Nagpur, Dec 17: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Dr Mohan Bhagwat sought to clear the controversy related to his earlier statement on reservation by strongly defending the quota system and advocating its continuance so long as inequality remained in the society.
He was delivering the first ‘Late Balasaheb Devras Memorial Lecture’ on “Samajik Samarasta” (Social Harmony) organized by the Nagpur Nagarik Sahakari Bank (NNSB), a multi-state scheduled cooperative bank of Nagpur, to commemorate the birth centenary of third Sarsanghchalak of RSS late Madhukar Dattatreya alias Balasaheb Devras, at Vasantao Deshpande Hall on Wednesday.
Chairman of the Bank Sanjay Bhende presided over the function attended by luminaries from RSS circle including M G alias Baburao Vaidya, Dr Shankarrao Tattvavadi, Shrikrishna Motlag, Maharashtra Cooperative Minister Chandrakant Dada Patil, MLA Dr Milind Mane and others.
“Reservations should continue as long as social discrimination and injustice remain and go only when those being discriminated against give a green signal for its departure”, Dr Bhagwat said laying at rest all the controversies surrounding his earlier statement that called for review of the quota system and was dubbed as one of the reasons for BJP’s electoral defeat in the much hyped Bihar elections.
Clearing the doubts over his earlier statement which was “not read and understood in proper perspective and in totality”, Dr Bhagwat said “the RSS has always been in favour of the reservations”. The Sangh felt that reservations were necessary to bring the neglected sections of the society at par; he added exhorting all to shun the feelings of superiority and inferiority.
Discrimination still continued in our society, the RSS Chief said stating that earlier this was accepted as part of the societal behaviour, but now it is not tolerated any longer. “Some sections of the society frown at the very idea of extending reservations. But should not we think that they have suffered the injustice and inhuman assault for over thousands of years, can we not suffer for even hundred years”, Dr Bhagwat asked.
Explaining the concept of social harmony and integrity he said that no religion, sect, social reformer or saint supported the discrimination amongst the humans. Equality has been the essence at the origin of every sect, which was later divided into castes and sub sects by us. The discrimination also was born out of the behaviour of the people. In the name of tradition this discrimination should not be allowed to continue further. “The feelings of those who suffered for thousands of years will have to be understood. Some sections of the society tolerated this injustice and discrimination for a thousand years. Now we also should learn to understand and tolerate for some years and bring about the desired change by our own behaviour”, he stressed.
Citing an anecdote from the life of late Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyaya where he was helped by accompanying swayamsevaks in coming out of a ditch, Bhagwat said, “the society makes progress when the one below raises himself up and the one above bows down to help him. This is samarasata or harmony”, he explained.
Stating that truth, knowledge, love and compassion were the four pillars of Dharma, the RSS Chief said no religious preacher professed any kind of discrimination. They only preached values that supported these four pillars. But unfortunately, there had not been review of the traditions in accordance to changing times. No traditions were tested against the parameters of scientific developments thus allowing them to degenerate and deteriorate further into outdated customs and traditions.
Quoting Swami Vivekananda, Dr Bhagwat strongly advocated for throwing out such outdated customs and traditions into the dustbins forever.
No amount of words, phrases or sentences would erase the feelings of discrimination from our minds. We need to take special efforts to remove them and express this purity through our actions, he said. He stressed on speaking in a language sans sting. “Our words should not cause any sting to others”, he said. Invoking Dr Ambedkar, he underlined the need to read him and understand him entirely with the context to imbibe and feeling of ‘samrasata’ or harmony.
Ambedkar had asked whether religion was a set of code or values. Code is not dharma, values are. Code can be and should be changed according to changing times and needs. Samarasata is more about observing with honesty than just discussing or preaching it, Dr Bhagwat said. He advised people to begin it from their homes and extend them to their extended families.
Quoting Devras who had said decades ago in Pune “If untouchability is not wrong, nothing is wrong and that it should go lock, stock and barrel”, Dr Bhagwat said we have to ask ourselves if we really have the sensitivity for samarasta. Mixing with all sections of the society is natural but cannot be measure of this sensitivity. Dining together is fine but are we ready for inter-caste marriages? We have to support them also, he added.
Stating that unity was the precondition for the development of the country the RSS Chief said that equality was the precondition for unity. Equality can be achieved by celebrating diversity and honouring the underlying principle of oneness that expresses itself through these diversities, he added.
He reminded the audience of Swami Vivekananda who said that all things in the religion that failed to withstand the scrutiny of scientific tests should be relinquished. Traditions like social inequality and untouchability are not dharma.
Earlier Dr Bhagwat was felicitated by offering him shawl, shreefal and memento by Sanjay Bhede. A compilation on Balasaheb Devras edited by Dr Shrirang Godbole of Pune was released by Dr Bhagwat on this occasion.
In his introductory remarks Sanjay Bhende gave information about the NNSB and how Balasaheb was instrumental in starting this bank. He said the bank would organize lectures on similar social issues every year on the birth anniversary of Balasaheb Devras, Dr Bhagwat’s being the first one.
By Virag Pachpore