Bhubaneswar: Unity in diversity, the fabric of India, must be upheld to make the country great and the National Service Scheme (NSS) had a huge role to play in realizing this goal, eminent Gandhian Dr. S.N. Subba Rao said on Friday.
“The NSS is a self-disciplined service wing started by the Union government 50 years ago which aimed to develop the personality of students through community service,” he said while addressing a mega orientation camp of NSS cadres organized to mark the Golden Jubilee of NSS at the SOA (Deemed to be University) here.
Dr. Rao, who was the architect behind the launch of the NSS in 1969 and had famously joined forces with late Jayaprakash Narayan to ensure the surrender of over 600 hardcore dacoits of the Chambal valley, expressed concern over incidents of lynchings and rapes saying certain aberrations had creeped into the society and must be countered.
Indians should be proud that they are the citizens of this great country, he said adding “unfortunately this ‘swabhiman’ is missing as three-year-old children are being raped and people lynched for silly reasons.”
“You need to cultivate this spirit of ‘swabhiman’ through the NSS to make this country great,” he told the NSS volunteers who thronged the huge auditorium.
Vice-Chancellor of SOA Prof. Amit Banerjee presided over the programme which was also addressed by State Advisor for NSS, Madhusudan Das, SOA’s Dean (Students’ Welfare) Dr. Jyoti Ranjan Das, NSS Coordinator Dr. Nachieketa Sharma and NSS Program Officer Dr. Saroj Kumar Mohanty.
Recalling the days leading to the launching of NSS, Dr. Rao said some people in the government were not supportive of the idea saying the National Cadet Corps (NCC) was already functioning in educational institutions which was enough to inculcate discipline among the students.
“I told the government that while discipline in an organization like NCC was forced, discipline in NSS would be self-imposed,” the Gandhian said adding “self-imposed discipline is always superior to enforced discipline.”
Referring to India’s unique diversity with over 1600 languages, Dr. Rao said that former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had admitted in his autobiography, ‘If I am Assassinated’, that India was a much more heterogeneous nation than Pakistan despite having so many languages and religious groups.
“If India fell into the hands of a dictator, it would get fragmented,” Dr. Rao quoted late Bhutto as saying in the book. “The need, at present, is to respect each other and ensure that our unity in diversity is felt. We have a big heart that unites, we have to go beyond tolerance,” he said.
Dr. Rao also gave away awards to an all-women SOA team which participated in a National Integration Camp and won laurels. He also presented a trophy to Elena Priyadarshini, a student of nursing at SOA, who was adjudged as one of the best NSS volunteers in Odisha.