On 26-27 August 2018, my wife Reeta, and I had the rare opportunity to host at our residence an eminent follower of Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. S.N.Subbarao. One of his best-known achievements was when in early 1970’s, under the guidance and leadership of Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan, he founded the Mahatma Gandhi Seva Ashram in the Chambal valley of Madhya Pradesh and brought hundreds of dacoits (professional bandits) into the mainstream.
The following is the text of my brief welcome address at the McMaster Innovation Park, Hamilton:
"Ladies and Gentlemen:
It’s a matter of rare fortune that a great patriot-statesman, social emancipator and an eminent follower of Mohandas Gandhi, Shri S.N.Subbarao, is in our midst today.
He is also fondly called Bhai-ji (or, the older brother).
At a ripe age of 89, when people take shelter of old age care homes or go into retirement, Bhai-ji is still touring the world spreading the message of truth, non-violence and co-existence.
Usually, in a welcome - introductory remark, educational qualifications, degrees or awards are mentioned. This is not the place to do that in Bhai-ji’s case, because he has plenty. You can find lots of information online.
What is worth mentioning is how many laurels or attractions of life Bhai-ji has renounced.
Early in his career, he could have gone into legal profession to fulfil his father’s wishes, but he joined the public life; he could have run for political offices or accepted nominations for positions of power; instead, he preferred to spend time, work and sing with the youth to encourage them to do noble work for the common good.
It’s not publicized very much that Bhai-ji declined Padma Vibhushan, a very high civilian award bestowed on him by the Government of India. (How many Canadians do we hear turning down Honor of Canada?).
Bhai-ji has always been focused on working for the social and economic rehabilitation of the vulnerable sections of India.
Touring India or the world, Shri Subba Rao must be coming across all the familiar and oft-repeated questions: What’s the relevance of Gandhi after 150 years of his birth?
How is his conviction of non-violence going to help in this age of internet, cyber-war or terrorism? What has technology done to us?
Back in India, how a patriotic expression, Vande Matram, a rallying cry during the freedom movement, has become associated with the Hindu nationalism only?
What has led to the hardening of relations between the groups based on political beliefs, caste or religion? Why has corruption in public life flourished and personal ethics declined?
What happened to the Gandhian alternative of a party-less democracy? And the list goes on. Here in this hemisphere, we are also struggling with the same questions.
With these words, on behalf of India-Canada Society, Gandhi Peace Festival Committee, the Hamilton community and my own behalf, I extend a warm welcome to Shri Subba Rao-ji and congratulate him in advance on becoming a nonagenarian on the 7th of February next year."
Dr. Binoy Shanker Prasad hails from Darbhanga and currently resides with his family in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). A former UGC teacher fellow (at JNU) in India and Fulbright scholar in the USA, he has taught politics and authored conference papers, articles and chapters on Bihar in previously published books in the United States, India, and Canada.
Dr. Prasad administers a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OverseasBihari and has sponsored “Aware Citizenship Campaign” at a micro-level in his home-town.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS