India remembers Chandikadas Amritrao Deshmukh on his 14th Death Anniversary today, February 27, 2023. He is fondly remembered as Nanaji Deshmukh, a social activist from India. He was BITS Pilani educated & worked in the fields of education, health, and rural self-reliance.
Power is cruel. Power is more addictive, though. Every person wants power in some form, whether it is over the globe, their culture, their families, or themselves if they don't already have it. One individual, however, undertook a journey that was uncharacteristic of humans in general. When he was at the height of his influence, he gave it up and began serving those who most needed it.
In order to pay for his studies, Chandikadas Amritrao Deshmukh, also known as Nanaji, began his livelihood by selling vegetables. He put a lot of effort and commitment into his studies. Later, as an adult, he joined the RSS after being influenced by Tilak's nationalism. He laid the wide foundation and created a strong foundation for the Sangha in Gorakhpur as a pracharak. Moreover, he founded the Saraswati Shishu Mandir, a school that presently has over 20,000 locations across India.
He also met Deendayal Upadhyaya, the founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangha, during this political period. He established a robust support network for the party in the state of Uttar Pradesh while serving as its organisational secretary.
As a shrewd politician, Nanaji knew how to manipulate the situation to his advantage. Even with the socialist Ram Manohar Lohia, he drew together a number of partnerships for BJS to help the party win the election.
He ran for office for the first time in 1977 and won in Balrampur, UP. He played a significant role in creating the Janata Party. He declined a government job from Morarji Desai and declared his political retirement in 1980. This occurred following the Janata Party's split and the creation of the BJP.
Instead, he started along the path of fighting for rural development and poverty eradication in the countryside by imitating Jayaprakash Narayana. He carried out his work in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra's most remote regions.
In stark contrast to his name, Nanaji Deshmukh, which in Sanskrit denotes a chief or landowner,took a U-turn from the height of his political career and devoted his life to public service, earning him the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour.
His social activity was founded on the gramodya (rising of the villages) and swawalamban ideas (self-reliance). Chitrakoot Gramodaya Vishwavidyala, India's first rural university, was also founded by him. He laid the cornerstone for the Upadhyaya-inspired Deendayala Research Institute.
Although facing numerous difficulties as a young child, Nanaji is quoted as saying that he never became involved in naxalism. Instead, learning about RSS had given him a deeper understanding of nationalism and the virtue of serving others. He also received the Padma Vibhushana for his contributions.
Nanaji passed away on February 27, 2010, due to his poor health. In accordance with his dying wishes, Dadhichi Dehdan Sanstha donated his body for medical research. He was so committed to giving that in the end, he gave the world everything he had or didn't have.