Vice-President confers Nanesh Samata Award on Nanaji Deshmukh
New Delhi, Apr 8 (UNI) Veteran social leader Nanaji Deshmukh, who has transformed the face of Chitrakoot township in Uttar Pradesh by making it self-reliant and strife-free, was awarded Sri Nanesh Samata Puraskar by Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat at a function here today.
Lavishly praising the wheelchair-bound nonagenarian leader, Mr Shekhawat said Nanaji Deshmukh cut short his active political career to propound the ideal of equality and an egalitarian society.
Recalling his recent visit to Chitrakoot, Mr Shekhawat said, ''I was both surprised and happy to see a transformed township. I hope and believe that Chitrakoot will emerge as the symbol of a new egalitarian, peaceful and prosperous India.'' The award, instituted by Shri Akhil Bharatvarshiya Sadhumargi Jain Sangh, carries a cheque for Rs one lakh, a shield and a scroll of honour.
A former ideologue of the RSS and ex-parliamentarian, Nanaji Deshmukh was selected for the award by Nanesh Puraskar Mandal, headed by noted litterateur and diplomat L M Singhvi.
Pointing out that the vicious disparities between urban centres and rural areas were a major cause for ills bedevilling the country, the Vice President said towns and cities had emerged as areas of profit and villages as that of exploitation.
''This growing disparity has to go if we are to check the burgeoning migration of people from rural to urban centres,'' Mr Shekhawat said and warned that people living in urban centres should not become complacent about their better lifestyle.
''Discontentment is brewing among people who come from rural areas to towns and cities in search of livelihoods and find themselves marginalised,'' he said.
Reeling out statistics from the Planning Commission, he said 26 crore people were living below the poverty line and if the figure of the lower middle class was also added to it, their numbers would go up to 40-45 crore.
Recalling the introduction of 'Antyodaya' by him in Rajasthan in 1977 when he was the state chief minister, he said the poor people must have a say in the formulation of developmental policies that would change their lives for the better.
Earlier, Nanaji Deshmukh, in his acceptance speech, said Chitrakoot was now reflecting the ideals of peace and social equality, which were so dear to Mahatma Gandhi.
''I am only an imitator of the values advocated by Gandhiji,'' he said with humility.
Expressing concern over all-round decadence of values in society, he said the present-day woes of the country were the ill-effects of an unrestrained urbanisation which was threatening to swamp the rural culture.
In this connection, he referred to the ''office of profit'' controversy, saying it was both painful and amazing that leaders of all political hues had combined ''to legalise a patently illegal thing.'' While some parliamentarians had to vacate their membership in the wake of the office of profit controvfersy, they did not have the courage to resign from their parties, he said.
Like the Vice-President, the 90-year-old social leader also quoted some figures to prove that developmental policies had become skewed and loaded in favour of the rich and the mighty.
''An international magazine furnishes the list of 793 richest people in the world and the Indian-born L N Mittal figures among the top five of them. But there are eight crores of people who don't get two square meals a day. This development is not moving in the direction of equality.'' Mr Singhvi and Mr Bhanwarlal Kothari, Convenor, Samata Puraskar Mandal, also addressed the gathering, eulogising Nanaji Deshmukh as the symbol of a resurgent India and of selfless service.
''Nanaji has completely transformed the face of 80 villages in Chitrakoot and has set a similar goal for another 500 villages in the next few years. Chitrakoot is a symbol of resurgent India and must be replicated elsewhere in the country if it is to achieve the ideals of equality,'' said Mr Kothari.
On the occasion, the Vice-President released the special edition of ''Samata Puraskar magazine'' and also a pictorial account of Acharya Nanesh, after whom the award is named.
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