Tuesday, December 29, 2020

On Farmer- Ruler Relationship

(A post made on Karigar Nazaria in Facebook in Hindi on 28 December, 2020 by Chitra Sahasrabudhey) 

The present farmers’ movement has touched our souls. It is at such times that people in large numbers and, as if, society as a whole, are able to selflessly concentrate and focus their thoughts for an appreciation of truth and justice as opposed to falsehood and injustice. On this occasion we are giving here a very special event which will increase our self confidence and help the country and society in pursuing the path of truth and justice.  

It relates to the summer of 1938. There was a small princely state by the name of Aundh in the region where Maharashtra and Karnataka meet – the Satara-Sangli-Bijapur area. It so happened that thousands of peasants (about 6,000) got together and marched towards the capital town raising slogans. They were very angry. The ministers and the advisers of the king were very worried but the matter was not immediately reported to the king.  When the peasants came very close to the capital they started demanding a dialogue with the king. Hearing this, the king came out (from his art room, for he was an artist too) and asked what the matter was. He heard the whole thing without being perturbed and looked at the prince, Apa Pant. The prince politely said that the peasants need to be asked “what was the reason of their anger?” The king said “fair enough, so be it”. The next day the peasants were treated to a full meal. By the evening many more peasants joined, among them also those who were not from Aundh.

The peasants had two demands : One, the taxes may be reduced and two, the administration needed to be improved. The king agreed.

However this was not all that happened.

The king implemented several measures in the next six months and on 23 November 1938, he announced before the people that they were now sufficiently competent to take the governance into their own hands. A Swaraj Constitution was developed and placed before the people and the king quit his thrown. This Aundh Swaraj Constitution was developed on the initiative of prince Apa Pant who sought Mahatma Gandhi’s guidance for this by travelling to Sewagram and spending some days with him. Also  leaders of Congress mainly Shankar Rao Deo and B.V. Shikhre studied and assessed the conditions of administration in Aundh and made recommendations towards the new constitution. This Swaraj constitution was implemented for about 10 years before the state was dissolved for integration with Independent India.

During these 10 years a number of pro-people policies took shape. Three specially worth mention are :

1.   The people of Aundh met with success the challenges of the severe famine of 1942,

2.    A system of education was implemented in 700 villages in less than one year, which continued for ten years. The election to Panchayat also required that the contestant be educated.

3.    The judicial system was made simple, pro-people and quick. 

Vidya Ashram 

12.06 pm 29 Dec. 2020

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