Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya is one of the greatest thinkers of Bharat, whose ideology has attracted scholars across the world for the past few years. It is a reality that Deendayal Ji’s thoughts were not paid adequate attention in the post-independence era. However, this situation is undergoing a change now. His ideas like ‘Integrated Humanism’, ‘Cultural Nationalism’ and ‘Antyodaya’ are being studied all over the world now. Particularly his idea of ‘Antyodaya’ has been a great attraction for scholars.
Deendayal Ji was born on September 26, 1916 in a residential complex of Railways in Jaipur at his maternal grandfather’s house. His grandfather – Chunnilal Shukla was station master in Jaipur while his father Bhagwati Prasad Upadhyaya was also a railway employee. A sense of detachment developed in Deendayal Ji because of a series of deaths in his family since childhood. He lost his father when he was two and half years old. He lost his mother when he was seven years old. His grandfather died when he was ten years old. Deendayal Ji later went to his maternal uncle but his maternal aunt died when he was 15-years-old. Series of deaths did not stop here. Three years later, Deendayal Ji’s younger brother – Shivdayal – died while grandmother died a year later. Series of deaths left a deep impact on young Deendayal. He had to stop education. It was a testing period for Deendayal Ji. His hardships can be understood by the fact that he had to stay at various 11 places in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan till he was 25 years-old. Deendayal Ji’s hardships since childhood might have shaped his perception towards human life.
‘Antyodaya’ literally means the rise of an individual of the last layer of society. It means development of socially and economically weaker people. Success of any development scheme can be assessed not by the benefits given to the people, who are at top of the ladder. Fruits of development have to be reached to the last layer, who are affected and do not get any opportunities for their rise. For this, the government has to determine some standards for affordable life. Mahatma Gandhi and Acharya Vinoba Bhave mooted a somewhat similar concept like ‘Sarvodaya’. However, Deendayal Ji preferred the term – ‘Antyodaya’.
Deendayal Ji used to believe that any weaker individual or a group of people leaves an undesirable impact on ‘Samashthi’. Deendayal Ji also used the term – ‘Samajpurush’ in this connection. Deendayal Ji, therefore, insisted that the entire society needs to be taken into account with a holistic or integrated approach. Deendayal Ji was of the view that every person needs to be ‘Antyodayee’ to achieve this goal. This, he believed, will also remove a sense of alienation among the deprived people. He was of the opinion that any sort of inequality weakens ‘Samajpurush’ and affects the concept of integrated humanism.
The term ‘Antyodaya’ has a deep sense of compassion or empathy. Deendayal Ji used to believe that compassion or empathy motivates the individual to act and makes him duty bound. Deendayal Ji, thus wants to bring smiles on the faces of people of last layer. According to Deendayal Ji, the smile on the face of the last layer individual was the first step of ‘Antyodaya’.
The focus of ‘Antyodaya’ is that needy persons have to get maximum help. Deendayal Ji extends the concept of ‘Samajpurush’ by saying that every individual works for society. Labour cannot determine its value. For example, the value of the labour of a teacher or a doctor can never be determined. Value can be determined by its worth. He argues that the value of labour can never be returned. He pointed out that all the labours were considered as ‘service’, which has altogether different meaning.
Deendayal Ji was insistent on equal opportunities for women in all the fields. He was of the opinion that a woman can perform all her duties if she is given the right and equal opportunity. He was against the traditions of purdah, dowry and child marriage as women were the worst victims. He has deep faith in the potential of women, which are considered as ‘Matrushakti’ in our philosophy. He emphasized equal payment to men and women. He also insisted on removal of disguised and seasonal unemployment and suggested an unemployment allowance to the unemployed people.
Deendayal Ji used to insist on rehabilitation of slums. He never supported demolition of slums but insisted on their rehabilitation. He used to say that demolition of slums creates another slum, which was not a remedy for the problem. He mooted rehabilitation of slums with all the facilities. Deendayal Ji was of the firm view that all the people must get housing facilities without any problems.
Deendayal Ji used to say that the success of economic policies cannot be based on benefits received by the people at the top but the people at the bottom. He was always concerned about the apathy of political parties and administration in this connection. For Deendayal Ji, people at the bottom were like God. He was of the firm view that wealth generated should never be concentrated into the hands of few people but reach to the deprived people. However, he opined that this could happen at that time when morality will also grow along with economic prosperity.
Deendayal Ji never liked to depend on the government on matters concerning the society. Stating that people should also come forward for the solutions, Deendayal Ji stressed that the government has to have a positive approach in handling all the issues. He felt that people would have a positive approach if the government also had a positive mindset. Senior RSS pracharak Nanaji Deshmukh recalls that Deendayal Ji firmly believed in overall development of rural areas. Deendayal Ji was of the view that the country could never achieve wellness until rural development takes place. Nanaji further recalled that Deendayal Ji stressed on drastic change in attitude of the people to achieve this goal. At the same time, Deendayal Ji firmly believed in self-reliance. He believed that self-reliance would generate a sense of self-respect.
We have a number of organizations, which are motivated by ‘Antyodaya’. They are working without any expectations. They neither want any publicity nor any returns. In fact, they are working without any government assistance. These people have devoted their lives for a specific cause, bringing about drastic changes in human life. These organizations are working in absence of any resources. Such live inspirations are spread across the country, which has helped to change the attitude of the people. Such people are a source of inspiration for the countrymen. Deendayal Ji expects all the people to carry out their duties in this regard. In other words, Deendayal Ji expects all the people to be ‘Antyodayee’.
Balanced development was the central point of Deendayal Ji’s thoughts. He felt that the development model adopted by Bharat in the post-independence era was urban centric and based on western ideas. Rural areas were not on the agenda of development while a large section of people continued to be deprived because of lack of opportunities. For Deendayal Ji, a solution was initiated by the people for the upliftment of last layer people.