Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Corona Lockdown – Food for thought

Corona Lockdown – Food for thought

I have been writing on the lighter side of the Corona Virus from the confinement of my small flat in Jalandhar. Today, I thought of writing something with some serious intent as we proceed to the gradual lifting of the lockdown. Some thoughts came to my mind while listening to PM Narendra Modi speaking to the Panchs/Sarpanchs, his usual Mann Ki Baat and the address of RSS Boss Mohan Bhagwat to the Baudhik Varg (Intellectual Chapter of RSS) yesterday, April 26, on the theme ‘Present scenario and our role’ which I would like to share here as my loud thinking not as an intellectual or any authority on the subject but as a novice.

First let us take up PM Narendra Modi’s assertions about the rural self sufficiency and self reliance at the grassroots in rural Bharat. The Corona Virus has brought to the fore some ideas which we were made to ignore and forget in the increasing urbanization and consumerism. I am reminded of Mahatma Gandhi and his views on the Panchayati Raj and self-sufficiency at the village level. PM Narendra Modi spoke about self-discipline and ‘public driven’ response to meet the challenge of the deadly virus. He also spoke of our cultural and civilizational values of compassion and mutual help. It seems the things have come full circle. Is Gandhi still relevant? Will the ruling outfits who are projected as anti-Gandhi fully own the Gandhi legacy? Corona virus has given us some “Food for thought”.

Second, the address of RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat provided me an immediate instigation to write this and share with you. He spoke with understanding, concern and vision, as always. Amid the background of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, as reported in the Tribune of April 27, the RSS Sarsanghchalak pitched on ‘swadeshi’(indigenous)  and ‘svavlamban’ (self-reliance) to meet the challenges of the future. I was happy to note that he also touched the communal aspect which was unduly being highlighted by the media and vested interests. He said, “It is not correct to blame the entire community because of something some people
Ramesh Chander with Mohan Bhagwat
may have done because of ‘bhay’ and ‘krodh’ (fear and anger). We do not help with difference in human beings.  We must help with a feeling of togetherness and affinity. We are not doing any favour to anyone, we are working for our own people.” And added “The problem (COVID-19) has taught us much, we must deal with it with ‘soch’ (thoughtfulness) ‘samj’ (understanding) and ‘sajagta’ (awareness), without ‘bhay’ (fear) and ‘krodh’ (anger). He also mentioned about the need for “Swadeshi” to protect and strengthen the basic economy of the country.

You would observe that in these thoughts of Mohan Bhagwat, there is a clear tinge of the Gandhian thought. In his speech, he also referred to a story of Tathagat Gautam Buddha to make his point to continue to do good in spite of setbacks. He also named Babasaheb Ambedkar and the constitutional norms to deal with the situation. It is slowly becoming clear to which direction the wind will blow in the days to come. RSS Boss Mohan Bhagwat, it is increasingly becoming evident, is a man of vision with accommodative and liberal approach. He stands for, I think, the ‘Middle Path’ of Gautam Buddha and constitutional and social pragmatism of Babasaheb Ambedkar and also earthy wisdom and moral authority of Mahatma Gandhi. Here we may find some “Food for thought” to prepare for the coming scenario in the aftermath of Corona Virus. We are to ‘watch and see’.

Let me conclude with my loud thinking – RSS, the strongest outfit of the majority Hindus, is standing on the crossroads. While preserving and maintaining its core agenda of Hindutva, they ought to pursue the agenda of “Samrasta”- Equality, Justice and Fraternity by owning the legacies of both Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar, the two icons of contemporary India, to make India prosper and happy and the ‘world leader’ of the 21st century.

Postscript: The importance of RSS and the position of its Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat  may be assessed from the fact that the entire mainstream electronic media of the country telecasted in full the address of Mohan Bhagwat. Generally this kind of treatment is reserved for the Head of State or Head of Government on important occasions like national days or national emergencies. This is yet another point as “Food for Thought” for the emerging scenario in the country.

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