Acharya Narendra Deva (pronunciation (help·info); also Dev or Deo; 30 October 1889 – 19 February 1956) was one of the leading theorists of the Congress Socialist Party in India. His democratic socialism renounced violent means as a matter of principle and embraced the satyagraha as a revolutionary tactic.
Dev was first drawn to nationalism around 1915 under the influence of B G Tilak and Aurobindo Ghosh. As a teacher he became interested in Marxism and Buddhism. He was active in the Hindi language movement. He was a key leader of the Congress Socialist Party from its founding in 1934 and was imprisoned several times during the freedom struggle. He was at times a member of the Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly. From 6 December 1951 to 31 May 1954 he served as Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University. Helped by Nirmal Chandra Chaturvedi, Executive Councillor and a prominent educationist of the state. He started a number of projects for the expansion of the university.
Narendra Dev advocated the abolition of poverty and exploitation not just through the Marxist materialist dialectic but especially on moral and humanistic grounds. He insisted that "without political democracy social democracy was a sham". Dev was active in the peasant movement and served as president of the All-India Kisan Congress.
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi said: "Acharya Narnedra Dev was one of the greatest sons of India and the nation owes a great debt to him."
The Narendra Dev University of Agriculture and Technology was named in his honour in 1975.
In an emotional obituary in Rajya Sabha, Jawaharlal Nehru said:
- "The death of Acharya Narendra Dev is something much bigger for many of us and, I think, for the country than just the passing away of an important person. He was a man of rare distinction—distinction in many fields—rare in spirit, rare in mind and intellect, rare in integrity of mind and otherwise. Only his body failed him. I do not know if there is any person present here in this House who was associated with him for a longer period than I was. Over 40 years ago we came together and we shared innumerable experiences together in the dust and heat of the struggle for independence and in the long silence of prison life where we spent—I forget now—four or five years together at various places, and inevitably got to know each other intimately; and so, for many of us, it is a grievous loss and a grievous blow, even as it is a grievous loss for our country. There is the public sense of loss and there is the private sense of loss and a feeling that somebody of rare distinction has gone and it will be very difficult to find his like again."
Dev had been professor at Kashi Vidyapeeth and Vice Chancellor of Faizabad University, Lucknow University and Banaras Hindu University. He died at the age of 67 in 19 February 1956 in Madrass.
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