Paper: General Studies Paper-I
Section: History of Modern India
Topic: Important Personalities
“Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi were religious yet secular”. Examine how their taching and philosophy relevant today.
Secularism in Indian context bears positive and affirmative context. Religion with secular meaning has thrived for long in Indian history. This can be seen from the example of leaders like Swami Vivekananda and Mahatama Gandhi for whom the interest of mankind was above all. They advocated abandoning all ritual, worships, traditions and customs which recedes away a man from man and focused on the secular concept of religion.
Gandhi’s vision of the secular state was a place where religious values and discourse are cherished and respected in all spheres of life, the public as well as the private, but in which no single religion is allowed to dominate the others. Gandhi did not understand secularism as a divide between secular/political and sacred domains. Rather, he stressed upon the idea of value, particularly altruism, towards judging one’s actions and looked upon religion from a multi cultural perspective. Gandhi’s approach to religion goes far beyond religious pluralism and secularism. He included the secular or even the atheist and the humanist in the realm of religion. While establishing a close linkage between religion and politics, he was not in favour of a theocratic state patronizing a particular religion or even supporting all religions equally and did not favour any particular religion or foresee the need for conversion of people belonging to other faiths to a particular religion.
The concept of religion that Swami Vivekananda spread did not mean simply the worship of a Divine Being, it was a way of life – a matter by ‘being and becoming’. He said Religion is neither words nor doctrines nor theories; nor is it sectarianism. It is the relation between the soul and God. He focused on humanism as he said religion doesnot matter to a man who has no bread for survival.
Thus, it can be seen that they did not focus on propagating or spreading a concept of religion as understood day. They had secular thought. Their concept of secularism added strength to a nation of diverse faiths.
Relevance of their Philosophy Today
The philosophies that these leaders taught had very deep aspects encompassing Spiritualism, Universal values, Religion, Character building, Education, Spirit of Service and Social issues. They can be applied to solve the problems that the world faces today. Amidst the atmosphere of tension, violence, differences of opinion, unemployment and inflation globally, today their teachings are relevant as they were based on truth, humanism, concept of separation of religion from politics and non-violence. As the terrorism and violence are widespread in the world today, there seems relevance of Gandhian principles everywhere. He believed in changing the society with his thoughts and not with the power or force. He not only gave India its freedom but also gave the world a new thought on nonviolence and sustainable living. His teachings and experiments are more valid today than ever before, especially when we are trying to find solutions to worldwide greed, corruption, violence and runaway consumptive lifestyle which are putting a very heavy burden on the world’s resources. Similarly, Swami Vivekananda concept of humanity will enable us to fight the problems of poverty, unemployment and other problems that the world faces.
Evaluate the role played by Dr Rajendra Prasad in laying the foundation of a modern India.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad has the unique distinction of being the first President of independent India. He also played a very influential role in the freedom struggle of India.
Role Played in Freedom Struggle
Rajendra Prasad was man of courage, dedication, conviction and utmost sincerity. His name symbolised honesty and modesty. He was an active participant in crucial freedom movements like Non Cooperation Movement, Salt Satyagraha and Champaran Agrarian Agitation. Rajendra Prasad came under the spell of Mahatma Gandhi in 1917 when the latter organized the Champaran Satyagraha to liberate the peasants from exploitation by the British Indigo planters. Under the active guidance of Mahatma Gandhi, he gave a new lead to the various movements in Bihar, with a view to taking the country nearer to the goal of freedom and economic regeneration Inspired by Gandhian ideology. He concurred with Gandhiji that the only effective weapon to deal with the British Government’s inhuman actions and repressive laws was, ‘non-cooperation’. He was the first leader from Bihar to sign and undertake a pledge requiring every Satyagrahi to remain non-violent during the protest against the Rowlatt Act which came to be dubbed as the ‘Black Act. ln 1923, Rajendra Prasad actively participated in the Flag Satyagraha at Nagpur. The British Government arrested him for taking part in the 1930 Satyagraha. The second long spell of imprisonment that Rajendra Prasad suffered was immediately after the passing of the Quit India Resolution in 1942 and he remained in jail for nearly three years till 1945.
Role played in making of the Constitution
When the Constituent Assembly was formed in 1946 to frame a Constitution for free lndia, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who had been elected as a member of the Assembly from the Bihar Province, was given the onerous responsibility of being its President. As President of the Constituent Assembly, he guided and regulated its proceedings with utmost firmness, infinite patience, incisive intellect and abundant grace. He always permitted members to have a free, frank and full discussion on issues before them and won the appreciation of every section of the House for his qualities, objectivity and impartiality.
Role played by Him in Post Independent India
Dr. Rajendra Prasad was unanimously elected as the provisional President of India on 24 January 1950. He served as the President of India for three terms the only person to do that. As President Rajendra Prasad, along with India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, was able to establish many precedents and conventions culminating in a healthy political relationship between the Head of State and the Head of Government. With the passage of time, these precedents have become the cornerstone of our vibrant parliamentary democracy and have helped it in striking firm roots. Even though Rajendra Prasad occupied the highest office in India, he led a very simple life. His integrity, purity of character, humility and devotion, love of humanity and depth of vision marked him out as a towering personality in our national firmament Rajendra Prasad not only gave the most precious years of his life to the freedom struggle but also worked for the betterment of the under-privileged throughout his life. He was a great humanist whose heart always went to the poor and the distressed.