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Litigation free villages: A distant dream of free India?
India lives in its villages. Successive governments have focused on cities. It has resulted in consumerism. Villages need to become litigation-free. Litigious villages can seldom achieve development, according to the nonagenarian, Nanaji Deshmukh.

INDIA’S HEART is in its villages and 60% of the Indians live in villages. But according to Nanaji Deshmukh, "It is an ulti duniya (it is a world upside down) that we are creating. In reality, India’s wealth, both in terms of people and natural resources, is in her villages. But the government is ignoring that. It is developing only cities and promoting consumerism. Disgusted with politicians, I decided to use young people to see what could be done in villages.” True to his word, nonagenarian Nanaji Deshmukh, a few years short of an eventful century, quit politics formally in 1978. But he has gone on to virtually build an empire under the aegis of the Deendayal Research Institute. 

 

On the occasion of the 12th Justice Sunanda Bhadre Memorial Lecture on “Judiciary and its Multi–dimensions’, former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam lavished praise on Nanaji Deshmukh, commending to the nation the litigation-free model of resolving disputes in villages. This model has ensured that the 80 villages around Chitrakoot in Madhya Pradesh where Nanaji is based are ‘almost litigation-free’. This has been made possible by the tireless efforts of the Deendayal Research Institute (DRI). DRI is a unique institution developing and implementing a village development model which is most suited to India. Apart from all the development activities, the institute is facilitating the creation of a cohesive, conflict-free society. The villagers have unanimously decided that no dispute will find its way to court. The differences will be sorted out amicably in the village itself. The reason given by Nanaji Deshmukh is that if people fight amongst each other, they will have no time for development. Dr Kalam contended that this model may be propagated in other parts of the country by societal organisations, judicial organisations and government.

 

During the emergency period of the Indira Gandhi’s government, Nanaji served a 17-month jail term along with other prominent leaders of the Jan Sangh. Upon his release, Nanaji became one of the architects of Jan Sangh’s merger with the Janata Party, though he refused to join Morarji Desai’s cabinet. Many of us who believe in history may know by now that the Janata experiment failed not because of the Jan Sangh members’ dual membership but because of three men - Desai, Charan Singh and Jagjivan Ram, all of whom wanted to be the Prime Minister.

 

It was during this time, if my memory serves me right, that Nanaji advocated that all national leaders should retire from active politics after the age of sixty and dedicate themselves to social service. His message was directed at all the political leaders of the country (and especially the leaders of the Jan Sangh) so they can wash away some of their sins by rendering social service. But the lust for power was stronger than the love for society as far as these leaders were concerned. Even leaders from his own party did not heed his call. His message was not well received. No one wanted to step down from active politics at the peak of their career.

 

However, Nanaji was firm about what he had said. In 1978, he abruptly quit public life for the noblest of tasks - in the RSS lexicon it is called "nation building.” He disappeared into Gonda in Uttar Pradesh, the district from which he had entered Parliament. An impressive project was drawn up: 2,000 tube wells in two years and improved methods of cultivation in 2,800 villages. The headquarters was Jayaprabhagram, named after "close friend" Jayaprakash Narayan, with whom Nanaji was active in the 1974 Bihar movement.

 

In the early ’90s, Nanaji shifted base to Chitrakoot, where he realised his dream of setting up a rural university-now being run by the Madhya Pradesh government. In his own words, "I came to Chitrakoot because this is where Ram came after renouncing his throne and Bharat followed him. I want to remind people of their example at a time when politicians lust for power and those like Laloo Yadav refuse to give up."

 

Born in 1916 in Parbhani District of Maharashtra, Nanaji joined Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1940. Later he became Secretary of the Uttar Pradesh State unit of Bharatiya Jan Sangh. He worked to promote the party in Uttar Pradesh.  He rose to become a senior leader of the party at the national level.

 

Nanaji now serves the Deendayal Research Institute that he had himself established way back in 1969. He also established the Chitrakoot Gramodya Vishwavidyalaya in Chitrakoot - India’s first rural university and was its first Chancellor. He was nominated to Rajya Sabha in the year 1999 in recognition to his ser-vices to the nation. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 1999.

 

Nanaji’s endeavours are supported by Bombay Dyeing Chairman Nusli Wadia, the Tatas and many others. With Nanaji at the helm, there is little doubt that funds will not be a constraint and work will be done. As he himself proclaims "My work will survive seven generations after me.” To know more about Nanaji’s work and the activity of the Deendayal Research Institute, you may log on to http://www.chitrakoot.org/html/.

 

Nanaji perhaps is the last of the Indian political leaders who loved the country and dedicated their life to nation-building. May be we should not hope that the present leaders of the country will do any good to our society. Our present-day leaders are a bunch of liars, cheats, frauds and jokers.  It is time we learnt from the likes of Nanaji and put in our efforts in making and rebuilding our society before it crumbles totally. Every effort in this direction will constitute a building block. DRI strives to make India litigation-free. May be we will not live to see that day but as Nanaji said, ‘generations to come will definitely see a litigation-free India’.

 

 

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