Skip to main content

Chunibhai Vaidya, veteran Sarvodaya leader and a known critic of Modi-style governance, passes away

By Our Representative
Gujarat’s most well-known Gandhian Chunibhai Vaidya passed away on Friday at his residence in Gandhi Ashram premises in Ahmedabad. Born on September 2, 1918 in a small village in Patan district of North Gujarat, Sander, he lived in Gandhi Ashram during the later days of his life. A freedom fighter and variously described as an "old-style" Sarvodaya activist, who participated in Vinoba Bhave’s Bhoodan movement asking landlords to “selflessly” give away land to the tiller, Vaidya was one of the foremost supporters of Jay Prakash Narayan’s total revolution and was opposed the Emergency imposed by the Indira Gandhi government.
During the Emergency (1975-77), Vaidya went to the Gujarat High Court challenging the government’s decision to seal the office of Bhoomiputra journal, which he edited from Vadodara. Though he won the legal battle, he was detained for seven months for taking part in “anti-government” activities. Vaidya is known among Gujarat activists as synonymous for his concept of “resistance for justice” while working for social development.
Vaidya formed Gujarat Lok Samiti, a voluntary organization, in 1980, and among his first successful movements was to force the Rajasthan government to close down liquor shops across Gujarat’s border in Rajasthan at Ratanpur. Other mobilisations he launched included cancelling MLAs’ pension law and pressing the administration to provide drinking water to 350 villages of North Gujarat. His “constructive activities” included insistence on desilting canals. He was instrumental in constructing underground check dams in order to irrigate more than 8,000 acres.
Chunibhai Vaidya leading protest march against Nirma cement plant
While Vaidya supported the Narmada dam, a mega project, and called Narmada Bachao Andolan’s anti-dam campaign as “destructive” and “agitative”, he agitated against the multinational corporation Cargill's proposed project in Gujarat and supported fishermen’s opposition to a mega port project at Umbergaon in South Gujarat. Two years ago, the Gujarat government chose a nearby site, Nargol, to implement the port project, with a consortium of Cargo Motors Limited and Israel Ports Company (IPC) being awarded the Rs 4,000 crore project.
An active campaigner to support Kutch earthquake victims of 2001, more recently, despite his old age, Vaidya supported farmers’ organizations – such as the Jameen Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG) and Gujarat Khedut Samaj – opposing dozen-odd special investment regions (SIRs) being formed across Gujarat. He also opposed "indiscriminate transfer" of grazing land to industries in the name of development. He lent his support to the movement against the Nirma Cement Plant proposed in an alleged wetland in Mahua region of Bhavnagar district of Saurashtra, leading a march against the industrial project from Mahua to Gandhinagar. Right now, the plant awaits nod from the National Green Tribunal nod.
One of the known opponents of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vaidya asked has Modi, on several occasions, to come clean on 2002 riots. Commenting on Modi’s September 2011 “sadbhavna” fast, he said, "Modi's fast is an example of the popular Hindi proverb, the cat goes for pilgrimage after killing 100 mice.” He termed Modi’s widely-publicized sadbhavna fast as “a clear example of this adage”, adding, “When Mahatma Gandhi used to sit on a hunger strike, his heart was clean, conscience clear and his life was based on principles of truth.”
Chunibhai Vaidya interacting with a farmer
On another occasion, the veteran Gandhian wrote to Anna Hazare asking the latter to take back his remarks on “exemplary” rural development under Modi. Calling Hazere’s claim “false”, he said, "Your statement regarding development in rural area requires a thorough correction. The development crazy Modi has done a great harm to the rural area. Modi is responsible for the desertion of the villages by more than 10 per cent of the population which includes mainly youth. As for the corruption problem, crores of square meters of land have been allotted to the industries at throwaway prices.”

Comments

Anonymous said…
A rare leader in these times, having fought against the whole range -- from Indira to Modi. Thanks for such an early posting.

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Jharkhand Adivasi lynched to death by mob "chanting" Jai Shri Ram: Fact-finding team

Counterview Desk
On April 10, 2019, Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old Adivasi of Jurmu village of Gumla’s Dumri block, was lynched to death by a mob of men from the Sahu community of neighbouring Jairagi village. Three other victims from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – sustained severe injuries due to the beating by the mob. A fact-finding team of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), comprising of several activists and representatives of member organisations, conducted a fact-finding inquiry into the incident on April 14-15.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”