‘Swadesi is a mindset of self-confidence’

published on April 8, 2012

CHENNAI: Those who want to transform India cannot do so by learning about it on the internet or through books, but only by learning India in person, Swadesi ideologue KN Govindacharya has said. Speaking at a function to mark the culmination of a padayatra from Coimbatore to Chennai, he also stressed that Swadesi sentiment is not just to do with materials, but is an outlook aimed at creating self-confidence and self-realisation.
“We are all affected by our own environment and situations and often decide many things based on preconceptions. We draw a lot of conclusions based on superficial understanding. When you observe from a distance you cannot come to the right conclusions,” said Govindacharya.

These comments served to underline his main theme, which was that India must not copy the practices of the West, as they are unsuited to it.

“Bharat must find its own terms of reference. We must stop copying others. For instance, Europe there is barely any sunlight, so they wear dark clothes and coats. In the blistering heat of May, why do our lawyers have to walk around in coats?” he asked.

It is in answering questions such as these and settling on systems and practices suitable to India that the core of the Swadesi idea lies, Govindacharya insisted. Refelcting this point of view was noted columnist S Gurumurthy. He stressed on the need for Indians to retain their societal customs, practices and paradigms. He took the example of the breakdown of the family system in the West to make his point. “Many of the familial duties and responsibilities have been made the burden of government. It is not anymore the duty of children to take care of their parents, or for family to take care of their sick, or for parents to take care of their children after a point,” he said.

This, according to Gurumurthy, has led to a situation where no one had any need to save money. “You will save only when you have certain duties and responsibilities. In their absence, you will only spend and spend and spend. Rightly, Americans have borrowed so much, the country is nowreeling. India got through it because of our cultural imperative to save. The year 2008 was an eye opener. We need to ask ourselves, do we want to transform ourselves to become like these countries, that are overburdened with debt. And this thought process is Swadesi” he said.

The padayatra, at the culmination of which these comments came, had been taken out over 32 days by members of the Swadesi Jagran Manch. Five members — Nambi Narayanan, Illankumar Sampath, Rajamani, Manoharan and Kalyanaraman — had walked around 25 km each day, and spoken to villagers and towns people over the need to adopt the Swadesi mindset.

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