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BHARAT has lost a Ratna, but the light from this jewel will guide us towards APJ Abdul Kalam's dream-destination: India as a knowledge superpower, in the first rank of nations. Our scientist-President - and one who was genuinely loved and admired across the masses - never measured success by material possessions. For him, the counterpoint to poverty was the wealth of knowledge, in both its scientific and spiritual manifestations. As a hero of our defence programme, he shifted horizons; and as a seer of the spirit, he sought to liberate doctrine from the narrow confines of partisan tension to the transcendental space of harmony.

Every great life is a prism, and we bathe in those rays that find their way to us. His profound idealism was secure because it rested on a foundation of realism. Every child of deprivation is a realist. Poverty does not encourage illusions.  Poverty is a terrible inheritance; a child can be defeated even before he or she has begun to dream. But Kalamji refused to be defeated by circumstances. As a boy, he had to support his studies by earning money as a newspaper vendor; today, page after page of the same newspapers are filled with his obituary notices. He said that he would not be presumptuous enough to say that his life could be a role model for anybody; but if some poor child living in an obscure and underprivileged social setting found some solace in the way his destiny had been shaped, it could perhaps help such children liberate themselves from the bondage of illusory backwardness and helplessness. He is my marg darshak, as well as that of every such child.

His character, commitment and inspirational vision shine through his life. He was unencumbered by ego; flattery left him cold. He was equally at ease before an audience of suave, globe-trotting ministers and a class of young students. The first thing that struck one about him was that, uniquely, he combined the honesty of a child with the energy of a teenager and the maturity of an adult. He took little from the world, and gave all he could to society. A man of deep faith, he epitomised the three great virtues of our civilization: dama, self-restraint; dana, sacrifice; and daya, compassion.

But this persona was powered by the fire of endeavour. His vision for the nation was anchored in freedom, development and strength. Given our history, freedom had a political context of course; but it also included freedom of the mind and expansion of intellectual space. He wanted India to leap out of the under-developed trough, and eliminate the curse of poverty through inclusive economic growth. Wisely, he suggested that politicians spend only 30% of their time on politics, and 70% on development; a suggestion which he often followed up by calling in MPs from a state and discussing the socio-economic issues of their region with them. The third pillar, strength, was not born of aggression, but of understanding. An insecure nation will rarely discover the route to prosperity.  Strength commands respect. His contributions in our nuclear and space achievements have given India the muscle to be confident of her place in the region and the world.

His memory is best honoured by the creation of new institutions that nurture science and technology, and enable us to find a beneficial equation with the awesome power of nature. Too often, greed makes us predators of our environment. Kalamji saw poetry in a tree, and energy that could be harnessed in water, wind and sun. We should learn to look at our world through his eyes, and with the same missionary zeal.

Human beings can shape their lives through will, persistence, ability and sheer courage. But we have not been given the right to script where we are born, or how and when we die. However, if Kalamji had been offered an option, this is how he would perhaps have chosen to say goodbye: on his feet, and in front of a classroom of his beloved students. As a bachelor, he was childless. But that is wrong. He was a father to every Indian child, teaching, cajoling, urging, exciting, clearing darkness wherever he found it with the radiance of his vision and the passion of his involvement. He saw the future, and showed the way. As I entered the room where his body lay in state, I noticed the painting at the entrance that depicted a few lines from an inspirational book he wrote for children, Ignited Minds. The good that he did will not be interred with his bones, because his children will preserve his memory through their lives and work, and gift it to their children.

 

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Remembering Dr. Lohia
March 26, 2019
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Today is a day to honour revolutionaries.

We pay tributes to great sons of Mother India - Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru for their ultimate sacrifice.

We bow to a prolific thinker, exceptional intellectual, revolutionary and devout patriot, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia on his Jayanti.

Dr. Lohia combined a sharp mind and a penchant for mass politics.

When top leaders were arrested during the Quit India movement, a young Dr. Lohia remained unfazed, went underground and even started an underground radio station to further the movement.

In the history of Goa’s liberation, the name of Dr. Lohia is etched in golden letters.

Wherever the marginalised needed a voice, Dr. Lohia was there.

Dr. Lohia’s thoughts inspire us. He wrote about modernising agriculture and empowering farmers, which the NDA Government is effectively doing through efforts such as PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, Krishi Sinchai Yojana, e-Nam, Soil Health Cards and more.

Nothing pained Dr. Lohia more than the caste hierarchy and inequality between women and men. Our Mantra of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ as well as our track record in the last five years show that we have made a long-lasting contribution in fulfilling the vision of Dr. Lohia. He would surely have been very proud of the NDA Government’s work.

Whenever Dr. Lohia spoke, inside or outside Parliament, the Congress trembled with fear.

Dr. Lohia knew how disastrous Congress was. In 1962 he said, “During the Congress regime neither agriculture and industry nor the army has improved.”

These words can accurately describe even subsequent Congress regimes, where farmers were harassed, industry was discouraged (except if they belonged to friends and relatives of Congress leaders) and national security was ignored.

Anti-Congressism was Dr. Lohia’s heart and soul. His efforts ensured a shock to the then all-powerful Congress in 1967 elections. That time, Atal Ji remarked- “Due to Dr. Lohia’s efforts, one could travel on board the Howrah-Amritsar Mail without having to pass a single Congress state!”

Unfortunately, today Dr. Lohia would be horrified at the political developments taking place.

Those parties that claim inspiration from Dr. Lohia have completely abandoned his principles. They are leaving no opportunity to insult him.

The veteran socialist leader from Odisha, Shri Surendranath Dwivedy remarked, “He (Dr. Lohia) was imprisoned many times more during Congress regime than under the British rule.”

Yet, today those parties that falsely claim to be Dr. Lohia’s followers are desperate to form an opportunistic Maha Milawat or adulteration alliances with the same Congress. It is both ironical and reprehensible.

Dr. Lohia always believed that dynastic politics was inimical to democracy. He would have been flabbergasted to see his ‘followers’ think about their own families first instead of the nation.

Dr. Lohia stated that one who works with ‘Samta’, ‘Samanata’ and ‘Samatva Bhaav’ is a Yogi. Sadly, the parties that claim to be his followers forgot this principle. They believe in ‘Satta’, ‘Swarth’ and ‘Shoshan.’ These parties are experts at grabbing power, looting as much as possible and exploiting others. Poor people, Tribals, Dalits, OBCs and women are not safe in their rule because these parties give a free run to criminals and anti-social elements.

In his works, Dr. Lohia called for complete equality between men and women. But, neck deep in vote bank politics, it was parties that dishonestly claim to be Dr. Lohia’s followers that opposed the NDA Government’s move to abolish the inhuman practice of Triple Talaq.

Is the commitment to vote bank politics bigger than the commitment to Dr. Lohia’s thoughts?

Today, a moot question facing 130 crore Indians is:

How can those who betrayed Dr. Lohia be expected to serve the nation?

Today they are betraying the principles of Dr. Lohia, tomorrow they will also betray the people of India.