Wednesday, August 26, 2015


All India Backward (SC, ST  & OBC) and Minority Communities Employees Federation – BAMCEF is a non-political outfit of the under-privileged. It was started in 1971 and after crossing the organizational rigors was finally launched on December 6, 1978. The founding fathers of BAMCEF – Babu Kanshi Ram, D.K. Khaparde, Ram Khobragade among others stipulated that the main objective of the organization was to bring about ‘Vyavasta Parivartan’ (Systemic Transformation) in the society at large as visualized in the mission and philosophy of Jyotiba Phule and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and also of Periyar Ramaswamy Naicker. They thought that since it was an organization of the educated section of the dalit and less-privileged, it should work as a “Think Tank” of the weaker sections of the society. It was a laudable effort. As expected, BAMCEF really became an effective mouthpiece of dalits and OBCs and was recognized as a potent force. The emerging political scenario in the country attracted Babu Kanshi Ram to jump into active politics and he floated BSP in 1987. Some divisive elements, either on their own or on encouragement from the forces which were against the BAMCEF, came in with their own agenda. The resultant outcome, to my mind, obviously weakened the movement and the organization. BAMCEF which was a force to reckon with is a divided house now. It is a pity.

As a community activist, after my retirement from my diplomatic
Addressing BMCEF Meet at Ludhiana
career, I came into contact with a few active members of BAMCEF namely Dr. Balkar Chand, Dr. Mohan Mehmi, Prof. Akshay Jilowa, and Jagdish Virdi among others and they started inviting me to their functions. I accepted this association with pleasure with a view to educate myself and add a bit to the movement professing to carry forward the agenda and legacy of Babasaheb Ambedkar. I participated in the annual function of the Punjab Chapter of BAMCEF at Nehru Sidhant Kendra at Ludhiana on August 23, 2015 as Chief Guest. Earlier, some two years ago, they were kind enough to invite me to their annual function at Jalandhar as a Guest of Honour. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friends in BAMCEF for the honour bestowed on me. In the process, I stand to benefit myself.

As I said, BAMCEF, as I see, is a divided house. But still there is a
With Waman Meshram and others at BAMCEF Meet at Ludhiana
lingering hope to set the matters right. I met the National President of BAMCEF Waman Meshram twice in these functions. Waman Meshram is a highly motivated and thoroughly dedicated young leader to carry the weight of BAMCEF on his shoulders. He is a capable and knowledgeable leader of the community.  I wish him all the best in his onerous task to bring about systemic change and dismantle ‘Brahamnical Social Order’ to carry forward the Phule-Ambedkar legacy. I was impressed by the annual meeting of August 23 at Ludhiana. The auditorium was full to capacity. I was told that there were hundreds of highly placed professionals and technocrats in the orderly and receptive audience.  I could feel the spirit of Ambedkar and his caravan. Let us take that caravan forward and attain the goal of ‘Political Power’ to its rightful heirs. I concluded my brief speech with a couplet:

तू पहले बात फिर बात का अंदाज पैदा कर;
फिर दुनिआ  में तुझे कोई नज़र अंदाज कर नहीं सकता!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Independence Day – August 15

Today, August 15, we are celebrating 69th anniversary of our
independence.  While we are still a nascent nation and we rejoice on this big day in our national life, it is time to sit and check the balance sheet and contemplate on the gains and losses, if we intend to do justice to ourselves and our motherland. At the dawn of freedom, PM Jawaharlal Nehru said, and rightly so, “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially.”The question is: have we redeemed the pledge? No, I don’t think we have. It is a pity. PM Nehru further said in his famous “tryst with destiny” speech, “Freedom and power bring responsibility.” It seems that we intend to enjoy freedom but are not inclined to undertake responsibility. Something is amiss and shall be set right. Let us celebrate the Independence Day with this thinking that we are to set the things right.

The current political scenario in the country is not encouraging. The temple of parliamentary democracy i.e. Parliament is not allowed to function. The level and tenor of political discourse in the parliament and otherwise has been reduced to almost zero. Political propriety and morality which are essential unwritten fundamentals of democracy have been completely forgotten by our politicians and political parties. Our fore-fathers particularly Dr. B.R. Ambedkar gave full weightage to these lofty ideals in the functioning of parliamentary democracy and said”The education can hardly be the sole qualification for membership of the parliament. If I may use the words of Buddha he said that man requires two things: one is Gyan and 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, truthful to ones ideals. I am very keen to see that no member enters this august assembly who does not possess Sheel in adequate degree.” We need to think over and follow these great ideas of our leaders.

The recent stand-off in the parliament between the opposition led by the Congress Party and the NDA government led by the BJP is a case in point. The entire session was washed off because of unrelenting approaches both by the opposition and the government. The net result of this is legislative standstill and avoidable wastage of huge money. I am reminded of the phraseology of “Grammar of Anarchy” used in his closing speech in the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949. He said, “If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing in my judgement 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 that we must abandon the method of civil-disobedience, non-co-operation 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 unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.”It was the warning given by the father of the Indian constitution. Now we shall assess and judge ourselves as to where do we stand. I think we failed ourselves.

On the political front, our political forces could not polarize themselves on the basis of ideology and programme. The society is still divided on the basis of caste and religion. The gains of development and progress could not trickle down to the poor and weaker sections of the society. The political democracy could not transform itself into economic and social democracy as envisaged by Babasaheb B.R. Ambedkar. These are some of the points which are a matter of concern and worry. But on the other side, it is gratifying to note that common man cherish and uphold the democratic values. The awareness is increasing. The governments are changed through the ballot and not by bullet. The social security net is getting root. The hope and scope of economic well-being is getting strong. I this way, India have come a long way in its 69th year of Independence but it has still to go a long way. It can happen with a strong political will and a strong moral sense with Gyan and Sheel as stipulated by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Let us rededicate ourselves today to redeem the pledge which PM Jawaharlal gave us at the dawn of Independence on the mid-night of August 14, 1947.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Chaudhary Jagjit Singh – A Tribute

Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, a veteran Congress and Dalit leader of the
Chaudhary Jagjit Singh
Doaba region of Punjab passed away on August 4, 2015. He was 82 but was keeping good health and was an active politician and a social activist. For the last couple of years, I have been watching him at various social and community functions, particularly at the Guru Ravidass Jayanti Shobha Yatra in Jalandhar which he used to lead from Guru Ravidass Bhawan on Link Road, of which he was the mentor. Chaudhary Sahib was a successful and skilled politician and was the rightful inheritor of the political legacy of his father Master Gurbanta Singh. He started his political career as the Sarpanch of his ancestral village Dhariwal Kadian in the vicinity of Jalandhar city and rose, through the ranks, to the coveted position of Cabinet Minister in various Congress Party led Governments. Chaudhary Sahib, as he was usually addressed, was also the Leader of Opposition as the Leader of the Punjab Congress Legislative Party for many years.  His death has certainly created a void in the Congress and Dalit leadership. He was a master political tactician and was considered the “Man Friday” of Captain Amrinder Singh, former Chief Minister of Punjab. It is a co-incident that Chaudhary Jagjit Singh’s demise came on the birth anniversary of Master Gurbanta Singh.

Carry forwarding Master Gurbanta Singh’s mission, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh was fully engaged in some educational projects of the family starting from Guru Ravidass School at Kishanpura in Jalandhar housed at the Headquarters of Ad-dharam Mandal in the good old days, Janta School at Lambra and Master Gurbanta Singh Janta College at Kartarpur. Kartarpur remained the political citadel of the family from where Chaudhary Jagjit Singh became MLA for five times after his father Master Gurbanta Singh. One may assess the political importance of Kartarpur constituency that right from the Government of CM Partap Singh Kairon in the mid 1950s, the incumbent MLAs remained important ministers. Political standing of the family may be judged from the fact that whosoever defeated Master Gurbanta Singh and Chaudhary Jagjit Singh became a minister in recognition of the point that he defeated a poltical heavy-weight. Piara Ram Dhanowalia of the Republican Party defeated Master Gurbanta Singh in 1967 and became a minister in Justice Gurnam Singh’s first non-Congress government. Avinash Chander of Akali Dal, a political novice at the time, was rewarded with the position of Chief Parliamentary Secretary by CM Prakash Singh Badal, on defeating political stalwart Chaudhary Jagjit Singh. Again Sarwan Singh, an Akali, defeated Chaudhary Sahib and became a Minister in recognition of his success in trouncing a strong opponent. Let us see what happens in 2017 elections. Chaudhary Surinder  Singh, son of Chauhary Jagjit Singh or Chaudhary Vikram Singh, son of Chaudhary Santokh Singh who is the sitting MP from Jalandhar and brother of Chaudhary Sahib, may come forward to claim the political legacy of the family and contest from Kartarpur constituency.

During my school days in early 1960s, my association and interest with Master Gurbanta Singh and his family was through our fellow students from Dhariwal Kadian at Sain Dass School at Basti Nau, particularly Taras Ram, who subsequently joined Chaudhary Jagjit Singh as one of his personal staff and was still with him. Taras Ram used to take care of and ferry Chaudhary Surinder Singh, son of Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, when he was a small child. Taras Ram occasionally would bring him to our school and we enjoyed the young company. Chaudhary Jagjit Singh had all the trappings of a well to-do young man and was becoming famous (or infamous) on account of his activities. Though Chaudhary Sahib was slowly and steadily attaining political foothold and maturity yet sometimes juicy and spicy stories did appear in the elite company of the fellow young friends from the Kairon family. These stories obviously were of interest to the young minds.

My personal interaction with Chaudhary Sahib was limited except on an occasion in the winter of 1985-86, if my memory does not ditch me. I was spending my home leave at my native place at Bootan Mandi in Jalandhar. One fine evening, I was enjoying a drink with my friend Prem Shant and got a message that an up-coming young politician Surinder Mahey, who later became Mayor of Jalandhar with the blessings of Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, was giving a party in connection with his marriage, where many political big-wigs were expected. Surinder invited both Prem and me to join the celebrations. It was a pleasure to go and join the party. As expected, MOS Yogendra Makwana from Delhi, along with Chaudhary Jagjit Singh and Darshan Singh Kaypee, were already there and discussing matters of interest to the community. There was a discussion on Babu Kanshi Ram who was fast rising on the political firmament of India. He was an unknown entity to most of the Congress leadership and Chaudhary Sahib and Kaypee Sahib were not very appreciative of him. Prem Shant, who is an ardent follower of Babu Kanshi Ram, was not happy with the discussion and tried to argue with them. I also intervened once or twice particularly on Yogendra Makawana’s interest in knowing about the sports industry and role and status of dalits in the industry. He was appreciative of my views and said so but Chaudhary Jagjit Singh and Darshan Singh Kaypee were more interested in downsizing Babu Kanshi Ram. I observed that Kanshi Ram was an up-coming leader by his own right. They did not like it, I could feel and guess. Towards the end, when these worthy leaders were about to leave, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh remarked somewhat sarcastically, “Indian Foreign Service Wale Satisfy Hue Hain Ya Nahin?” In response, I gave a big smile and shook his hand to pay my respect. Chaudhary Sahib was a clever man and understood the pulse of the people.  

With this, I pay my humble tributes to Chaudhary Jagjit Singh. His contributions to the Punjab politics, welfare of dalits, affordable education, and affiliation to the mission of Guru Ravidass are laudable. May his soul rest in peace.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Handling Terrorism

Handling terrorism is too complex a matter – easy to write about
and comment on but very difficult to act and deliver. However, some aspects of handling terrorism still need to be answered for the better understanding of a layman like me. The subject is currently in news on account of Dinanagar (Gurdaspur) terror attack of July 27. It is a matter of gratification that our security forces successfully ended the matter by killing all the three terrorists who most likely came from across the border. The resultant damage inflicted by the terrorists was also big in which many of our police personnel, including SP Baljit Singh, and civilians lost their lives.

It is very difficult to control terrorism. Terrorists need to be lucky only once and the receiving end i.e. people and the forces to counter the scourge of terrorism need to be lucky all the time. It is all the more difficult to handle terrorists of ‘Fidayeen’ variety. Unfortunately, we have a hostile neighbor with a porous border. They host, train, export terrorists almost as a state sponsored activity to bleed India. Nothing much can be done about this till we settle things with Pakistan either politically and diplomatically or otherwise. The only option at this juncture, therefore, is to tighten our defense and border controls and be vigilant at home. There is no point in blaming each other as and when such terror incidents happen. We need to be alert and ready to face the situation as it comes.

The main purpose of this piece is to consider and assess the response of our police and other agencies to handle terror strikes within our borders. I have been following these incidents and actions with interest and concern. My overall assessment is that we talk much and do little. It seems that we forget quickly and learn nothing from such situations. Apart from the local police authorities, who should generally be handling such terror incidents, there are a plethora of other agencies like Para-military Forces, National Security Guards (NSG), Military etc. I have observed that whenever a terror strike happens, all these outfits are made to rush to the scene. It creates a chaotic situation generating unnecessary hype and commotion. There is no designated command to act and handle such situations. In the recent incident at Dinanagar, the local police was ill-equipped to give a desired and expected response to terrorists who were Fidyaeens from Pakistan. Additional police force was called from neighboring stations. Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAP) contingent of Punjab to handle such situations was called and deployed. The NSG and Military was also summoned and kept on standby.  It appeared that there was no clear cut strategy and nobody knew who was in command. Nevertheless, the action was on to flush out, over-power or eliminate the terrorists holding their positions inside the police station. The SWAP commandos were not fully dressed and equipped, as reported in the media also, to handle the situation. SP Baljit Singh, who was also not fully equipped, held the position, along with his men, valiantly and fell to the bullets of terrorists and lost his life.  Punjab Police authorities were adamant and wanted to handle the situation by the Punjab forces resulting in undue and uncalled for delay in finishing the operation.  The terrorists could have tried to blow the building and escape in the resultant chaos and confusion and inflict more damage which was in any case their motive. The terrorists had a rocket launcher which was enough to destroy a building. The people at the helm were more interested, it seems, in adding another feather in their caps without caring for the cost. The electronic media, it has been seen, invariably go berserk and become handy in spreading rumors by telecasting unconfirmed stories by adding their own spicy narrations.

All said, I would like to reiterate, it appears, that we are not fully
serious and ready to meet the challenge, in spite of the fact that we have been at the receiving end for many decades. The concerned agencies are to be fully trained, equipped to fight the menace of terrorism. The command structures, starting from the local administration like District Collector, should be put in place to avoid confusion in decision making at the first instance. Thereafter, the action may be followed and reviewed by State and Centre level Committees as per assessment and requirement instead of making all the agencies to rush and create avoidable confusion at the first go.

Monday, August 3, 2015

International Day of Equality–April14, Birthday of Dr. Ambedkar

The Punjab Chapter of All India Confederation of SC/ST
With MOS Shri Vijay Sampla
Organizations hosted their Second Annual Meet on August 1, 2015 at Jalandhar.  The main agenda of the meeting was to discuss the matters of interest to dalit employees both in the Government and Public Sectors and also their social status in the society at large. The theme of the meeting was “Philosophy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and its Relevance in the present Scenario”.  Hon’ble MOS for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Vijay Sampla was the Chief Guest at the function in which Chairman of SC Commission of Punjab Shri Rajesh Bagha, Shri B.S. Bharti, Shri K.P. Chaudhary, President and General Secretary respectively of the Confederation also participated,  apart from a number of other intellectuals and office bearers of various SC/ST organizations.

Speaking at the meeting, Shri Ramesh Chander, Retired
Ramesh Chander speaking at the function
Ambassador–IFS mentioned about his proposal submitted to Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs Smt. Sushma Swaraj to propose at the next UNGA in September, 2015 at New York to declare April 14 (Birth Anniversary) of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as “International Day of Equality” in commemoration of 125th Birth Anniversary of the greatest son of India who was the messiah of the down trodden and the under-privileged masses of India and the world at large (Text of the letter dated June 12, 2015) to EAM is appened below). The basic tenets of the philosophy of Dr. Ambedkar were Liberty, Equality and Fraternity which is not only a basic and fundamental feature of the Indian constitution but also one of guiding principles of the United Nations. Ambassador Ramesh Chander noted with satisfaction that the Government of India under the stewardship of PM Narendra Modi has decided to commemorate Babasaheb Ambedkar in a befitting manner at the 125th Jayanti of the great leader.  He urged the audience at the meeting to support and endorse his proposal and request PM Narendra Modi to kindly include it in his address at the forthcoming UNGA at New York. It will go a long way in paying befitting tributes to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar but also in strengthening the edifice of Equality and Empowerment, the lofty goals of the UN.

I hereby solicit understanding of my fellow countrymen
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
particularly the followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar and request them to kindly support my proposal to declare April 14, Birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, as the International Day of Equality and request PM Narendra Modi to make a demarche to the UNGA in this regard. It may be done through individual and personal communication to Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs Smt. Sushma Swaraj and PM Narendra Modi or through ones organization/association to which one is affiliated.

APPENDIX: Text of Ambassador Ramesh Chander’s letter dated June 12 addressed to Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs Smt. Sushma Swaraj.

Dear Madam,
I am one among the IFS fraternity. After retirement in December, 2010, I have come back to my roots in Jalandhar. As post retirement activities, I engage myself in educational and social matters pertaining to the socially and economically weaker sections of the society. I am a dalit and a humble follower of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. After the Government’s decision to observe 125th Anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar, I wrote to Foreign Secretary Dr. S. Jaishankar (copy enclosed for kind perusal) and offered my services with regard to the programmes to be made and conducted by the MEA in this regard.
The purpose of this letter is to make a humble suggestion for your kind consideration. PM Narendra Modi’s government, particularly you as the Minister of External Affairs, has given due weightage to India’s “Soft Power” in diplomacy. The latest feather in your cap is the International Yoga Day under the aegis of the UN. With a view to honour Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, one of the greatest sons of India, by celebrating his 125th Birth Anniversary, the Government has taken a right and laudable decision. It will go a long way in assuaging the ruffled feelings of millions of poor and socially backward followers of the great leader. My humble submission is that it will only be appropriate if India makes yet another proposal at the next UNGA in September, 2015 to declare 14th April, birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, as International Day of Equality. You would agree, Madam Minister, that it would not only carry forward the UN goals of “Empowerment” of the weaker sections of the world population but also instill the democratic values of “Equality, Liberty and Fraternity” in the world order. These democratic and humane values were dear to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and his spiritual Guru Mahatma Buddha, the greatest son of India.

I am confident that this decision and action of the Government will be much appreciated by the weaker sections of the society. It will also be a befitting tribute to the memory and legacy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, messiah of the under privileged and neglected sections of humanity at large.

Yours sincerely,

(Ramesh Chander)
Smt. Sushma Swaraj,
Minister of External Affairs,
South Block, NEW DELHI - 110011