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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 23, May 29, 2010

Acharya Rammurty

Tuesday 1 June 2010, by Shankar Sharan

TRIBUTE

Bihar lost one of the ikons of the JP movement, Acharya Rammurty, on May 20, 2010, which has been widely mourned. He was a man of immense learning reflected in his honorific title of Acharya, lovingly conferred on him by the people.and acknowledged by JP by nominating him as his second-in-command of the Bihar movement. He was one of the few people JP took counsels from. Post-JP he was the most respected leader of the followers of JP who would rally to his call whenever he made it. He at one stage almost gave a call to relaunch the movement but retreated after the entreaties of a movement born leader.

He was a man of great civility and spoke presciently with a sense of history which he taught for some years in the Benares Hindu University. He resigned teaching to join the re-engineering of India after the Gandhian fashion. Starting from Sewapuri near Varanasi, conceived by the outstanding Gandhian Dhirendra Mazumdar and executed with matching Gandhian fervour by Karanbhai, which became a show-piece of Gandhian transformation in rural India, he moved on to the Khadi Gram in Munger district (now Jamui) in Bihar under Dhirenda’s inspiration. He took part in several experiments of equal pay for men and women and for manual and mental work. The ashram became a hub for non-violent struggles for the rights of the poor and a place they would instinctively trust. Had the Marxists, like JP, learnt to fight their class battles non-violently, their appeal would have been far greater.

The VP Singh Government made him chair a committee on Education Reforms whose report he wrote splendidly with a special recommendation in support of a common school system to end educational disparity.

His was an unforgettable figure draped in white like a saint or Gandhi, mocking softly at the distance between promise and reality, and advocating a non-violent struggle without bitterness or rancour. One hopes the young of Bihar will learn to walk in his footsteps rather than their aggressive Naxalite mentors.

The author is the Convenor, Lok Paksh, Patna/Delhi.

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