I am happy to join all of you in this Webinar on Acharya Vinoba Bhave’s contribution to the dissemination of Gandhi Ji’s philosophy for social uplift and Bhoodan Movement.
I am glad that Harijan Sevak Sanghhas taken this initiative to mark the inauguration of the 125th Birth Anniversary of Sant Vinoba ji. Last year we celebrated the 150th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi by rededicating ourselves to his mission of Swachhata. This year we are celebrating the 125th Birth Anniversary of his Spiritual Successor, Sant Vinoba ji.
I am happy to note that Harijan Sevak Sangh has planned a number of webinars on “Gandhi in New Era” and “ Vinoba-Ji” to take their messages to the grass root level.
I am convinced that Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas will keep resonating in our hearts for a very long time to come.
That’s because of his timeless quest for truth and non-violence, for peaceful co-existence and sustainable development.
Gandhi ji remains our beacon because he was an innovator who constantly experimented.
We revere him because of his courage to take up causes that were most challenging like untouchability, for instance. We admire him for his sincerity, his honesty and his deep empathy for the people he was serving.
We know that the Harijan Sevak Sangh was established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1932 out of his own deep conviction in the principles of Poona Pact. For him, the Poona Pact was an article of faith and matter of trust to uplift the lives of depressed class, to restore justice and honour due to them.
Our freedom struggle was not only a political movement. It was a call for a national resurgence and socio-cultural awakening.
Empowerment of masses was a key component of freedom movement spearheaded by Gandhi ji. He felt that India must stay united against colonial rule. India must have pride in its culture, language and rediscover its inherent strengths.
Our civilizational ethos is woven into Mahatma Gandhi’s life and ideals. He showed civility even in disobedience. He had internalized the ancient Indian ethos of ‘share and care’. Many Gandhians drew inspiration from his writings and speeches. Vinoba ji was one of such illustrious disciples.
Dear sisters and brothers,
Acharya Vinoba Bhave was an ideal disciple of Gandhiji. He was a deeply spiritual person as well.
He believed that the essence of Indianness is a caring attitude and a spirit of sacrifice and service.
His Bhoodan movement started from Pochampalli in present day Telangana encouraged landlords to voluntary donate a portion of the land to the poor farmers.
He walked about 70,000 km in 14 years and received about 42 lakh acres of land as donation for the landless farmers. It is worth mentioning that Sri Vedire Ram Chandra Reddy of Pochampalli, who was first person to donate his 100 acres of land to Vinoba-Ji in response to his appeal.
Like Gandhi ji, Vinoba brought about change without coercion, without violence. Both have demonstrated that positive, lasting changes are possible with people’s active participation.
Vinoba’s Sarvodaya movement and Gramdan concept exemplified the Gandhian ideal of village reconstruction and rural upliftment. Central to these initiatives was a trust in the goodness of human beings and the belief that the rich will share their prosperity with the disadvantaged population. It was a cooperative system for socio-economic upliftment of the villages.
Dear sisters and brothers,
Vinoba ji belongs to that long, inspirational lineage of Indian nationalists who gave direction to the social and economic progress of our people. They knew the extraordinary treasure that lay within our country, the country with an ancient glory, bright peaks of human achievement and remarkable advances in various fields.
It is this recognition of the hidden human potential and fostering it to achieve a just and harmonious social order that makes such great people memorable icons of our history.
A fitting tribute to Vinoba ji on his 125th Birth Anniversary would be to work in an integrated manner for the rural population constituting about 60 per cent of our population.
I know that the Government has a number of programmes to improve the quality of life in villagers. All villages have been electrified, all villages have been declared open-defection free. Most of the villages are being connected through the nearly 2 lakh kilometres rural road network.
What we are trying now is to build a Sashakt Bharat, a Swabhiman Bharat, and Atmanirbhar Bharat that Vinoba ji and Gandhi ji had thought of.
The concept of equitable opportunities for growth to all irrespective of caste, creed, religion and region essentially values individuals as individuals rather than as members of some social or economic group.
Welfare of each and every citizen and enabling each one to participate and contribute to social good is at the heart of Sarvodaya. It is about using the entrepreneurial talent and technological skills of every citizen and local resources for attaining not only the self-reliance but also to serve the humanity at large.
Further prioritizing and focusing on the most vulnerable sections of the population is at the centre of DeenDayal Upadhyaya’s Antyodaya approach.
These approaches blend seamlessly into the current government’s overarching perspective of SabkaSaath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas.
I call upon the organizations like Harijan Sevak Sangh to identify and impart entrepreneurial training as part of developing India into Atmanirbhar Bharat in the years to come.
Our self-reliance is not about being ultra-nationalist and protectionist but to become a more significant partner in global welfare. In the true spirit of Vinoba ji’s mantra of “Jai Jagat”, we seek the welfare of entire humanity. We must make, so that the world benefits. We must think and work constructively so that the world becomes a better place for all to live in.
I am happy that Harijan Sevak Sangh has planned a series of online programmes to celebrate Vinoba Ji’s 125th Birth Anniversary. It is essential to educate youngsters about the life and works of great leaders and about the necessity of Sarvodaya and Antyodaya for social unity and economic equity.
I commend the organisers for taking this timely initiative. In these testing times of COVID-19 epidemic, we have to come together, pool our efforts, not only to contain the spread of virus but also to offer succour and solace, in a Gandhian way, to those who have been adversely affected by the lockdown.
The human spirit finds its noblest expression in times of adversity like this.
We must celebrate the work done by many non-governmental organizations that lent support to the governmental efforts. We must recognize the selfless service being rendered by doctors, paramedics, the security personnel and those who are keeping us stay healthy and safe. We must also remember the farmers toiling on the fields and ensuring that we have enough food to eat. of all our citizens that is enabling us to deal with a very difficult health and socio-economic challenge.
I would like organizations like Harijan Sevak Sangh to continue the good work initiated by the visionary founders. The challenges before us are still formidable. We must muster all our strength to address them.
On this occasion, I fondly remember my long association with Late Nirmala Deshpande ji, a true Gandhian and spiritual daughter of Vinoba ji and former President of Harijan Sevak Sangh. She was truly a great inspiration for many social workers.
In the end, I would like to compliment Dr. Sanker Kumar Sanyal ji and his team for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. I wish you every success in your efforts to serve humanity and make a difference to the lives of people.