Thursday, December 13, 2012



Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, you may be surprised to know, was not as acceptable even in the late 60s as he is today. The Congress Party and its opposition to Ambedkar were vehement and telling. But at the same time Dr. Ambedkar’s influence among the dalits was taking roots slowly but steadily in Punjab. Republican Party was at the vanguard under the leadership of Duni Chand Shahpuri, Piara Ram Dhanowali, Charan Dass Nidhadak, Lahori Ram Balley and others. The Bheem Patrika edited by Lahori Ram Balley was the mouth piece of the Republican Party and the followers of Ambedkar. The finances were scarce and tight. No Government patronage was available to the name and memory of Ambedkar.  Ambedkar’s followers under the flag of Republican Party planned and brought up the idea of Ambedkar Bhawan at Nakodar Road, Jalandhar in the early 60s. A fairly good plot of land situated between Abadpura and Bootan Mandi, the localities which are mostly inhabited by dalits, were purchased.  It is a co-incident that it is located at the large chunk of open land where Dr. Ambedkar addressed a mammoth public meeting in October 1952. The promoters could not get enough financial back up and the project remained a piece of land only till the early70s. But the name of Ambedkar has its latent force. A follower of Ambedkar and a resident of Abadpura whose name, if I remember correctly, was Ram Prakash, died under detention in a strong agitation of the Republican Party against the Congress Government in 1964. It was decided to cremate him at the plot of land acquired for the Ambedkar Bhawan.  The place became a venue of regular public meetings and get-togethers of the followers of Ambedkar particularly the functions arranged by the Republican Party. I personally heard, in my younger days, the national leaders of the Party like Dadasaheb B.K. Gaikwad, B.D. Khobragade, B.P. Maurya and others speaking at the venue on different occasions. But the health of the project was not very healthy.

In the mid 80s, fortunately, some new dedicated senior retired officers like G.S. Bal, R.C. Paul, Surinder Ajnat, Nasib Chand and many more, came forward and associated themselves with Ambedkar Bhawan under the aegis of Ambedkar Mission society and Ambedkar Bhawan Trust. Lahori Ram Balley provided them all help and continues till today actively engaged with the project. The second lot of dedicated followers of Ambedkar like G.C. Kaul, Tarsem Sagar, Ram Lal Jassi, Barkha Ram, and Chanan Ram took over and successfully tried to raise the much needed funds to build a reasonably good building by involving various political personalities including PM Inder Gujral and others. It was a right approach as such projects required support of the establishment in addition to the public. It is matter of gratification to note that now there is fairly good and functional building and facilities at the venue. Ambedkar Bhawan could become a nerve centre of the community activities and also for the mission and philosophy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

Over the last one year, I attended two impressive functions at the Bhawan to pay tributes to the memory of Dr. Ambedkar on December 6, 2011 and December 6, 2012 on the Parinirvan Diwas ( death anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar respectively. At the first function, MP Mohinder Singh Kaypee provided a good sum of grant for the project out of the MP; s fund. It was an appreciable gesture. More needs to be done. This year on December 6, renowned scholar Kancha Illiaha was the chief guest and lead speaker. He spoke with conviction and paid glowing tributes to Dr. Ambedkar, the greatest son of India since independence. Lahori Ram Balley and R.P.S. Pawar who is the current chairman of the Ambedkar Bhawan Trust, inter alia, spoke at the function which was fairly well attended. Ambedkar deserves wider recognition which is coming but slowly in the caste ridden and discriminatory social order. 

I wish the Ambedkar Bhawan Trust all success in the years to come.



Thursday, December 6, 2012


Today, December 6, is the death anniversary (Priinirvan Diwas) of Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (1891-1956), the greatest son of the contemporary India.  The dalits and other down trodden people consider Ambedkar their messiah and savior in the caste ridden society at large. But for Ambedkar and his struggle, it was difficult for the large chunk of the Indian society to live and lead honourable life.  He fought and fought single handedly for the just social and economic order.  Ambedkar fought and got political rights for the dalits not only from the British rulers before independence in 1947 but also tried his level best to get these rights secured and insured in the constitution of India of which he was the chief architect.  Babasaheb was a crusader for the social change in India with a view to strengthen India and not for anything else.  He was a nationalist and a patriot of the highest order.  He was an Indian to the core.  Though he was opposed to Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress Party yet he joined hands with the main stream of the polity and society for the larger good of the society and the country.  Some people think that it was magnanimity of Congress leadership to invite Ambedkar to draft the Indian constitution but the fact is that he got the job of making the constitution by his own right and to the good fortune of India.  Otherwise, India might not be the India of today.  The last speech Ambedkar made in the Constituent Assembly on November 24, 1949 before the constitution was adopted and passed finally is one of finest speeches of the contemporary India. It is worth reading.  I quote from the compilation of the book ‘Greatest Speeches of Modern India’ edited by Rudrangshu Mukherjee “His tone was jubilant yet somber and reflective. The warning he gave – place of popular protest in a democracy, the blind following of charismatic leaders and the limitations of only a political democracy – retain their relevance, perhaps more today than in 1949.” It is the befittest tribute to the memory of Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

हजारों साल नर्गिस अपने बेनूरी पे रोती है;

बड़ी मुश्किल से होता है चमन में दीदावर पैदा !


Saturday, November 17, 2012

ORAL HISTORY - Ambedkar's Visit to Jalandhar in 1951

I have come back to my roots in Jalandhar after 35 years long diplomatic service in the Indian Foreign Service.  I would like to share some oral history of the place called Bootan Mandi, my native place. Bootan Mandi, a neglected slum about 40 years before ( now a much better place), remained a hub of dalit social and political awakening as it was the centre of leather business owned by the Dalits (Chamars) of the region even before independence in 1947. The dalits of the Doaba region of Punjab, led by Seth Sunder Dass and Seth Kishan Dass of Bootan Mandi fully supported the Ad-dharam Movement under the stewardship of Babu Mangoo Ram and also the struggle of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar for the emancipation of dalits. Later In terms of political polarization, Seth Sunder Dass developed leanings towards the Congress Party and Seth Kishan dass remained a staunch follower and supporter of the outfits floated by Ambedkar, Scheduled Caste Federation and Republican Party. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had established himself as an undisputed leader of dalits in the process of his unstinted struggle for the rights of dalits and also in the political landscape of the country in his capacity as the chief framer and architect of the constitution of India. His political and social agenda and mission differed from that of Nehru and the Congress Party.  He parted company and resigned from the Cabinet of Nehru in October 1951, basically on irreconcilable differences on the Hindu Code Bill and inter alia issues of foreign policy and economic development. It was the political scenario, in the dalit constituencies, in the mid 40s and early 50s.

Dr. Ambedkar came to Jalandhar, after his resignation from the Government, in September, 1951. It turned out to be a historical visit. I grew up in Bootan Mandi and heard a lot about the visit of Ambedkar from my father who was personally involved in the bandovast of the visit in a small way. My personal on and off chat with Pritam Ramdasspuri (nephew of Seth Kishan Dass and a poet and activist of standing), who drove Dr. Ambedkar from the Raja Sanshi airport in Amritsar to Jalandhar, gave me the graphic glimpses of the visit. Pritam Ramdasspuri told me that it was unique experience. Right from the airport in Amritsar to Jalandhar, thousands and thousands of people were lined up en route to see and welcome Dr. Ambedkar. The administration was caught unaware of this unprecedented visit. The journey which was to take about two hours generally took seven hours. The private carcade had to stop at various places and long queues of people made to pass by to see Ambedkar. The organizers, including Pritam Ramdasspuri, carried private arms (pistols and revolvers) for providing physical security to their leader particularly in the wake of assassination of Pakistani PM Liaquat Ali Khan. Ambedkar decided to enjoy the homely hospitality of Seth Kishan Dass and stayed with the family in Seth’s appointed place popularly called “Kishan Dass da Chobara” at Bootan Mandi which is still the residence of Seth Kishan Dass’s son Seth Mool Raj and grandson Avinash Chander who is the Chief Parliamentary Secretary in the Punjab Government.. Ambedkar especially asked for the Punjabi delicacy Sarson da Saag and Makki di Roti and relished it in a homely setting. He met leaders of the community and impressed them with his charming and friendly persona.

Ambedkar addressed a huge, 6-7 lakh audience, public meeting in Bootan Mandi on October 27. My father told me that no such assembly of devoted dalits was witnessed in Jalandhar before.  Seth Sundar Dass was invited to join the organizers,  in spite of different political leanings. He presented a bag full of thousands of Rupees, on behalf of the community, in honour of Dr. Ambedkar.  Dr. Ambedkar was over-whelmed by the reception and honour he received and rightly so. He invited Seth Sunder Dass to speak but he humbly refused as he felt that it would not be possible for him to speak in the exalted presence of Dr. Ambedkar.  As a rare gesture of honour, a particular chair was brought from Kartarpur which belonged to the Sikh gurus. Ambedkar was inclined to sit on the chair but was made to sit by the followers as he was the uncrowned king of the community. The community poets like Gurdass Ram Alam enlivened the gathering by his poem “Aj koun ayia savere savere; wada shor hunda gariban de dere”. Pritam Ramdasspuri welcomed the great leader and recited his poem “ Hindostan ko hastie Ambedkar per naaz hai”.  Dr. Ambedkar responded with a spirited speech and said that he did not know our people in Punjab particularly in the Doaba region were so involved and dedicated in the caravan otherwise he would have come here much before and many a times. The informed sources told me that dalit leaders of the Congress Party like Master Gurbanta Singh and Prithvi Singh Azad were opposed to Ambedkar and threatened to hold black flags on his visit to Punjab. The local media covered the event. Mahasha Krishan of the Urdu Pratap wrote an editorial and commented that the dalit leader was made sit on the special chair pertaining to the Gurus.

On October 28, Ambedkar delivered a lecture at the DAV College on the theme “the future of Parliamentary Democracy in India” which was a thought provoking exercise. The intelligentsia headed by Principal Suraj Bhan appreciated the lecture and the impressive style and manner in which it was delivered. I vividly remember that during my college days in DAV College itself in 1968-69, in one of Paper Reading Declamation Contest on the Parliamentary Democracy, I intensively quoted from the same lecture of Dr. Ambedkar which got due notice and was appreciated. The lecture till date remains as valid and prophetic as it was before.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar has a considerable following in Punjab and rightly so.




Monday, October 29, 2012


Today (October 29) is the centenary of ‘Peoples Poet’ Gurdas Ram Alam (1912-1989), was a genius but an embodiment of simplicity and humility. His bio-profile is nothing but poetry of total transformation in the society. I am not a literary critique and may not know the nuances of fine poetry. But the poetry of Alam, to a layman like me, is the language of the poor. It is the spirit of the down-trodden. It speaks of equality. It pleads for a just and equitable social and economic order. Alam was not educated in the formal sense of scholastic classes. He barely learnt the Punjabi language at home but Alam was a born intellectual. His poetry amply confirms this. Alam could easily be compared with Shiv Kumar Balalvi, Pash, Mohan Singh, and Amrita Pritam, all in one. People termed him a communist when he gave an easy Punjabi expression to the theory of Marx “to each according to his need and from each according to his capacity” and wrote “asin bit to waddu dinden han; sanu lod mutabik milda nahin “. Alam became an Ambedkarite when he recited his poem “ ajj kaon ayia savere savere “ in a public meeting in the presence of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in 1952 at Bootan Mandi in Jalandhar.  He wrote about Guru Ravidass in his poem ‘Inqalabi Aaggu’. Alam wrote about Guru Nanak in his poem ‘Patni da Gilla’. He wrote about contemporary politics. Alam gave an altogether new idiom to romance and love when he wrote “mahi mera kale rang da behde badda ta chand chad janda “.  Alam did not know any boundary and practiced the art of poetry for the common good of the society without any dogma of theory and ideology as a universal humanist.

I am fortunate that I met Alam and listened to his poetry from his mouth way back for several years in late 60s in Kavi Darbars in Bootan Mandi in Jalandhar on the Gurupurab of Guru Ravidass. Later I read his poetry books and carried them with me abroad in course of my diplomatic assignments. His poetry is as relevant today as it was before. In recent years, I heard lot about Alam in Glasgow in Scotland when I was the Consul General of India in Edinburgh. He enthralled the audiences in Glasgow when he visited there with Shiv Kumar Batalvi. My admiration for Alam goes higher and higher as the years go by.

 My senior colleague Ambassador Bal Anand prompted me to participate in a function to commemorate Gurdass Ram Alam on October 28 at Jalandhar by Manavwadi Rachna Manch. It was a rewarding attendance. It provided me an opportunity to listen to intellectual poets and scholars who spoke high of Alam and rightly so. The Manch conferred “Gurdass Ram Alam Award” on a recognized poet of Alam's genre, Madan Veera. The function succeeded in paying well deserved tributes to Gurdass Ram Alam on his centenary. Alam and his poetry will remain alive in the years to come.

Monday, October 15, 2012


I am writing this with a great sense of sorrow and a heavy heart. Lalit Angural (Lally), a hale and hearty young man, passed away suddenly in the forenoon of October 6, 2012 with a silent heart stroke. He was to complete 24 on October 9. Lally’s sister Sulekha is our daughter in law, wife of my son Rupesh. But the parents of Lally, Madan and Nimmo, are our family friends of long standing. Madan is a business partner of my brother Kishan and Lally was a business associate of Kishan’s son Brijesh (Bablu).  Lally, as such, was a part of our own family in all respects. Even after, our family friendship turned into close relationship, Lally continued to call us Tayaji and Taiji. The untimely and sudden death of Lally cut down a promising and budding businessman, a great hope and stay of a struggling family to find their feet in the society. The cruel hands of death have snatched that dream and hope. I was in Gurgaon for a few days to be with Sulekha and our little granddaughter Suhani (3 yrs.) as Rupesh was away to Russia on a business trip when the sad news reached us. I brought Sulekha and Suhani to Jalandhar in the night of October 6 itself. It was one of the difficult journeys of my life, Sulekha weeping and crying and Suhani getting curious and sad throughout.

On reaching Madan’s home, the scenario was totally unbearable. The dead body of Lally was kept in a refrigerated box for cremation the next day, October 7. It looked as if he was in a deep sleep. For me it was a different experience. By the quirk of fate or by chance, I did not see death/dead body even at this ripe age of 60 plus. My grandfather died of heart attack in 1972. I could not reach Jalandhar from Delhi before the cremation. My father in law died in 1979. We were in Beijing (China) and could not reach for the rituals. My father died in 1986 after a long illness and we remained with him for a month or so a months before his death. But we could not reach home at the time of death. We were in Kandy (Sri Lanka). My grandmother died in 1990. Again we could reach Jalandhar only after the cremation. My mother died in 2006 after a prolonged illness. We were in Prague (Czech Republic). We could not reach. The reasons for this unintentional absence were partly exigencies of service and partly my non-insistence to wait for me for the rituals. As a simple and ordinary human being, I have tried and lived life as it came. My brothers have been very supportive and respectful. So far so good.

Lally’s death was a shattering experience. I find it difficult to forget his lovely face and charming behavior. Lally was good at studies. After BBA, he was doing MBA from Sikkim Manipal University. He was fully and successfully engaged in a good export business as a self made person. He was a man in a hurry to do many things quickly. He was a social and amicable personality who was engaged in social and extra-curricular activities. It will be difficult to fill the void created by Lally’s sudden departure in the years to come.  May God grant peace to the departed soul of Lally.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012



Today, October 9, is the death anniversary of Babu Kanshi Ram (March 1934-October 2006) who was also addressed with respect as “Manyawar” by his followers and rightly so. Babu Kanshi Ram was a great leader of the dalits and other backward and weaker sections of the society after Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. He carried forward the Mission of Joytiba Phule and Ambedkar with great zeal and resultant success. In fact, to my mind, it was Kanshi Ram who could generate and provide a mass base for the dalit movement and aspirations in the contemporary India. He succeeded in encouraging and motivating the dalit youth to stand up and ask for their rightful space and position in the political, economic and social establishments of the polity, economy and society of the country.  He fought for total transformation as against the status quo of the political and social forces at the helm of the affairs. Babu Kanshi Ran in one of his interviews to the media in the early years of his political career said” To my mind, all parties represent the forces of status quo. For us, politics is the politics of transformation. The existing parties are the reason for the status quo. That is why there has been no upward mobility for the backward communities”.

In the early years of his life, Babu Kanshi Ram was a scientist working with a Government scientific laboratory in Kirkee.  Some routine cases of upper-caste high handedness cajoled the sensitive mind of Kanshi Ram. He studied Ambedkar’s writings and embarked upon a mission for the empowerment of the dalits and other backward classes as equal partners in the political and economic structures of the country.  Kanshi Ram launched his first organization called BAMCEF (Backward (SC, ST, OBC) and Minority Communities' Employees' Federation) on December 6, 1978:  Three years later, on December 6 1981, he founded another organization called DS-4 (Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti) and on April 14, 1984, i Kanshi Ram finally formed a political party named Bahujan Samaj Party. Babu Kanshi Ram was a visionary. He was an astute political strategist and a communicator par excellence.

Kanshi Ram disapproved the current dalit leadership and termed them as Chamchas created by the Poona Pact of 1932 signed between Mahtma Gandhi and Dr. Ambedkar. He criticized the Poona Pact as it took away separate electorates offered in the communal award of PM Ramsey MacDonald which, according to Kanshi Ram, was a political blunder and tactful defeat of dalits by the Manuwadi forces.

Kanshi Ram’s political vision and his success are clearly visible in the emerging India. BSP is one of the leading political parties of the country. His follower Kumari Maywati occupied the coveted position of the Chief Minister of UP for four terms. The party has an impressive strength in the Parliament and the UP Legislature. BSP is a political force to be reckoned with.  Dalits are getting assertive for their rights and dues. It is all due to the relentless struggle of Babu Kanshi Ram. The contours of the Indian political and social order are changing. I am reminded of Kanshi Ram’s thinking when he said “I tell my followers Ek Eet Ka Jawab, Do Pathron Se (you must retaliate for one brick with two stones), otherwise you are not my followers”.
ऐ खाक नासिनों उठ बैठो वोह वक़्त मुकाबिल आ पहुंचा,
जब तखत गिराएं जांएगे और ताज उछाले जांएगे ! 

Monday, September 24, 2012


I wrote about Swami Gurdip Giri of Pathankot in this blog. Swami Gurdip Giri added yet another feather in his turban yesterday, September 23, 2012. He facilitated, negotiated and signed an MOU between Dera Swami Jagat Giri Charitable Trust of Pathankot and Manav Samta Sthal Charitable Society of Delhi for the establishment of an educational and knowledge complex – Begumpura International Centre of Spiritual and Human Excellence.  The Centre is to be set up at a 70 acre venue at village Hara Tika, Dhar Block of District Pathankot on Dalhousie Road which has been ear marked and offered by Swami Gurdip Giri for the purpose. The main objective of the Begumpura Centre of Spiritual and Human Excellence is to develop and provide facilities for an overall development of the downtrodden and under privileged sections of the society.  I participated in the meeting to conclude and sign the MOU at Pathankot as a special invitee of Swami Gurdip Giri which was an honour for me. Blessing the MOU, Swami Gurdip Giri underlined the need to creat and offer excellent facilities for the weaker sections of the society not only spiritually but also in all other facets of human development. He said that t will be a true tribute to the great Guru Ravidassji and also the contemporary messiah of the dalits, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

The senior representatives of Swami Jagat Giri Charitable Trust and Manav Samta Sthal Charitable Society including Shri R.L. Pradeep, IAS (Retired), Shri J.S. Badhan IAS (Retired), Shri B.R. Kundal, EX.Minister, MLC and Chief Secretary of J&K (Retired), Shri Banal, DGP of J&K (Retired) Shri F.C. Mall, Deputy Director of MHA (Retired) inter alia participated and signed the MOU in the presence of Swami Gurdip Giri.  The foundation stone of the Begumpura Centre of Spiritual and Human Excellence is like to be laid towards the close of the current year.

I wish Begumpura Centre of Spiritual and Human Excellence all success and further prosperity and good health to Swami Gurdip Giri.
जरा सी नम  हो तो यह मिटटी बड़ी जरखेज है साकी ! 



The anniversary of the Poona Pact of 1932, signed between Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, falls on September 24.  Much water has flown in the Ganges in the last 80 years since the Poona Pact was signed but the condition and the fare of the dalits in India did not change much for the better, in spite of legal and constitutional provisions made even in the constitution of India.  The much needed empowerment of dalits remains an issue even after 65 years of independence.  Let us analyze the subsequent developments, after the Poona Pact, which have directly or indirectly affected the empowerment of dalits which was the sole purpose of the Pact.

It is known history that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s intense struggle against the British rulers and the Indian society and its leaders resulted in recognizing for the first time the political rights of dalits in the Communal Award of 1932 given by PM Ramsay MacDonald after the debates and decisions of the Round Table Conferences. Like other communities, dalits were also given separate electorates to send their representatives to the central and provincial assemblies. With this the political and social identity of the dalits got established.  The Hindu society and its leaders led by Mahatma Gandhi were dead against this happening. The manuwadi mindset was at work. They were not interested in the empowerment of the dalits but wanted to keep the dalit community in their fold to serve them as dictated in the scriptures. The ‘oligarchy of the high castes’, as somebody has said, was the riding consideration of the society rather than addressing the problems of caste and untouchability. Mahatma Gandhi termed the Communal Award 0f Ramsay MacDonald as “injection of a poison is calculated to destroy Hinduism and do no good whatever”. . Gandhi strongly opposed the communal award on the grounds that it would disintegrate Hindu society. He began an indefinite hunger strike from September 20, 1932 to protest this award. In view of the mass upsurge generated in the country to save the life of Gandhi, and appeals of orthodox Hindu leaders, Congress politicians and activist, fearing a communal reprisal and genocide of untouchables, Dr. Ambedkar was compelled to soften his stand. He agreed to joint electorates under massive coercion from the supporters of Mahatma Gandhi.  As a result of the agreement, A compromise between the leaders of caste Hindu and the depressed classes was reached on September 24, 1932, popularly known as the Poona Pact signed in the Yerwada Jail where Mahatma Gandhi was on hunger strike. The resolution announced in a public meeting on September 25 in Bombay confirmed -" henceforth, amongst Hindus no one shall be regarded as an untouchable by reason of his birth and they will have the same rights in all the social institutions as the other Hindus have". This landmark resolution in the history of the Dalit movement in India subsequently formed the basis for giving due share to Dalits in the political empowerment of Indian people in a democratic Indian polity.

But it was not to be. Ambedkar and his followers were soon disillusioned. The provisions of separate electorate as envisaged by the communal award were enough to establish political and social identity of the dalits. The opportunity was cleverly denied by the Poona Pact. Ambedkar was disappointed and he made his disenchantment known to Mahatma Gandhi in his letter dated February 11, 1933 bluntly refusing to give a message for the inaugural issue of the Harijan“. . . I feel I cannot give a message. For I believe it will be a most unwarranted presumption on my part to suppose that I have sufficient worth in the eyes of the Hindus which would make them treat any message from me with respect . . . I am therefore sending you the accompanying statement for publication in your Harijan.”



“The Out-caste is a bye-product of the Caste system. There will be outcastes As long as there are castes. Nothing can emancipate the Out-castes except the destruction of the Caste system. Nothing can help save Hindus and ensure their survival in the coming struggle except the purging of the Hindu faith of this odious and vicious dogma.”


Dalits continue to suffer from this disability of having an identity till today.  Babu Manguram Mugowalia and his associates tried their best through the Ad-Dharam Movement to establish dalit identity by stating and pleading that dalits were neither Sikhs nor Hindus. Subsequently Babu Kanshi Ram also rose and disapproved the Poona Pact. He wrote in Preface of his book the Chamcha Age that Chamcha age started from the Poona Pact giving joint electorates instead of separate electorates. The purpose of book was to make Dalit Soshit Samaj of the existence of Chamchas or stooges, and to awaken masses how to differentiate between genuine and counterfeit leadership. The reservation issue is still alive as the dalits could not be empowered as desired. Moreover, the thinking of Mahtma Gandhi in saving the Hinduism has fallen flat otherwise also. Sikhs have asserted their separate identity independent of Hinduism. The Poona Pact it seems was an act of treachery and fraud on the dalits. The point is not to blame Dr. Ambedkar as he had no other option as he was a nationalist to the core. He did not want to create friction with the majority Hindus on one hand and stand against the national movement of independence against the British on the other.

 मस्जिद तो बना दी सब भर में; इमां की हरारत वालों ने,

मन अपना पुराना पापी है; बरसों से नमाज़ी बन सका !

इकबाल बड़ा उपदेशक है; मन बैटन से मोह लेता है,

गुफ्तार का तो यह गाजी बना; किरदार का गाजी बन सका!




Saturday, September 15, 2012

S.R. HEER of Dera Sachkhand Ballan

I have been writing about the contemporary dalit heroes in my blog. Let me carry forward the series with yet another hero, Shri Sadhu Ram Heer, Former Chief Engineer and Head of Jalandhar Doordarshan and currently Chief Aide of the Dera Sachkhand Ballan. I heard about Heer Sahib but as of now did not have the chance to meet and know him. It should not be an obstacle and would like to write and recognize him. The immediate provocation to do so was the 53rd anniversary of Doordarshan which was observed yesterday September 14 with a poetic symposium ( Kavi-Darbar) on DD Jalandhar at which S.R. Heer was the Chief Guest. I could learn more about Heer Sahib from the introduction given by the Master of Ceremonies and also the speech of the Director of DD Jalandhar. Both of them spoke highly of S.R. Heer and informed that his contribution to DD, not only in Amritsar and Jalandhar in the initial years of its operations but also its overall performance and success, was immense and appreciable. S.R. Heer was a pillar of strength of DD Jalandhar in making it number one station. It was duly recognized by the Government and rewarded. Heer Sahib spoke with conviction in his brief but impressive speech and said that the original mandate of DD was to ‘educate, inform and entertain’ which was the correct agenda and vision of the national TV network in spite of increasing commercialization and competition from the private TV channels. I did not know much about Heer Sahib till the Kabi-Darbar of September 14. The stock of S.R. Heer in my mind and estimation has gone up. I salute him as the worthy son of India and hero of the community.

I am told that S.R. Heer is a simple man of spiritual orientation. His post retirement association and engagement with Dera Schkhand Ballan and its activities is well established and recognized. I understand Heer Sahib is the main spokesman and the chief aide of the Dera and various trusts and other socio-religious and educational outfits run and managed by the Dera. As such, Dera being the hub of soico-religious upliftment of the community at large, contribution of Heer Sahib is praiseworthy and shall be commended.

 I take this opportunity to wish Heer Sahib good health and further success and prosperity.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012



Toda September 5 is the Teachers Day which is observed on the birthday of the former President of India Sarvapalli Radhkrishnan.  The day is dedicated to the teachers keeping in with the lofty tradition of “Acharya Devo Bhav”. I feel like writing on this day almost regularly as I hold my teachers in high esteem and still keep in contact with some of them.  

I had my primary education in the community run school at Bootan Mandi, Jalandhar which was make shift arrangement in the Gurudawara. I will be failing in my duty if I don’t mention the name of Seth Khushi Ram who was the Head of the informal managing committee of the school. He did a good work in providing the basic educational facilities in and around Bootan Mandi. I pay my tributes to Seth Khushi Ram and his associates on the Teachers Day.  I will mention about a teacher whose ever smiling face is deeply ingrained in my memory. She was Sheila Behanji of a nearby mohalla Abadpura.  As I recall she almost a family member of ours and many more like me and participated in our “Dukh & Sukh” apart from teaching us in the school.  In the long summer holidays, we even used to go to her home for additional lessons.  She was a homely lady of dignity. I vividly remember that her husband was working in the Indian army. Today, my heart goes to Sheila Behnji.

 I graduated to the Sain Dass High School in Basti Nau which was considered a good school in the area at that time.  Headmaster Baldev Raj was a much respected personality in the area and was a good educational manager. I recall that his deputy was Dawarka Sass, a saintly figure. Apart teaching English he was engaged in imparting moral and spiritual knowledge.  I must admit that whatever little English I know today it is primarily because of Master Dawarka Dass and Master K.K. Khullar. I realized this much later when I used their notes in my college days. My humble tributes to my teachers at the Sain Dass School

After high school, I joined DAV College in 1966 and graduated (BA) in 1970. I was a mediocre. My main interest, as one of the subjects, was Political Science. I was much ahead of my contemporaries in general awareness which I think remained my one of the assets throughout my service in the IFS and daily life. I will like to remember today Principal BS Behl.  He was not my teacher as such but his administrative skills,  to make DAV College one of the premier educational institutions in north India,  impressed me a lot.  As I mentioned in one of my blogs earlier,  Prof. KC Mahendru and Prof. KK Ghai are two of my teachers of Political Science who contributed a great deal in shaping my personality and career. I have no claims to be brilliant student but my own interest in political science and general awareness, without even they knowing, made them dear to me.  It is my good fortune that, due to a kind gesture of my friend Ram Lal Kainth who reintroduced me to both Prof Mahendru and Prof Ghai, I am in touch with them even after my retirement from diplomatic career in IFS.  Both them are leading a retired but still active life in Jalandhar. My all the best wishes to Prof. KC Mahendru and Prof. KK Ghai for their good health and further success and prosperity in the years to come.


Sunday, September 2, 2012




I wrote about Swami Gurdip Giri of Pathankot in my earlier blogs too. I have had the chance to meet the great Swami again on August 31 at the residence of my brother Krishan Lal who keeps regular contact with the Swami for various social and spiritual activities. Swami Gurdip Giri is a real saint without false assumptions. That is, inter alia, the appealing trait of his personality which I like the most. My first meeting with him happened in Delhi in 1998-99 when he went to the UK for his spiritual and social mission. It was our pleasure to host him for a couple of times in our small flat in Kalkaji. We found him a simple and honest man with high thinking.  My next meeting with him was at the eve of the marriage of my daughter Vaishali in December 2001 at our home in Bootan Mandi when he visited us on our humble invitation to bless my daughter. I vividly remember that he invoked and recited a hymn of Guru Ravidass “ Seh Ki Sar Suhagan Jane “and advised my daughter to respect her husband and his family and abandon false pride and enjoy the pleasures of life. It was an apt message to the young lady to start her life. Swamiji is so humble and down to earth that he has the charm to win over people by his simple and easy demeanor.  Yesterday he immediately recognized my wife Vidya and my son Rupesh and said that we met here itself some years before at a marriage and it was a pleasant coincident that we were meeting again here. Over the years, Swami Gurdip Giri has attained, by his own right, a much larger persona and status in the society by his lofty deeds and message but personally he remained a simple and humble man. Here lies his greatness. I would like to associate myself with Swami Gurdip Giri and his Dera Jagat Giri Maharaj.

I may add that Swami Gurdip Giri is the Head of the Dera Jagat Giri Maharaj in Pathankot.  Swami Gurdip Giri and the Dera is actively engaged in spiritual, social and educational well being of the poor masses in and around Pathankot, Jammu, and also many more cities of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. Swami Gurdip Giri enjoys a considerable following in many countries abroad. He came back only a couple of weeks before for a month long tour of Australia. Swami Gurdip Giri informed that he was much interested in providing facilities for education to the rural masses and weaker sections of the society besides their daily and routine social and spiritual services. In fact, he has invited me to a meeting in Pathankot towards the last week of September for the purpose. It would be my privilege to go and attend. I wish Swami Gurdip Giri all the very best and further success in his mission.


Saturday, September 1, 2012




This week on August 29, I have had an opportunity to visit Sant Baba Bhag Singh Educational Complex at village Khiala near Adampur (famous for an important Indian Air Force base in northern India). Sant Baba Bhag Singh Institute of Engineering & Technology very kindly invited me to speak to the young students of the Institute on any current and relevant theme. On my own, I picked up ‘Emerging India and its Challenges’ as the subject matter of my lecture and interaction with my young audience and members of the faculty and other guests. It was an honour for me to speak at such a prestigious Institution in the area. I only hope I could justice and the lecture and following interaction was useful and mutually benefiticial. I thank Prof. S.S. Saini, Head of Department (ECE) and Prof. Mahesh Chander of the Institute who facilitated my invitation to the speaking engagement.

I was doubly privileged to meet and interact with Sant Baba Malkiat Singh, Patron and Sponsor of Sant Baba Bhag Singh Educational Complex at the lecture. It was an extended honour as I was told that he rarely come for such functions. I found Sant Baba Malkiat Singh an embodiment of humility. He is known as “Bridge Baba” in the area for his tremendous work and strides in doing bridges, roads and other developmental projects in the rural areas in the vicinity of his Dera without any governmental involvement apart from his interest in providing for excellent educational facilities at cost effective basis and also free to the needy and economically weaker sections of the society. I was also informed that Sant Baba Malkiat Singh was equally engaged in providing health care facilities at the grass root level in the region. I salute to Baba Malkiat Singhji and Sant Baba Bhag Singh Memorial Charitable Society which doing excellent work under his stewardship.

It was a pleasure to meet some of the highly placed members of the elite faculty and management of Sant Baba Bhag Singh Educational Complex like Prof Hari Singh, Prof. S.S. Saini, Prof. K.D. Mannan, Principal S.P. Sharma, Lt. General (Retd.) J.S. Dhillon and others. It was gratifying to note that all these highly qualified personnel with considerable experience at their back occupied coveted positions in various institutes of higher education in and around Punjab before their retirement. They are now engaged with Baba Bhag Singh Educational Complex not for material gains but for service to the community. Prof. Mandeep Kaur, a gracious lady, very ably conducted the proceeding of the very well organized lecture. I was informed that the Complex is likely to get the status a university in the near future. I wish Sant Baba Malkiat Singh and his associates all success and further prosperity in the years to come.  It was a rewarding experience for me to be at the Complex.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


We celebrated the 66th Independence Day on August 15. It is just a co-incident that the father of the Indian constitution Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was declared the Greatest Indian since 1947 by a well recognized poll conducted by the CNN-IBN TV Channel on the Independence Day itself. But where are we heading after 65 years of independence and 62 years of the proclamation and adoption of the constitution? The parliament is not allowed to function for the last two days by the opposition mainly the BJP on some matters of alleged corruption in the coal sector on the basis of the CAG report. They are demanding the resignation of the PM and his government. The government is ready to debate the matter in the parliament but the opposition is pressing for the resignation and is not interested in debate. It is a negation of the principles of democracy itself. It is not understandable why the PM should resign when he enjoys support of majority in the Lok Sabha. Does the opposition want mid-term elections? Why PM should oblige them? Why don’t they bring-in a no-confidence motion against the PM and his government and defeat them on the floor of the house, if they feel so strongly. Under the arrangements, CAG is a watch-dog to over-see the accounts and conduct audit on the acts and deeds of the government and report to government. The government is turn present the CAG report to the parliament where the PAC of the parliament will examine it and report back. This laid down procedure is not over and the opposition is interested in procedure. They intend to take the entire country to ransom – the itch to come back to power irrespective of the constitutional provisions to handle the situation. It is estimated that it costs two and a half crore a day to run the parliament and the current year alone 200 man hours have been lost in disturbances in the parliament so far. Are we heading for the “Grammar of Anarchy” as sounded by the Greatest Indian since independencece, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

The CAG report is important and must be considered in seriousness. In fact, while replying to the debate in the constituent assembly, DR. Ambedkar termed the office of the Audit and Accountant General as one of the most important powerful. We should be happy that the system is working. The CAG reports have the potential to bring the government to its toes. But we are not interest in the smooth run of the system due to vested interests and narrow political gains. It is a pity. Democracy would work only when we adhere to constitutional means and practices. Unfortunately, we are increasingly losing sight of these lofty ideals. The sooner we mend ourselves the better. It will good to listen to the warning given by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in constituent assembly on November 25, 1949 in his last speech before the constitution was passed. He said “If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form but also in fact, what we must do? The first thing in my judgment we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned the better for us. “

But unfortunately, the elite of the BJP like Sudhendra Kulkarni ( please see his article in the recent special issue of the Outlook magazine on the greatest Indian) and Arun Shourie ( of infamous book False Gods) are not inclined to recognize Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as a wise statesman who is as relevant today as it was before. This lop sided thinking is driving India to the brink. We must guard ourselves.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


The formal ceremony to announce the outcome of the Greatest Indian poll was held on August 14 at the CNN-IBN TV Channel in a filmy style. Shabana Azami who was the member of the Jury pronounced, with a sense of pride and gratification, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as the greatest Indian since 1947 (sounds better than saying the greatest Indian after Gandhi) and conveyed her ADAB & SALAM to him. Amitabh Bacchan, Harsha Bogle, Shabana Azami, Madhuri Dixit joined the host Rajdeep Sardesai at the ceremony. Mandira Bedi conducted the show with great aplomb as the Master of Ceremonies. My congratulations and thanks to all of them particularly Rajdeep Sardesai, the CEO of CNN-IBN. I like a drink in the evening. My sense of elation in joining the celebrations ( as Mandira Bedi said that it was not only an announcement but was a celebration too) was so high that with the permission of my wife I took an additional peg while watching the programme on the CNN-IBN

Yet an unfortunate aspect, as I wrote in my earlier blog, is that the print media of India is totally silent. I have not seen a mention of the fact that Dr. Ambedkar has been declared the GREATEST INDIAN since 1947 with due process in line with an internationally accepted format by an established agency and an eminent jury. One of the leading dailies, Hindustan Times, on its front page on August 15 carried a story “Recognition at Last – Pak rights historical wrong, confers Nishan-i-Imtiaz on Manto” It speaks of the mindset of the intelligentsia. What a shame ?

मस्जिद तो बना दी सव भर में इमां की हरारत वालों ने;

मन अपना पुराना पापी है बरसों से नमाज़ी हो न सका !

Monday, August 13, 2012


"The hunt for The Greatest Indian has come to a Celebratory End! The votes are in and the people of India have spoken.

The Greatest Indian to have ever lived after Mahatma Gandhi is Dr.B.R Ambedkar"

This is the announcement made by the CNN-IBN news channel on August 11, 2011 as the outcome of the poll conducted by them along with History TV 18 channel and the magazine Outlook. It is good to be late than never -देर आयात दरुस्त आयात . This recognition of Ambedkar was overdue. The CNN-IBN schedule of programmes indicates that the formal announcement will be made on the Independence Day on August 15. Of course, it is a fulsome tribute to the great son of India and rightly so. The poll on the greatest Indian conducted, in line with such polls on the BBC, by the CNN-IBN and History TV 18 is appreciable. The media partner of the exercise, the magazine Outlook has done a tremendous work in bring out a special number –‘B.R. Ambedkar – Greater than Nehru’ which quite informative. My congratulations to the organizers of the opinion poll.

Three things come to my mind which I would like to share. One – to become the greatest Indian is a well deserved recognition of the worthy son of India, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar which shall be appreciated and accepted by all. Second, we shall tend avoid the controversy on comparisons of greatness like the greatest Indian after Gandhi or greater than Nehru. The fact that Ambedkar has topped the elite club of the greats by his own right, the other greats like Gandhi and Nehru and many more have become ‘one of the greats. The monopoly has been broken. Thirdly, it is clear that Ambedkar is not an icon of the dalits alone but a national hero. The earlier it is accepted the better. Yogendra Yadav, one of the Jury members, rightly said in his assessment “The selection (of nominees) as much about us…we still largely see through Nehru’s eyes. Dr. Ambedkar stands very very tall (despite being ignored by the main stream). He was just not a dalit icon but a scholar as well.”

Yet another thought before I conclude. It is the hypocrisy of the urban middle class. The Market Research Survey, one of the components of the poll for the greatest Indian, conducted by AC Neilsen ranked Ambedkar at number 6 out of the ten short listed. It clears spells the mindset of the caste ridden society. The Jury of the poll was high power and well represented by the intelligential and the upper crust of the society. The intellectual bankruptcy was at its best. Out of the 28 members of the jury only 6 voted for Ambedkar as against 14 for Nehru. Two of the Jury members voted for Patel and one for JRD Tata. Five members did not cast their votes. The Jury ranked Ambedkar at number 2 after Nehru. The popular vote clearly and decisively weighed in favour of Ambedkar with highest number of votes. In spite of all obvious odds, Ambedkar made it to the top in the final run. The final results would be formally made known on August 15. The media is silent. No national paper, to my knowledge, has picked up the event as news worthy. It is shameful of the so-called independent and free media.

उडाए कुछ बर्क लाला ने कुछ नर्गिस ने कुछ गुल ने;

चमन में हर तरफ बिखरी हुई है दास्ताँ मेरी,

उड़ाई कुछ कुमरिओं ने तुतिओं ने अन्द्लिवों ने ;

चमन वालों ने मिलके लूट ली तर्ज़े फुग्हन मेरी ,

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Sometime before I started writing in this blog about the contemporary dalit heroes. I could not carry forward the project owing to lack of contact and information. I was living abroad at that time. Nevertheless, I had been referring to the dalit talent and up-coming youngsters in my blog entries under various other heads and in the process wrote about Pawan Tinu, Hardev Kaur Shant, Madan Jalandhari, Sushil &Jaswinder Sheemar, Babita and Anupam Kler and more recently Sunil who has been selected in PCS recently.

My friend Malkiat Singh of Balan (famous for Sachkhand Dera Balan) provided me an inspiration to undertake the subject again by inviting me to the anniversary of his father on July 2 at Mai Bhaggo Gurudwara at Balan. The function was organized by the family trust – Munshi Ram Charitable Trust, started some years before by the family of Malkiat Singh. The purpose of the trust is to encourage and facilitate the students of the village and around by providing monetary assistance and also help to the needy poor for medical etc. It is an appreciable activity. The trust and its Chairman Malkiat Singh were kind enough to associate me with the function. I was asked to distribute the prizes and awards which was an honor for me. I am also grateful for an honor ( Saropa) conferred on me by the esteemed Mai Bhaggo Gurudwara on the occasion

Coming to the subject of contemporary heroes, Let me start with Malkiat Singh himself. In fact he is the hero and the subject of my blog. Rising from an ordinary background in the village Balan, Malkiat scaled the heights of success and position in the establishment and society at large. After post graduating in political science from the DAV College in Jalandhar, Malkiat was selected to join the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1977 and allotted UP cadre. It was a great success for an ordinary village boy. He deserved it fully. My recent interaction with his college day friends like Ram Lal, Sharat Sabharwal (currently High Commissioner of India to Pakistan) and also his alma mater Dr. K.C. Mahindru and Prof. K.K. Ghai indicated that Malkiat was not only a brilliant and dedicated student but also a fine man. Obviously, Malkiat rose in the hierarchy of the service he joined and adorned the coveted position of the Director General of Police in UP, the highest position in the IPS career. During his long career in the IPS, Malkiat held challenging positions and handled difficult situations. In the process, Malkiat earned due reputation and appreciation and also recognition in the social and governmental circles. The political establishment headed by Ms. Mayawati as the Chief Minister of UP rewarded, rightly so, Malkiat Singh with a coveted and constitutional position as the Chairman of the UP Public Service Commission, on his retirement from the IPS early in the year 2012. Malkiat Singh is heading the constitution body of the largest state of India, UP with distinction and élan.

I am proud of my friend Malkiat and wish him all success and further prosperity in the years to come. Malkiat is one of contemporary heroes of the community.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I wrote about the greatest Indian in this blog some days before. The voting in the CNN-IBN poll (second phase) started yesterday evening for the 10 short listed Indians out of 50. The first 10, in terms of the vote in the first round, were: 1 Dr. B R Ambedkar 2812494, 2 A P J Abdul Kalam 2391374, 3 Vallabbhai Patel 1091479, 4 Kanshi Ram 252728, 5 A B Vajpayee 67794, 6 Sachin Tendulkar 43627, J R D Tata 29484, 8 Mother Teresa 29456, 9 Rajinikanth 25383, 10 Rajagopalachari 25290, I was under the impression that these 10 personalities would be considered for the second run and the final tally but it is not the case. I don’t know the details of the consideration and the methodology Adopted by the Jury. The ten short listed for the second round of voting are: Lata Mangheskar, B.R. Ambedkar, Vallabbhai Patel, Mother Teresa, APJ Abdul Kalam, RED Tata, A.B. Vajpayee, Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sachin Tendulkar. It may be observed that Kanshi Ram, Rajnikanth and Rajagopalachari have been taken off from the list and three names who did not figure in the first 10 on the basis of the voting have been included in the short list. It is strange. It means the Jury has over ridding powers to do or undo as they like. In the circumstances, it is yet to be seen as to how fair the poll would be in the caste ridden society and inherit prejudices. Kanshi Ram stood at number 4 in the voted list but his name has been dropped. The announcement made by the organizers of the poll says “The people have spoken and the verdict is out. These are the 10 shortlisted Greats who have been chosen from the list of 50. Cast your vote now for that one Great Indian who you believe is the most iconic, inspirational and impactful of these”. Let us wait and see till the final results are made known on August 15.

I have voted for Ambedkar as the greatest Indian. He secured the highest votes (with considerable margin) as compared to the second in the run APJ Abdul Kalam. I am confident that Ambedkar would still remain in the run and in all probability would make to the top – The Greatest Indian. I think the book “Makers of the Universe “published by the Oxford University has already raised the curtain by listing 100 personalities who influenced the world over 10,000 years. The first name of the list is that of Gautama Buddha and the fourth name is that of B.R. Ambedkar.