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Themes & Thoughts of the day : October

31 October : Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's birth anniversary
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

"एकता के बिना जनशक्ति शक्ति नहीं है जबतक उसे ठीक तरह से सामंजस्य में ना लाया जाए और एकजुट ना किया जाए, और तब यह आध्यात्मिक शक्ति बन जाती है |" - वल्लभभाई पटेल

("Manpower without Unity is not a strength unless it is harmonised and united properly, then it becomes a spiritual power".- Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel)

Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel (b. 31 October 1875 – d. 15 December 1950) was an Indian barrister and statesman, one of the leaders of the Indian National Congress and one of the founding fathers of the Republic of India. He was a social leader who played a leading role in the country's struggle for independence and guided its integration into a united, independent nation. In India and elsewhere, he was often addressed as Sardar, which means Chief in Hindi, Urdu and Persian.

He was raised in the countryside of Gujarat. Vallabhbhai Patel was employed in successful practice as a lawyer. Patel subsequently organised peasants from Kheda, Borsad, and Bardoli in Gujarat in non-violent civil disobedience against oppressive policies imposed by the British Raj; in this role, he became one of the most influential leaders in Gujarat. He rose to the leadership of the Indian National Congress and was at the forefront of rebellions and political events, organising the party for elections in 1934 and 1937, and promoting the Quit India movement.

As the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India, Patel organised relief for refugees in Punjab and Delhi, and led efforts to restore peace across the nation. Patel took charge of the task to forge a united India from the British colonial provinces allocated to India and more than five hundred self-governing princely states, released from British suzerainty by the Indian Independence Act 1947. Using frank diplomacy, backed with the option and use of military force, Patel's leadership persuaded almost every princely state. Often known as the "Iron Man of India" or "Bismarck of India", he is also remembered as the "Patron Saint" of India's civil servants for establishing modern all-India services.

28 October : Sister Nivedita's birth anniversary
Sister Nivedita

"Hinduism would not be eternal were it not constantly growing and spreading, and taking in new areas of experience. Precisely because it has this power of self addition and re-adaptation, in greater degree than any other religion that the world has even seen, we believe it to be the one immortal faith." - Sister Nivedita

Sister Nivedita born Margaret Elizabeth Noble; (b. 28 October 1867 - d. 13 October 1911) was a Scots-Irish social worker, author, teacher and a disciple of Swami Vivekananda. She spent her childhood and early days of her youth in Ireland. From her father, from her college professor etc. she learned many valuable lessons like – service to mankind is the true service to God. She worked as school teacher and later also opened a school. She was committed to marry a Welsh youth who died soon after engagement.

Sister Nivedita met Swami Vivekananda in 1895 in London and travelled to Calcutta, (Kolkata) in 1898. Swami Vivekananda gave her the name Nivedita (meaning "Dedicated to God") when he initiated her into the vow of Brahmacharya on 25 March 1898. In November 1898, she opened a girls' school in Bagbazar area of Calcutta. She wanted to educate those girls who were deprived of even basic education. During the plague epidemic in Calcutta in 1899 Sister Nivedita nursed and took care of the poor patients.

Sister Nivedita had close associations with the newly established Ramakrishna Mission. However, because of her active contribution in the field of Indian Nationalism, she had to publicly dissociate herself from the activities of the Ramakrishna Mission under the then president Swami Brahmananda. She was very intimate with Sarada Devi, the spiritual consort of Ramakrishna and one of the major influences behind Ramakrishna Mission and also with all brother disciples of Swami Vivekananda. She died on 13 October 1911 in Darjeeling. Her epitaph reads, "Here reposes Sister Nivedita who gave her all to India".

17 October : Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's birth anniversary
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

"The first requisite for the progress of a nation is the brotherhood and unity amongst sections of the society." - Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (b. 17 October 1817 – d. 27 March 1898), born Syed Ahmad Taqvi was an Anglo-Indian, Muslim philosopher, pragmatist, and social activist of nineteenth century India. Born into Mughal nobility, Sir Syed earned a reputation as a distinguished scholar while working as a jurist for the British East India Company's rule in India.

In 1842, Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar–II conferred upon Sir Syed the title of Javad-ud Daulah, conferred upon Sir Syed's grandfather Syed Hadi by Emperor Shah Alam II around the middle of the 18th century. In addition, the Emperor added the title of Arif Jang. The conferment of these titles was symbolic of Sir Syed's incorporation into the nobility of Delhi. Sir Syed founded the famous Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in 1875 with the aim of promoting social, scientific, and economic development of Indian Muslims.

15 October : Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam's birth anniversary
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

"If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher."- Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen "A. P. J." Abdul Kalam (b. 15 October 1931 – d. 27 July 2015) was the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. Kalam was born and raised in Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, and studied physics and aerospace engineering. He spent the next four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and was intimately involved in India's civilian space program and military missile development efforts. He thus came to be known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. He also played a pivotal organizational, technical, and political role in India's Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, the first since the original nuclear test by India in 1974.

Kalam was elected as the 11th President of India in 2002. Widely referred to as the "People's President," he returned to his civilian life of education, writing and public service after a single term. He was a recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour. While delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong, Kalam collapsed and died from an apparent cardiac arrest on 27 July 2015, aged 83.

10 October : R. K. Narayan's birth anniversary
R. K. Narayan

"life is about making right things and going on.." - R.K. Narayan, Malgudi Days.

Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami well known as R. K. Narayan (b. 10 October 1906 - d. 13 May 2001), was an Indian writer, best known for his works set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi. R. K. Narayan was born in Madras (now Chennai). His father was a school headmaster, and Narayan did some of his studies at his father's school. As his father's job entailed frequent transfers, Narayan spent part of his childhood under the care of his maternal grandmother, Parvati. During this time his best friends and playmates were a peacock and a mischievous monkey.

He is one of three leading figures of early Indian literature in English (alongside Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao), and is credited with bringing the genre to the rest of the world. The setting for most of Narayan's stories is the fictional town of Malgudi, first introduced in Swami and Friends. His narratives highlight social context and provide a feel for his characters through everyday life. In a writing career that spanned over sixty years, R. K. Narayan received many awards and honours. These include the AC Benson Medal from the Royal Society of Literature and the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian award. He was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India's parliament.

02 October: Lal Bahadur Shashtri's birth anniversary.
Lal Bahadur Shashtri

"My patriotism is subservient to my religion. I cling to India like a child to its mother’s breast, because I feel that she gives me the spiritual nourishment I need. She has the environment that responds to my highest aspiration."- Lal Bahadur Shashtri.

Lal Bahadur Shastri (b. 2 October 1904 – d. 11 January 1966) was the Second Prime Minister of the India and a leader of the Indian National Congress party. Shastriji joined the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. Deeply impressed and influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, he became a loyal follower, first of Gandhi, and then of Jawaharlal Nehru. Following independence in 1947, he joined the latter's government and became one of Prime Minister Nehru's principal lieutenants, first as Railways Minister (1951–56), and then in a variety of other functions, including Home Minister. Lal Bahadur Shastri was chosen as Nehru's successor owing to his adherence to Nehruvian socialism after Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi turned down Congress President K. Kamaraj's offer of premiership.

Shastriji as Prime Minister continued Nehru's policies of non-alignment and socialism. He led the country during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965. His slogan of "Jai Jawan Jai Kisan" ("Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer") became very popular during the war and is remembered even today. The war formally ended with the Tashkent Agreement of 10 January 1966; he died of heart attack the following day, still in Tashkent. The cause of death has been a subject of conspiracy theories.

1 October : Dr. Annie Besant 's birth anniversary
Dr. Annie Besant

“Every person, every race, every nation, has its own particular keynote which it brings to the general chord of life and of humanity. Life is not a monotone but a many-stringed harmony, and to this harmony is contributed a distinctive note by each individual.” - Dr. Annie Besant

Annie Besant (b. 1 October 1847 – d. 20 September 1933) was a prominent British socialist, theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self-rule. In 1867, Annie at age 20, married Frank Besant, a clergyman, and they had two children, but Annie's increasingly anti-religious views led to a legal separation in 1873. She then became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society (NSS) and writer. She was a leading speaker for the Fabian Society and the Marxist Social Democratic Federation (SDF). She was elected to the London School Board for Tower Hamlets, topping the poll even though few women were qualified to vote at that time. In 1890 Besant met Helena Blavatsky and over the next few years her interest in theosophy grew while her interest in secular matters waned. She became a member of the Theosophical Society and a prominent lecturer on the subject. She became involved in politics in India, joining the Indian National Congress. When World War I broke out in 1914, she helped launch the Home Rule League to campaign for democracy in India and dominion status within the Empire. This led to her election as president of the India National Congress in late 1917. After the war, she continued to campaign for Indian independence and for the causes of theosophy, until her death in 1933.

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