Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ambedkar’s Parinirvan Diwas – December 6

On December 6, I wrote about the relevance of Ambedkar in the India of today. It was further amplified by the speakers on the tributes giving function on December 6 by the Ambedkar Bhawan Trust at the Ambedkar Bhawan itself. It was a successful function but I am sorry to say that I expected more in the audience. The fault does not pertain to the organizers but the fragmented society at large. Ambedkar Bhawan, I recall vividly, was started sometime in early sixties by the followers of Ambedkar under the flag and banner of the then Republican Party. Ambedkar was still not accepted as a leader of standing, as he clearly deserved, by the Congress Party and the likes of the Jan Sangh/BJP and others. It was a flawed thinking. It is satisfying to note that by now and by his own right Dr. B.R. Ambedkar got must needed and well-earned recognition in the later years. Dr. Ambedkar was a great son of India. It will be only befitting if his mission and thought becomes regular curricula in the schools and universities. It will not only strengthen the democratic edifice of the country but also will help greatly in creating a just social order. Ambedkar Bhawan at Nakodar Road is a center of community activities. I only wish that it comes as a magnificent place befitting to the memory of Dr. Ambedkar. Nevertheless Ambedkar Bhawan Trust under the stewardship of Lahori Ram Balley, Gian Singh Bal, Ramesh Chand Paul and others and also its current President RPS Pawar are doing well and they deserve appreciation for good work done.

Coming to the function, Member of Parliament Mohinder Singh Kaypee was the Chief Guest. President of the Ambedkar Bhawan Trust RPS Pawar welcoming the guests made very valid points that it was only because of the struggle of Dr. Ambedkar that we (the empowered members of the society holding official positions) could reach, where we were, in caste ridden and unequal social set up. He also referred to the vast majority of the Dalit and backward communities in the State of Punjab and said that unfortunately they were not united and as such could not get both in politics and otherwise as it shall be. Pawar cajoled the political leaders of the society to think and fight for the due space and place for them in the establishment. It was a delight to listen to Lahori Ram Balley. I was happy to see that, in spite his ripe age of around 80 plus, the spirit and delivery was just excellent and convincing. His tributes to Ambedkar were first hand as he had the good fortune to work with Dr. Ambedkar. He told me during my interaction with him that he resigned from a lucrative job on December 6, 1956, the day Ambedkar died and joined the mission whole heartily. RC Paul and Dr. Ram Lal Jassi also spoke at the function. Chief Guest Mohinder Singh Kaypee spoke, to my mind without conviction and involvement, if I may say so. He announced a grant of Rupees two lakh for the Ambedkar Bhawan Trust from the MP’s Fund. It was good of him. During my tete-e-tete with him over the lunch after the function I told the young MP Kaypee that he should come out of the shell and strive for higher responsibilities in the Punjab politics including the position of the CM. He was, as expected, non-committal. On the other hand, frankly nobody would make anybody the CM. One has to fight and earn that position. It is the hard ground reality. The community at large shall get united and bring about the change. Dr. Ambedkar had done his part by giving us the right to vote. Now it is up to us to prove ourselves.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Relevance of Ambedkar in the India of Today

Since independence in 1947 and becoming a constitutional democracy in 1950, India has come a long way in its development and progress. Today, India is the largest democracy of the world. India is one of the fastest growing economies of the world it could become possible only because of the constitutional arrangements made by our fore fathers spearheaded by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, father of the Indian constitution and initiator of socio-economic-moral reform and up-turn in the society at large. . India has arrived but it is yet to reach.

Today is the Mahaparinirvana Diwas ( death anniversary ) of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Let us have a fresh look at the relevance of Dr. Ambedkar in the changing scenario on this day. I think Ambedkar is as relevant today as it was before. In fact, the internal progress and development and also due recognition in the international and regional matters and fora could be achieved and attained because of the political stability ushered through the constitutional arrangements made by the visionaries like Dr. Ambedkar. The constitutional mechanism is on track and India is on rails. It is tribute to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and his thought aptly explained by him when he said “My social philosophy may be said to be enshrined in three words: liberty, equality and fraternity. My philosophy has roots in religion and not in political science. I have derived them from the teachings of my master, the Buddha."

The relevance of Ambedkar will remain – democratic system is working, institutions are getting strength, caste system is getting negated though slowly, dalits are increasingly getting their say and rightly so, social integration is coming around. All these positive traits in Indian system and establishment have come about due to sound edifice given by Dr. Ambedkar. The 2G scam and some wrong doing by the system are being pin pointed and checked by the CAG and other watchdog agencies. Dr. Ambedkar speaking in the Constituent Assembly highly placed the office of the CAG. The judiciary is active proactive. The executive is afraid of the parliament. The system of checks and balance is working. India has started asserting itself, as visualized by Dr. Ambedkar long before the relations with China and Pakistan went sore after our independence. Dr. Ambedkar’s thinking on our China policy was to assert on the issue of Tibet and sit and negotiate with Pakistan on the basis of ground realities on the border. These important aspects of our foreign policy have to given a fresh look. It is satisfying to note that the elections are being held regularly though not yet fully free from faults.

But all said and done, there are some dangers lurking around. One is to resort to extra constitutional methods to terrorize the duly elected government of the day. The Anna Hazares of India shall think it over and ward of the system of the “Grammar of Anarchy” as explained by Dr. Ambedkar to save the democratic system. The elected representatives shall also think and consider Dr. Ambedkar’s advice in this regard that ‘“Despotism does not cease to be despotism because it is elective”. Second the growing muscle and money power in the elections. We should try to eliminate and negate these ugly influences on our polity. It will be a good tribute to the memory of the greatest democratic Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Thirdly the hero worship in democratic politics is the undoing of the system. Dr. Ambedkar warned ‘Do not lay liberties at the feet of a great man; in politics, bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation. Make political democracy a social democracy; resolve the contradictions, else they will undermine, or blow up, democracy itself.’

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Dev Anand, Devsaab to millions, is no more. Devsaab was an ever green hero of the Indian cinema. I am not a cinema buff. Even if I see a film in parts, I tend to forget quickly. In my college days in mid 60s, I distinctly remember seeing ‘Jewel Thief’ in one of newly opened theater ‘Cine Palace” in Jalandhar and later ‘Guide’ somewhere in Delhi. But I don’t remember much except some song sequences. Nevertheless, I do know that Devsaab a living legend in his life time. He was most handsome hero of the Bollywood.

It was my good fortune to meet Devsaab in Scotland in 2008 when I was the Consul General of India there. He was famous in Scotland due to the fact that one of his movies ‘ Mein Solah Bars Ki ‘ was shot at Edinburgh and some other places in the Highlands. Devsaab’s fans invited him to Inverness, a beautiful city in the Highlands, famous for Scotch whisky for the release of his Memoirs – Romancing with Life – and Indian films festival. I was the chief Guest at the inaugural function of the Indian Films Festival and the release of the autobiography of Devsaab. It was a rare honour to meet and join Devsaab at this function. I found Devsaab, at the ripe age of 86 at that time, vivacious, dynamic and fully energetic. His charming smile was really infectious. He was a hero but had the quality to make friends instantly. At the informal drinks after the function, Devsaab autographed the book for the benefit of its purchasers. My son Naresh in Stockholm had requested me to get a copy of the Memoirs of Devsaab for him. I told Devsaab of Naresh’s wish. Devsaab autographed and gave me a copy of the book for Naresh with ‘Good Wishes’ which I still find in bookshelf at Naresh’s home.

The next day, President of the Highlands Indian Association Dr. T Reddy and his gracious wife hosted me and Devssab and his son Sunil Anand for an informal lunch at their residence. It was cold but sunny. Devsaab was in his elements. He was a big hit with the guests with his unassuming manners and personality. On knowing that I am a Punjabi from Jalandhar, Devssab occasionally spoke to me in Punjabi too. Devsaab told me that he enjoyed simple Punjabi food and relished Dahi-Pakori (Devsaab’s own expression) which we call Bundi Raita these days.

I would cherish memories of my meeting and interacting with Dev Anand in the years to come. India has lost a great and worthy son.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Shiv Jyoti Public School is a premier educational institution in the city of Jalandhar. On introduction by my alma mater Dr. K.C. Mahendru, Former Principal of DAV College Jalandhar, Shiv Jyoti Public School invited and hosted me as the Chief Guest at the Annual Day function of the School on November 26, 2011. It was indeed an honour for me after a long service as a faceless diplomat. It was a new but rewarding experience for me to interact with educationalists and intellectuals back home where I belong.

Shiv Jyoti Public School is run by Pandit Drit Ram Charitable Trust named after a visionary and missionary in the field of quality education in the region. The School was stated in 1988 with 40 students and hosts more than 2500 students by now. It has a parent School by the name of Shiv Devi School for Girls which is of more than 50 years standing. I was informed that Pandit Drit Ram was a champion of education for girls and was staunch nationalist and Arya Samaji. It was a rare honour for me to unveil the bust of Pandit Drit Ram on the campus of the School. It was gratifying to know that Shiv Jyoti Public school not only aims to achieve educational excellence but also all round development of children with an added imputes to moral and social education. I was happy to hand over merit certificates and awards to the brilliant and dedicated students of the School. The cultural inputs to the Function done by the music faculty and students of the School were just superb from Vandna to Katak and Yoga.

It was satisfying to note that Shiv Jyoti Public School has a policy to help the poor and under privileged students with a view to impart affordable education to the needy. I could even notice that one of the blocks in the School has been named after the great Guru Ravidas. It is in line with the mission and philosophy of its founding father Pandit Drit Ram. Dr. D.D. Jyoti and his wife Smt. Krishna Jyoti are the guiding force of the Pandit Drit Ram Charitable Trust and the Schools. Principal Vibha Sharda of the School is an eminent educationist and manager. The Annual Day function of the School was very well organized under her able stewardship. She was totally involved with great spirit but with noticeable humility. Shri Varinder Sabharwal, General Secretary of the Managing Committee of the School is yet another great personality behind the success and prosperity of the institution with a vast legal and administrative experience. I was happy to meet them all at one go at the function. WE need more such schools.

I take this opportunity to wish the Shiv Jyoti Public School further success and progress in the years to come.

Friday, November 25, 2011

POLITICS is not a LAUGHING matter - 5

Manpreet Singh Badal on Punjab politics

“People are fed up with Amrinder – Sukhbir brand of politics where the only agenda is “TU TU MAIN MAIN. “

Manpreet Badal has certainly brought some fresh air to the polluted political atmosphere of Punjab.

Aam Adami on politics

Siyast ki apni alag zuban hai. Jo likha ho ‘IKRAAR ‘to ‘INKAAR ‘padna (Politics has its unique language for yes read no).

Aam adami should tell the politicians through the ballot paper to mind their language.

The Language of Shoes and Slaps

It is unfortunate that Aam Adami has started resorting to the language of shoes and slaps to encounter the politicians. The latest victim is Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. In the recent past, Home Minister P Chidambaram, BJP leader L.K. Advani, Anna Team Leaders Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal had tasted the flavor of such rash behavior. But the reaction of Anna Hazare to the slap on Sharad Pawar as “Ek hi Mara Kiya (was he slapped only once “is rather too much.

Are we heading for the “GRAMMAR OF ANARCHY “as warned by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar?


Where the mind is without fear
And the head is held high,
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken
Up into fragments by narrow domestic
Where words come out from the
Depth of truth;
Where tireless striving
Stretches its arms towards
Where the clear stream of reason
Has not lost its way into the
Dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward
By thee into ever-widening
Thought and action–
Into that heaven of freedom,
My Father,
Let my country awake.
(Robindernath Tagore)

Monday, November 21, 2011

POLITICS is not a LAUGHING matter – 4

1. Congress leader Digvijay Singh on Anna Hazare Team Member Arvind Kejriwal

ना खाता ना बही; जो केजरीवाल कहे वोही सही !

It is sad commentary on some of the NGO’s run by the so called social activists.

2. L.K. Advani on PM Manmohan Singh and his Government

“केंद्रिया सरकार में एक भी समझदार व्यक्ति नहीं है” ( the central government does not have a single wise man )

“The PM calls himself an economist but he has no answer for the inflation.”

One can stoop that low in politics

3. BSP slogan

जो बहुजन की बात करेगा; वोही दिल्ली पे राज करेगा


Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies." —Groucho Marx

Sunday, November 20, 2011


By the end of next month, it will be one year since my retirement from Indian Foreign Service. In the process of settling down, we readied our flat at the IFS Apartments at Gurgaon and also purchased and furnished a small flat at the Silver Residency Apartments ( near TV Tower ) in Jalandhar, my home town. We keep shuttling between Gurgaon and Jalandhar. Of late, I have decided to spend more time in Jalandhar as I find that it offers me more opportunities to engage myself in some positive activity.

I have appeared four times on the Jalandhar Doordarshan in its various programmes. It was satisfying. I could revive some of my old contacts. It has resulted in more exposure. One such contact is of Dr. K.C. Mahendru, Former Principal of the DAV College Jalandhar. I remained his student of Political Science at the same college. Now he runs a middle school - MLD Dayanand Public School with his wife Smt. Prem Kanta Mahendru, as their post retirement activity. They were kind enough to invite and host me as the Chief Guest at the Annual Day function of the School yesterday November 19. It was an honour for me as I take Dr. Mahendru, my Alma mater, in high esteem. I thought it will a good opportunity to pay my debt of gratitude to him and I accepted the invitation with pleasure. It was a new experience for me. I could interact with the children and see the visionary Mahendru couple at work. I found them totally involved. Their contribution to the cause of education is big and great. I wish them good health and further success. I did not have the requisite skill and experience to speak to small children. In my brief speech, I stressed the need of cleanliness to be inculcated among the children. It goes without saying that India is one of the dirtiest and filthy countries. We must act and rectify the position in this regard. I also spoke about the relevance of Dr. Mohd. Iqbals prayer : MERE ALLAH BURAI SE BACHANA MUJKO; NEK JO RAH HO US PE CHALANA MUJKO ( Oh Allah protect from the evil ways; Show me the path leading to the good).

Next week, I am invited by yet another famous school, Shiv Jyoti Public School, to be the Chief Guest at its Annual Day function. Hope that it will be a good exposure and give me an opportunity to speak to grown up children also as the School caters for senior higher secondary level.


This is with regard to the match fixing allegations of Vinod Kambli in the World Cup 1996 currently in the news. I have nothing to say as regards the allegations and the resulted reactions, as reported in the media, except the one made by the then Captain of the Indian team Mohd. Azharuddin. Azaruddin said " I THINK KAMLI IS JUST TALKING RUBBISH....HE HAS SHOWED HIS CLASS."

I don't have much knowledge of the game. But as a layman I know Kambli played first class cricket in his days. He is an expert and a well recognised commentator on the game. Azaruddin is also an acclaimed player and remained captain of the Indian team for many years. But his image got tarnished and he remained suspended from the game on account of allegations of wrong doings and match fixing etc. Now my question to Azharuddin is - What class ( of Kambli ) is he talking about ? We all know his class as far as the game is concerned. I presume ( I only wish that I am not correct) that Azharuddin is talking of Kabli's social status in the caste ridden Indian society. I understand Vinod Kambli is a dalit. If it is so, Azharuddin has hit below the belt. Rather than doing this he should answer the allegations. Azharuddin does not, if I may add, deserve to hold any public position like the Member of Parliament with this vicious and casteist mindset. He should be condemned by all right thinking people in the society at large.

Friday, November 11, 2011

POLITICS is not a LAUGHING matter – 3

Recent petrol price hike and reaction of the TMC of Mamta Bannerji

“ Na Mamta ko kuch mila na janta ko kuch mila ( Both Mamta and Janta could not get anything)”

Election slogans:

BSP said -

चढ़ गुंडों की छाती पर, मोहर लगेगी हाथी पर !

The other side retorted after the BSP win –

गूंड़े चढ़ गए हाथी पर, गोली मारें छाती पर !


"Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke." —Will Rogers

Thursday, November 10, 2011

POLITICS is not a LAUGHING matter – 2

Rahul Gandhi’s nicknames:

Asaram Bapu calls him Babloo. Sharad Yadav calls him Babua. V.S. Achuthanandan calls him Amul Baby. Which do you prefer ?

( India Today, December 24 issue)

The Hard Fact of Indian Politics

विकास पर न बात पर, मोहर लगेगी जात पर !

Tail Piece

The political candidates are planning their strategy for the next campaign. Right now they must honestly decide on which issues they’re going to be dishonest.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

POLITICS is not a LAUGHING matter

With the state assembly elections in many states coming closer, the election fever is catching up. The political dust is in the air. I am in Jalandhar these days. I would pick up some amusing utterances by the politicians in the run up to elections. It may make you laugh but politics is not a laughing matter.

It is a season for Yatras – the road is full of Yatras of L.K. Advani, Swami Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Amrinder Singh of Congress, Manpreet Badal of Punjab Peoples Party and so on. You may like to taste the flavor of these Yatra.

“One is budda chor (old thief) and the other is a jawan chor (young thief) “Punjab Congress leader Amrinder Singh on Senior and Junior Badals (CM and Dy. CM of Punjab)

“Badalan ne sirf Punjab nu lootya te kuteya hai (Badals have only looted the state and thrashed the people) “Punjab Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal on Badals

“Earlier dhadis used to sing praises of our gurus from the Akali bikni clad dancers perform and Sukhbir (Punjab Dy. CM) sings ‘ tu meri chamach challo “ Punjab Congress leader Jagmeet Brar

Sukhbir Badal retorted back and ridiculing the Punjab Bachao Yatra said “ It is more of a helicopter yatra with Captain ( Amrinder Singh ) conveniently avoiding the heat and dust of villages “

More to follow….

Tail Piece

Political Rally: Where a person gets up to speak, has nothing to say, nobody listens, then everyone disagrees

Monday, November 7, 2011


Punjab is getting ready for the next assembly elections to be held early next year 2012. The spiritual deras of various sects and denominations have been playing an active role in Punjab politics even before independence in 1947. The Akali politics, obliviously, under the leadership of Master Tara Singh and Sant Fateh Singh and subsequent leadership remained attached and affiliated to the SGPC and various gurudwaras and deras. The Jan Sangh and later BJP associated themselves to the Arya Samaj and other Hindu outfits. The Congress, though claimed to be a secular party, also did not lag behind. It is a known fact that Giani Zail Singh promoted and supported Sant Bhindrawale and his dera in the beginning against the Akalis. The present Congress leadership tended to encourage and make use of the Sacha Souda Dera of Baba Ram Rahim Singh. The Dera Beas of Radha Swami has been playing a discrete but subtle role, I understand. It will remain so in the coming years as these deras have a considerable clout in the rural areas and have a definite following which would affect the election outcome this way or that way. The dalit deras, though not very well organized and strong as yet, are no exception and rightly so.

The Ad-dharm Movement of Babu Mangu Ram to which Master Gurbanta Singh ( Minister and Congress leader ) was associated have had its base at the Dharm Mandal ( Guru Ravidass Gurudwara at Kishanpura Jalandhar) – the epic centre of dalit politics in the start. Later these activities got shifted to Dera Chak Hakim near Phagwara. After independence, some of the dalit Sants and Babas got attracted to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and such got some affiliation to the Scheduled Caste Federation and Republican Party. I recall that Swami Laljidass of Bootan Mandi joined a hunger strike led by the Republican Party for some common community issue in 60s.Punjab has more than 30% dalit population. Most of the dalit population in Majha and Malwa follow the Sikh religion as Majhabi or Ravidassia Sikhs. The dalits of Doaba are mostly Ravidasia Chamars, Ad-dharmis Balmikis, and Kabirpanthis etc. and follow Guru Ravidass, Bhagwan Balmiki and Sant Kabir.
The dalits of Doaba led by the Chamars have been financially well off comparatively as they were engaged in the leather business not only in Jalandhar but also in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Kanpur. The economic migration to the UK in the 60s and 70s further empowered the dalits of Doaba. It continued with migration to the Gulf countries and later to the USA and other European countries like Germany, Italy, Greece, Austria and others. Some of the dalit families acquired landed properties in the villages and the cities. Obviously, it has an impact on their social and economic standing in the society. The dalit younger generation could get better access to higher education. The efforts of Babu Kanshi from made the dalits become aware of their political potential. They started asserting themselves by making and renovating their Gurudwaras and Mandirs as the venue for their assembly and social intermingling. The dalit deras in the process got moral and financial boost. It also contributed to the further empowerment of the dalits.

The Sants and Babas of these deras led by the Dera Sachkhand Ballan of Sant Sarwan Dass started visiting the UK and later other countries. The enlightened and empowered dalit NRI followers supported them. Sant Ramanand of the Dera became a household name in the dalit community. The trend got strength. Others like Sant Nirmal Dass of Babe Joure of Raipur Rasulpur and Sant Gurdip Giri followed suit and started visiting the foreign countries and raised the requisite funds to spread and strengthen their activities. It was a good show. Sant Garib Dass of Dera Ballan and his junior Sant Ramanand took the lead to build the Guru Ravidass Dharamasthan at Sire Goverdhanpur in Varanasi, the birth place of the great Guru. The political intervention and involvement became necessary to meet the upper caste opposition in the region in UP. Babu Kanshi Ram and UP Chief Minister Mayawati extended the helping hand and rightly so. In the process and in due course, the dalit deras could get the desired clout. These deras not only became the centre of religious solace to the community but also the venue of social and political thinking of the community. The political parties and the politicians of all shades started wooing them from Master Gurbanta Singh and Chaudhary Jagjit Singh to Darshan Singh Kaypee and Mohinder Singh Kaypee of the Congress, Babu Kanshi Ram and Maywati of the BSP and Badals of the Akalis and also the high priests of the SGPC.

The assassination of Sant Ramanand of Dera Ballan in Vienna (Austria) in May, 2009 by the fanatics gave a turn to the events. The dalit anguish came to the road in the aftermath of the death of Sant Ramanand. The events also showed the strength and resolve of the community. The say of the Deras became loud and clear. Without going to details of the Ravidassia Dhram and Amritbani being professed by the Dera Ballan, I would confine to the political aspect of the events and role of the dalit deras in the political landscape of Punjab. The deras have to stay as the dalit community is strong and it is bound to ask for their share in the pie. In the run up to the forthcoming assembly elections in Punjab, the events have started unfolding. It has been reported in the media that the Akali leadership has already established their contacts with the Dera Babe Joure and Sant Nirmal Dass. Baba Rammed, Yoga Guru, visited them the other day. The Head of Radha Swami dera Beas visited the Dera Babe Joure earlier. It seems the Akalis would be interested in availing themselves of the clout of Sant Nirmal Dass. The other political outfits might go to the other Deras with their political aspirations. It is natural as far as the political agenda of the various parties is concerned. But the point to ponder upon for the dalit community with 30% vote share is that their unity is not shattered and broken. The dera leaders shall it take as ‘food for thought’. The caution is: United we stand : Divided we fall.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


It was Diwali on October 26 - belated greetings on the happy occasion. It was our first Diwali back home in India after my retirement from the Indian Foreign Service in December 2010. We celebrated our last Diwali in November 2010 in Stockholm (Sweden) with our son Naresh and his family. I wrote about it in my blog. We are in Jalandhar at our home town and as such we have had the good opportunity to be with my brothers and sisters and the extended family. My daughter Vaishali with her two daughters Komal and Tania and also my daughter in law Sulekha with her lovely little daughter Suhani were also with us till the morning of October 25. It was nice.

As a matter of personal attitude, I am not in favour of spirited celebrations partly on account of finances and partly due to the fact that I don't believe in too many rituals. But I am all for celebrations which bring in peace and harmony and give solace to the mind and soul. Diwali, to my mind, is one such occasion in India in which the entire society gets engaged. It is a joyous festival for all. Though, over the years, I have noticed that it has increasing become more ostentatious and costly. The spiritual and cultural sanctity is fast vanishing. It is a pity.

As regards my personal involvement in the Diwali celebrations, it started on October 24 the Silver Residency Apartments where we currently reside in a small flat. The whole building was illuminated by the Management under Vijay Khanna and the Resident Representatives. It was a dinner and dance programme intervaled with fireworks. Children enjoyed themselves on the dance floor on the latest hit numbers by the DJ. Some ladies took the lead and joined the floor. Men folk were reluctant to join. My grand daughter Suhani was excited and felt happy. Unfortunately, the Indian society still maintains double standards. The so called modernity is only skin deep. Generally men and women and particularly with their select partners do not tend to come to the floor for dance. I felt like dancing but could not do so as I don't enjoy dancing without a partner. The atmosphere was not congenial for that. Nevertheless, we were happy and relished over the Tikkies and Golguppas. Everybody enjoyed the crackers and firework. The dinner was simple but good and homely. Anil Chopra with his mother and wife, the builders and promoters of the Residency, also joined the crowd briefly and shared greetings. It was good of them.

On October 25 & 26, I with my wife Vidya visited our sisters Jamuna and Lakshmi and also brothers Kishan and Paramjit to exchange greetings. It was good to pick up the threads again after a long absence from the scene. I recall that some years before the so called leaders of the dalit and poor communities decided not to celebrate Diwali and discouraged the community to do so as Diwali have connotations of Brahamanical superiority etc. I have no intention to invite any controversy in this regard. As said earlier that, the poor and have-nots already have a limited scope to rejoice. Why to deny an occasion which can bring some cheer into their daily routine. In the evening, we joined Kishan and his family at our ancestral house in Bootan Mandi for firework and dinner. I appreciated well Kishan's gesture to invite and give crackers and anars, fulljaries, atish-rockets to the children of the next door neighbours, our cousins. Kishan's two upcoming and bright sons Mahesh and Brejesh joined them. It was a good family celebration to mark the occasion - Diwali. I was reminded of a poetic rendering of Harivansh Rai Bachchan depicting the reality of life:

एक बरस में एक बार ही जलती होली की जवाला;
एक बरस में एक बार ही जलती दीपों की माला;
किन्तु किसी दिन मदिरायाला में आकर देखो;
दिन में होली रत दिवाली रोज़ मानती मधुशाला !

Friday, October 14, 2011


Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal ( National Dalit Inspiration Complex) built by the Government of UP at the Delhi – UP border on the banks of the Jamuna river in the district Gautam Buddha Nagar (NOIDA) is being dedicated to the people today the October 14 (the day Dr. Ambedkar embraced Buddhism in 1956), 2011 by Kumari Mayawati, Chief Minister of UP. It has been reported that the Sthal will be an important landmark in the National Capital Region of Delhi, built at a considerable cost of Rs.700 crores, not only for the empowerment of the dalits but also serve as a green space from the ecological needs of the area which is otherwise polluted.

The Rashtriya Dalit Prerna sthal is located on the eastern bank of the river Jamuna. It is only befitting to have a deserving memorial and monument for the dalit leadership at this venue as they could not get any slot (except Samta Sthal dedicated to Babu Jagjivan Ram) on the other side at the west bank of the river where all other important memorials of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Charan Singh and others have been hosted by the Government of India. Kumari Mayawati has done a good job in this regard. There is some ill-conceived criticism of the money spent by the UP Government on the Sthal. But the criticism is biased. It is time to understand the underlying current in the society at large. The oppressed and depressed must find their space and voice in the democratic India. The sooner the better.

Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal at the gateway of NOIDA, an important and upcoming hub of economic and educational establishments just at the door steps of the capital of India, Delhi would tend to send a strong positive signal not only to the younger generations of India about the role and place of dalits in the society but also serve as a touristic spot for the national and international tourists. The expenditure on building such an important attraction may be justified, keeping the benefits of dalit chetna and inspiration on one side and ecological and touristic on the other. It would serve as one big step towards the much needed social transformation.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Today ( October 9 ) is the 5th Parinirvan Diwas (death anniversary of Babu Kanshi Ram ( March 1937 - October 2006 ). Babu Kanshi Ram was the champion of the rights and empowerment of the dalits as the true disciple of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. He could accomplish the agenda of his torch bearers like Joytiba Phule, Sahu Maharaj, Dr. Ambedkar, up to some extent, to bring about socio-economic change in the society. Babu Kanshi Ram was of the view that due share to the dalits in the political power alone could change their plight. He was the harbinger of change as against the supporters of status quo and said ' To my mind, all the political parties represent the forces of status quo. For us, politics is the politics of transformation.'

Babu Kanshi Ram belonged to poor and ordinary family of Ropar in Punjab. He was a scientist by education and profession to earn his bread and butter in the formative years of his life. Later he came under the influence of the mission and philosophy of Dr. Ambedkar and started dabbling in politics and became a political tactician and visionary in the political landscape of India. He was an ordinary man but an organiser par excellence. He sacrificed the comforts of life. Babu Kanshi Ram did not marry. He did not visit his family back home. He did not create any property for himself. He did not save any money in his accounts.. Though, I understand, he did not like Mahatmas, yet he was a real Mahatma in the murky politics of India. His only lofty mission and struggle was to create a due and rightful space for the dalits and have-nots of India through political empowerment. Babu Kanshi Ram started from the platform of the Republican Party started by Dr. Ambedkar. But soon got frustrated and started to something on his own through the process of evolution. He formed on December 6, 1978, BAMCEF, an outfit of mainly the schedule caste and other backwards and minority community employees as he believed in pan-India Bahujan Samaj. The ideas of Babu Kanshi Ram became concrete and meaningful in due course. The BAMCEF gave way to Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti ( DS4 ). With this Babu Kanshi Ram arrived on the political scene with a clear message to the political bigwigs of India that he meant business for the upliftment of the poor, downtrodden and dalits. He reached firmly on the scene with the establishment of Bahujan Smaj Party (BSP) on April 14, 1984 which is by now is one of the recognised national political parties of India with an impressive representation in both the Houses of the Parliament and BSP Government in UP led by by his ardent follower and political heir Kumari Maywati . Babu Kanshi Ram became MP a couple of times representing various constituencies. Babu Kanshi Ram stood for social change and political empowerment of the poor and oppressed people of India. It is to be seen that his followers and the BSP prove themselves and carry forward the mission of Babu Kanshi Ram to bring about a caste less and samta ( equality ) samaj. It will be a true and befitting tribute to the memory of Babu Kanshi Ram.

On a personal note, I feel that Babu Kanshi Ram was a Pubjabi. He tried his best to organise and lead the poors and dalits of Punjab and rightly so as Punjab has the about 30% dalit polpulation. They should have a good space and share in the powers structures of the state. But unfortunately, dalits of Punjab failed and could not come upto the expectations of Babu Kanshi Ram.

हजारों साल नर्गिस अपनी बेनूरी पे रोती है,
बड़ी मुश्किल से होता है चमन में दीदावर पैदा !

( PS: The blog was to posted yesterday but the internet failed me as the people of Punjab failed Babu Kanshi Ram )

Thursday, October 6, 2011


It is next in the series of blogs on the contemporary heroes. I wanted to write on a recognised and acclaimed lyricist ( writer of Punjabi songs) Madan Jalandhari but did not have the requisite information. I have had a chance meeting with Madan Jalandhari this week at the residence of my old friend Gulzari Lal of Basti Nau in Jalandhar. I went to Gulzari Lal to express and convey my condolences on the untimely death of his young son. Madan Jalandhari who also happened to be a friend of Gulzari Lal and community activists was also there for the same purpose. It provided me an opportunity to talk to Madan about his poetic and literary talent and related matters. Madan impressed me with his down to earth and humble mannerism.

Like me, Madan is also an alumnus of the DAV College, Jalandhar. He also belongs to the extended family his name sake Madan Angural of Basti Danishmand, father of my daughter in law Sulekha. Madan was employed with some Government Undertaking for his livelihood. But took voluntary retirement on tasting the success in his literary pursuits. Madan has more than 400 songs to his credit and about 40 albums. He has written songs for some films also which were appreciated well. I understand, rightly so as Madan is a handsome man, he also acted in one of the Punjabi films. I told Madan that many years before I liked his famous and popular song:
“Chandigarh kare ashiqui munda jattan da Jalandharon aa ke,
kite mar na jave kujh kha ke,
vech ke scooter ohne Hero Honda lai leya
BA di padhai vich teeji vaari reh geya”

I asked Madan about his talent. He said that he himself did not know and added that it was God's gift. I enquired about his Guru, if there was any. Madan said as a matter of fact that when he was a budding artist at the Jalandhar Doordarshan and Akashvani, the needed documentation had a column to fill in the name of the Guru or Instructor etc.. He approached the famous poet and writer Santokh Singh Safri for the purpose. Santokh Singh Safri gladly expected him as his disciple ( Shish). Madan proved himself and added yet another feather in the cap of his worthy Guru. Madan informed that he was impressed by Charan Singh Safri also whom I myself liked much. While talking to Gulzari Lal on the sad death of his son, Madan got emotional and recited one of his poetic compositions. One of his songs " Akkhon Digge Hanjhu " was quite a hit. I understand Madan introduced and encouraged famous singers Kaler Kanth and Sabar Koti. Both Kaler Kanth and Sabar Koti proved themselves and made Madan Jalandhari proud.

Besides his professional excellence, Madan Jalandhari is well connected to the social and community causes. He is well connected with the Dera of Swami Gurdip Giri of Pathankot. He spoke high of Swamiji and his good work in the region. Fortunately, I also personally know Swami Gurdip Giri and his work and mission for the weaker sections of the society. I take this opportunity and wish both Madan Jalandhari and Swami Gurdip Giri further success and prosperity.

अपना मुकदर आप बनाते हैं अहले दिल,
हम वोह नहीं जीने ज़माना बना गया !

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I stared writing in this blog about the contemporary heroes but somehow could not pursue it further due one reason or the other. Today I read the congratulatory message to Dr. Ronki Ram in the Ambedkar Times on some more feathers in the cap of Dr. Ronki Ram. Though I have had no chance to meet Dr. Ronki Ram personally yet I have read about him and his intellectual inputs to the dalits and other related matters which have been received well and appreciated in India and abroad. I join the Ambedkar Times in congratulating Dr. Ronki Ram on getting the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Professorship at the Political Science Department of the Punjab University and the Head of the Chair of Contemporary Indian Studies of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) - a cultural and educational arm of the Ministry of External affairs (MEA) ( not long before I was a humble cadre of the MEA) at the prestigious Leident University of the Netherlands. I wish Dr. Ronki Ram all success and prosperity at his new assignments in the years to come.
I tried my hand at the Google search to know something more about Dr. Ronki Ram but could not succeed. I know from my basic information and knowledge that Dr. Ronki Ram is one of the worthy alumni of the Jawaharlal University for his doctorate. He remained a fellow at the prestigious Upsala University in Sweden in 1993 for a Diploma in Conflict Resolution ( I myself was posted in Embassy of India Stockholm from 1991 to 94 and visited the Upsala University a number of times but did not meet Dr. Ronki Ram). Currently, Dr. Ronki Ram is the Head of the Department of Political Science of the Punjab University, Chandigarh which is the proud Alma mata of Dr. Ram for his Masters degree.

As regards his positive contribution to the community and the country, he has done a seminal work on the matters related to the dalits, Dera Sachkhand Balan of Jalandhar, Babu Mangoo Ram of the Ad-dharam movement and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the founding father of the Indian constitution and the saviour of the dalits. The dalits and the community at large particularly the intellectual segments of the educational faculty shall be grateful and appreciative of Dr. Ronki Ram.


Without Comments

For the benefit of proponents of Merit with regard to social empowerment and affirmative action in India :

The world's second-fastest growing economy does not have an educational institute in the top 200 global list this year.

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay -- the only Indian varsity that found itself in the Top 200 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings in 2010 at the number 187 spot -- dropped 38 places to 225. Similarly, IIT Delhi fell to number 218 from 202 in 2010 and IIT Madras dropped to 281 from last year's 262.

The rankings by QS, a leading networking organisation in higher education, are based on employer reputation, academic reputation and research quality.
( a news item in the of September 9)

For the benefit of the Aam-Adami to jugde their elected representatives:
As the 26-day session ended, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha both reported considerable loss of time to disruptions. Question Hour, the sole instrument that ensures government accountability, remained the biggest casualty as only 1.96 questions could be answered a day against the 19.2 listed in Lok Sabha.

As the Opposition disallowed work targeting the government for corruption, Lokpal issue, Gujarat Governor’s interference in Lokayukta’s appointment and cash-for-vote scam, Lok Sabha lost 45 pc of its scheduled time working for 77 hours out of the listed 138. Rajya Sabha lost 44 pc (57 hours) of time.

On the past lines, Question Hour was the hardest hit and not taken up in Lok Sabha on 16 days. Out of 500 listed questions, only 51 were answered by ministers; that’s 1.96 answers a day. Question Hour performance of this eighth session of 15th Lok Sabha was among the three worst since 2009 - preceded by the sixth session (winter session consumed by 2G Spectrum scam) in which 0.2 questions a day were answered and fifth session in which 1.76 queries were daily answered.

In the Upper House, too, only 65 out of 500 listed queries were answered. That explained Chairman Hamid Ansari’ valedictory address, “It being the monsoon session, the House has lived up to its appellation with stormy proceedings and many matters of public importance remained unattended. This is a sad commentary on the duty of the Members …and calls for introspection.” In Lok Sabha, Speaker Meira Kumar returned the sentiment saying, “I’m sure members are committed to check this tendency...”
(a news item in the Times of India on September 9)

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Some Random thoughts

It has been often observed that, with reference to reservation and other related issues of empowerment of the socially weaker sections of the society, an argument of due weightage to merit is given. Yes, to my mind, merit shall be recognized and rewarded. But merit gets meaning only when the level playing ground is available to all. Otherwise the merit remains a one sided attribute. The purpose of this write up is not to dwell on the issue of merit but to indicate the findings of a cursory case study in which it has been found that merit and opportunity are co-related. We Indians, particularly those of us who talk of merit, should think that how many Nobel Prizes and how many inventions and patents, our fellow Indians living in India, have bagged over the years? The so called merit suddenly disappears in the international arena.

The case in study is the game of cricket in India and the dalits. The population of the SCs & STs in India comes to around 25 % of the 1.2 billion of India’s total. The SCs alone are more than 166 million. How many dalits could make to the national level in cricket which is the most popular game in India? I tried to check the information. The Wikipedia mentioned about Patwankar Baloo and Shivram brothers of Gujrat in the early twenties century. Vinod Kambli made it the national and international level in the contemporary times. My knowledge and information is limited in this regard. I could un-surface two more names from the dalits of Punjab in the field of class one cricket in India. Amarjit Kaypee is a recognized and acclaimed player of the 90s. But could not make it to the national level. Chander Kanta Ahir (now Kaul) is yet another player who could make it to the top and captained the Indian Women Team in the international games more than once. It is just chance and I am proud of the fact that I happen know families of both Amarjit and Chander Kanta. Amarjit is the brother of Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Member of Parliament representing Jalandhar in the Lok Sabha and son of Darshan Singh Kaypee, a popular politician. Chander Kanta is the worthy daughter of my old acquaintances Harbans, her father, who himself was athlete of standing and her grandfather Munshi Ram who was a contemporary and fellow small businessman of my father and grandfather in Bootan Mandi, a famous leather market of Jalandhar. India is a big country and 25% of the people generally should have a good share in the things Indian. But, unfortunately, it is not so as we harp on lop-sided merit rather than equal opportunity and empowerment of the weaker sections.

Let me elaborate it further as to what is equation between merit and opportunity. Of late, many of the socially backward dalits of India have gone to developed countries of Europe and the USA etc. I think they really made a dent in improving their lot as they get fair deal and opportunity. I don’t have detailed information on the subject. But I have information and knowledge of some of the young people of my immediate family who have excelled in the game of cricket which was not possible in India given their social and economic background. Satish Kaul son of my wife Vidya’s brother Hussan Lal in Vienna (Austria) was born in India in village Nawan Pind near Nakodar. He went to Vienna to join his father about ten years before. He is, by now, one of the leading player in the Austrian national cricket team as an all-rounder. Satish had interest in the game even in India but there was no fair opportunity. Only the opportunity has brought out merit in him. Deepak Samra is the son of my sister Maya in Vienna again. He also plays cricket with distinction in various Austrian clubs. He was also born and brought up in Talwan and Deol Nagar in Jalandhar in his initial years before joining his father Manohar Lal about a decade ago. Yet another up-coming youngman is Sukhy Hira son -in –law of my wife’s brother Hussan Lal in Vienna. Sukhy also plays for well-appointed cricket clubs in Vienna. All the three of them are close friends with each other. I wish they come and play in India with their Indian counterparts and demonstrate that given the opportunity merit could be attained. There is enough to learn.

अपना मुकद्दर आप बनाते हैं अहले दिल;
हम वोह नहीं जीने जमाना बना गया !

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The first phase of Anna's Movement against corruption and for the stronger and effective Jan Lokpal is over. It was a success in bringing the issues involved into focus. It was a great satisfaction that the agitation which had a pan-India appeal was peaceful. The Government and the Parliament was made to take a due note of it and act accordingly. The media, to my mind, did not have much else to do and went over board in projecting the Movement where as this important organ of the system was expected to do its job with more objectivity and unbiasedly. Nevertheless, democracy is a process which shall continue. I would like to comment on, in the process, a development which has been termed as a " Game Changer ."

General Secretary of the Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi made a statement in the Lok Sabha on August 26 on the issues of corruption and the Lokpal with reference to Anna's agitation. Rahul Gandhi did not speak on the subject before his statement in the Lok Sabha, in spite of the fact that the Government led by his Party was finding itself in a tight corner in dealing with the Anna's Movement. The crux of his statement was centred on something new which did not find mention in the controversy or debate so far. Rahul Gandhi said "Madam Speaker, why not elevate the debate and fortify the Lok Pal by making it a Constitutional body accountable to Parliament like the Election Commission of India." It is not a bad idea but why did Rahul Gandhi thought that he should say something new and out of the blue ? Outside the Parliament after his speech, Rahul himself termed the speech a " Game Changer". Let us see that how far it goes ?
There was yet said to be another " Game Changer " act on the late evening of August 26. It was by a prominent member of the Team Anna, Kiran Bedi. While speaking from the Manch of the Ramlila Maidan, Kiran Bedi all of a sudden became hyper. She grabbed a scarf ( Gamsha) of a volunteer on the stage and started ridiculing the politicians by mimicking a veiled ( Ghoonghat) lady. She accused politicians of wearing "several masks.' When questioned on the purpose of such an action by a responsible member of the Anna Team and the so called civil society, She also termed it as a " Game Changer." She also claimed that her act got the attention of the opposition leaders, particularly of the BJP, and helped resolve the impasse between Anna Hazare and the Government on the issue of Jan Lokpal. Let us see that how many ' Game Changers' come on the way.
I was not very clear on the exact meaning of the " Game Changer " myself. The inter-net search gave me the following definition of a ' Game Change " A person who is a visionary ". The Investopedia further explained:
1. A game changer has new and different ideas that stand out from the crowd. This person has an idea that completely changes the way a situation develops. Companies employ this tactic to create ideas or events that change the outcome of a plan.
2. A visionary strategist uses creative innovation to alter their business plans, or conceives an entirely new plan by exploring new locations and different products.
I would rather leave it here with the hope that Om Puri, a renowned actor and Swami Agnivesh, the erstwhile member of the Anna Team may also not claim to be ' Game Changers 'in the forthcoming scenario.

'Who can say how the people of India and their political parties will behave? A bad constitution can work well, if the people involved are good, and a good constitution will turn out to be bad if the people working on it are bad '
(An excerpt of the concluding speech B R Ambedkar delivered as Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee on the floor of the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949).