Today, we can see the whole world clamouring for this principle.
He wanted agriculture to be free from the shackles of the governments and other unscrupulous elements. And let the farmer be the master of his own fate. Today, we see that happening to us. Deendayal Ji was of the view that local resources and local talent is the way ahead to achieve self-reliance. Added to that the local markets should be strengthened. Post Covid, we can say that he was so prophetic. Prime Minister’s clarion call of ‘Vocal for Local’ is perhaps the most befitting tribute to Pandit Ji’s vision.
Pandit Ji and his contemporary, Nanaji Deshmukh were the flag bearers of the rural economy of India. They always believed that that it is the pivot of Indian economy. During pandemic, we saw it happening too. It proved to be the shock absorber for the whole nation. He gave us so many prescriptions for treating kinds of all socio-economic ills, the prescription that would help us pave the way for atmanirbharta.
But one thing which was most remarkable was his philosophical guidance in this regard – he said, that we should neither let the society face the scarcity of money, nor should allow the money to influence the society. Both paucity or the influence are bad for a healthy development of the society.
Some of the principles that Pandit Ji articulated before us six decades back may look very subtle. They may not seem to be carrying any direct action at some points of time, but they had very deep values. Their sublime text was perhaps the most potent weapon of Pandit Ji’s vision.
It is high time that we now take a serious note of the same and do due-diligence on the issues raised by him to meet the challenges before us. We are fortunate that the present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken all these aspects in their right earnest. And this is perhaps the only way forward.
I would like to sum up with a quote from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi which he made at the NAM Summit on 5 May 2020: Covid-19 has shown us the limitations of the existing international system. In the post-Covid world, we need a new template of globalisation based on fairness, equality and humanity. We need international institutions that are more representative of today’s world, we need to promote human welfare and not focus on economic growth alone.This is what Pandit Ji had preached us in other words more than sixty years ago.
(Atul Jain is General Secretary, Deendayal Research Institute.)