Living by Gandhian values
Sidhraj Dhadda still aims to fulfil Gandhi's dream of a self- sufficient India.
IDEALISTIC: Sidhraj Dhaddha.
A TALL neem tree stands erect in the centre of Sidhrajji's home in Jaipur. The tree is 125 years old, the man 96 both have withstood the vagaries of time, weathered many a storm and emerged rooted yet towering. Sidhraj Dhaddha, a freedom fighter, a Sarvodaya protagonist, a Gandhian who still spins the charkha every morning to weave his own dhoti, is still walking the roads over the sand dunes of Rajasthan.
Fulfil Gandhi's dream
His aim is to fulfil Gandhi's dream of a self- sufficient India. His struggle dates back to the Quit India Movement, which saw him behind bars at the Varanasi jail from 1943 to 1945. The crusade for peace and freedom of action carried on when as Secretary of the World Peace Brigade, Sidhrajji went on the Peace March from Delhi to Peking in 1960 along with Jayaprakash Narayan.
Asked whether we are really free, he says, "No we are not. Technically may be but true freedom will come when we are able to wipe the tears off every eye. I am not a proud Indian today because as a nation we have lost our focus, we have not evolved." This was the basis of his much publicised returning of the Padma Bhushan award, "my dream for India is yet incomplete. This is my non-cooperation with evil, my Satyagraha. I don't think I deserved it with millions of people still hungry, I stuck to my principles."
Sidhrajji began this long and arduous journey from Khimail in Pali distict of Rajasthan by setting up Sarvodaya Kendras, which promoted village industries of oil, soap and khadi.
Having worked as the first Minister of Industries and Commerce of Rajasthan and later as Chairman, Gramdan Board, Sidhrajji has toiled towards his definition of Nationalism "Nationalism is a gauge by which we measure the spirit of cooperation and happiness among the people and not the way it has been politicised as only the `right' of the Hindus or the elitist classes." His passion for all that is true and correct took him to jail once again during Emergency in 1977.
Gandhian idealism could not withstand the test of time and trends. "The idealism of Gandhivaad has not worked because we have failed. Ideals have to be striven for, not distorted. Gandhiji worked on his own moral strengths and rose above his weaknesses but after him, everyone found it difficult to work towards that level of selflessness."
"My loyalty is to my dream of a de-centralised economy, autonomy for the villages because centralisation of any economic and political activity leads to rampant corruption. A village has to be a self-contained unit, providing basic necessities like food, housing, clothing and education. A healthy and equal exchange of goods is one thing, slavery to a centralised system another."
His day begins early at 4.30 am. After his asanas, he spins the charkha for an hour and gets down to editing his monthly Hindi magazine, Satyagraha Memansa. Hours are spent in the reading and evaluating of the Gita and other religious texts. "Education means evolution, it should not teach you to be parasitic, to drink into the other person's resources that is the tragedy of our system. Computers reach out to only 10 to 15 per cent of our population, I want to reach out to those 90 per cent who are not on the IT grid."
With four generations living under his roof, this humble yet spirited man can be found playing Canasta with his grandchildren and cards with his great-grandchildren. "This life has been given to us to complete a mission. I have lived by my values and am constantly trying to fight my weaknesses kaam, krodh, lobh, moh. As a father I think I was unfair to my children, expecting them to live by my ideals but I have taught them to live their lives correctly." Age and ailments do not mar the freedom fighter's energy levels, he answers all his letters and his phone calls, files all his correspondence and can fish out exact quotations from Gandhiji's speeches in moments.
His loyalties are with "free" India, he will continue to march towards his goals because for him no job, however menial, is low each drop in the ocean has to be respected for the moisture it provides.
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