Inspiration is real work. Let the truly inspiring word be uttered, and it will breathe life into dry bones. Let the inspiring life be lived, and it will produce workers by thousands” – Work and Ideal, Sri Aurobindo, Bande Mataram, February 20, 1908
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat in his Viajayadashmi address, said, “Forgetting the Swadeshi consciousness while seeking answers to the pressures of the situation, will also lead to a loss. Dattopant Thengadi considered ‘Swadeshi’ as an expression of patriotism in day-to-day life”. Many people who are not acquainted with the Sangh school of thought would find it difficult to understand the significance and context of this statement. It was not just a passing remark as a tribute to one of the greatest intellectuals and organisation builders of the recent times, namely Dattopant Thengadi, but it was also an attempt to recontextualise Thengadiji’s framework of Swadeshi to the present-day economic policies.
Dattopant or Thengadiji, as he was fondly called, was a ‘Swadeshi’ thinker to the core and perhaps the only contemporary thinker who was deeply rooted in the national, swadeshi thinking while keeping the global concerns in mind. And therefore, global nationalist would be a better way to remember him at the beginning of his birth centenary year. Since the 1990s, reform has been the buzzword and even the mention of swadeshi is seen as ‘obscurantist’ and ‘regressive’; essentially anti-globalisation and liberalisation. Thengadiji founded the Swadeshi Jagran Manch and spearheaded a movement to stop mindless Foreign Direct Investment and policies of succumbing to the pressure of international lobbyists even when his friend Atalji was running the Government, then how he can be globalist?
While articulating his position through a masterpiece, ‘Swadeshi is the practical manifestation of patriotism’, he writes, “Patriots are not against internationalism. Their plea for national self-reliance is not incompatible with international cooperation, provided the latter is on equal footing – with due regard to the national self-respect of every country.” There cannot be a better articulation of the Swadeshi cause. But he did not stop there but provided his alternative. He argued, “Genuine liberalisation and hegemonic globalisation can never go together. The Hindu concept of globalisation represents genuine Globalisation”.
The author of another classic, ‘Modernisation without Westernisation’, provided a new prism to approach globalisation with a national perspective. The rant of free-trade started in the post-war period was essentially an antidote to communism. In practice, it was nothing but the expansion of the capitalist market, in other words, Americanisation of the global economy. The invisible hand of the market will take care of everything was the mantra behind this project, but protectionism and convenient State intervention to protect the domestic market was always used as a tool to create monopolisation. The unprincipled bullying tactics, mindless use of technology and greedy exploitation of resources were the practices of this Dollar globalisation that Dattopantji opposed.
Taking the fundamentals of Bharatiya philosophy, he believed in protecting the distinctive features of nations, their cultures, and resources while fulfilling the social and economic needs. To seek harmony between the diverse models of developments was the true form of globalisation. The recontexualisation of Bharatiya wisdom of family values, in contrast to the market forces, was the foundation of true Globalisation for him. Without the growth of this consciousness of global family, the real free trade, in tune with environmental concerns and constructive use of technology, is impossible was his conviction.
What we are experiencing today may be in the form of cycles of boom and slowdown or erratic environmental changes are the outcomes of not realising the true concept of Swadeshi. Every Government is compelled to opt for the available and convenient route of attracting FDI and disinvestment from domestic industries. Swadeshi is nothing but ensuring the right to explore and create alternate routes to strengthen domestic industries and technological know-how to attain self-reliance for every nation. Thengadiji’s has given us the framework; providing blueprint was against the principle of Swadeshi for him. While celebrating his birth centenary, we should work together for developing indigenous options for sustainable and self-reliant growth, taking the inspiration from him. He has done the real work; we have to fill the content with the changed context into it and this would be perhaps the best tribute to this Global Nationalist.