Dr Nityanand, the architect of Sangh work in Uttarakhand, inspired innumerable youth to take up village development activities in border and remote areas of the Himalayan region. A tribute to the great soul on his first death anniversary i.e. January 8, 2017
Dr Nityanand was one amongst those great souls who worked hard for protection, preservation and conservation of “Devbhoomi Himalaya”. He was a living example of how a dedicated and committed activist faces the conflicts and challenges in life. Born in Agra, he completed his education as a brilliant student and devoted himself as a Sangh Pracharak. Later, as directed by the late Bhaurao Deoras, he took up the responsibility of his family and started teaching. He joined a Hindi school as a teacher on a monthly salary of just Rs 80. He did not marry and dedicated all his life and energy to the service of the society. His father was a government employee, but his income was not sufficient to sustain the family. He inherited a small house from his parents in Agra. Dr Nityanand would narrate how a German Professor was invited to stay there and how he made a comment that his house was like a slum and wondered how he lived there? Due to financial
difficulties he sold that house too at a throwaway price. He completed his MA in Geography, while teaching in a school and after much efforts secured a job in a College at Baraut in UP. Later, he taught at Dharmasamaj College in Aligarh. He completed his PhD on Eastern Rajasthan, while he was teaching at the College.
Dr Nityanand got a chance to serve “Devbhoomi Himalaya’. He was appointed as Head of the Department of Geography in a reputed DBS College in Dehradun. He served there for two decades. His main intention was to
inculcate in students the liking for the subject, to develop their intellect, and introduce them to new and latest information on their subject. He inspired many of his students to conduct research and helped them economically too. His students have carved special places for themselves in their respective fields by creating new records. Amongst those lecturers who are teaching Geography in different Colleges of Uttarakhand since the 70s are students of Dr Nityanand. He was known as an expert in Geography.
He had great faith in the Himalayas and this faith drew him towards making this region as his workplace. He studied the multi-faceted environment of this region in dept. He conducted special research on the Himalayas against the background of 1962 Chinese aggression and the problems arising out of it. He conducted an in-depth research in Tibet also, and many of his research papers were published in the national and international journals. His research paper was published in famous American journal The Annals of Association of American Geographers. Very few receive such a great honour. His monumental treaties The Holy Himalayas: A Geographical Interpretation of Garhwal has been his one of the best books. The UGC had extended financial aid for
publication of this book. This monumental thesis presents in detail the social, cultural and geographical study of the Garhwal Himalayas. This is the basic reference guide for the researchers. Along with geography, he had studied history and he had deep knowledge of Indian
history. He studied Indian historians like Gulab Chand, Pannikar, Savarkar and Lokmanya Tilak in details. His books Bharatiya Sangharsh ka Itihas; Muslim Tushtikaran and Vibhajan ke Poorv va Paschat are very famous. He used to say that a nation draws its life elixir from its history and Bharat’s history is not of defeats but a glorious history of sacrifice and dedication for the motherland.
He toured interior areas of Uttarakhand as a student and social activist and directed the youth force towards development. He was RSS Prant Karyavah from 1970 to 2000, which he shouldered with organisational acumen. He used to inspire the students and youth to join development activities. When there was huge loss of live and property in the Bhagirathi Valley of Uttarkashi due to devastating earthquake on October 21, 1991, Dr Nityanand swung into action and formed the “Uttaranchal Daivi Aapada Peedit Sahayata Samiti”, mobilised youths and launched rescue and rehabilitation activities. They reached even the inaccessible villages and rescued the victims and also joined the rehabilitation operations under his guidance. The Samiti constructed 427 earthquake-resistant houses in 10 villages of Bhagirathi and Jalkur Valley of Garhwal, reconstructed educational centres, erected hostels for orphaned boys and made arrangements for their scholarships. At present more than 250 students are pursuing their studies with hostel facilities in Bhagirathi and Tons Valley adjacent to Himachal Pradesh. Dr Nityanand believed that hostel was a strong medium to impart life values and sanskars to the students. The then RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri KS Sudarshan
visited this project on October 23, 2007 and expressed his pleasure on seeing the development activities in this border area. In his address he made a candid
admission: “Why did I not come here earlier? We see an altogether different example of development.”
Not caring for his growing age, physical weakness, unfriendly climate and difficult terrain, Dr Nityanand made Maneri Sewa Ashram his centre of activity and continued to work inspire and guide the youth for nearly 25 years. He was instrumental in founding the educational centre at Jaunsar Babar area under the auspices of Garhwal Kalyan Sansthan and Uttaranchal Utthan Parishad. He was very active for the uplift of the Janjati communities. He successfully conducted education and health projects amongst the Tharu and Boksa Janjatis living in Jaunsar Babar and Nainital foothills. He would always look for the active youth who could be involved in such activities.
He is known all over the country as a famous social architect. He was member of various reputed institutions of the country. Many scholars would come to him to seek his opinion on development of the Himalayan region, social situation, etc. His book Uttaranchal Pradesh Kyon? Ek Vivechan published in 1988 played a crucial role in creation of Uttarakhand State. The second edition of the same book was published in 2004 under the title Uttaranchal Aitihasik Paridrishya evam Vikas ke Ayaam and the third edition was published just before he departed from this mortal world. He was much disturbed as a historian and a geographer on destruction of ancient civilisation and its followers in the Americas. The information he had collected and wrote 50 years ago was published in the form of a book six months before his death. This made him more than happy.
He was worried over the continuous migration from Uttarakhand. He would express his anguish over hills getting deserted and people inclined to settle in the foothills of Himalaya at Dun, Bhabar, and Tarai. He was of the firm opinion that the guarantee of border security is in the hands of the people residing there. We should not encourage migration in the name of difficulties here. Our ancestors had developed roads in this difficult and inaccessible region, ploughed the fields, erected houses that withstood the climatic conditions and geography, and led a self-reliant life. Today, it is imperative on our part that we make the hills self-reliant with the use of local resources. Dr Nityanand always preferred to remain away from publicity, he was honoured for village development activities on November 16, 1995 at Banaras Hindu University along with Anna Hazare. The Burrabazar Kumarsabha Pustakalaya of Kolkata also felicitated him.
When Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat visited Kedarnath in 2013 to oversee the sewa activities conducted by Sangh Swayamsevaks in the aftermath of devastating floods, he fulfilled the wish of Dr Nityanand. He reached Maneri on October 4, 2013 in spite of inclement weather. Addressing a programme he said he was impressed by the intellect and imagination of Dr Nityanand years before I came here. His life was an example for others to follow. Dr Nityanand was not well but he was happy and satisfied as his wish was fulfilled. Villagers from Bhatwadi Development Block gathered in thousands at the appeal of the Dr Nityanand. He suffered a paralytic stroke in 1972, while studying Gangotri Glacier. In 1981 he suffered from heart disease and yet another disease in 1997. But he never gave up social service. He was
suffering in the last days due to severe pain but would say, “My job is complete, now I have to prepare for the journey”. He wrote a will expressing his mind as a social activist. He wrote, “I do not have private property. I spent large part of my life on the banks of the Bhagirathi and wish that the journey of my life should also end here.” He breathed his last at the ripe age of 90, on January 8, 2016. In his memory Dr Nityanand Hospital is being constructed at Keshopuram in Bhagirathi Valley. Drawing inspiration from his life, hundreds of social workers are engaged in the service of the society in the Himalayan region.
(The writer is president of Uttaranchal Utthan Parishad)