In its first major attempt to generate awareness about the “swadeshi” thought and create an “indigenous” economic development model in centres of higher learning, Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), the economic wing of Sangh Parivar, will hold seminars in four eastern UP universities, including the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and the Allahabad University (AU).
The first seminar of the series was organised in BHU on Thursday to mark the 98th birth anniversary of RSS ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyaya.
The seminars will conclude at the Allahabad University on Gandhi Jayanti. The AU will also hold another programme on September 27 in the same series.
The other two programmes will be held at Purvanchal University (Jaunpur) on September 29 and in Gorakhpur University (Gorakhpur) on September 30.
Among the main speakers who attended Thursday’s programme were Bajrang Lal Gupta, a member of the RSS national executive, another RSS functionary, Kashmiri Lal, BJP MP from Bhadohi Virendra Singh ‘Mast’, Prof R R Jha (Dean of Political Science department, BHU) and Prof K K Mishra, head of the same department.
While today’s theme was the relevance of ‘ekatma manavata (integrated humanism)’— the philosophy of Pandit Deen Dayal — as a template for “all-inclusive” and “de-centralised economic policy”, the seminar on October 2 will discuss the relevance of Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Hind Swaraj’ amid challenges of globalisation.
Explaining the idea of Upadhyaya and Gandhi being discussed in the same breath by a Sangh parivar outfit, SJM convenor for Kashi Prant, Dr Niranjan Singh said: “In so far as indigenous development was concerned, the thoughts of Pandit Deen Dayal and Mahatma Gandhi were same. We cannot develop only on borrowed technology, industry and investment. Or the European or Russian or other models are not going to work here.”
Dr Singh added: “Significantly, it is for the first time that the SJM got a central platform in institutions of higher learning. Earlier, we were practically treated as untouchables. We want to spread an intellectual awareness towards ‘swadeshi’, for which Universities are the best place. Even students from colleges and schools had joined today. We are open to scrutiny of our thoughts and suggestions to see how relevant they are.”
Dr Singh added it was important to send a message from Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, that eastern UP required a sustainable development model and its small and cottage industries cannot be overlooked. “In due course, we will try and put pressure on the government to announce major development plans based on this model for this region,” he said.
In AU, the September 27 programme will be held in association with the Geography department. Head of the Department, Prof B N Singh, said: “Earlier, small meetings in some obscure corner of the university would be held on these topics. This is the first time a full-fledged programme is being conducted. We have to question as to how far we can go when everybody from our villages is running to the city.”
Asked whether a strong pitch for “swadeshi” may go against government’s attempts to attract investment from abroad, BJP spokesperson Dr Bizay Sonkar Shastri, who was among the speakers at the BHU seminar, said over the phone: “Our country cannot be an island in a global scenario. But, we can also not develop at the cost of our productivity. We will have to protect our small, medium and cottage industries.”
The SJM has been opposed to ideas like FDI in certain sectors. Besides, it has taken contrarian view on issues like testing of genetically modified foods.
“The Modi government had to retract its steps, when we protested against GM food testing. We want a more stable economic model based on local expertise and enterprise,” said Dr Singh.
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