Seva Dal

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Congress Seva Dal
Founded1 January 1924
FounderDr. Narayan Subbarao Hardikar
Typecenter, Peaceful Militia
Area served
MethodIdeological process based on gandhian thoughts also Physical training
Key people
Lalji Desai (chief organiser)
WebsiteOfficial Website
Formerly called
Hindustani Seva Dal

The Seva Dal is the grassroots front organization of the Indian National Congress.[1] The organization has a chapter in all the states of the Indian Union. The members of the organization are known for wearing the Gandhi topi. It is headed by a Chief Organizer, the present Chief Organizer is Lalji Desai.[2]

Nehru in uniform with Seva Dal Volunteers in Allahabad


In 1923, following the Flag Satyagraha at Nagpur, many activists of the Congress were arrested and sentenced to prison. Unable to tolerate the rigors of prison, most of them tendered written apologies to the colonial authorities. However, members of the Hubli Seva Mandal, founded by 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. At the Kakinada session of the Congress in 1923, a board under Dr N S Hardikar was constituted for setting up the Dal. The Seva Dal was established as the Hindustani Seva Mandal on 1 January 1924. According to the resolution at Kakinada, the Dal was to work under the supervision of the Congress party's working committee.[3] Jawaharlal Nehru was its first president.[4] The Dal faced much initial opposition from Congressmen, who were opposed to the idea of creating a militia like organisation in the Congress, seeing it as a threat to the idea of civilian dominance and as being inconsistent with the idea of non-violence.[5] Umabai Kundapur was the founding president of the women's wing of the Dal.[6] Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay was closely associated with the organisation, especially in the 1930s.[7]

In 1931, the Congress Working Committee decided to rename the Hindustani Seva Dal as the Congress Seva Dal, making it the central volunteer organisation of the Congress. Every province was to have a general officer commanding the provincial Seva Dal. The organisation also focused specifically on three categories of people: children, adolescents and adults. All Seva Dal members were required to take an oath, which, among other things, required them to stay aloof from political activity in the Congress.[8]

The task of imparting training and organising volunteers was given to the Dal in 1938, which was then headquartered in the Karnatak district of the Bombay presidency. Under Hardikar, an Academy for physical training was established and training camps established at several places across India. During the Civil Disobedience Movement, the Seva Dal played an stellar role in enrolling new members in the Congress, organising activities like picketing and in arming the party with an organised but peaceful militia.[9] The significance of the Dal in the Civil Disobedience Movement can be gauged from the fact that in 1934, when the Movement came to an end and the colonial authorities lifted the ban on the Congress and its organisations, they continued to proscribe the Dal.[8]

Past Presidents[edit]

Suresh Pachouri[citation needed]


Colonial Government of India banned Sewa Dal in 1932 for setting up a women's army. The ban was never lifted.[10]

West Bengal government banned Sewa Dal in 1948. Jawaharlal Nehru got the ban lifted.[11] on the principle that bans are justified only under exceptional circumstances.


  1. ^ All India Congress Committee. "Frontal Organisations". Indian National Congress. Archived from the original on 27 September 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  2. ^ All India Congress Committee. "Congress Seva Dal". Indian National Congress. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  3. ^ "An ideologue at the Congress's service". The Indian Express. 15 May 2000. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  4. ^ "87-yr-old Seva Dal to get a facelift". The Hindustan Times. 9 July 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  5. ^ Bharathi, K S (2008). Encyclopaedia of eminent thinkers, Volume 7. New Delhi: A K Mittal. pp. 60, 61. ISBN 9788170226840.
  6. ^ Kamat, Jyotsna. "Biography of a Remarkable Woman (1892-1992)". Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  7. ^ Kumar, Radha (1997). The History of Doing: An Illustrated Account of Movements for Women's Rights and Feminism in India 1800-1990. New Delhi: Zubaan. p. 55. ISBN 9788185107769.
  8. ^ a b Pandey, Gyanendra (2002). The Ascendancy of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh: Class, Community and Nation in Northern India, 1920-1940. London: Anthem Press. p. 36.
  9. ^ "Indian National Congress - Constructive Programmes & The Congress". Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  10. ^ Choudhary, Valmiki. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya: Portrait of a Rebel.
  11. ^ Choudhary, Valmiki. Dr. Rajendra Prasad: Correspondence and Select Documents, Volume 9.