The independence put the country on the path of development and growth but along with rapid progress, India also experienced the degradation of values of life, said senior political leaders bemoaning that the generation of leadership, which preserved culture and civility despite intense political opposition, has been lost.
The occasion was the launch of the Hindi version of the book ‘Jawahar’, the biography of the founder of Lokmat Media Group and veteran freedom fighter,Jawaharlal Darda, in the national capital in the presence of a galaxy of senior politicians, journalists and dignitaries.
“India happily hosts people of many religions, customs, colours and different temperaments. However, we have tainted it with discrimination on the basis of religion and caste. Let alone creating a heaven, with our selfishness we have destroyed the heaven we have inherited.”
Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and president of Democratic Progressive Azad Party, Padma Bhushan Ghulam Nabi Azad articulated the unanimous feelings of all key speakers when he said, “Dil aur dimag mein girawat aa gai hai, sudharna chahiye!’’
He stressed the need for broadening ideological outlook to become more inclusive. “This country, which God has blessed with diversity, should not become colourless because of personal selfishness,” he stressed.
While celebrating Jawaharlal Darda’s rich, vibrant and eventful life, the dignitaries who cherished his affection and witnessed the overwhelming optimism of his political life, unfolded the unpleasant colours of the changing kaleidoscope of politics and society today, and the entire evening left the audience contemplative and introspective.
Members of Parliament from various political parties, former MPs, and many dignitaries from Delhi attended the event, which took place at the Speaker Hall of the Constitution Club of India on Rafi Marg here on Monday at 4 pm. Chairman of the Editorial Board of Lokmat Media Group and former member of Rajya Sabha Dr Vijay Darda made introductory remarks, Lokmat Media Group Editor-in-Chief Rajendra Darda proposed a vote of thanks while Shweta Selgaonkar conducted the proceedings.
Ghulam Nabi Azad took a trip down memory lane, narrating happy anecdotes of time he spent with Babuji. “The generation of Babuji that never practised caste or religious discrimination is over now. There was no leader who did not go to his residence for a meal from the airport and no political party that he did not respect. Whether the Congress was in power or sat in opposition, he did not give up his principles. He respected and appreciated all religions, parties and individuals. Today, we need to follow his ideals to keep humanity united. For that, the battle should be fought based on principles, policy and programmes,” he said, adding that Babuji handled many important portfolios in the Maharashtra government and left his mark on every department.
Narrating an incident underscoring the trust the then prime minister Indiraji had in Babuji, Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “In 1979, Indira Gandhi decided that I should contest the Lok Sabha elections from Vidarbha. At that time, four Assembly constituencies of the Washim Lok Sabha constituency were in the Akola district and two were in the Yavatmal district. Indiraji told National General Secretary A R Antulay, “Ghulam Nabi is going to contest from Washim. Tell Jawaharlal Darda to arrange for a car for him, ensure all his arrangements, shoulder responsibility for campaigning, and filing his nomination papers.” He also recalled how he spent more time with Babuji having meals and gatherings than the latter did with his children.
At the outset, Chairman of Lokmat Media Group Dr Vijay Darda delivered a welcome address. Paying rich tributes to Jawaharlal ji Darda, he told the august gathering that he knew him not only as a father but also as a staunch Gandhian, committed social worker, statesman, pioneering journalist and visionary leader. His high moral standards and inclusiveness continued to inspire him and this has also been embraced by the Lokmat Media Group. He hoped that the legacy of Babuji would continue to inspire and motivate future generations.
Bringing the evening to a close, Editor-in-Chief of the Lokmat Media Group, Rajendra Darda, expressed his gratitude to all the dignitaries and the gathering. Proposing a vote of thanks, he recalled the bonhomie of an earlier time when he was a minister in the Maharashtra Government and had participated in stormy debates.
Yet, a month after his heart surgery everyone came to genuinely inquire about his health. “They were opponents and criticised the government on the floor of the house, but were compassionate,” he said, adding that this bond needed to be revived. Shweta Shelgaonkar conducted the proceedings.