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Biography: N.S. Hardikar

Nature never made a great leader with more homely material. Meager and sinewy of frame, his lips disciplined against idle speech, his eyes shining like a pair of diamonds in the deep sockets, his face bearing the impress of the severe penance of a Satyagrahi, clad in simple attire. Dr. Hardikar has the bearing of the Little Corsican who shook the thrones of Europe. His most conspicuous gift is his silence. Behind this embattled front lurks a good-humored man. His serious pose relaxes into light hearted abandon. His joy resembles the flowering of an orchard spring. What a strange blend of the gay and the grave.

K.L. Kamat/Kamat's Potpourri
N. S. Hardikar (1889-1975)
N. S. Hardikar (1889-1975)
Dr. Narayan Subbarao Hardikar

Dr. Hardikar was born at Dharwar, May 1899. His father was a man of meager fortune. So he was indebted for his early education to his uncle, who had a great fascination for this bright witted boy.

As a lad he was very apt at learning and fond of books. He was enthused by the teachings of Lokamanya Tilak. Quite at a tender age he took a plunge into politics. Brilliant destines were prophesied to him. He won golden opinions by the happy vivacity of his character.

His precocious zeal for politics was evident in his early works. He founded the Bhagini Samaj, the Kanya Shala and the Arya Bala Sabha. He became the head center of literary and political associations. He became the rallying point of rising men of all shades.

In 1908 he joined the staff of the Kannada Kesari. Then he left for Calcutta and became a student in the college of Physicians, where he took the M.R.C.S degree. With the aid of the philanthropists of Karnataka he proceeded to America for higher studies in medicine. In 1916 he secured the M.Sc. degree of the Michigan University and specialized in public health.

The god of fortune has played a notable part in his career. While he was preparing for the Ph.D in politics he met Lala Lajpat Rai. Their eventful meeting was a red-letter day in ht history of Indian Independence. Lalaji asked Hardikar to assist him in propaganda work. Hardikar gave up his studies and helped him in founding the Indian Home Rule League, the Indian formation Bureau and the Indian Labour Union.

As the managing Editor of the Young India his journalistic flair came into full play. He became the General Secretary of the Indian Home Rule League and delivered a series of addresses in all the American States. He challenged the might of the Britain with his courageous speeches. The visit of Lalaji to Canada was a triumphant tour. Wherever he went he was met with cascades of cheers. The president of Columbia accorded him a warm reception. In1921 he waved good-bye to the Old world. On his way back he desired to go to visit Germany and Italy but the British Government refused passport.

After his return he actively interested himself in Indian politics. He was elected the Secretary of the K.P.C.C. then he laid the foundation of an All-India Volunteer organization at the Coconada Congress. The difficulties that bristled in his way are vividly narrated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. In his Autobiography. He says:

"There has been no lack for volunteer organizations even before, both for organization work or goal going. But there was little discipline and cohesion. Dr.N.S.Hardikar conceived the idea of having a well-disciplined All-India Corps trained to do national work under the general guidance of the Congress. He pressed me to cooperate with him in this, and I gladly did so, for the idea appealed to me. The beginnings were made at Coconada. We were surprised to find later how much opposition there was to the Seva Dal among the Congressmen. Some said that this was a dangerous departure as it meant to introduce a military arm, which might overpower the civic authority; others seem tot think that the only discipline necessary was for the volunteers to obey orders issued form above, for the rest it was hardly desirable for volunteer even to walk in step. At the back of the mind of some was the notion that the ideas of having a trained and drilled volunteers was somehow in consistent with the Congress principle of Non violence. Hardikar, however devoted himself to this task, and by the patient labour of years he demonstrated how much more efficient and even non-violent our trained Volunteers could be".

This national Militia played a heroic part in the freedom struggle. It awakened the fears of the Government and chained the attention of the Nation by its invincible spirit at the helm of this organization was Hardikar, the Commander in Chief and he looked it. The heroism displayed by the Seva Dal in the Civil Disobedience Movement is engraved in the memories of men.

In 1923 he participated in the Nagpur Flag Satyagraha and was sentenced to one years rigorous imprisonment four times and was in jail for three years. Now he is bearing the standing of the Congress to the heart of Karnataka.

Hardikar has the histrionics of Napoleon but skills his Imperial ambitions. He is a hardened militarist but not a colossal egoist. He is endowed with the Little Corsican's cold realisms and volcanic artistry. The ambition of Napoleon was over-weening but Hardikar has no desire for power except as the instrument of his doctrines.

Spare in build with graceful profile, imbued with fanatical faith both are remarkable portents thrown up by a political convulsion. Melodrama is a characteristic element in the make-up of both. Their personal magnetism resulted in their political ascendancy. Napoleon was a restless imperialistic and Hardikar is the patriot leader. The shadow broken ambition fell on Nepoleon when he pinned away his last days on the barren rocks of St. Helena. The joy of success gleams in Hardikar's eyes.

Hardikar will remain in history not as a self-contained episode but as a lasting influence.

Source: Haripura Congress Souvenir, 1938

 

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