Congress Seva Dal is the grassroot frontal organisation of Indian National Congress. The organisation has a chapter in all the states and union territories of the India and is present in over 700+ districts today.
Modelled on the principles of truth and non-violence of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, Congress Seva Dal’s foundation of patriotism is based on secularism, tolerance and pluralism. Its emphasis is on nation building and of service to the country. The main aim is to spread message of peace, secularism and patriotism for which Indian National Congress has always fought and stood for.
Seva Dal is known for its discipline and passion, which is reflected in its organisational fabric and method of operation. Headed by its Chief Organiser, Shri Lalji Desai, Seva Dal has various wings including children, Youth, Men and Women focused on initiatives for Community Service, Nation Building and Leadership building.
Dr. Narayan Subbarao Hardikar (7 May 1889 – 26 August 1975) was a freedom fighter and Congressman who founded the Congress Seva Dal.
Dr.N.S. Hardikar was born in Dharwar in 1889 to Subbarao and Yamunabai. He studied medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Calcutta and then went to the United States for higher education.
In 1916, he completed his M.Sc in Public Health from the University of Michigan. During his years in America, Hardikar met and became a close associate of Lala Lajpat Rai. As Lalaji’s colleague, Hardikar became an active participant in many political activities in America. He was secretary of the Home Rule League and helped organise the Indian Workers Union of America. As office bearer of the Home Rule League, Lalaji and Hardikar addressed the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee.He was also president of the Hindustan Association of America.
Hardikar’s pamphlet India – A Graveyard was extensively discussed in several newspapers and journals. He was managing editor of the journal Young India which Senator France of Maryland on the Foreign Relations Committee observed, had rendered “a valuable service in acquainting the people of America with the grave problems which confronted the people of India”.
Hardikar returned to India in 1921.During the Flag Satyagraha of 1923, Hardikar and his Hubli Seva Mandal gained national prominence after they refused to apologise to the British authorities to gain a commutation in their prison sentences. This resistance prompted the Congress to set up an organisation along the lines of the Mandal to groom a band of volunteers to combat the British Raj.
During the Kakinada Congress session of 1923 a 13-member committee under Hardikar was formed to look at the establishment of such an organisation. The Hindustani Seva Mandal was thus formed in 1923 and later rechristened the Seva Dal. Dr Hardikar was elected general secretary of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee and published the monthly journal Volunteer
More details : http://www.kamat.com/database/biographies/n_s_hardikar.htm
In 1923, following the Flag Satyagraha at Nagpur, many activists of the Congress were arrested and sentenced to prison. Unable to tolerate the rigours of prison, most of them tendered written apologies to the colonial authorities. However, members of the Hubli Seva Mandal, founded by Dr.N. S. Hardikar refused to yield. This uncompromising stance gained the attention of the Congress’ national leadership that had gathered in Nagpur to participate in the satyagraha. It was here that the idea of establishing an organisation of volunteers to combat the Raj was born.
In Nagpur Central Jail, Dr.Hardikar decided to establish an organisation to train Congress workers, instil military discipline in them and evoke in them the passion to fight. After being released from prison, he went to Allahabad to meet Jawaharlal Nehru and there they discussed the establishment of a combative organisation which would function on the principles of truth and non-violence. In 1923, Sarojini Naidu proposed the formation of a Hindustani Seva Dal at a Congress convention. Nehru was appointed its first chairman and it later came to be known as the Seva Dal.
In 1931, it became the chief volunteer arm of the Congress.
The Seva Dal has had several prominent leaders as members including Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Subhash Chandra Bose and Rajguru.
Wise Words of Mahatma Gandhi
“I expect the volunteers of the Hindustani Seva Dal to stand by their pledge of non-violence under every conceivable circumstance.”
“Camping for Congress volunteers should mean greater dedication, greater self-purification, greater service of the poor, greater skill in hand-spinning and carding, greater skill in dealing with repairs to various machines required for spinning, ginning, carding, etc.; and above all, greater regard for truth and ahimsa. A Congress volunteer in camp should mean cleaning up of surrounding villages.”
“The Hindustani Seva Dal stands for the service of India. Till now whenever I heard the term ‘Servant of India’ it used to rouse great fear in my heart, because the rulers of India style themselves as ‘Servants of India’. These so-called ‘Servants of India’ can never in reality be what they call themselves. They are the servants of the British Empire and it is an impossibility to serve the British Empire and at the same time serve India. I can assure you, you can do no service to India if you try to follow the workings of these so-called ‘Servants of India’. You have to develop a desire for real service which these people totally lack. If on acquiring power you begin to cruelly enforce your authority on the people how is it possible to serve the people?”
“It is decidedly wrong on my part to think that I shall be able to serve India better if I become King of India. This was exactly the state of affairs at one time in the political life of France and people used to employ the most cruel and drastic means to remove their opponents from the political field. But the workers of the Hindustani Seva Dal should work with Peace and Truth as their foundation.
“The volunteer organisations are in fact the very soul of the Congress. The very existence of the Congress depends on them, because they are the army of the Congress. Of course our army is to be non-violent. We have adopted a new way. Our army is not to bear arms. Nor have we to make use of ammunitions. The Congress has decided to save India by that new weapon. We have already achieved considerable success by following that way. And we mean to achieve more. But our success depends on our non-violent army of volunteers. If they do not save India, if instead of saving they themselves destroy it, if instead of being the apostles of non-violence they themselves become the votaries of violence, how can we expect to succeed in our struggle”