An Open Letter of an AAM AADMI – Bye - Bye 2016
December 26, 2016
Dear Friends, Brothers and Sisters,
This is the last letter of the series of An Open Letter of an AAM AADMI of the year 2016. Ever since I joined public life as an Aam Aadmi in February, 2016, I have been writing about my experienceand impressions in my blog. There have been mixed reactions, sometimes encouraging and sometimes little disappointing. I think that is part of life. Nevertheless, I continued not as a prolific writer but as a novice – an Aam Aadmi. From May to October, I have been submitting my weekly reports to the AAP leadership on my activities, assessments and observations with regard to my involvement with the AAP. In this period, I also held about 100 house meetings in the Jalandhar West constituency to establish public connect and spread the message of AAP besides participating in all the party activities in and around Jalandhar. With a view to contribute something concrete to the Punjab Dialogue of AAP to prepare the AAP Election Manifesto, I prepared a 10 page long Non-Paper on the issues of interest and concern to SCs of Punjab and submitted it to the leadership for the SC manifesto. I may be the only volunteer who communicated with the party bosses in writing on regular basis. But now I feel that may be this kind of activity has no place in Indian politics and again proved to be a misfit.
With all this, I was under the wrong notion that my party would consider and recognize my contribution and effort to join the political mechanism to serve the people, particularly of the weaker sections of the society. But that was not to be. I learnt a bitter lesson of politics which people told me that it was a dirty game. Nevertheless, I decided to continue as a humble volunteer of the party and do my best in at least informing the party, to my mind, what is right and what should be done not as any criticism but as a positive input to help the party. Towards the end of November, 2016, with the knowledge of the party bosses, I started a weekly formulation as – An Open Letter of an Aam Aadmi and the current one is the fifth in the series. Since my focus is on the dalits of Punjab, I will be happy if dalit brethren especially the educated lot read and respond to fine tune our responses to meet the challenges of the future. I am sorry to observe that the dalit leadership and volunteers of my own party i.e. AAP are blissfully silent and non-responsive. What should I say of others? But I am not yet tired:
हर दर्दमंद दिल को रोना मेरा रुला दे;
बेहोश जो पड़ें हैं शायद उने जगा दे !
On my retirement in December, 2010, going against the gut feeling of my wife, Vidya, my conscious keeper, I decided to come back to my roots in Jalandhar and do something concrete to serve my community in my humble way. I invested and started an academy – Jalandhar School of Careers and Opportunities in April, 2012 as my second inning as a post retirement engagement. After running the academy, with somewhat not encouraging response, for about three years, I had to close it towards the end of 2015. Perhaps, I could not market the idea and the project. I continue engaging myself in educational pursuits pertaining to the community in and around Jalandhar to keep myself mobile and busy. I serve on the Board of Governors of Sant Baba Bhag Singh University near Adampur in Jalandhar.
I tend to be a keen observer and a student of contemporary history and current affairs. During the year, I was invited by various social and cultural organizations as the guest speaker in their functions. I also spoke at an international seminar on Mahatma Gandhi at DAV College at Dasuya and also gave the valedictory remarks at Prof. Manohar Lal Sondhi Memorial Lecture at DAV College Jalandhar, my Alma matter in February, 2016. My senior colleague, Ambassador Sharat Sabharwal, Central Information Commissioner, delivered the lecture on the topical subject - India-Pakistan Relations. In a small and humble manner, Pritam Sodhi Vidya Trust, a family outfit we established a couple of years before, donated a computer to a community school in Ram Nagar in Jalandhar, another computer to Budh Vihar in Sidharath Nagar in Jalandhar and class room furniture to a government school in Wadala village in Jalandhar during the year. To keep myself engaged in the community and social milieu, I participated many a times in various programmes on Jalandhar Doordarshan (DD) which helped me to reach out to wider audiences. My hobby of blogging was slowed down on account of my increased engagement with the AAP but I have picked up the threads and have started writing again regularly. It is a matter of satisfaction for me.
I generally don’t succumb to New Year resolutions but I have a couple of things in my mind which I would like to undertake and follow in the coming year, 2017:
Ø I will continue my engagement with the AAP as an ordinary volunteer and a self appointed critic with an open mind and conduct. I know critics are not liked and welcomed even by those parties which claim to be democratic and transparent. But let it be.
Ø I will keep up my association and involvement with the education sector for the benefit of weaker sections of the society. I will try and find ways to strengthen Pritam Sodhi Vidya Trust for the purpose.
Ø I will try and do my best to gather all round support for my proposal to approach the UN to declare April 14, the birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, as the International Day of Equality.
With this, I take this opportunity to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR.
“One can only hope that the new generations of educated Dalits in Punjab are able to liberate themselves from the patronizing accommodation that is tantalizingly thrown at them by the upper-caste leadership of mainstream political parties. They must work to resolve their inner cleavages and create the foundations for a genuine egalitarian politics in Punjab. The land of the Gurus demands nothing less than this.”
Prof. Pritam Singh, Professor of Economics at Oxford University, UK in an article “Punjab’s Dalits and Politics of Patronage” appeared in the Tribune of December 16, 2016