Like our own Josť Rizal, JAYAPRAKASH NARAYAN has had the
courage to see and say that forms such as independence, nationalism or socialism in
themselves offer no adequate answers to man's most basic needs. When, through bureaucracy,
over-centralization, distortion of purpose or otherwise, they make tyranny a handmaiden,
their worth is discounted.
Instead, NARAYAN begins with the individual, his yearning for liberty and his need to
become equal to its demands. Through panchayat raj, or village-based sovereignty, he aims
to restore to the rural mass of Indians meaningful control over decisions most intimately
affecting their daily lives. The Sarvodaya, or Force of Service, Movement is his
instrument. As its President, he has mobilized some 10,000 volunteers to carry this
revolution in ideas to the countryside where they energize, and integrate with, efforts at
bhoodan, or "land gift," and local self-government.
Following in the path of his great mentor, Mohandas K. Gandhi, NARAYAN also has given
new relevance to "non-violence" as a concept for resolving conflict and
protecting the rights of minorities. In the bitter feud between Pakistan and India over
Kashmir, he was the architect of an entente that opened the way for greater sanity. Rebel
Nagas and ruling Indian authorities acceded to his persuasion in agreeing to negotiate the
issue of Naga demands for a separate state. Tibetans resisting the imposition of Chinese
Communist imperialism found in NARAYAN a champion who alerted his countrymen.
The route by which NARAYAN arrived at his present views and stature largely parallels
India's history over the half century since his birth in a tiny village in the state of
Bihar. Returning from study in the United States as a radical revolutionary and Marxist,
he was repeatedly imprisoned and several times escaped arrest during the struggle for
independence. Although the organizer of the Socialist Party and apparent heir to major
leadership in his new nation, he renounced dialectal materialism and power politics a
decade ago to devote himself to the more lonely and unrewarding task of enlightening and
guiding his countrymen on crucial problems many were reluctant to face.
By personal modesty wedded to clarity of thought and force of personality, NARAYAN has
shown that the moral strength of truth can make a difference. Some Indians regret his
refusal to become involved in the complexities of administering government, but few can
doubt his contribution in dispelling the myths of formulas that offer trite solutions.
Through NARAYAN, India's heritage of accumulated insights and methods for translating
human values into action is being given contemporary relevance at home and abroad.
In electing JAYAPRAKASH NARAYAN to receive the 1965 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public
Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes his constructive articulation of a public
conscience for modern India.