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We share two observations based on what we have seen in India. First, that the hegemonic politics in India ushered in institutional and structural inequalities in their wake and second, that the political leadership continued to be aspirational irrespective of ideologies desiring to scale up in the hierarchy of global economic and political power. These two observations pertain to the contemporary history of five decades of development in India. As a result of the above two observations, we make a further two observations that for the Aām Aādmi (the common man), the political parties that sit in the government and their respective ideologies do not matter. And for the state and the political elites, the negative consequences such as marginalisation, exclusion and desperation of the common folks that emanate from the models chosen for development do not matter. It is in such contexts, social activists argue for a legitimate space for the vying intersects of poverty, caste, class, occupations, habitats amidst such motivated globalisation. They also continue to raise difficult conversations around patriarchy, religious hierarchy, bonded labour, and the girl child. One such social activist that was concerned about all the above issues was Swami Agnivesh. He was not antigovernment, anti-democracy, anti-institutional, anti-hierarchy, anti-religious. He sought to restore a new and deeper meaning of freedom (democracy), a new meaning of hierarchy, social care, and even a new definition of spirituality that is social. He was a man who never stopped dreaming of humanising India. In this article, we reminisce about our association with Swami Agnivesh and attempt to espouse his thought based on our hearing, reading, and reflection. Briefly, we present his life, achievements, and social activism, and more importantly, we attempt to interpret his conception of social spirituality and the ‘power of love’.
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