Friday, December 22, 2017

Bits and Pieces – As I Please – 11

Bits and Pieces – As I Please – 11

Rahul Gandhi – Rahul Gandhi, 47, is a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi clan, a known family of India with a long legacy of Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Feroz Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi, and Sonia Gandhi in the social and political life of India in the contemporary times. Rahul Gandhi, a reluctant politician to begin with like his father Rajiv and mother Sonia, has come of age in politics. He took over the reins of the old grant party of India, the Congress Party on December 17, 2017 as expected. Notwithstanding the propaganda onslaughts of his political opponents terming Rahul’s elevation as the President of the
Congress Party as ‘dynastic coronation’, Rahul has arrived, if the results of Gujarat elections are any indication where he led the Congress election campaign.  The BJP has won, no doubt, but not without getting the heat against the self-righteousness of the ruling elite led by PM Narendra Modi. Rahul, by now, I think, is a mature politician. He should firmly stand for secularism, pluralism, democracy and casteless society. I could not understand his over emphasized and over professed Hindu identity, as ‘Janeudhari Hindu’ in the run up to the Gujarat elections. He should proudly remain what he is, like his great grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru. Let us wish Rahul Gandhi all the very best in the larger interest of India and its democratic polity. The political forces of India should polarize under the respective banners of the BJP, right of the Centre and the Congress Party, left of the Centre, leaving good space for the Centre. This kind of polarization is needed if we want to see the largest democracy of the world as a dynamic one too.

Falling Standards of Electioneering – The state elections in Gujarat and HP are over and also municipal elections in Punjab. The political pundits are busy in analyzing the results and political parties and their leaderships busy in justifying their role, conduct and outcome of the elections. Some pertinent points have come to the fore which ring warning bells for the democratic polity, secular and pluralistic society and adherence to unconstitutional methods to achieve political goals. It is time to stop, sit and think before it
becomes too late and we put our democracy in “jeopardy” as visualized by no less a person Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, father of the Indian constitution. The elections were not contested on the basis of political agenda, social and economic interests and concerns and above all not with “Gyan and Sheel”; the much needed moral fabric for the democratic set-up. The often confessed agenda of so called “Vikas” was side-lined and abandoned in favour of caste and religion with a view to polarize vote banks. It suits the ruling BJP. The Congress led by Rahul fell into the trap. He over-zealously visited Hindu temples. BJP countered it and challenged his Hindu credentials. Rahul Gandhi lowered himself further by flaunting himself as a “Janeudhari Hindu” against the Nehru legacy of secularism. Mani Shankar Aiyar added fuel to the fire by terming PM Narendra Modi as “Neech Aadmi”. He did not use the word ‘Neech’ to identify his caste or birth, to my understanding, but to say that Modi was low i.e. ‘Neech’ in his conduct, behaviour, and demeanor.  PM Modi, as a past master to exploit such situations, encashed it by stressing that Aiyar not only insulted him but also hurtled the pride of Gujarat by calling him ‘Neech’. It was a willful distortion of the intent of Aiyar’s untimely utterances. BJP was feeling the heat of the youth brigade of Rahul Gandhi supported by Hardik and Mevani, among others. Again, Mani Aiyar’s dinner diplomacy on the eve of voting in Gujarat provided the BJP and PM Modi further ammunition to fire to defeat the opponents. PM Modi, to my thinking, crossed all limits of diplomatic niceties by dragging Pakistan and PM Manmohan Singh in the alleged conspiracy against him. He also generated the “Supari” allegedly arranged by Mani Shankar Aiyar in connivance with his Pakistani friends to defeat and unseat the democratically elected government of Modi. The acrimonious comparing, led by no other than PM Modi, crossed all limits of political sagacity and morality.  This fast falling standards of electioneering is a matter of worry and concern. I am reminded of Babasaheb Ambedkar on the subject of morality in politics and I quote, “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.”

Municipal Elections in Punjab – Elections to some of the municipal corporations and councils in Punjab were conducted last week on December 17. Jalandhar Corporation was one of them. I am based in Jalandhar and as such I witnessed these elections. It is a matter of regret increasingly we have made a mockery of our system. It is a matter of concern and worry. First of all, after the delimitation of Municipal Wards, the elections were announced in a hurry which created all round confusion among the political parties and aspirants to participate. The administrative and election machinery were not fully prepared and equipped to handle the
elections. New Ward Limitation details were not readily available even to the aspiring candidates. Polling booths were not allocated properly and in many cases these fell in the neighbouring wards. The voters were not briefed and informed through voting slips, as it was done earlier. It was a noisy affair with loud speakers mounted on rickshaws and three wheelers. There were several categories of wards namely; General, SC reserved, SC ladies reserved, General Ladies reserved, OBCs etc. The whole exercise was confusing. With a view to match the categorization, many couples from adjacent wards were in the fray. The wives of aspiring players were thrown in the arena as their wards became lady’s reserved. Obviously, it led to piling of reluctant and unsuitable candidates. Most of the lady candidates were dummy candidates or Mukhotas as it was certain that their husbands will hold the fort in practice. It is a negation of democratic norms. I am told that husbands of such lady Councilors even attend the meetings of the Council and act on behalf of their spouses.  The redeeming feature is that this time the ladies have a majority in the 80 member Jalandhar Municipal Corporation. It was also in the media that most probably, the coveted post of the Mayor of the city of Jalandhar will be reserved for a lady councilor and that too from the SC community.  The local councils are expected to play a definite role in not only strengthening the grass-root democratic institutions but also play a big role in providing good municipal services and facilities to the citizens. It is all the more important to pay much needed attention to smoothen the functioning of the municipal councils. It will go a long way in bringing about and attaining the objectives “Smart Cities” project.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sardar Swaran Singh

Sardar Swaran Singh

One of my colleagues in the IFS has circulated an E-mail message of the daughter of Sardar Swaran Singh about interesting anecdotes pertaining to EAM Sardar Swaran Singh. I am a retired Ambassador of the IFS.  I started my career at the lower echelons of the service in the MEA in March, 1970 when Sardar Swaran Singh was the EAM. Before joining the service, I was a student in Jalandhar and as such had a glimpse of Sardar Sahib, a towering
personality and smartly dressed in white khadi, many a times at my native place Bootan Mandi where he used to stop at Seth Khushi Ram’s, a Congress leader, place on his way to his native village Shankar or on tour of his Jalandhar parliamentary constituency. I was impressed by Sardar Sahib’s personality. After joining the MEA, I met him briefly in the Parliament House sometime in the later months of 1970 along with Master Sadhu Ram who was the MP from Phillour. I often saw him coming to his office in the South Block where my office was also located.

I was attached to the Interpreters Cell of the MEA from 1970 to 1973. Interpreters often get the opportunities to work with the top leadership during the course of their duties as Interpreter. Some interesting encounters were often discussed in the Cell. I would like to narrate some such anecdotes relating to Sardar Swaran Singh. One of the Arabic Interpreters and Persian Interpreters narrated interesting anecdotes:-

Protocol Conscious EAM – Sometimes in 1971, Sardar Swaran Singh was on an official visit to one of the Arab countries. He was to call on his counterpart after lunch. He went to his room in the hotel for a siesta telling his aides that he would come down to the lobby five minutes before the scheduled call. But Sardarji did not turn up. They waited for another five minutes. There was no sign of the Minister. In panic the Interpreter went to the EAM’s room and belled. Sardarji opened the door quickly in a huff saying that he was sorry, he fell asleep. He picked up his untied turban (he was not in the habit of using already made turbans) and rushed out. He tied the turban while sitting in the car by using the car mirror. On arrival, he apologized to his counterpart and narrated the entire laps in a childlike simplicity. There was a big laugh. The second such incident was narrated by the Persian Interpreter. Mohammed Daoud, Special Envoy of Afghanistan Head of State King Zahir Shah, was in Delhi, sometime in the early 1970s. He was slated to call on EAM Sardar Swaran Singh in his South Block office. The Interpreter and the Protocol Liasion Officer were to bring the Afghan Envoy to the call from his Hotel. At the eleventh hour Mohammed Daoud refused to move stating that the Indian Minister should call on him as he was senior to him as the Presidential Envoy. What to do? These officers were dumb founded. The matter was reported to the Chief of Protocol. His intervention also could not resolve this protocol intricacy. The Interpreter was sent to EAM’s office to brief him appropriately on the protocol stance of the Afghani guest. Sardarji calmly listened and got up with a big laugh and said let us go. He was fully aware of the sensitivities of such trivial matters.

Cool-headed Sardar:- Sardar Swaran Singh was a cool- headed and soft spoken person with a demeanor of a seasoned diplomat. He was apt at maintaining his cool in the face of extreme provocations by his opposite side. He was often fielded to hold the fort where it was expected or desired that nothing concrete would come out of the talks and negotiations. He would carry on endlessly in the garb of seriousness knowing full- well that it was a sheer waste of time. After one such negotiations, one of his opposite numbers remarked that the Hon’ble Minister must be carrying a slab of ice underneath his turban. On reporting the matter to him, Sardarji had a hearty laugh and said that he was deliberately creating that ‘Bhambalbhussa” (bamboozlement).

In April, 1974, I joined the PMO, the then PM’s Secretariat, as Protocol and Hospitality Assistant and worked there till October, 1977. In that capacity, I had many more opportunities to see Sardar Swaran Singh in the meeting rooms of the South Block and also in the corridors of power in the PMO and the MEA as a humble functionary.

Seasoned Diplomat: I saw Sardarji in action for the first time in April, 1974 in the protracted meetings and negotiations at the Tripartite meeting of FMs of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan to address and settle the issue of repatriation of POWs and civilian internees. Sardar Swaran Singh, Aziz Ahmed and Kamal Hossain headed delegations of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively. I was impressed by the statement of Sardarji at the opening plenary session and was privileged to be present in the conference room of
the PMO. One of the formulations of his statement still lingers in my mind when he said in a calm and cool manner, “let us forget the hostilities and confrontations of the past as a bad dream.” Our job was to look after the hospitality that is requirement of tea, coffee, snacks etc.  during the meetings. On the final day at the concluding plenary session in the evening when the protocol and agreement was to signed, I was standing outside the conference room along with my boss Vimla Sindhi, commonly called Behanji. The three FMs came out from the office of PM Indira Gandhi after an official call, situated on the other corner of the corridor, and walked towards the conference room. Seeing Behanji, whom Sardar Swaran Singh knew from her duties at the Teenmurti House in the staff of PM Jawaharlal Nehru, enquired in lighter vein “Han to Vimlaji, ab kya seva karogi? Humne bahut kaam kiya hai. Koi badiya cheez lana.” Vimlaji responded instantly and said, “Yes sir, Aaj bahut garmi bhi hai. Hastakshar hone ke baad, Faluda Kulfi serve kiya jayega.” Sardar Saheb smiled and muttered, “Han yeh theek rahega.” I learnt how Sardar Swaran Singh mastered the art of lowering the diplomatic temperature with his earthy wit.

Political Sagacity: Here is one more anecdote which may be of interest to see another facet of Sardar Swaran Singh’s personality. It is recorded fact that Sardar Saheb was not too happy with the imposition of emergency. His portfolio of MEA was changed. After a cabinet meeting, one day, he came out of the conference room along with some other Ministers. I was standing near the lift in front of the conference room. One of the Ministers asked Sardar Sahib the reason and logic for the change. Sardar Sahib responded curtly, but with his usual smile, and said, “She wanted young blood” in the MEA, probably referring to Y.B. Chavan who replaced him in the MEA. I liked Sardar Swaran Singh as a pleasing and amicable personality.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Bits and Pieces – As I Please – 10

Bits and Pieces – As I Please – 10

Sant Surinder Dass Bawa:- I was at the residence of Prof. Balbir Chander, my brother-in-law (Jijaji) for a pre-marriage ceremony of my niece (Bhanji) Priya, on November 4. I met Sant Surinder Dass Bawa at the ceremony. Santji was invited to bless the family and invoke auspicious aura for the marriage scheduled for November 6. I may mention that Sant Surinder Dass Bawa is one of the educated Sants of the dalit community in the region who was a student of Prof. Balbir Chander at Doaba College in the early 1990s. Sant Surinder took to spiritualism as a young student under the influence of Dera Sachkhand Balan of Sant Sarwan Dassji, a prominent
social spiritual personality of the Doaba region. He got initiated and trained under the wings of Sant Garib Dass and Sant Ramanand and acquired and earned good recognition in the aftermath of Sant Ramanand’s assassination in Vienna (Austria) in a mindless shootout by some Sikh fundamentalists in May, 2009. He earned and attained further prominence in the following years as the chief spokesperson of the Dera and Chief Aide of the Dera Chief Sant Niranjan Dass. It is a common knowledge that Sant Surinder Dass was main adviser and executor of the Dera Sachkhand Balan in the run up to the pronouncement and propagation of Ravidassia Dharam in 2010-11. He is said to be one of the major contributors to the compilation and making of the Amrit Bani, the said to be holy book (Religious Granth) of the Ravidassia Dharam. But due to reasons not available in the public domain, Sant Surinder Dass Bawa fell from grace and was made to part ways with the Dera in the following years. Sant Surinder Dass Bawa now runs his own Dera in a village in the outskirts of Jalandhar. He resisted the unpleasant fallout but could not gain the confidence of Sant Niranjan Dass and his coterie. Though we knew each other somewhat earlier as well, in this meeting we could interact a bit more seriously. I enquired about the main thrust of his mission these days. He said of course it was to enlighten, unite and empower the weaker sections of the society as visualized by Guru Ravidass and Babasaheb Ambedkar. He said he was fully engaged, both in India and abroad, in spreading and acceptance of Ravidassia Dharam and the message of Amrit Bani for the good of the down trodden people. The accompanying Ragi Jatha of Bangar Brothers later while singing gave the audience the fore-taste of their mission – their unbroken allegiance to the Dera Sachkhand Balan of yore, Ravidassia Dharam and Amrit Bani as the new identity of dalits, congruity of the philosophy and mission of Guru Ravidas and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar etc. Currently the underlined theme of ‘Chamar Pride’ was a visible item on their agenda. Sant Surinder Dass started his discourse, after the singing of Banger Brothers on the lines of the above mentioned trend setters. I had to leave midway due to some other engagement and could not listen to him. Later my brother Paramjit told me that Sant Bawaji spoke about his untiring efforts to enlighten the community and carry forward the caravan of Guru Ravidass and Babasaheb Ambedkar. He spoke very high of Prof. Balbir Chander and his alma mater, Doaba College in shaping his personality. I respect Sant Surinder Bawa as a well meaning Sant who has dedicated himself totally to the causes of the community. But I have my doubts and reservations on the need and desirability of the Ravidassia Dharam, the authenticity of the Amrit Bani as a holy granth, limited agenda of chamar pride, confining the total thrust of the agenda of the community to Dera Sachkhand Balan. I think, these things lead to disunity and generate animosity which is the anti thesis of the mission and philosophy of both Guru Ravidass and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

MLA Chaudhary Surinder Singh: - Though we nodded at each other on a couple of public occasions earlier as well, yet I had a chance encounter with MLA Chaudhary Surinder Singh at the marriage of my nephew (Bhanja) Kamaljit yesterday, December 3, 2017. I introduced myself and exchanged usual courtesies and niceties. Chaudhary Sahib was harmoniously responsive. I introduced my brothers Krishan Lal and Paramjit and Chaudhary instantly responded that they were no strangers and he knew them already. He came on the invitation of the girl’s side. I informed him
that it was the marriage of my Bhanja. He was happy to know and congratulated me and my brothers. Saying that since there were many more people waiting in the wings to meet him and say hello, I will not like to engage him further and wished to meet him some other time. He humbled me by saying that don’t worry on that count and added that he was pleased to meet me as an important person of our community. I found Chaudhary Surinder Singh a well groomed and cultured personality. His grounding and upbringing in an important dalit family of Punjab, Master Gurbanta Singh, who made a good and positive contribution to the polity and society was clearly demonstrated in a few minutes of our interaction. Surinder Singh is the grandson of Master Gurbanta Singh, a Congress leader who remained a Minister in various governments in Punjab. Surinder Singh is the son of Chaudhary Jagjit Singh who stepped into the big shoes of Master Gurbanta Singh and added many feathers to the family’s turban and handed over the baton to his younger brother MP Chaudhary Santokh Singh. Chaudhary Surinder Singh is a first time MLA from his family’s bastion, Kartarpur Assembly segment. Sometimes it may happen that one carries a false image of someone just on the basis of misinformation or disinformation.  I must write that it was so with me in the case of Chaudhary Surinder Singh. I was told that he was an alcoholic and was not a serious politician. It was wrong. My brief encounter with the scion of Master Gurbanta Singh’s family changed my impressions of Chaudhary Surinder Singh completely. I close this with hearty compliments and all the best wishes to the upcoming leader of the community. It is rightly said:
बद से बदनाम बुरा !

The significance of December 6:- I was to post this blog on December 6, death anniversary (Mahaprinirvan Diwas in 1956) of Babasaheb Ambedkar and the date of demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 on December 6 but could not do so because of technical reasons. The Hindustan Times of November 4, 2017 carried a well articulated article by Shashi Shekhar, Editor -in- Chief of the paper under the heading ‘The significance of
December 6’. The Supreme Court also started the hearing of the Babri Masjid case on December 5, on the eve of the 25th year of the demolition.  Shashi Shekhar has raised a valid question in his article.  He argues, “The date has a special place in the pages of Indian history. In 1992, the Babri Masjid was demolished on this date and in 1956, Bhimrao Ambedkar breathed his last in Nagpur (There seems some inadvertent mistake. Actually it was in Delhi) on the same day. Why I am connecting Ambedkar with Ayodhya, you may ask in surprise. From the outside, these two appear unrelated but the threads of the Indian survival instincts connect the two.” He added, “Don’t be surprised, if within the next two years, you see the temple and the mosque being built at the same time. If that happens, as Indians, we can again proudly declare that our model of coexistence is timeless, eternal, and indestructible. If Ambedkar’s life struggle and teachings drive home the message of social harmony, why can’t the city of Ayodhya become a symbol of our coexistence?” Shashi Shekhar has given us ‘food for thought’ underlining the significance of December 6 in the larger national interest to ward of the lingering dangers to the social and constitutional fabric of India.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Bits and Pieces – As I please – 9

Bits and Pieces – As I please – 9

Kashmir Issue – Kashmiri leader Farooq Abdullah is grabbing the headlines these days for his said-to-be provocative and anti-national statements on POK. Farooq Abdullah is of the view that Pakistan is a stakeholder in the Kashmir issue and it should be discussed and settled. He also inserted that POK, under the given circumstances and history of the issue, belonged to Pakistan and India-held J&K belonged to India. Both the claimants, India and Pakistan, did not have the wherewithal to change the status quo even after 70 years of the dispute, he further asserted. He believed
that this may settle the matter and bring peace in the region. Obviously, these provocative statements were criticized widely, particularly by the BJP and its allies. Without going into the history of the Kashmir issue, which is well documented, let us consider and analyse the point of view of Farooq Abdullah dispassionately. No normal and easy solution is possible, it is almost certain. The status quo is difficult to change with force or by military means, given the nuclear status of both India and Pakistan and also direct or indirect involvement and strategic interests of China and other powers. Too much damage and harm has already been inflicted on India and her people. A viable solution has to be found, sooner the better. The time has come, I think, to try, explore and find an “Out of the Box” solution through political and diplomatic means to address the issue. The governments of the day with involvement of civil societies on both the sides should forge national consensus on the issue and move ahead with an attitude of “Give and Take”. Otherwise, there will be no peace in the region and people will continue to suffer. Some hard but realistic decisions need to taken by the leaderships.

Democratic Hypocrisy – We observed the Constitution Day on November 26, the day we gave ourselves the constitution in 1949. It was a low key affair as the government did not pay much attention. It was noted and I term it as democratic hypocrisy by the vested outfits and by the so called extra-nationalists. I have two immediate instances on hand to prove my assertion. One, the needless controversy on the film Padmavati spearheaded by the Rajputs and some narrow minded Aasthawadis. The film has not been cleared and certified by the competent authority that is CBFC. Not only some street-smart leaders but some people occupying positions of responsibility are making a hue and cry without caring for the law of the land and also established norms of democratic behavior. They are threatening the producer, the actors and supporters of democratic rights, such as freedom of expression, as stipulated in the constitution.  Unfortunately, the governments are
seen as silent spectators. The leaders of Bhim Sena, an outfit of dalits having no social and economic clout, are languishing in jails and the leaders of Karni Sena and their associates are calling the shots from the roof tops. Is it not a democratic hypocrisy? The second is rather more bizarre. Whether Rahul Gandhi is a Hindu or something else? The crony media is hosting debates on the issue. Both the BJP and the Congress are jumping on each other on the recent visit of Rahul Gandhi to the Somnath Temple which has created a controversy on the religion of Rahul Gandhi. Non-Hindu visitors are required to register their religion in the register of the temple as required by the temple authorities? Common people are not interested in the religion of Rahul Gandhi. Yes, the politicians are interested. Are we secular as enshrined in the constitution? Nobody has raised any objection to the discriminatory and communal practice of the Somnath Temple. Is it not a democratic hypocrisy on the part of Rahul Gandhi who did not set the things in their right perspective once and for all?  And on the part of his opponents who raised uncalled for controversy by flagging the religion of Rahul Gandhi in so-called secular India? Are we heading towards “Grammar of Anarchy” as warned by Babaseheb Ambedkar?

Adampur Airport to be named after Guru Ravidass – The Punjab Legislative Assembly has done well by passing a Resolution to name the Adampur airport after the name of Guru Ravidass, a great Guru who stood against the torturous caste system and propagated the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity which later became the core values of the constitution of India.  I fully support and endorse the decision of the Punjab government which has already been communicated to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in Delhi. I am confident that the central government of PM Narendra Modi will accept the recommendations of the Punjab
Legislative Assembly and also the wishes of the millions of followers of the great Guru who live in the Doaba region and beyond not only in India but abroad also. Naming the airport after Guru Ravidass will go a long way in providing impetus to affirmative actions of the government and the society at large to empower the weaker sections of society by giving them psychological and moral support on one hand and will also be considered a befitting tribute to the social and spiritual icon Guru Ravidass.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Greetings on the Constitution Day

Greetings on the Constitution Day

Today, November 26, is the Constitution Day, the third, since its inception in November, 2015, as one of the events to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Babasaheb B.R. Ambedkar, father of the Indian constitution. The constitution of India was finally adopted, enacted and given to the people of India by the
Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949 which came into effect on January 26, 1950 which we observe as the Republic Day. The day was earlier commemorated as National Law Day, after a resolution by the Supreme Court Bar Association, a lawyers’ body, in 1979. Some of the interesting facts of the making of India’s constitution are:

9 December 1946: The Constituent Assembly started its first session.
11 sessions: Number of sessions the Constituent Assembly had to complete the Constitution.
17: Number of committees formed in the Constituent Assembly.
299: Number of members of the Constituent Assembly.
284: Number of members who finally signed the Constitution.
15: Number of women in the Constituent Assembly.
165: Number of days for which the Constituent Assembly held meetings.
2 years, 11 months, 17 days – The time it took to finish the Constitution.

The Indian government of the day should ensure that the Constitution Day is observed and commemorated with all seriousness and solemnity as an important day in the calendar of events. It was, to begin with, that the nodal Ministry for the purpose will be Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. It was perhaps correct as the event was being observed as a tribute to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar during the 125th birth anniversary of the great leader. I think now the nodal Ministry for the Constitution Day should be changed either to Ministry of Law and Justice or to the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs or the Parliament of India in the joint care of Vice President of India, as Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and Speaker of the Lok Sabha. The Constitution Day should not be left and considered as a vote bank stance because of Dr. Ambedkar, who no doubt played a seminal role in the making of the constitution, but should be commemorated as a day concerning the whole country. It must be underlined that today India is India only because of its dynamic and functional constitution which we gave to ourselves on November 26, 1949. It should be celebrated and observed without fail not only in the parliament of India and the state legislatures and municipalities but also by all the universities, colleges and schools appropriately. The idea is to instill a sense of adopting and adhering to constitutional means to address and solve all matters of concern and interest by the people of India as visualized by our fore-fathers and makers of our constitution. It will help to ward of the dangers of “Grammar of Anarchy” as warned by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in his last speech in the Constituent Assembly before the constitution was finally passed on November 26, 1949.

When I say that India is India because of the constitution of India, I mean it. India is the biggest functional democracy of the world. Change of guard takes place smoothly in the system of adult franchise on the basis of ‘one vote one value’. The often raised question “Who after Nehru?” was fully addressed under the constitution. One of the strongest PMs Indira Gandhi was unseated by verdict of a judicial court. Resenting and protesting the imposition of emergency, people in a popular vote defeated PM Indira Gandhi and brought in new dispensation of PM Morarji Desai. PMs Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were removed from the scene in senseless violence. Indian polity stood its ground and managed the crisis under the constitution. These are not small achievements and could become possible only because our constitution is fully functional and aptly competent to meet the challenges. We should be proud of this.

After 67 years of smooth functioning of our constitution since January 26, 1950, we need to take a fresh look at the current situation. We need to make an objective assessment with regard to the core values and fundamental structures of the constitution. The lofty ideals of democracy, secularism socialism under the dictum of ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” as enshrined in the preamble of the constitution need to be protected and ensured. It is all the more important in the visibly growing tendencies of narrow nationalism and intolerance. The vision of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to transform political democracy into a social and economic democracy is yet to see the light of the day. We have come a long way in the development and progress of our country and have perhaps arrived but still we are to go a long way to reach. For this, we need to learn to follow and safeguard our constitution as PM Narendra Modi said in November, 2015 “Let us always uphold the ideals & values of our Constitution and create an India that would make our founding fathers very proud.” He further said, “No mention of our Constitution is complete without remembering the stellar contribution of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. I salute him.”

Greetings on the Constitution Day to my fellow countrymen.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Indira Gandhi - A Humble Tribute

Indira Gandhi - A Humble Tribute

Today, November 19, is the birth centenary of PM Indira Gandhi (November 1917-October, 1984). I have read two excellent write ups today on Indira Gandhi by my very seniors in the IFS – K. Natwar Singh, As I Please in The Tribune and Salman Haidar, There Will Never Be Another Indira Gandhi in the Hindustan Times. Both of them worked with PM Indira Gandhi in the PM’s Secretariat at senior positions and as such handled important and
With PM Indira Gandhi in the Committee Room attachd to her office
substantive work. I, a lowly official in the MEA, also got the chance to be around in the corridors of PM’s Secretariat, from April, 1974 to October, 1977, as a Protocol Assistant in the Government Hospitality attached to a lady officer Vimla Sindhi popularly called Behanji who was a retainer from PM Jawaherlal Nehru’s staff at Teenmurti House. My duties pertained to protocol during the meetings, particularly with foreign dignitaries and of the cabinet, held in the committee room and conference room and to maintain these rooms. Behanji, my boss, enjoyed some sort of personal and direct access to Indira Gandhi because of her service at Teenmurti House with Jawaharlal Nehru, though some of her colleagues and senior officers had doubts. Indira Gandhi used to call her Vimi. Indira Gandhi had a keen eye on small details like flower arrangement, upholstery of furniture, paintings, stationary, snacks to be served and even ash trays etc. In this regard, I had numerous opportunities to speak and interact with her along with Behanji and alone. I left for my posting to Peking (Beijing) in October, 1977 and returned in December, 1981. Indira Gandhi had come to power again. On joining the MEA, I was posted to PMO as Protocol Officer to man the same desk as Vimla Behanji was retiring from service. I was reluctant to go there because of the nature of work but Joint Secretary (Administration) refused to listen to me as clearance and approval of PMO (PS to PM R.K. Dhawan) of my name had already been obtained. I was destined to work with PM Indira Gandhi again, it seemed – my good fortune. During the course of my humble work, I had many personal encounters on small matters with Indira Gandhi, a great personality and human-being par-excellence. I will narrate here in brief only two of these.

Sometime in the summer of 1975, my younger sister Kamla, after her school graduation, came to be with us in Delhi from Jalandhar, my native place. One day, she came to see my office. Vimla Behanji asked her whether she will like to meet the PM. Obviously, she jumped with joy. Indira Gandhi used go to her residence for lunch. Vimla Behanji took us out and made us stand near the stairs from where PM was to pass. As usual Indira Gandhi came out and moved towards the stairs. Vimla Behanji nodded and Indira Gandhi stopped near us. She introduced Kamla to PM Indira Gandhi and added that she had come from Jalandhar to meet, pointing towards me, her brother who was working with her. Indira Gandhi chatted with my sister for about 4-5 minutes standing in the corridor of her office. I, a young lowly official, was touched and impressed by Indira Gandhi’s humility and human touch in her demeanor to deal with common people.  Kamla was, of course, immensely delighted. Indira Gandhi was great. The second story will indicate how much Indira Gandhi cared for small niceties. It was in 1976, I think. One of my colleagues in MEA, Sudha Jain, was a good painter. She painted a portrait of Indira Gandhi. One day she came to see me in my office. She talked about her painting of Indira Gandhi and expressed her wish to gift it to her. Vimla Behanji facilitated the gifting exercise. On a convenient day, we kept the painting on one of the sofas in the corridor of PM’s office near the stairs. As usual PM was going for lunch. Vimla Behanji invited her attention to her portrait and introduced Sudha Jain. Indira Gandhi slowed for while and commented why she made portraits only. Sudha replied that she was painting otherwise also. Indira Gandhi started moving and Vimla Behanji said that Sudha wanted to gift this to you. She stopped for a moment again and said thanks and advised to send it the residence. Both Sudha and I were humbled to see her magnanimity and grace in dealing with common people. In a few days time, there was a letter of thanks from the office of PM and information on the institution to whom the portrait was further given for appropriate use somewhere in UP. I duly passed on the letter to Sudha. She must have kept the letter as a treasured possession. Indira Gandhi was great by her own right.

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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Doaba College Jalandhar

Doaba College Jalandhar

Doaba College Jalandhar is one of the leading educational institutions in the Doaba region of Punjab. It recently celebrated its platinum jubilee after 75 years of its existence. The management of the college is steered by Chander Mohan, scion of a famous media and social personality Varinder of the erstwhile Partap group of newspapers, under the aegis of Arya Shiksha Mandal. Currently, since 2008, Doaba College is run under the stewardship of Dr. Naresh Kumar Dhiman, a renowned Sanskrit scholar and an able
Principal Dr. Naresh Kumar Dhiman
educational administrator as Principal. The UGC has declared Doaba College as “College with Potential for Excellence” The College has an in-house community radio station called “Raabta” and a centre for “Remedial classes for SC/ST/OBC students as an affirmative measure for the empowerment of the weaker sections of the society. Some of the leading lights, from the cross sections of  society, are the proud alumni of the college which, inter alia, include – Lord Swaraj Paul, business magnate and parliamentarian in the UK, Yash Chopra, doyen of Indian cinema as a producer and director of films in Bollywood, Prem Dhumal, politician and former CM of HP, Anurag Thakur, politician and MP, Manoranjan Kalia, politician and former Minister in Punjab, Gurpreet Ghuggi, a famous standup comedian and actor and a number of players of national and international standing.

Having associated myself with educational and social activities after my retirement from diplomatic service, it is a matter of satisfaction for me that I could establish good contacts and relationship with some of the premier educational outfits of the area such as Sant Baba Bhag Singh University where I serve on the Board of Management, D.A.V. College Jalandhar, my alma mater
Ambassador Ramesh Chander at DAV College Jalandhar
which invited me on several occasions to honour and speak, HMV College where I participated in a panel discussion on Live-in-Relationship, B.D. Arya Girls College where I gave a talk on ‘India’s Foreign Policy – An Overview”, D.A.V. College Dasuya where I participated in a seminar on “Gandhian Thought and International community, Shiv Jyoti School, a leading Higher Secondary school of Jalandhar honoured me to be the Chief Guest at one of their functions, among others. Doaba College was on my wish list. My wish was granted on November 7, 2017 when I was invited to deliver a talk on “India’s Foreign Policy: Challenges and opportunities” to an enlightened audience of students and teaching faculty. It was a gratifying experience and indeed an honour to be at the esteemed Doaba College Jalandhar.

·       The talk on the theme “India’s Foreign Policy: Challenges and Opportunities” was arranged jointly by the Post Graduate Departments of Political Science and Geography which was very well organized and attended. Principal Dr. Naresh Kumar Dhiman in his welcome address was too generous and spoke high of me which humbled me further. He made very candid observations about the qualities of a diplomat and said good diplomats did not
Ambassdor Ramesh Chander
succumb to the glitter of praise and lavish hospitality and say their mind as clearly as possible. I found Dr. Dhiman as an astute educational administrator and a man of learning. Dr. Daljit Singh, HOD of the Geography Department made a good and informative presentation on “Geo-politics and Foreign Policy” particularly with relation to India’s borders with Pakistan and China. Prof. Dr. Rajan Sharma, of the Political Science Department of the college termed in his well prepared speech as ‘Modification of the Foreign Policy” referring to the PM Narendra Modi’s intensive involvement in the formulation and execution of the policy. I have been meeting Dr. Rajan Sharma on various academic and educational events. He impressed me with is scholarship and pleasant personality. I as a lead speaker and so called Chief Guest; based my talk on historical perspective including the sterling role and contribution of Chankya or Kautilya, evolution under Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, P.V. Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and others and came to the basic determinants and current elements of India’s foreign policy under PM Modi’s government. Quoting PM Narendra Modi from his speech at the Raisina Dialogue, “
नो भद्रो : क्रत्वो यन्तु विश्वत” - Let noble thoughts come to me from all directions, I mentioned about PM Modi’s initiatives to intensify his interaction with his international counterparts for integrating India’s foreign policy objectives with that of the world community. I brought to fore the important aspects and formulations of the foreign policy as pronounced by PM Modi, saying “Our strategic intent is shaped by our civilizational ethos of:
यथार्थवाद (realism), सह-अस्तित्व (co-existence), सहयोग (cooperation),तथा सहभागिता (partnership).”
Stating that diplomacy was a continuous process, I reiterated the famous dictum, “There were no permanent friends; there were no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.” And said that India’s foreign policy and its executions were fully geared to meet the challenges and exploit the opportunities in the years to come and quoted an Urdu couplet of Alhama Iqbal:

जो है पर्दों में पिन्हा; चश्मे-बीना देख लेती है,
ज़माने की तबीयत का तकाज़ा देख लेती है
It was followed by a very interesting and intense interactive session of question and answers both from the students and the faculty which Principal Dr. Dhiman termed as the most informative and rewarding exercise. Prof. Balbir Chander, a simple but down to
Prof. Balbir Chander
earth academic and a teacher of standing by his own right and HOD of  Political Science Department of the college, thanked the speakers and the audience for making the seminar a grand success and that they look forward to more of such functions for the benefit of young students. The function was ably conducted by Prof. Puneet Kalra as Master of Ceremonies. Principal Dr. Naresh Kumar Dhiman graciously treated us on a piping-hot luncheon delivered from the mess of one of the college hostels situated in the college complex itself.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Ambedkar College at Bootan Mandi, Jalandhar

Ambedkar College at Bootan Mandi, Jalandhar
 The residents of Bootan Mandi, my native place, and also that of the other nearby areas have been clamoring for a girls college in the vicinity of these localities which is predominantly inhabited by socially and economically weaker sections of the society. Most of them are the followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar and as such they would be happy if the proposed college is named after Ambedkar. The proposed location i.e. the plot of land for the purpose is available which is currently called Chara Mandi. It is an ideal
location for the college dedicated to the memory of the greatest son of India, Babasaheb Ambedkar – near the Ambedkar Park at Bootan Mandi, on the Ambedkar Marg (Nakodar Road), near the historical residence of Late Seth Kishan Dass where Dr. Ambedkar stayed in 1951, not far off from the Ambedkar Bhawan and one of the busiest crossings of the city, Ambedkar Chowk. The Seths of Bootan Mandi tried to have a college in Bootan Mandi in association with the personalities like Sufi Singer Hans Raj Hans but these half-hearted and insincere efforts failed as expected. The successive governments of the Congress Party and of Akali-BJP alliance promised the college at the site several times over the last two decades. MOS Vijay Sampla of the BJP also broached up the subject towards the end of 2016 in the run up to the early 2017 elections. These things remained in the media without any result. I wrote about this earlier in my blog:
With concerted efforts of some of the youngsters headed by Jagdish Disha, Vari Klair, Parshottam Klair, among others, the proposal has seen light, it seems. Ministry of Education, on advice of the Education Minister Aruna Chaudhary, has informed the District Collector of Jalandhar of the decision to establish a college in Bootan Mandi and has written to him to prepare a case and identify

and acquire land for the project. Congratulations to all concerned activists who were fighting for the college and those politicians namely MP Chaudhary Santokh Singh, MLA Sushil Rinku and others. The ball has been set into motion but the game has to be played by us. Let us not lower our guard till something concrete happens. There are many slips between the cup and lips. We should convince the Hon’ble Minister of Education Aruna Chaudhary to complete all procedural requirements in this regard so that the foundation laying ceremony of the college could be held on April 14, 2018, the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar. It will be a befitting tribute the great leader.
Babasaheb Ambedkar’s dictum – “Educate, Agitate and Organise” is as potent as it was and it will remain so in the years to come for the empowerment of the marginalized and weaker sections of the society and the nation at large. People are getting educated slowly but surely. The agitation for the college at Bootan Mandi clearly
demonstrates that people are getting agitated for the right causes and that under constitutional means as propounded by Dr. Ambedkar. They are to get united and organized to achieve their legitimate goals in the run up to establish a fair and just order in the society. People have succeeded in convincing government for their just demand in a democratic way. It is a matter of satisfaction.
I wish the Sarv Samaj Sangarsh Committee set up for the purpose all success in the days to come.
जिंदगी की असली उड़ान   बाकी है;
इरादा हो तो अभी इम्तिहान बाकी है!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Ambedkar Study Corner at D.A.V. College Library

Ambedkar Study Corner at D.A.V. College Library
D.A.V. College Jalandhar, my alma mater, is a premier educational institution of the region for the last 100 years. Today, October 28, yet another feather has been added to the cap of the college library.  The Lala Lajpat Rai Library has established a separate enclosure, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Study Corner, for the benefit of students and the faculty. It is a matter of all the more satisfaction for me personally that one of my close friends and a fellow BootanMandian, Ram Lal Dass, who is also an alumnus of D.A.V.
College, has joined hands with the college to give shape and form to the study corner by donating a rare collection of 101 books on the life, mission and thought of the greatest son of India, Babasaheb Ambedkar along with relevant paraphernalia. At a solemn function at the college library the study corner was declared open by the Senior Vice Principal G.K. Sareen in the presence of distinguished guests. The day was chosen by management particularly by Principal S.K. Arora in consultation with Ram Lal Dass and our teacher, guide and philosopher who acted as an interlocutor in this regard, Prof. K.K. Ghai. It was the day when Dr. B.R. Ambedkar delivered a lecture on parliamentary democracy in India on October 28, 1951 at D.A.V. College in Jalandhar.  The lecture is, till today and will remain so, a well documented treatise on the subject. Principal S.K. Arora, Prof. K.K. Ghai, Ram Lal Dass and other concerned deserve all appreciation and applause for this good activity and contribution not only to honour the icon Babasaheb Ambedkar but also add to the already existing good facilities at the well stocked and managed library under the control of Librarian Naveen Saini. I am confident that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Study Corner will become a hub of academic and intellectual intercourse for the larger good of students and researchers.
After the formal opening of the study corner, a session on the life, philosophy and mission of Babasaheb was held for the benefit of young students which were presided over by Principal Dr. S.K. Arora. Dr. B.B. Sharma, HOD of Political Science Department of the College in his welcome address underlined the importance of easy availability of source and reference material to students and
teachers and added Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Study Corner will fulfill the much needed requirement at the college library. Ram Lal Dass spoke with emotion and conviction and expressed happiness that one of his long cherished desires was fulfilled today as a humble tribute to the memory of Babasaheb Ambedkar with a sense of gratitude to his alma mater. He spoke on the multifaceted personality of Babasaheb and said that India was India because of the thought and vision of the great leader. Prof. K.K. Ghai spoke with total engagement and appreciated the gesture his worthy student Ram Lal Dass made in establishing the study corner. He said that he was happy to see that so many of his students and alumni of the college, who made a mark in their respective careers, were sitting on the high table. It was a matter of pride for him personally and the college.  Another distinguished alumnus of the college, IPS and retired ADGP and Chairman of UP Public Service Commission, Malkit Singh recalled his close association with Ram Lal Dass whom they used to call ‘Guru’ for his knowledge of alternative Indian political thought involving Dr. Ambedkar and others which was not so common those days. Paying glowing tributes to Babasaheb Ambedkar, Malkit Singh said that the ongoing Swacch Bharat campaign was good but there was a need to start a campaign to clean the mindset of the society for all-round development and progress of the country. Retired IPS and ADGP of J&K Dr. Lubhaya Ram Jassi spoke briefly and mentioned about the unfortunate sense of intolerance creeping in the psyche of the society at large.  I also got an opportunity to address the gathering. Nostalgia came alive in me. It was the same lecture theater where I read a paper on parliamentary democracy way back in 1968-69 at a paper reading declamation contest and quoted extensively from Babasaheb’s lecture of October 28, 1951. My naïve intension was not to win or lose but to bring to light the lecture of which there was no information and awareness in the college. It was gratifying to note that it was not a futile exercise. I underlined the fact that Dr.
Ambedkar was very fond of books and the college in cooperation with Ram Lal Dass did a good job by setting up a dedicated corner of his books. Quoting Lord Macaulay, “I would rather be poor in a college full of books than a King without the desire to read”, I said that the study corner was a befitting tribute to Babasaheb Ambedkar. Bringing to focus the current political and social scenario in the country, I reminded the audience of the three warnings Dr. Ambedkar so thoughtfully gave in the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949 i.e. use of constitutional means while pressing for socio-economic demands to avoid ‘Grammar of Anarchy”, shedding the tendency of Bhakti or Puja of  political leadership to ward of our democracy from the fear of dictatorship and adviced to transform political democracy into social and economic democracy, the sooner the better.  Dr. Dinesh Arora of Political Science Department, which did a yeoman’s job in facilitating Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Study Corner, ably conducted the session to make it a lively mix of ideas and thoughts propounded and generated at the function.
Generous hospitality with snacks and tea was offered both at the office of the Principal and Department of Political Science. These informal occasions provided us opportunity to unwind and socialize.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Father Mere Puttran De

Father Mere Puttran De

Prof. Sarita Tiwari has written the book “Father Mere Puttran De” about her loving husband Prof. Virainder Kumar Tiwari, an intellectual, educationist, administrator and a social activist of standing. The title of the book is uniquely tri-lingual – Father in English, Mere in Hindi and Puttran De in Punjabi and the author’s name i.e. Sarita Tiwari is also shown in these three languages. The author has explained in the beginning why she has opted to write
the book in three languages. Father Mere Puttran De, a tribute “Tiwari Sahib Nu Yaad Kardean” on his first death anniversary, October 10, was released at Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall in Jalandhar on October 10, 2017 by Lt. Governor (Retired) Iqbal Singh, a politician and a social personality of Punjab, a good friend of Prof. V.K. Tiwari, Kuku for the friends and family. Governor Iqbal Singh and other distinguished speakers namely; Chairperson of Governing Council of Khalsa College Group of Institutions  Balbir Kaur,  niece of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Gurjeet Kaur Dhatt, Seth Kundan Lal of Local Advisory Committee of D.A.V. College and Gurmeet Singh General Secretary of Desh Bhagat Yadgar Committee spoke very high of Prof Tiwari and paid glowing tributes to the highly regarded son of the soil who, from a humble background of a mofassil town called Alawalpur near Jalandhar rose to coveted positions at a well attended function in which who’s who of the Jalandhar academic and educational circle were present. Sarita Tiwari, the author of the book, who herself is an acclaimed academician and cultural personality of the region, conducted the function herself with obvious emotional involvement. Before the formal release of the book, a dedicated session of musical presentations by the local talent led by no other than Sarita Tiwari herself, sons (Putter) – Mohit and Chetan in attendance, set the mood of the evening in its right perspective. I was invited to the function as a humble acquaintance of Tiwari Sahib whom I met, in recent years after my return to Jalandhar on retirement from I.F.S., and found him a
charming and cultured personality on one hand and erudite and a spell-bound (Jaadu-bian Mukarrar) speaker on the other. Later, after
At Prof. V.K.Tiwari Computer Centre
Tiwari Sahib’s death, I met Saritaji and their sons Mohit and Chetan at a SPEED function to name a computer centre in memory of Prof. V.K. Tiwari at Ram Nagar in Jalandhar of which a reference has been made in the book.

In the foreword of the book Governor Iqbal Singh appreciated Prof. Tiwari for his humility and love, put together. The book has been divided into four parts:-

Mere Apne – In this part, tributes and homage of Prof. V.K. Tiwari’s 68 friends, associates and well-wishers, representing cross sections of the society, have been compiled. The author has termed them as “Speaking Dictionaries”.  All of them, in one way or the other, have written very high of Prof. Tiwari bringing out all the good attributes in his dynamic personality which a human being may attain and possess not only to lead a good life himself but also contribute positively to the overall well being of the society at large. Some of them quoted poetry to remember their ‘friend, philosopher and guide’ as Jasreen Kaur of Khalsa College Jalandhar aptly quoted to flag Tiwari Sahib’s down to earth humility:-

जो आला ज़र्फ़ होतें हैं; हमेशां झुक के मिलते हैं,
 सुराही सर नगुन होकर; भरा करती है पैमाना !

Yet another friend of Tiwar Sahib, S. Sondhi, writes that he was an open hearted man with full of understanding  and compassion:-

जिंदगी में ऐसा इंसान भी होना बहुत जरूरी है;
जिसे दिल का हॉल बताने के लिए लफ्जों की जरूरत हो !

A couple of contributors mentioned about Tiwari Sahib’s distinctive Urdu-laced mannerism in his routine informal talk like use of words, Hazur, Waah Janab, Hazoorewala, Fouri Tour Pe etc. I may also testify that Tiwari Sahib was a conversationalist par-excellence.  Many of the Left oriented intellectuals and comrades like Jatinder Pannu, Sital Singh Sangha, Raghbir Kaur, Gurmeet Singh, among others have paid glowing tributes to him remembering and recognizing his affiliation and leaning towards the leftist ideology. He was actively associated with the Desh Bhagat Yadgar Committee. The well groomed sons, Mohit and Chetan have paid wholesome homage to their worthy father, a difficult task to say something about a larger than life personality in the upbringing of his children.  Dr. Jagdish Chander Joshi wrote about the fellow alumnus of D.A.V. College Jalandhar and said that Dr. Virainder Tiwari enjoyed a rare distinction of a student, a teacher and a Principal of D.A.V College at one stretch of his illustrious career. Hats off to this self made man of Jalandhar.  Much more could be said about Prof. Tiwari. Though some of the ‘Speaking Dictionaries” have narrated a few anecdotes yet it would have been better if some more space would have been provided to this aspect for the advantage and benefit of the younger lot.

Father Mere Puttran De:- In this part, Savita Tiwar, the gracious wife of Prof. V.K. Tiwari, has given a graphic account of the last ten days, October 1 -10, 2016, of Tiwari Sahib and also the cherished memories of their marriage in June, 1980 followed by chronologically arranged memoirs, both sweet and sour, of their social and professional lives. The narration is informal without any academic or literary pretence which make it readable at leisure. Otherwise hale and hearty, Tiwari Sahib’s sudden death reminded me of the death of my young nephew Brijesh of 28, my brother’s son, in November, 2015 under the same circumstances – Home - Patel Hospital- DMC Ludhiana- Home – in a matter of a few days with the same deadly ailment “Dengue Shock Syndrome”. Saritaji’s story telling skills as an artist of standing is evident from her narration of her Navaratra fasts and the couple’s usual tiffs on small matters which we all face in everyday life. One can feel that Kukku and Sarita were made for each other. Tiwari Sahib belonged to an Arya Samaji family by birth and by education and experience he developed a Leftist leaning. Defying the tradition, he decided to marry Sarita without dowry and much fanfare. Sarita has stated, in a lighter vein, that on the marriage reception ‘there were more of speeches than dance and song’.

The author has succeeded in bringing out clearly that Prof. V.K. Tiwari was a man of sterling worth as described in the book “Teacher, Researcher, Linguist, Academic leader”. Apart from his profession as a teacher and educational administrator, Tiwari Sahib was a union leader for the rights of the academic fraternity. He served as General Secretary of the World Federation of Teachers’ Union. He was actively engaged with All India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisations (AIFUCTO) and as such very popular among the teaching community.  He was an international activists and travelled abroad intensively with regard to his union activities and also of the World Peace Movement etc. Tiwari Sahib believed in a little modified version of the dictum ‘Do or Die’, as stated by the author. He believed in ‘Do it before you die’.
कुछ उलझने हैं राहों में; कुछ कोशिशें बेहिसाब;
बस इसी का नाम है जिंदगी; चलते रहिए जनाब !

Condolence Messages: - The third part of the book is a compilation of condolence messages from cross sections of the academic and intellectual circles of not only Jalandhar but also Punjab and beyond. By reading these messages, one can feel the emotions of pain and sympathy people felt and expressed on the untimely demise of Prof. V.K. Tiwari and the bereaved family.  Dr. S.S. Bains of Lyallpur Khalsa College has rightly quoted someone, “The most beautiful good-byes are the ones that are never said and never explained.”

Tributes:- The concluding part of Father Mere Puttran De is the Tributes paid to Tiwari Sahib by his friends and associates in a vernacular daily with leftist affiliation, Nawan Zamana and some journals of the trade union outfits. Prof. Virainder Kumar Tiwari was a multifaceted personality and a leader by his right. My brother Paramjit had been his student at D.A.V. College in the late 1970s. He speaks very high of Prof. Tiwari. Paramjit told me that Prof. Tiwari was not only a competent teacher of English language but also great source of strength to the young students in extra-curricular activities. His informal and humble mannerism was very impressive and motivative.

Punj Aab Parkashan has done a good job in presenting the book with an excellent cover and professionally set contents. The book is readable and that too gratis at one go as the price of the book is “Your precious time out of your busy schedule to read this book” as graciously offered by the author and publishers.

अपना मुक्कदर आप बनातें हैं एहले दिल;
हम वह नहीं जिन्हे जमाना बना गया !