The birth centenary of Dr. M.C. Davar, freedom fighter and Congressman of the Gandhi-Nehru era, who died in November 1977, was on April 24, 2013.
An ardent Gandhian in his personal life, he was a crusader against Partition, and worked for the welfare of refugees from Pakistan.
From 1940 to 1946, he made efforts to prevent Partition. He formed the United Party of India (UPI) with the aim of removing the chasm between the Congress and the Muslim League. A.K. Fazlal Haq, former Premier of Bengal, Sir Syed Sultan Ahmed, and Mahatma Bhagwan Din were members of the UPI with him. Records of his efforts to prevent Partition, for which he blamed the British bureaucracy, are in the Nehru Memorial Library in New Delhi. This includes his correspondence with Nehru, Rajaji, Jinnah, Sikandar Hayat Khan, and Liaquat Ali Khan, Prime Minister of United Punjab.
As president of the all-India Refugee Convention and member of the High Power Committee on Refugee Rehabilitation, he contributed to the rehabilitation of refugees in Delhi and eastern Punjab, now forming Haryana. Rajendra Nagar, which came up as a refugee colony, was given its name as a tribute to President Rajendra Prasad, who accepted Dr. Davar’s invitation to inaugurate it. Earlier, Lajpat Nagar, named after Lala Lajpat Rai, had been built for refugees.
For a confederation
Dr. Davar passionately promoted India-Pakistan amity, including by leading a goodwill mission to Pakistan in 1955 — on which leading Pakistani papers wrote editorials. He mooted the idea of a confederation with Pakistan in 1956. This was later endorsed by Nehru, who declared in 1960 that the “confederation with Pakistan remains our ultimate goal.”
In 1971, when Bangladesh came into being, Dr. Davar brought the erstwhile East Pakistan into the ambit of the idea, to make it a Confederation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. As president of the council of Indo-Pakistan affairs, he consistently advocated a “no-war pact” between the two countries. Zulfikar Bhutto, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister in 1965, assured him in writing that “Pakistan will not be found wanting in peace.”
Dr. Davar made ceaseless efforts for the emancipation of women. He told women that equality with men was their birthright. He reminded them that the Hindu Code Bill had liberated Indian women from the clutches of orthodoxy and centuries of male domination. He wanted them to be physically strong, “like Russian women who were excelling in sports and even conquering the space.”
At a time when empowerment of women was not yet a catchphrase, Dr. Davar’s powerful pen flowed freely to propagate the cause of women.
As a homoeopath, Dr. Davar was famous for his “healing touch.” He gave up a lucrative practice on the advice of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. He was a champion of morality in public life and an example of self-sacrifice, simplicity and honesty in personal and public conduct.
(The writer is former Speaker, Delhi Assembly. This is an edited excerpt from his forthcoming book, Dr. M.C. Davar: A Revolutionary Visionary. )