Uncompromising Achiever – Shrikant ji

published on January 10, 2013
Lakshminarayan Bhala

(Co-convenor of Hindustan Samachar.)

What can I say about Shrikant ji? He was an ‘uncompromising achiever’ always firm on his convictions & ready to walk the path he has decided whatever the circumstances be. I came to know him when he was ‘Prant Pracharak’ (in-charge Pracharak) of Assom prant. I was posted there in 1986 to look after some ‘Vidya Bharati’ work. He was in Assom for around 25 years. I understood his way of thinking about the North-east region. He had very clear vision about how the common worker who is molded in daily RSS Shakha work, should take social responsibilities, responsibilities of various social tasks & institutions etc. He had very clear views about solutions to the problems faced by Assom & north east region. One of his solutions was to increase the Schools which follow Assomia language as medium of instructions. The local language is the key to the conservation of local culture, he strongly felt. He worked hard to start Assomia schools even in remote places & seen to it that the schools perform well. The first such school was Shankar Dev Shishu Niketan started by him in 1979. Today, there is very large number of schools serving the Assom working in local medium of instruction.
He was a Prant Pracharak who had seen to it that every Sangh-Parivar organization thrives in the region. He specifically cared for Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram, Vidya Bharati  & Vivekanand Kendra & supported their activities so that these organizations get a strong foot-hold in the region. He gave us the slogan -“Loss of Culture is Loss of Identity”. He asked Krishna rao Sapre, who was then looking after the works in tribals there, to work hard to preserve the local cultural identities, because he felt, those are strong fibers of larger Hindu cultural identity. The Vishva Hindu Parishad, Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram & Vivekanand Kendra – they worked on the same lines later & worked hard for local & tribal cultural conservation.

He also made sure that the workers originated from local shakhas get higher responsibilities in the organizational structures of the Sangh Parivar organizations in the region. This created some uneasiness in minds of a very few workers, but he successfully addressed their doubts & convinced them about the necessity to push the workers from local communities & tribals up the organizational hierarchy. He started various projects for various tribal communities keeping their ethos in mind.
Obviously, all this social work tend to reflect in the local politics. Assom Gan Parishad leadership was once very close to him. He maintained a meaningful dialogue & personal friendly relations with AGP leadership.

Many a social workers were inspired by Shrikant ji in north east, particularly Assom region. for example, Deepak Kumar Barthakur is one such name. We just celebrated his Platinum jubilee. He never wears RSS uniform, he says he is not RSS. But still he works hard for the conservation of Hindu culture. There are many… many in various walks of life working for upliftment of the region. Many of them tell that they were inspired by Shrikant ji.

I have a particular recollection about Shrikant ji at that time. Once I had some dissonance with Deepak Kumar Barthakur ji & I think, in a way my behavior insulted him. When Shrikant ji came to know, he asked me in sharp terms to take the correctional measures sooner than later. His concerns were, no individual should turn away from the work of National reconnaissance just because of pretty individual skirmishes. I gave him my word & immediately tried to correct the things. Now me & Barthakur ji are very good & close friends.

Hindustan Samachar chapter in Shrikant ji’s life

After Indira Gandhi regained power in 1980, the Govt appointed an Administrator in 1982 over Hindustan Samachar, with the purpose of weakening its organisational structure. One employee – Chandramohan Bharadwaj – went to court & fought up to Supreme court for 18 years, arguing the Govt has nothing to appoint the administrator & Hindustan Samachar is capable of running itself. When he won the case in 2000, he went to meet Shrikant ji. Shrikant ji was All India Prachar Pramukh then. He felt that Hindustan Samachar should be rejuvenated. He put the case before central leadership of the RSS. Some of the Karyakari Mandal members were not in favour. Some were of the view that the name should be changed now. But many were in favour. He strongly argued his case & successfully pursued to convince each member of the executive body. At the end, the Karyakari Mandal decided to give Shrikant ji a chance. In a way, we can say, he was on his own. But the man of conviction, he stood by his decision & put his firm foot forward. Now we see Hindustan Samachar being grown as a strong force to reckon with. The news agency provides news services in 13 local languages including Sanskrit. All result of the vision of Shrikant ji. Now, Hindustan Samachar even has three overseas bureaus!

All this, we can say now, was possible because of the nature of Shrikant ji of accepting big challenges in life. He built one bureau by one, adding numerous valuable human resources. He depended entirely on young blood, which is full of enthusiasm. But the policy resulted in floating population as today’s generation is more career – & cash – oriented. But still he was successful in creating so many bureaus & getting Hindustan Samachar up to this level.

Now we have a challenge before us to make Hindustan Samachar roots more stronger – stronger to face new age challenges. We would have been happy, if Shrikant ji had lived more to see his dream came true. We promise his soul to work hard to make those dreams true. That would be the real homage to the man called Shrikant Shankar Joshi – our beloved ‘Shrikant ji’.

  (As told to Rajesh Prabhu Salgaonkar – News Bharati )

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