Wednesday, April 28, 2021

My Friend Ambassador Dr. Ashok Amrohi – An Obituary

 

My Friend Ambassador Dr. Ashok Amrohi – An Obituary

Covid played havoc and snatched my friend and colleague Ambassador Ashok Amrohi, IFS of 1981 batch on April 26-27 at Medanta Hospital in Gurugram. President of Association of Indian Diplomats (AID), Ambasador  Bhaswati Mukerjee in a fulsome tribute to the departed soul in a condolence message rightly said, “Of the 1981 batch of the IFS, Ambassador Amrohi will be fondly remembered as a most helpful colleague and a very fine human being, a qualified medical doctor, he was affluent both in Arabic and French and known as a thorough professional diplomat. Warm and affectionate, he had an excellent sense of humour and a very positive approach” and yet another senior college Ambassador Banashri


Harrison Bose thoughtfully wrote that with the demise of Ambassador Amrohi we have lost “the heart and soul of 1981 batch” and   further said, “He was a thorough professional and discharged any job that the Ministry entrusted him with devotion and dedication, achieving results. As a friend, he was a true treasure, someone with whom you could share laughter as well as tears. He doubled your joys and halved your troubles.”

  The shocking news was shared with me on the morning of April 27 by Ambasador Bal Anand whose wife happened to be a distant relation of the wife of Ashok as such had first hand information. Ashok’s passing away is a personal loss to me which would be difficult to make up in the days to come. I met him and greeted each other several times in 1990-91 in South Block where I was sharing a room with his colleagues and batch mates. Later, I met him after a long time in 2009 & 2010 in Delhi during the Conferences of Heads of Mission (HOM) and came to know him rather closely particularly


during our relaxed chats and ‘Gap-Shap” over the dinners hosted by the CII and FICCI etc. Our more intimate and personal rapport got stronger on our retirement. I vividly remember Ashok was a sharing host over two sumptuous lunches, along with my worthy colleagues in the IFS fraternity, at the Central Government facilities in Chankyapuri and India International Centre. They did not allow me to pay my share since I was there on visit from Jalandhar where I settled myself after retirement. I found Ashok a lively person with extremely pleasant demeanor.

Ashok did not know that I knew his father in Amritsar, Chaudhary Prabhati Ram, from my days of student activism in Jalandhar in late 1960s. When I told him this, he was happy with a sense of belonging. Chaudhary Prabhati Ram was a staunch Ambedkarite affiliated with the Republican Party of India, a brain child of Babasaheb Ambedkar and as such I listened to him several times at the Ambedkar Bhawan in Jalandhar. I recall, if my memory supports me, that he was against the politics of Sant Fateh Singh, Akali leader in those days on the issue of Punjabi Suba.  Yesterday I spoke to Lahori Ram Balley an octogenarian leader and associate of Chaudhary Prabhati Ram to know something more about the family of Ambassador Ashok Amrohi. Balley Sahib was saddened to learn about the demise of Ashok. He informed that though he did not have much formal education, Prabhati Ram was a businessman of standing dealing with some materials (sak – shell of babul tree) required for leather tanning. Balley Sahib said that he was a staunch Ambedkarite and a ‘dabang’ politician. Prabhati Ram played an important role in having the statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar in front of the Amritsar Municipal Corporation as a Councilor.  He provided good education to his children. One of the elder brothers of Askok, Lakshman Dass was an IPS officer of Haryana cadre. Ashok himself was a qualified doctor as an MBBS but choose to join IFS with a wider vision. While referring to his father’s association with Balley Sahib, Ashok told me that he had his district attachment in 1982-83 as a trainee IFS and visited Ambedkar Bhawan to pay respects to Babasaheb Ambedkar. Ambassador Ashok Amrohi adorned coveted positions of Ambassador/High Commissioner in Algiers, Mozambique and Brunei besides Head of the CPV Division of the MEA during his long diplomatic career in the IFS. Ashok will be missed greatly.

हाथ थाम सके; पकड़ सके दामन,

बहुत करीब से उठ कर चला गया कोई। 

Jiwan Singh – An Obituary

 

Jiwan Singh – An Obituary

Jiwan Singh, a dedicated social and community activist succumbed to the deadly virus corona in the intervening night of April 20-21. I posted my heartfelt condolences on the timeline of my Facebook account which instigated many comments from cross sections of the society which further established his standing in the society. Last night, Editor in Chief of the esteemed Ambedkar Times and my friend, Prem Chumber asked me if I could do a brief Obituary piece on Jiwan Singh as a tribute to the departed soul and to recognize his

Last photo with Jiwan Singh at my residence

services to the community. I agreed as an associate of Jiwan Singh in many of his activities pertaining to the society and here is, a hurriedly written piece to catch up with the deadline of today’s, April 28 issue of the Ambedkar Times as my humble tribute to Jiwan Singh.

First we were co-residents for the last about 8 years at Silver Residency Apartments in Jalandhar. We would often meet on social and community functions. Later, as President of the Managing Committee of the resident’s society, he would often drop in for some consultation and advice on matters pertaining to the society. During the course of my social and community interaction, I found that Jiwan Singh was fully involved as a dedicated foot-soldier as a staunched Ambedkarite while working as a professional executive with Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC).  It was a matter of satisfaction for me that in the process we joined hands, me as an advisor or patron and he as a performer for many activities viz. my proposal on April 14 as


International Day of Equality, Scheduled Castes Entrepreneurs Empowerment Forum (SCEEF) among others. Jiwan Singh who used to call me as Uncle ji virtually became my ‘Sarthi’ as he will ferry me from home to the venues of functions with regard to our activities even outside Jalandhar like Delhi to meet the Mahamhim Rashtrapatiji, NSIC/SC HUb meetings in Ludhiana, community activities in Chandigarh. Jiwan Singh also drove me to Khuralgarh Sahib to meet Sant Satwinder Hira and was good enough to bring Sat Hira ji to my humble abode to discuss matters of concern and interest to the community. On my suggestion, Jiwan Singh hosted a Page on Facebook on International Day of Equality which attracted good attention. He would invariably host my blogs pertaining the community interests on his the LIC channels of information with a view to make it reach to the wider audience. Jiwan Singh was liberal and considerate as a follower of GuruMaa of a Dera in Haryana and even appended ‘Gurumurat’-always amaculately dressed in white flowing Kurta –Paijama, to  his name. Jiwan Singh always remained a handyman. Some years ago, Dr. Kshipra Uke and her husband Dr. Shankar Das, JNU scholars were in Jalandhar in connection with their proposal to start the dream project Babasaheb Ambedkar - School of Politics to train youth to learn the nitty gritty of politics and governance as an essential

ingredient of democracy. They needed some accommodation to stay. I requested Jiwan Singh and he arranged a good and cozy accommodation at the LIC guest house. Jiwan was a never-tiring personality. He was instrumental, along with his associate and friend, Prem Domeli in giving a much needed facelift to the Ambedkar Chowk in Jalandhar in cooperation with the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation. As I said, Jiwan Singh was not a fanatic or narrow-minded. The last visit of Jiwan Singh to my humble new residence at Deol Nagar, a month before his sad demise, was again an exercise to underline ‘Samrasta’ and cohesiveness in the society. He accompanied and brought some of our friends belonging to the Ram Janam Bhoomi for ‘Chanda’ – donation. We will greatly miss Jiwan Singh.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

A Testing Time for India – Self Introspection

 

A Testing Time for India – Self Introspection

India is passing through a difficult time along with the world at large on account of  Covid pandemic. With all the restraints and constraints, it was felt by the beginning of the year that by and large India had coped well in dealing with Covid 19. We are a large country with poverty and underdevelopment and resultant difficulties. Moreover, India being a democratic polity and an open society, it was difficult to deal with the situation sternly or arbitrarily as could, perhaps be done in countries like China. The lockdown was lifted and other restrictions were eased out slowly. Economy and economic activity was slowly coming to rails. schools and universities were gearing to enter the new academic sessions to make


up for the lost classes and lectures. Life was coming to normal slowly but steadily. The governments both at the centre and in the states were upbeat and thumping their chests to show case their achievements and success in controlling the deadly pandemic. The central government to gain some brownie points in diplomacy even donated/exported Covid vaccines to a few countries. But the euphoria was short lived and complacent India, both the governments and the public at large were caught unprepared and ill equipped to deal with the furry of the second wave of the pandemic. Today, we are in total mess and it appears we have lost the direction. In the blame game, governments, particularly the central government are at loss to understand what to do. People are desperate for their lives. It appears the medical system of the country has failed miserably to handle the situation. It is regrettable to say that no national action plan seems in sight. The capital city Delhi, among others, is the worst hit. It is the mockery of the system and often quoted and bragged ‘high moral values’ of our culture and tradition which the ruling outfits tend to encash to make them distinct from others. The highest judicial authority, the Supreme Court has taken a suo motu contingence of the situation, rightly so, and asked the central government to immediately take care of certain important aspects of the situation viz. supply of medical oxygen, essential medicines, method and manner of vaccination and declaration of lockdowns to check the spread of the disease. It seems the government at the centre has, of late, woken up. PM Narendra Modi addressed the nation the other day and apprised the people about the emerging desperate situation. But people were expecting more and a concrete plan which was missing. On April 23, PM has had a meeting with some of CMs to address the issues of immediate

attention and concern. It was a matter of regret that by the evening the ruling outfits and the media now a days popularly called Godi Media were busy in the blame game and taking to task CM Arvind Kejriwal for telecasting his meeting with PM Narendra  Modi rather than discussing the crux of the matter as to how do we about to meet the challenge. The challenge is really big with – 1.65 crorers infected, 1.9 lakh deaths, daily addition of 3.5 lakh infected. The redeeming aspect is the mortality rate is not very high in the second wave though even now there are more than 2200 deaths daily. About 7 crore has been vaccinated and with effect from May 1, anybody above the age of 18 will be eligible for the vaccination. We are a nation of more than 130 crore people. Vaccination itself is huge task. We are to get ready for the difficult situation which would need quick and effective responses. Are we ready? Not yet, I think.

The situation is really scary as the Hindustan Times of April 23 bannered it as “National Emergency” The government is afraid of using the word ‘Emergency”. We need to come out of this mindset and address the issue right earnestly keeping aside the narrow considerations of political gain or loss. It is a real national emergency. The central government should come up with a concrete plan to meet the situation, engage the opposition parties and other stake-holders like doctors, scientists, pharmaceutical companies, media both electronic and print, civil society and the common man at large.

It is a matter of concern and worry that our autonomous and constitutional institutions like the Election Commission, NHRC, Niti Ayjog among others have not shown and exercise due authority to respond to the situation in the interest of the country and the people. These institutions have failed and wronged the people of India and the constitution. They were found lacking in their assigned job. Just one example would suffice – Why could the Election Commission not stop public rallies and road shows in the ongoing elections even till the end in spite of public hue and cry? Canvassing could have been done through the media, newspapers, TV, Radio and other audio-video modes and also social media. But it was not to be. All players in the field flouted all norms, protocols and restrictions to arrest the spread of Corona pandemic. The central government could not see the danger as it is said ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Why the Kumbh and other spiritual gatherings could not be stopped and kept on hold? Why the political rallies and Shobha Yatras could not be abandoned? Both the governments and
public tended to take things lightly and ushered ourselves in to the “Grammar of Anarchy” as termed by non other but Ambedkar. We are to sit and think rather than finding excuses and resorting to blame games. A real danger is lurking at our nation. We should ward of these dangers of ‘placing the creed over the nation’ as warned by father of constitution and a visionary leader Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in his lat speech in the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949:

Referring to historical events such as the invasion of Sind by Mohammed-Bin-Kasim, the invasion by Mohammad Ghori to fight against Prithviraj Chauhan, as well as disunity among Indians in the fight against the British colonial rule in 1857, Ambedkar has noted that,

“…not only India has once before lost her independence, but she lost it by the infidelity and treachery of some of her own people.”  

In this context, he goes on to remark,

“Will history repeat itself? It is this thought which fills me with anxiety. This anxiety is deepened by the realization of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds.

Will Indian place the country above their creed or will they place creed above country?

I do not know. But this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost forever. This eventuality we must all resolutely guard against. We must be determined to defend our independence with the last drop of our blood.”

We are to defeat Corona Virus with a resolute united effort. If we fail to do this, there is no future and India will come to the margins which nobody likes to see and face. I recall Allma Iqbal to conclude this note:

Rulata Hai Tera Nazara Ae Hinduston! Mujh Ko
Ke Ibrat Khaiz Hai Tera Fasana Sub Fasanon Mein

(Your spectacle makes me shed tears, O India!
Your tales are admonitory among all the tales)

 

 

 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Ambedkar Jayanti, 2021– Salute to a Potent Legacy

 

Ambedkar Jayanti, 2021– Salute to a Potent Legacy

I am stationed in Jalandhar, an important town of the Doaba region of Punjab. As usual, Ambedkar Jayanti was celebrated and observed with fervor and enthusiasm to remember and pay tributes to the greatest son of India in the contemporary times in spite of Covid constraints and restrictions. Each and every locality involving the cross sections of the society, hosted events and functions to observe the day with all solemnity and reverence. It was a matter of


satisfaction to note that acceptance and recognition of Babasaheb Ambedkar was growing at a pace which surprised many particularly those who consciously or otherwise tried to undermine Ambedkar and his legacy because of traditional caste-ridden considerations and resultant mindset. The tragedy of the matter is that Ambedkar never got his due in the media, school curriculum, academia and other socio-political activities of the society willingly or voluntarily. He remained a crusader throughout his life for the causes concerning the weaker sections of the society and also women folk. Babasaheb Ambedkar fought with Mahatma Gandhi, Congress party and its leadership, Manuwad and Manuwadis single handedly as a most qualified and competent person of his times for equality and justice to the marginalized sections of the society.  Due recognition and support was hard to come by only because of his low position in the caste hierarchy. With great reluctance, he was allowed to enter the Constituent Assembly and later made Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Assembly as he had already proved himself in the early sittings of the Constituent Assembly which compelled the leadership including his opponents and critics to take him on board and he fully justified the choice by delivering one of finest constitutions in the world. Even then he could not get due space in the polity and society of India. It was unfortunate and regrettable. Babasaheb resigned in 1951 from the Cabinet of PM Jawaharlal Nehru on issues like Hindu Code bill meant to reform the society, economic policies for socio-economic development and foreign policy to ward off danger to our security and get a dignified position for India in the comity of nations among others. Against the caste ridden social order, he embraced Buddhism in October, 1956, a couple of months before his death in December, 1956. Even after his death, Ambedkar still remained a pariah both in the polity and society of the country for which he did a lot. It was the height of hypocrisy. But as Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘You can criticize Ambedkar but you cannot ignore him’, Ambedkar could not be suppressed for long. His legacy is so potent and his work and mission so relevant he came out on his own strength not only in India but in the world at large. Babu Kanshi Ram brought his political legacy to the fore beginning 1970s. PM VP Singh and the likes of Ram Vilas Paswan were instrumental in conferring the Bharat Rattan on Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in early 1980s. The statues and other memorial sites of Ambedkar became the norm not only in India but abroad too to relate to the weaker sections of the society. The visionary stipulation of ‘One Vote – One Value’ in the democratic edifice of India so aptly introduced by Ambedkar himself made all political forces to fall on each other to claim the legacy of Ambedkar
At Vidya Dham Jalandhar

. Even social organizations like RSS etc. are keen to own Ambedkar. They need to shed inherent inconsistencies in their agenda and reconcile with Ambedkar and his mission, if they really intend to make a dent in the social structures to bring about their much publicized idea of ‘Samrasta’. There is no other way. Ambedkar will remain a force to reckon with in the years to come. Ambedkar’s fragrance would spread as Allma Iqbal said in some other context:

Uthaye Kuch Waraq Lale Ne, Kuch Nargis Ne, Kuch Gul Ne
Chaman Mein Har Taraf Bikhri Huwi Hai Dastan Meri

Some leaves were picked up by the tulip, some by the narcissus, some by the rose
My story is scattered around everywhere in the garden

 

Urha Li Qumriyon Ne, Tootiyon Ne, Andleebon Ne
Chaman Walon Ne Mil Kar Loot Li Tarz-e-Faghan Meri

The turtle‐doves, parrots, and nightingales pilfered away
The garden’s denizens jointly robbed away my plaintive way

 

The month of April this year started with a befitting tribute to Ambedkar on his birth anniversary on April 14. In pursuance of our proposal to get declared April 14 as International Day of Equality under the aegis of the UN which is lying in the Ministry of External Affairs of GOI, the Province of British Columbia of Canada proclaimed to observe April 14 as “Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Day of Equality” taking the cue from the City of Burnaby of Canada which made a similar proclamation last year, 2020. In this regard, it will not be out of place to mention and appreciate the role and efforts of Chetna Association of Canada. Similarly Federation of Ambedkarite

Sardar Charanjit Singh Atwal addressing the function at UN

and Buddhist Organisations (FABO), Global Ambedkarite Convention of the UK, inter alia, are fully engaged in the proposal. Hopefully, some of entities in the UK would soon come on board and honour Dr. Ambedkar as the Province of British Columbia did. We are confident that the day is not too far when countries would take due note of it and the proposal will be firmly routed to the UN by the stake holders worldwide. We hope GOI would understand and wake up in time to get the iconic personality of India, Babasaheb Ambedkar recognized internationally to add to the ‘soft power’ of India diplomatically and rightly so.

It is a matter of satisfaction that the legacy the legacy of Ambedkar is gaining further roots and strength in the Doaba region of Punjab with every successive year. I myself attended various events and function this year in Jalandhar, 130th birth anniversary of the leader on April

At RPO Jalandhar

14 viz.  i) Chetna March on April 13 at the eve of the anniversary. In spite of the Covid restrictions and constraints, it was a spontaneous show by the followers of Babasaheb  ii) Sardhanjali function at Vidya Dham arranged by the Samrasta Chapter of the North Zone of RSS . As I said earlier that RSS needs to understand and reconcile with Ambedkar and his thought for the larger good of the society rather than selectively quoting Ambedkar to justify their position iii) Function as the ‘Service Day’ to pay tributes to Babasaheb at the Jalandhar Regional Passport office and iv) Participated in the Webinar on Dr. B.R. Ambedkar hosted by Global Ambedkarites Convention of the UK. Salute to Bbasaheb Ambedkar and his legacy which is bound to get further currency and strength in the years to come. It is my firm belief. I conclude this as my humble tributes to the greatest son of India, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Firoz Khan – a singing sensation of Punjab

 

Firoz Khan – a singing sensation of PunjabA

Off and on in my blogs, I have been writing about performing artists like singers and lyricists of Punjab, particularly belonging to dalit communities, writers -  Gurdass Ram Alam, Charan Singh Safri, Charan Dass Nidhadak, Pritam Ramdasspuri, Rattu Randhawewala, Chan Goryanawala among others and singers - Hans Raj Hans, Nooran Sisters, Ginni Mahi among others. I like good songs with moving tunes and meaningful wording. It was surprising to note that I got many mails and calls both within the country and abroad from research scholars about these matters after reading my blogs. In a few cases it turned out to be that these scholars were non-Indians. It was rather surprising pleasantly.

The other day on April 5, I bumped into a singing sensation of Punjab, Firoz Khan just by fluke. I was to meet my friend Baldev Bhardwaj, who is fully engaged with the activities of Ambedkar Bhawan in Jalandhar, at the Bhawan. On reaching there Baldev called me in and introduced me to a smart and good looking well 
dressed young man, Firoz Khan, the heart-throb of Punjabi music and song lovers. He was shooting some of his forthcoming songs on Babasaheb Ambedkar which is scheduled to be released on or before pril 14, birth anniversary of the greatest son of India, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. It was good to meet Firoz a charming personality oozing with confidence in the presence of other senior functionaries of Ambedkar Bhawan, Dr. Ram Lal Jassi, Dr. Gian Kaul and facilitator of the shooting Mohinder Sandhu of Meheru who himself is an established writer and promoter. These performing artist look good on screen and enjoy huge fan-following but seeing them shooting, at least to me, remained a boring exercise. Later, we sat together for a cup of hot masala tea after their pack up. I found Firoz a simple man

without any tantrums of a celebrity. On my query about his training and background, Firoz told me that music and vocal talent was in his genes which he got from his maternal side. Later it was fine tuned by his Guru Shaukat Ali. Firoz belonged to Phagwara, an industrial town of the Doaba region of Punjab. I enquired about his famous and acclaimed songs and albums, with great humility he answered that there were many and better it would be if I access him on YouTube for details. Back home I checked with my son, Rupesh, who knew a bit better and he told me that some years before Firoz was one of the sought after singers of Punjab. Reluctantly, on query as he was a good looking and baby faced chap, Firoz informed that he acted too in one of the films named Juggadi.com apart from giving his voice as a playback singer in a couple of Punjabi films. These days he was busy in missionary songs for the awakening of dalit communities. It was just a co-incident that he was shooting songs at Ambedkar Bhawan written by one of my fellow BootanMandians, Khuswinder Billa who was

residing in the UK. The theme of these songs was to focus on the famous dictum of Babasaheb “Educate, Organise and Agitate”. It was not surprising to listen from him that he had the honour to adorn the stages of Guru Ravidass Gurpurab at Bootan Mandi many a times like many of his worthy seniors and juniors did every successive year. Guru Ravidass Jyanti at Bootan Mandi Jalandhar is an important event on the calendar of cultural and social events of the area. One of his missionary songs written by Kashmir Thakkarwalia much acclaimed by the public was - ਲੋਕੀ ਕਹਿੰਦੇ ਜੁੱਤੀਆਂ ਗੰਢਦਾ; ਉਹ ਗੰਢਦਾ ਤਕਦੀਰਾਂ ਨੂੰ। . Firoz Khan sang that song at one of the Gurpurab's of Guru Ravidass at Bootan Mandi which was still engraved in the memory of the faithfuls.

It was good to meet Firoz Khan, a celebrity by own right. I wish him all the best in the days to come.

 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Growing International Recognition of Babasaheb Ambedkar

 

Growing International Recognition of Babasaheb Ambedkar

In the run up to the forthcoming birth anniversary of Babasaheb B.R. Ambedkar on April 14, international recognition of the greatest son of India is growing by the every passing year. It is a matter of great satisfaction to the followers of millions and millions of followers of the icon, Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, both in India and abroad and the international community at large yearning for the equitable world order. The latest in the series is a happy development – Province of British Columbia of Canada in a proclamation on April 1, 2021 has declared April 14 as “Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Day of Equality. The timely gesture of an important province of Canada has been much appreciated and rightly so. The Administration of British Columbia


Province of Canada under the stewardship of Lt. Governor Janet Austin deserves full marks and hearty congratulations on upholding the lofty ideals of “equality and fraternity” in the multi-racial and multicultural society of British Columbia and Canada. It is a matter of gratification to add that last year in April, 2020 yet another city of Burnaby of Canada took the lead in honouring the champion of equality, fraternity and liberty, Babasaheb Ambedkar. In this regard, it may not of out of place to thank and congratulate our friends in Chetna Association of Canada namely Jai Birdi, Harmesh Chander, Manjit Bains, Surjit Bains among others for their untiring efforts in promoting the idea and proposal of April 14 as International Day of Equality currently lying with the Government of India since June, 2015. It is a matter of satisfaction for me, as the Chair person of the Chetna Association’s Committee on International Day of Equality, to see the proposal being accepted in foreign lands while my own government back home in India is still sitting tight. Let it be but we have resolved to keep the ball rolling. Ambedkar is such a potent force in himself that cannot be ignored for long.

After the Burnaby Proclamation last year, I wrote and reminded EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar on April 15 followed by a reminder on September 13. I also tried to engage other stakeholders in this regard both in India and abroad. The result is the latest development in


British Columbia, yet another milestone in our journey to realize our goal – April 14 as International Day of Equality. I have written yet another letter to EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar on April 1, 2021 (Text appended below) under intimation to PM Narendra Modi and important Ministers and MPs belonging to the ruling dispensation in New Delhi namely; Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, MOS Som Parkash, MOS Ramdass Athawale, MOS Rattan Lal Kataria and MPs Hans Raj Hans, Ram Shankar Katheria, Sunita Duggal, Dushyant Gautam and also Chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes Vijay Sampla with the hope that they would stand up and pay attention to this important proposal on International Day of Equality. It goes without saying that it will add to India’s international standing as ‘Soft Power’ as International Day of Yoga and International Day of Non-violence did in the recent past besides contributing to millennium goals of the UN in establishing  a just and equitable world order. It will be much appreciated if the
Function at UN  in New York in April, 2016

government of India understands the importance of the proposal, the sooner the better. The followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar both in India and abroad are fully alive and awakened to the situation and fully determined to carry forward the mission and philosophy of their icon Babasaheb to further heights for the benefit and advantage of our beloved India and the international community at large.

Appendix

Text of the letter dated April 1, 2021 to EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar:

April 1, 2021

 

 

Respected Sir,

 

Kindly allow me to revisit the subject of April 14, birth anniversary of Babasaheb B.R. Ambedkar, as the International Day of Equality. I wrote to you on the proposal in this regard, resting with MEA since June, 2015, vide my letters dated April 15 and Setember 13, 2020 (Copies enclosed for ready reference) but till date no decision appears to be in sight. The next anniversary of the great leader will be celebrated in the coming days and I thought of reminding you and soliciting your kind attention and support to the proposal on International Day of Equality.

 

Meanwhile, I am confident, Sir, April 14 will be observed and celebrated appropriately with a befitting function at the UN in New York, as usual since April, 2016 when GOI, and rightly so, decided to observe 125th anniversary of one of the greatest sons of India, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

 

You are fully aware, Sir, if this proposal is accepted and taken up at the UN, it will not only provide a sense of recognition to the cause dear to the weaker sections of the society in India but also add to the stature of India’s international standing as did by International Day of Non-Violence and International Yoga Day.

 

Kindly look into this and take appropriate action which will be appreciated by millions and millions followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar in India and abroad and also the international community yearning for ‘Equality’.

 

With personal regards,

Yours truly,

 

(Ramesh Chander)

 

Dr. S. Jaishanker,

Minister of External Affairs,

South Block, New Delhi

 

 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Facilitating Dalit Enterprises – SCEEF

 

Facilitating Dalit Enterprises – SCEEF    

Some years ago, Dalit business enthusiasts of Punjab with the support and encouragement of RSS, launched a facilitating and advisory outfit named - Scheduled Caste Entrepreneur Empowerment Forum - SCEEF with a motive to initiate SC entrepreneurs to start their own businesses rather than hankering after jobs. The idea was to make them aware of the government plans and schemes to provide finances and necessary technical back up to help dalit business men to start their own businesses both in manufacturing and trading. It was thought that SCEEF would interact with the governmental agencies like NSIC, SC Hub, MSME, various export promotion agencies, agencies dealing with


government procurement among others and facilitate 'Start Ups' initiated by SCs. SCEEF, it was a matter of satisfaction, did some good work to begin with but soon developed some lethargy and lost direction. I am was one of the founders of SCEEF and later worked with them as Advisor/Patron. Rajesh Bagha, Former Chairman of Punjab SC Commission and BJP leader, Social Activist Jiwan Singh of LIC, RSS Activists Dr. Varinder Garg and Banbeer Singh among others were instrumental in the exercise to establish SCEEF. I am not formally affiliated either with RSS or BJP. But I try to be open minded to associate and work with anyone for the empowerment of the weaker sections of the society particularly of the dalit communities. Sometimes some of my friends suspect my motivation in this regard but I take this in stride. In the process, of late, I mentioned to Rajesh Bagha that we should energize SCEEF for the benefit of our SC brethren as it would also serve their political agenda by engaging with the SC communities. Their bosses in the BJP and RSS, I think, are not oblivious of the fact that apolitical people like me are sure to face stiff opposition and criticism in dalit communities owing to historical reasons and ground realities. But as one who believes in Samrasta and cohesiveness in the society, I volunteer to accept the challenge in the larger interests of the community and the society at large.

With this background, Rajesh Bagha and his associates arranged a meeting of SCEEF at Seva Dham in Chandigarh on March 18 and invited me to the meeting. I was reluctant to accept the invitation but Rajesh was keen to see me there and I relented. One of the participants in the meeting from Amritsar, Dr. Jatinder Kumar and his associate Sameer Pandit picked me up on the way from Jalandhar for the meeting in Chandigarh. It was a well attended meeting by about 100 participants from all over Punjab. The exercise turned out


to be a good attempt to catch up with the situation and revive the business and economic aspects of the SCEEF with the underlying current of political and social ambitions of Rajesh Bagha and others like Former Chief Parliamentary Secretary Avinash Chander, Paramjit Singh Kainth of National SCs Alliance, Rohit Sonkar of Dalit Helpline, Jai Singh Phillore , inter alia. RSS Activist and OSD to Union Minister of Health, Dr. Varinder Garg, based in Chandigarh, also participated in the meeting.

Rajesh Bagha set the ball in motion by his opening remarks underlying the need to activate the SCEEF and address the issue of Post-Matric Scholarship to SC students. Paramjit Kainth spoke about their struggle for the release of held up degrees and scholarships of SC students and asserted that SCs should stand up and fight for their due space in the administrative and governance structures. He also added that we should not shy away from RSS, if they were doing something good for the marginalized segments of the society. Avinash Chander spoke with conviction and focused on the need to attract our youth to join businesses. He fully supported SCEEFs agenda to facilitate sourcing of much needed finances from different government agencies under existing plans. He referred to Guru Ravidass Temple at Tughlakabad in Delhi and demanded BJP and RSS should see to it that a grand temple was built at the historic site to assuage the ruffled feelings of dalit communities. Social Activist Jai Singh Phillaur felt that it was utmost necessary to do our best to bring about cohesiveness in the society by economic and social integration. Dr. Varinder Garg in his brief intervention said that it was time to realize the mission of Guru Ravidass and Babasahib Ambedkar by empowering the weaker sections of the society. Some of the speakers appreciated the BJP mind to make a dalit CM of Punjab, with almost 40% dalit population, as no other party did it so far. I was asked to close the meeting by summing up the proceedings. I underlined the importance of economic wellbeing alongside the social empowerment of the community and appreciated the endeavors of SCEEF in this regard. As regards the scholarship issue, I suggested that the blame game between the governments and the colleges for timely release of money may be ended by some sort of arrangements like ESCROw account for timely payments. I also referred to the CMs position in Punjab and added that nobody could make anybody CM. It has to be earned and grabbed by own one’s own strength. We must learn from the saga of Babu Jagjivan Ram. There would, always, be many Charan Singhs sitting in the wings to disturb the applecart. Referring to the role and importance of RSS as one of the biggest organizations of the world in bringing about Samrastain the society, I urged the bosses in the RSS to ensure that much needed visibility in their actions and involvement with the matters of empowerment of dalits was introduced to engage with the community to address their fears, doubts and concerns and particularly mentioned the two issues on which positive action would send a right message as a ‘symbolic value – i) Guru Ravidass Temple at Tughlakabad in Delhi which was earlier referred to by Avinash Chander and ii) the proposal on April 14, birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, to be declared as International Day of Equality which is resting with the Ministry of External Affairs of India since June, 2015. Concluding the remarks, I added that the catchword for success of dalit communities rested with the dictum: United we stand and Divided we fall

तू पहले बात फिर बात का अंदाज़ पैदा कर ;

फिर दुनिया में तुझे  कोई नज़र अंदाज़ कर नहीं सकता !