INDIA has witnessed the advent of many eras in her very long and ancient history. One such era lay between October 1951 and 1967 and that was the era of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. In earlier ages India had to undergo the ravages of foreign invasions and for centuries together had to remain chained to dominance by foreign intruders. Throughout that period the struggle for independence continued to be waged in one form or the other. From the 19th century till the first half of the 20th century many revolutions seeking independence continued to take shape and the situation of win-and-lose continued to persist. In all the revolutions, the desire for independence continued to be the central objective. In the month of August 1947, proclamation of Independence was made which, however was accompanied by several complications. The moments of happiness and celebrations were also tinged with curses as well. The absence of an eternal solid ideology continued to loom large.
First, a unified India was divided into two political entities and later fragmented into three. An orgy of violence and bloodshed commenced in the newly – separated country called Pakistan. Persons displaced from that region made a beeline for India as refugees. The newly – created borders became unsafe and the number of refugees swelled into crores. Conspiracy of intrusion also continued. About 550 princely States recognised and left behind by the British also started raising their heads. Among the rulers who had taken over from the British only the great Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the then Home Minister of India, could visualize the extent of threat to the country. Because of his untiring efforts and farsightedness, merger of these States into the sovereign Indian union commenced at a fast pace. The entire world knows what the great Sardar had to do to make Hyderabad and Junagarh princely entities merge into the Indian mainstream. Sardar Patel was about to succeed in Kashmir too when brakes were applied to his advancing steps by the then Prime Minister. The country had to witness another black day of misfortune when Sardar Patel died. Since then Kashmir problem has been complicated so much that the country has not been able to come out of it.
The British exploited the country economically to such an extent that it left India a financial wreck. A great chunk of India’s population went below the poverty line. The English had contrived to sap the economic sources of the country. In these circumstances and the course of events that unfolded, the Bhartiya Jana Sangh came into being on October 21, 1951. Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee became its first President and Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya its General Secretary. The era of Pandit Upadhyayaji commenced mainly from this date. It will be no exaggeration if we consider this great man as an “avatar”. He understood the Indian way of life very correctly and presented an ideology best suited to Indian’s reconstruction. He came out with his philosophy of “integral humanism”. He presented a treatise on “Purusharthchatushtya”. Along with other elements of established life, he laid stress on Antyodaya. Enunciating his principles for national administrative system he laid stress on attending to the needs of the persons standing on the lowest rung of the ladder of development and to apply the healing touch by putting balm on the cracks of his feet. That is the cardinal principle of Antyodaya which the country has obtained from him.
The nature of India is based on this philosophy and as long as it will continue to be the guiding principle of our thinking, behaviour and conduct, welfare and upliftment for our people is assured. When this basic principles gets ignored, degradation is bound to set in. Upadhyayaji had laid stress on this thought and he dedicated all his life for the achievement of this objective. When we try to analyse the definition of integral humanism in conjunction with “Purusharthchatushtya”, we will be able to appreciate the efficacy of the Antyodaya era in right perspective. Several incidents of his life inspire us to work in this direction.
He had no special interest for foreign travel, yet at times he did succumb to the persistent pressure of his friends. Those who kept company with him were not only acquainted with his nature and conduct, but were also impressed by it. Simple living and high thinking were integral part of his life. Once on the prodding of his friends he consented to visit the USA. He went there but did not foresake Indian dress. He met the President of USA who got highly impressed. He visited many places there. Once the US President continued to ask Upadhyayaji again and again, how could he serve India. For some time he continued to avoid a direct reply. But the President continued to persist with his question. Ultimately, in very sweet words he smilingly said: “If you really want to help India then I request you stop financially helping our country even by a penny”. The President must have been taken aback because at that time Indian rulers had been visiting every corner of the world with a begging bowl and if they succeeded in getting even a loan, they boasted of a victory. On the other hand, India had a great man who for the welfare of the country was urging the US not to be give even a penny to India. I cannot say how the thinkers of today will take it, but it is this same principle that the revered Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Deendayalji had shared.
I had some unforgettable personal experiences travelling with Pandit Deendayalji. It was in 1963. We arrived at Farbesganj in Bihar in the afternoon. Panditji addressed a meeting in the evening. He had stayed there for one night. Next day, while returning by the train, about half a dozen people were sitting opposite Panditji in the compartment. Perhaps one of them had heard Panditji the previous evening. He enquired,”Are you Pt. Deendayal”? When smilingly he said yes, the man shot back saying Jan Sangh had no economic policy. In a very clam, sweet tone Panditji replied, “A party which has no economic policy cannot sustain itself.” The gentleman then asked, “Are you rightist or leftist”? Panditji smiled again and in his own style replied, “Brother, God has gifted me two eyes. Why do you wish to make me a one-eyed person”? The gentleman then realized he had met a very serious person. Then Panditji explained, “Rightists are those who have have lost their left eye and leftists, their right one. If you want enunciation of Jan Sangh’s economic policy, then I would sum it up in two words: “pragmatic and realistic.” This small discussion became his treatise on economic policy, in brief. His words still echo in my mind. The gentlemen sitting opposite became speechless. They got their convincing answers.
Another incident. By that time Panditji’s acquaintance with the intelligentsia has started spreading fast. There was a public meeting at Gandhi Maidan in Patna. After sitting at the rostrum for some time I got down to mix with the crowd which included established well-known professors, well-known public figures. Those were the days of shortages and the word “hoarding” was very much common in speeches. In his address Panditji asked people what was the price of tomatoes these days. Someone from the audience said Rs. 15 per ser. Hearing this Panditji said, this means hoarding is also being extended to tomatoes. Somebody from the crowd shouted, “How could there be hoarding of tomatoes? It is a raw, perishable commodity”. Panditji asked, “If there is no hoarding, why is it so dear?” Somebody said, “Because of corruption”. Then Panditji explained corruption through a mathematic equation, “Corruption is equal to shortage of commodity multiplied by Government Regulations”. Hearing this, some scholars could’nt help saying, “Panditji is great”.
I am satisfied that the spirit of Antyodaya which was unleashed by Panditji is still alive. In spite of difficult economic conditions, India continues to march fast forward steadfastly. The speed with which the country will adopt the philosophy of Antyodaya and will take steps to translate it into practice, I am certain, India will come out more confident, more self-reliant.