Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President at the 1st Balramji Dass Tandon Memorial Lecture, at Panjab University, in Chandigarh on August 14, 2019.
Chandigarh | August 10, 2019
"On the first death anniversary of late Balram Das Tandon ji, I pay my humble tribute to the departed soul. And I thank the organizers for giving me the opportunity to express my views on this occasion. Until the last responsibility of his glorious public life, i.e. before becoming the Governor of Chhattisgarh, generally Punjab and adjoining areas remained Tandon ji's field of work. In his public life in this area, Tandon ji earned fame and prestige, which people remember with respect even today. Friends, Tandon Ji imbibed the social values during his youth. He was the representative of the generation that closely watched politics before and after independence and took a constructive part in it. It was a period when there were no party differences on national issues. Social, political workers were active in more than one political organization. Partition of the country especially took a heavy toll on Punjab. This region suffered the most human tragedy. In such a situation, many volunteer youth organizations were active in this area that were ready to protect the refugees, their lives, their honor in the disaster happened due to partition. Tandon ji worked tirelessly in Punjab and adjoining areas - Dalhousie, Chamba as a 'Pracharak' of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh during this challenging time. He organized camps for the refugees. He tried to provide basic facilities to them. The present generation may be unaware of the fact that the public life of Tandon ji, who was born in Amritsar in 1927, started in 1953 as a member of the Municipal Corporation of Amritsar. He had been a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly 5 times during 1957-77. After this, he was again elected as a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly from 1997-2002. During his legislative tenure, he also discharged the responsibility of Ministerial post 3 times in Punjab Government. During his long public life, Tandon ji established authentic standards of selfless national service, devout social service which are as much exemplary for the present generation of people's representatives and social and political workers even today. During the 1962 and 1965 wars, he organized public cooperation and public participation for national purposes. Ordinary citizens were ready to help the country's forces in every way. The public also generously donated their gold jewellery. Only one thing was needed i.e. nationalist certified leader at the local level who could organize these public efforts and help them to attain the desired goal. People had full faith in Tandon Ji's efficiency, loyalty towards the nation and authenticity. An all-party committee was formed under his leadership and the local citizens donated their wealth wholeheartedly to protect the country. Similarly, in the 1965 war, he organized a canteen facility in the border district like Amritsar for the soldiers deployed on the border. During the days of terrorism in Punjab, Tandon ji strived for communal harmony and peace. During this, there were also terrorist attacks on his house. Nevertheless, without worrying about safety of himself and his family, he continued to serve those affected by terrorist incidents. He set up a committee for their rehabilitation. He arranged medical and health facilities for poor families. In his public life, Tandonji was actively associated with various social organizations and served the local community through various measures such as blood donation, free education, medical care, providing free rations, clothes to poor destitute widows. People's representatives of present generation should take inspiration from his work. Today, we are living in an era of growing aspirations and daily changing possibilities. Public expectations from people's representatives have also increased. The public expects us to follow the norms that personalities like Tandon Ji set in public life. Regarding his insistence on transparency and dedication, I have been told some incidents of his life. How during the Emergency, even after the death of the mother, he refused to extend parole, refused to take coal quota even when he was a minister so that the expected government's sanctity does not suffer or denied his relatives from applying for government tenders while he was minister. All these incidents set up high standards of integrity, transparency in public life. That is when public confidence in democratic institutions and people's representatives increases. It is necessary for our democracy that the people's representatives maintain the faith of the people in democratic ideals and institutions. Party politics is natural in democracy. Different parties provide political options. But there is no alternative to the national interest and ideals of society. In recent years, the aspirations from our democratic institutions have increased. But are we fulfilling those aspirations? Our legislative institutions are the medium of deliberations and concurrence, not disruption. At such times, the norms of nationalism established by Tandon Ji should always be remembered. Every citizen should take a pledge to fulfill his duties in the interest of the society and the country. It is the special responsibility of the people's representatives to further strengthen democratic decorum and beliefs. In public policy, conduct is more important than ideology. I have always believed that elections should be contested on the agenda of future development. Elections should be held on the basis of ideology, conduct, ability, dedication of the candidate and not on the basis of caste, religion, region, money power, muscle-power etc. These trends will undermine our democratic and social values. I have been maintaining that political parties should frame a code of conduct for their members and legislators so that we can re-establish those ideals in national life which were set by social leaders like Tandon Ji. I was also told how Tandon Ji, as Governor, refused to take the salary increased by the government. He had been giving donations to 18 institutions / individuals every month for many years. Even in the last year of his life, one-time donation was given to all the beneficiaries so that the requirements of the beneficiaries can be fulfilled even after his death. In the Indian Ashram tradition, it is the finest example of 'Adarsh Vanaprasthi' unattached service. Tandon Ji ensured the welfare of the society not only during his lifetime but also after his death. Your work, the ideals set by you, are eternal and exemplary. I once again pay my tribute to the sacred memory of the pious soul. I thank all of you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts on an ideal personality like Tandon Ji. Jai Hind ."