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 !