Saturday, December 14, 2013

General J.J. Singh

Yesterday, there was a story in the Hindustan Times (13.12.2013) that Former Chief of the Army Staff, General Joginder Jaswant Singh’s adopted son Kuljit Kumar has been commissioned in the Indian Army as an officer. Kuljit belonged to a poor family of Kashmir. The story further informed that General J.J. Sigh and his wife Anupama have also adopted yet another Naga boy James Kelengoto who is also a Jawan in the Army. The worthy couple has their own two children. I am touched by the generosity and kind heartedness of General J.J. Singh and his wife.

I have had the good fortune to meet General J.J. Singh and his wife Anupama. There was friendly Mushaira (Poetry recital) at the residence of Col. Narenderpal Singh and Prabhjot Kaur, the parents of Prabjot Kaur, at Defense Colony in New Delhi sometime in 1999-2000 when I was the Director of Central Asia Division in the Ministry of External Affairs. Both Col. Singh and Prabhjot kaur were renowned personalities in the literary circles. Col. Narenderpal Singh was the Deputy Military Secretary to the President of India Dr. S. Radhakrishnan and the Military Attaché in the Embassy of India in France. He was a novelist and a poet. His wife Prabhjot Kaur was an acclaimed poetess of Punjab. Their second daughter Nirupama, a socio-cultural activist and a poetess herself, was a friend of mine. She invited me and my wife Vidya to the dinner. It was an informal get-together which we enjoyed very much. There were many poets from the Punjabi elite of Delhi who recited their poems.  Exactly remember that both General Singh and Anupama sat with us on the matted floor and enjoyed the Mushaira. I found General J.J.Singh and his gracious wife humble and friendly. The newspaper story confirmed my good impression of the couple.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Today, December 6, is the death anniversary (Parinirvan Diwas) of Babasaheb B.R. Ambedkar (April 14, 1891 – December 6, 1956), the greatest son of India in contemporary times. It is a matter of gratification to note that as time passes, the relevance of Ambedkar becomes more pronounced both in the realm of India as a nation and also Indians as a society. He was a visionary in the true sense. Ambedkar may have been an iconic dalit leader but he belongs to the whole nation rather than just the dalits.

I would like to bring one point of Dr. Ambedkar’s thinking into focus. The political life in India is increasingly getting dirty and criminalized. It is a matter of concern and worry to all.  Ambedkar while commenting on the qualifications of a Member of Parliament said “The education can hardly be the sole qualification for membership of parliament. If I may use the words of Buddha he said that man required two things, one is Gyan and the other is Sheel. Gyan without Sheel is very dangerous. It must be accompanied by Sheel by which we mean character, moral courage, ability to be independent of any kind of temptation and truthful to ones ideals. I am very keen to see that no member enters this august assembly who does not possess Sheel in an adequate degree” One may easily see the relevance of Ambedkar in the light of present day’s requirement of cleansing politics in India. Our social and political activists like Anna Hazare should take some clue from Ambedkar’s thoughts in spearheading their struggle for a clean administration.

India is yet to pay its debt of gratitude to Babasaheb Ambedkar in full measure. Some of the foreign organizations have started doing so. According to media reports, which did not get much attention in India, recently Columbia University of the USA, in celebrating its 250th anniversary,  has issued a list of 100 personalities worldwide who were the alumni of the University and made their mark in shaping the destiny of millions  in their own countries and otherwise. The name of Ambedkar tops the list and rightly so. Dr. Ambedkar studied at Columbia University from 1913-1915. It is a great tribute to India and its greatest son.