DR. RAM MANOHAR LOHIA : A COMMON UNCOMMON MAN

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


      

For some years now, the politics of our country has been passing through a difficult phase as politics of power has occupied the centre stage replacing  the politics of service. High standards of morality and high principles have little place in Indian politics now.  No means are too debased, no methods too degrading and no tricks too mean. Actually, the end justifies the means today. Obviously, the common man is perplexed to notice all these changes. Simultaneously and consequently, the hardships of the mango masses (Aam Aadmi) have been mounting and mushrooming despite the tall talk of impressive GDP growth after the economic  liberlisation was set in motion.The impact of this worsening political situation is clearly noticeable in every sphere of our life. Naturally, at this critical stage the name of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia comes to our mind. 



         
Before moving further to discuss the life and work of Lohia in some detail, it is pertinent to share with our 550 million youths that a number of famous present day political leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Nitish Kumar, Sharad Yadav are known well for claiming to be the true disciple and follower of Lohia who are, naturally, taking his  legacy and political philosophy forward. Political analysts and research scholars may be requested to examine the claims of these socialist leaders in right perspective. 
         
Coming back to our day's discussion on Lohia, it is very inspiring to note that he  always laid emphasis on moral values in all our affairs, private as well as public, on means as well as on ends and also on democratic institution as well as individual freedom. He left memorable impression on the Indian political scene because of his moral stature, his rugged personal integrity, his tremendous sacrifices and his remarkable human qualities. He was a great revolutionary both in thought and in action who worked tirelessly for the poor, downtrodden and disadvantaged section of the society  without any lust for power or fame.
        
Indeed Lohia was a person who during his lifetime continuously and indefatigably fought for the well being of the poorest of the poor. He often gave a clarion call to the people to rise in protest against all sorts of tyranny and dictatorship. Time and again he voiced the demands of the poor in and outside the parliament to make the rulers realise their duties towards the nation. In 1958, during the Socialist Party convention in Siroha(M.P) he said,"India is going bankrupt and if the government continues its present policies any more, the situation would be even more deplorable; after independence the government has exhausted nearly 1800 crore rupees  in a few years. Nevertheless, the vicious cycle of poverty and inequality has been moving speedily. Thus, to stop this devastating trend, we will have to make arrangements immediately in such a way that the difference between the income of the richest and the poorest comes to 10:1."
       
Being the son of a freedom fighter and Gandhi follower, Lohia was involved in freedom movement since his early childhood. The little boy of only 13 years was present at the plenary session of Indian National Congress held in Gaya, Bihar in the year 1923 as a congress volunteer. As Lohia grew up to pass through engrossing experiences of academic, social and political life, he found himself very close to Bapu in many respect. In 1940, Lohia was sentenced to jail for two years for writing an article called "Satyagraha Now" in Gandhiji's newspaper, Harijan. Bapu reacted sharply on this and said in  a meeting of the Congress Working Committee, "I cannot sit quiet as long as  Lohia is in prison. I do not yet know a person braver and simpler than him. He never propagated violence. Whatever he has done has increased his esteem and his honor."   

 
There used to be long discussion on various topics of both private and public importance between Bapu and Lohia. On that fateful day when Bapu was assassinated he(Bapu) had called Lohia for a very important discussion. But, it was the misfortune of Lohia and the poor people of India at large that the meeting did not materialise. Lohia was obviously very upset on that day(January 30, 1948). He was feeling very lonely. He thought that Gandhiji used to listen to all, the rich and the poor alike. There are many to listen to the rich, but now who would listen to the poor and fight for their cause. As such, Lohia himself marched in that direction with more intensity and not only listened to the masses but also identified himself with them. 


Having seen the plight of common man while travelling to various parts of the country, he minced no words to express his dissatisfaction about  the state of affairs of  our society. He propounded revolutionary ideas and tried to follow these in his day to day life till his death on 12th October,1967. Regarding the system of education in our country, he said, "The system of education requires revolutionary overhauling so that it ceases to be expensive, becomes useful and impresses upon the students the need to integrate the mind. Among the necessary changes, he suggested that Primary and Secondary instructions(Education) must be placed under the control of municipal or local board. Expensive schools of snobbery obstruct social cohesion and add misery to the life of middle classes who try beyond their means to send their children to them(Such Schools). These must be closed. The children of the highest in the land must go to school with those of the lowest and that will ensure among other benefits one sure way to improve the quality of school  education. Should private charities or religious endowments still want to run Primary and Secondary schools , they must be required under the law to maintain the same standard of free education or with nominal fee  and same curriculum as that of municipal or board schools. Further, a large part of initial instructions must be woven around some form of agriculture or industrial activity. One of the most nefarious aspect of school instructions is the changing text books, which also err in glorifying living party leaders, militarism and sordid conventions. Children's text books must both be classical and sources of general knowledge. There is no need to change them so often and the author- publisher racket must stop. In any event, a one year course of national service on farm or factory should be made part of the curriculum for a bachelor degree. New outlay of  expenditure should be concentrated on technical and poly technical institutes. A system of people's  college and universities may also be instituted so that grown up persons with a few years' experience in some profession can make use of them when they are ready and willing."
      
Lohia was a versatile genius having very sharp intellect and exceptional analytical mind. His speech used to be very logical and full of relevant facts supported by sound data. Even though, Lohia graduated with English honors and later learned German while pursuing higher studies in Berlin besides knowing French and Bengali very well, yet  he used to speak in Hindi while addressing public meetings as he was of the opinion that the use of English was a hindrance to original thinking... 



To put it precisely, Lohia was a very common uncommon man who  breathed his last at the age of 57 as a bachelor without leaving any property or bank balance except his great deeds, inspiring thoughts and political philosophy for emulation by all nationalist Indians so as to make this country powerful and prosperous, free (from hunger, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, inequality, corruption etc.) and self reliant in true sense of the term.

 
As always, I'm keen to know what you think on this subject. Hence, request you to post comments to share your views and experiences.


(On the occasion of  Lohia's Birth Anniversary on 23rd March)

# Click here to enjoy my Blog in Hindi, "Chalte, Chalte" (चलते, चलते)              

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