After winning the war of independence with a shocking division of our motherland separting Pakistan as another state, Mahatma Gandhi, father of our Nation, was of the opinion that Congress should abandoned as a political party and continue as a social organization, to guide and help the people to develop the society through a strong democracy.
Pdt. Jawaharlal Nehru, however, convinced Mahatmaji that there is no other well established political party having roots in every nook and corner of the country. So, congress had to shoulder the responsibility of governing our great nation through an established democratic process to all-round development.
As First Prime Minister of Govt. of India, Pdt, Ji introduced planned economy in our democratic set up through it is a Communist Economy’s domain. To implement plans, funds are needed, which was a Herculean task for our country those days. But Nehruji paved our path stating that we have vast labour resources lying in millions of hands, these hands can dig big canals, channels, tanks, dams for water supply, can build sky scrapers for housing & the like. So why not harness this resource for development of our nation? Hence, the idea of Bharat Sevak Samaj (Hence forth referred to as BSS) as an institution to achieve this purpose appeared in political scenario.
Pdt. Ji called a meeting of all the leaders of political parties and discussed that as political leaders they will be fighting elections which will result in frictions. Hence, group leaders of political parties will not be able to get support of each other in public projects e.g. construction of roads, school buildings, etc. and digging of wells, tanks, etc. which are a must for a agricultural nation as ours, and the like. Hence is the need for a non-political, non-official, non-religious organization for the following:
- To propagate the need and importance of governments five year plans.
- To seek public co-operation for implementation of govt. plants
- To publicize free manual labour in development works & projects so-on & so-forths.
All the parties agreed and great grand organization was founded viz. BHARAT SEVAK SAMAJ. BSS was sponsored by the Planning Commission of Govt. of India and was duly registered under the Societies Registration Act in 1952. The govt. provided grants for:-
- To publicise and propagate govt. five year plans.
- To organize camps for students, village youth leader to help some projects. These camps were run in rural as well as urban slum areas and contributed to the ideas of co-operation, abolition of untouchability by living under one roof, patriotism, free manual labour, sports, oratory i.e. an all-round development environment. Thus, they were an important part of Samaj’s activities. They were run while receiving only part grants from Central and several State governments.
- Lok Karya Kshetra: BSS whole time workers had to select an area of ten to twelve villages and try to develop the region with good transportation facilities, mainland connections via roads, etc., harnesss water resources, Balwadies (i.e. Montesary School), small libraries, (maternity centres etc. all with help and contribution of villagers.
- Night Shelters: It is remarkable scheme for workers without a roof after whole day work-outs. BSS used to have a hall with basic civic amenties and blankets, etc. with some educational magazines etc., where labourers or strangers could stay overnight on contribution of one or two rupees only.
- Family Planning: As some religious are against family planning it is very tough to convince public on the issue, the labour class too, do not co-operate. But BSS organizers were running family planning work camps quite successfully in the remote areas of villages. BSS was organizing some health centres too.
Apart from this Bharat Sevak’s always came forward to keep the morale high of Jawan Brethem on the border when there was a war with China & Pakistan. In Tejpur at one time there was only BSS flag flying high.
BSS also helped drought flood, famine, earthquake etc. effected areas as well.
It was a very bright period for BSS, the govt. of India, the country, the nation that there was all-round development. Everybody was co-operative the villagers, the officials, political leaders and BSS workers, even small workers were honoured and respected.
Then came a turning point after the death of great Pdt Nehru Ji Sh. Hari Bhau Upadhya, the then Education on Minister of Rajasthan became the President of BSS. After Sh. Upadhya ji, Nanda ji held the post of BSS President. It was this time that Sh. Morarji Desai, who was anti BSS since its inception and thought it to be parallel congress raised a point in the Parliament that Sh. Nandaji, the then Home Minister, Govt. of India, should either remain Home Minister or be the President of BSS. Sh. Nandaji resigned from the post of BSS President. BSS workers took it very ill. It was not enough, Sh. Morarji Desai, the then Finance Minister was able to raise objection through P.A.C. that BSS has not rendered accounts of its activities. BSS at once contradicted and showed all audit A/c to the govt., of total grants received from the govt. Then they said BSS should render consolidated A/c of all its activities done by govt. grants or through contributions, which was an impossible task.
After a lot of discussion Sh. A.G. Kher, the then Speaker U.P. State, who became the president of BSS have in writing to the Govt. of India that we had rendered accounts of all Govt. money have been rendered to the Govt. and all audited.
But it was also in a planned way that Kapoor Commission was appointed and the terms and conditions were so vague viz. “The Commission will lok into the affairs of BSS”. On this pretext the commission and its members enjoyed well and they went around the country to see tourist places and spent crores of rupees to make and inquiry of Rs. Two Crores and Thirty Two Lakhs received by BSS from Central Govt. for all its activities and for the total period upto 1964 since its inception in 1952.
In 1964-65 all Central govt. grants were stopped till date. An after 1965 it was a question of BSS survival. The workers had to work without their meager pocket expenses and still they are fighting.
Kapoor commission gave its report only in 1974, without finding any charge against BSS except some misgivings against Sadhu Samaj, etc. The Govt. was falsely demanding Rs. 41 lakhs but BSS reputed and demanded Rs. 9 lakhs from govt. i.e. BSS balance with govt. The Income Tax Department was demanding Rs. 3 crore and income Tax.
In the year 1960 Pdt. Ji wanted BSS to be self sufficient and combat the public complaints against engineers and Public Work Departments and hence BSS Construction Services came into existence. The Construction Service facing all the difficulties arised by engineers Govt. Department and monopoly contractors constructed many aerodrums e.g. in Gorakhpur, Bombay, Byderabad, etc., completed Kosi Project when foreign money was involved and the landlords were not coming forward to give their lands for the project which was quite beneficial to them. BSS completed it without foreign exchange and within a short period of one year. Thus through its construction activity BSS saved many crores of rupees for public exchequer which otherwise could not be saved.
After the stoppage of central govt. grants BSS ran its activities on its won, but on a comparatively very small scale.
Major T. Rama Chandra, a great gandhist, was the general secretary camp section with Sh. M.M. Wakhare and Sh. S.S. Singh as joint secretary. They all were facing the commission and threw an idea into the minds of workers that they should raise possible institutions in their areas. This fruitified and, before and after the stoppage of central govt. grants, many institutions were raised. Many of them changed the ames of the institutions because of the fear that Income Tax Department will forfeit their properties.
V.D. Thyagi (Jt. General Secretary, B.S.S.)