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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 48, November 20, 2010

Tribute to LC Jain

Wednesday 24 November 2010, by SC

Noted Gandhian and indefatigable crusader for upliftment of the poor L.C. Jain, 85, passed away in New Delhi on Sunday, November 14, after a courageous battle against cancer. Survived by his wife, Devaki, a well-known social activist, and his sons, Gopal, an advocate, and Sreenivasan, a TV journalist, Lakshmi Chand Jain was an erstwhile High Commissioner to South Africa and a former member of the Planning Commission (1989-90). He also received the Magsaysay Award in 1988 for “his informed and selfless commitment to attack India’s poverty at the grassroots level”.

He joined the ‘Quit India’ movement while being a student at Delhi University. Later under the influence of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay he worked in the Indian Cooperative Union she had set up to carry out refugee rehabilitation following the country’s partition simultaneous with the achievement of Indian independence.
As recalled by veteran journalist B.G. Verghese in his tribute to the departed personality, under Kamaladevi’s guidance “Lakshmi launched the revolutionary project to get 50,000 urban Hindu refugees from the NWFP huddled around Delhi’s Purna Quila rehabilitate themselves by learning to become masons, carpenters and handymen and build the new township of Faridabad with their own hands. He was to write about this later in his book, City of Hope. The experiment was a grand success and….was to become the basis for the community development movement and extension service that was at the core of the country’s First Five Year Plan.”
L.C. Jain helped build the Cottage Industries Emporium and subsequently the Handicrafts and Handlooms Export Corporation, and All India Crafts Council. He further assisted in reviving the crafts in the North-East thus generating employment there.

He also played a pivotal in setting up the Super Bazaar in New Delhi.
In his last years he devoted himself to documenting some of the struggles he was associated with. These are being embodied in a book called Civil Disobedience that is to be released on December 13.

In the words of B.G. Verghese, “Lakshmi Jain worked tirelessly till the end. He exemplified Gandhi’s maxim: ‘be the change you want to see’. He spent some of his later life in Bangalore but never retired, being actively engaged with ideas, NGOs, instutions and countless friends.”

When Verghese established the Media Foundation to support press freedom and independence after the Emergency which both of them had stoutly opposed braving all adversities, L.C. Jain helped endow the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding women in the media in memory of his mother and the Gandhian ideals that she upheld throughout her life and activities.

A large number of his friends and admirers gathered at the Gandhi Peace Foundation in the Capital on November 16 to pay tributes to his abiding memory.
He always espoused progressive causes. After Barack Obama’s election to the office of the US President, it was he who suggested that the President-elect invite Fidel Castro to his Inauguration and thus unveil a new chapter in US-Cuba relations forgetting the past bitterness. He sent us a piece highlighting that proposal. This was immediately carried in the 2008 Annual Number of Mainstream (December 20, 2008). While offering our sincerest homage to L.C. Jain, who was close to N.C. and joined him in almost every intellectual venture that the latter undertook, we are reproducing that article for the benefit of our readers. —S.C.

Embrace Fidel Castro: Historic Opportunity For Obama by L.C. JAIN

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