Dr Ashwani Mahajan
SUDARSHANJI was directly associated with Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) as Marg-darshak for about 7 years before taking up the responsibility of Sarsanghachalak. After the formation of SJM by Shri Dattopant Thengadi in 1991, Swadeshi movement took off only after its national convention of 1993 in Delhi. With the support from karyakartas of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, two national level campaigns were successfully conducted and the Manch appeared as a force against the menace of globalisation and multinational companies. It is around that time that Sudarshanji associated with the SJM as Margdarshak and his dignified presence in SJM’s meetings started. Despite his busy schedule, he always tried to remain present in SJM’s meetings and programmes. I don’t remember a meeting in those days without Sudarshanji’s presence. The Manch was in its childhood in those days, but effective direction and encouragement from Sudarshanji, programmes and campaigns organised by SJM were a grand success. Shri Dattopant Thengadi on the one side, and Sudarshanji on the other, this duo was something like a divine gift to SJM, and the Manch could organise and achieve success in Matsya Yatra (a yatra on the complete costal line of India) against the deep sea fishing by foreign trawlers, Namak Andolan (a campaign and protest against the ban on common salt and compulsory iodisation of salt) and numerous other protests.
Sudarshanji’s presence in SJM meetings used to be extraordinary and exemplary. His sharp vision and nature of taking tough decisions in the national interest helped the SJM get its due role in the national scene. When the government of the day, was taking decisions against the nation in general and people of the country in particular and nation was into clutches of the foreign companies and law of the land was being amended to suit foreign interests; at that time, the direction of Dattopant Thengadi and Sudarshanji helped SJM to take its fight on with government(s) of those times on the one hand and the foreign powers on the other.
Swadeshi karyakartas were naturally attracted to him due to his simple nature and effective direction. His unmatched intellect and affectionate direction helped SJM to not only go on the right path, but also achieve success. His simple nature used to make the subjects under discussion live. Swadeshi Jagran Manch once decided to prepare a document on the subject of Swadeshi concept of development. In the preparation of this document, Dr Mahesh Sharma, ex-chairman of KVIC and many other karyakartas were involved. After a series of discussion, meetings, a final draft was prepared and placed before the national executive of SJM. This subject was very dear to Sudarshanji and he always used to elaborate on this subject in one or the other form in his speeches. I remember that Sudarshanji’s comments on overall spectrum of developmental issues, their implications on India and his active guidance helped this document take its natural shape. Later, this document ultimately became the focal point of debate on developmental issues.
Sudarshanji had already taken up the responsibility of Sarsanghachalak and his headquarter was naturally shifted to Nagpur. One day, I received a phone call from Sudarshanji and he informed me about a programme organised by Vandana Shiva and told me that he is unable to attend the programme because of his predecided engagements and instructed me to attend the same as the issue was of importance for the country. Vandana Shiva is a renowned expert on the issue of globalisation, Swadeshi seeds and environment and host of such experts used to enjoy direct access to Sudarshanji and he used to discuss such issues with them.
This year in March, I visited Nagpur to attend Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha. Sudarshanji was taking his lunch in the queue next to mine. After the lunch, I went to wish him and he was very delighted to see me and took me to his room. We discussed various issues including swadeshi. He told me that he has been reading my articles and discussed some issues relating to those. Though he knew various languages of India, he had a natural love for Hindi. He used to talk about inappropriateness of English for Indian people, as he believed that we could express ourselves in our mother tongue in very apt manner. He used to talk about English and its problems with humorous satire. He also expressed his unhappiness over the use of English words and phrases in some of the Hindi newspapers of the day.