Sunday, September 12, 2021

As I Please – The Bits and Pieces

 

As I Please – The Bits and Pieces

Career and Business Consultant Ahsanul Haq –

With Ahsanul Haq
Last week, my old acquaintance with Ahsanul Haq Sahib was revived with a friendly visit of Haq Sahib to my humble abode. Earlier we both were living at Silver Residency Apartments and will often bump into each other in our morning routine. I knew a little bit about the academic and empowerment pursuits of Haq Sahib, an alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University and a highly qualified professional who was living in Punjab for the last three decades, our interaction provided me many more details of his immense contribution to the development of a healthy society not only in Jalandhar but also beyond in India and abroad. He introduces himself in his Web Portal
as “Hello, I am Ahsanul Haq : Entrepreneur - Coach for Competitive Examinations – Soft Skill Trainer and states his philosophy as “Life is simple”.  Ahsanul Haq Sahib, a widely travelled professional, is certainly an ‘Achiever’ by his own right. Like a good friend, Haq Sahib proposed to join hands to do something positive and worthwhile for the younger generation, particularly the weaker sections of the society, with regard to the career options and


opportunities as a gesture to pay back to the society. I humbly agreed to go with Haq Sahib. He quickly arranged our maiden activity in this regard – an online session on the theme “Career in the Indian Foreign Service” on September 18, 2021. I, as one of the IFS fraternity, would try my best to inform, motivate and guide the young aspirants to join the IFS, one of the elite career options. Let us see how it turns out to be.

Print and TV Media Journalist Ashok Das –

On my initiative,  Journalist Ashok Das of Dalit Dastak TV and a monthly magazine by the same name came and met me at my residence on September 10 instant. These days, Ashok Das was visiting Punjab with regard to the forthcoming elections and role and status of dalit communities with more 35% share in demography of Punjab and had already
interviewed and presented the Gaddinasheen Sant Niranjan Dass ji of Dera Sachkhand Ballan of Jalandhar, a staunch Ambedkarite and Editor of the Bheem Patrika, Lahori Ram Balley, Business tycoon Tilak Khinder among others in the process. Ashok Das came straight to me from Jalandhar railway station after a five hour journey from Delhi in the Amritsar Stabadi Express. During my interaction with Ashok Das over a frugal working luncheon and our extended sitting, I found Ashok Das a fully motivated and a through professional. He made a short report on my career in the IFS and my impressions and reflections on
With Ashok Das

working and interacting with the ‘who’s who’ of the galaxy of our leadership like; President K.R. Narayanan, President Giani Zail Singh, Vice President Hamid Ansari, PM Indira Gandhi, PM Morarji Desai,  PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, PM Indar Gujral, EAM Jaswant Singh, Minister Arun Jaitley, Minister Ananth Kumar and watching Babu Jagjivan Ram, Y.B. Chavan, Sardar Swaran Singh, Pranab Mukherjee, P.N. Haksar  among others not from any position of authority and responsibility but as a small cog in the big wheel as a junior functionary who happened to had access to the corridors of power in the process of my work. On my suggestion, Ashok Das made a small clip on the proposal to declare April 14, birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar as International Day of Equality under the aegis of the UN with a view to seek a wide spread support to the proposal which is resting with the Government of India since June, 2015. On interest and request of Ashok Das to meet more people who were engaged in the community matters, I requested Former MLA and Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Avinash Chander grandson of Seth Kishan Dass, an associate of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Sant Satwinder Hira of Khuralgarh Sahib and All India Ad-dharam Mission, Community activist and a protege of Manyawar Kanshi,  Prem Shant, Principal Sarbjit Singh of the newly opened Babasaheb Ambedkar College in Bootan Mandi who kindly agreed to meet Ashok Das with a view to underline the historical and current perspective of the matters pertaining to the community. Ashok Das interviewed Prem Shant and his wife Hardev Kaur and made a video of their residence and the designated room where Kanshi Ram ji used to often stay as a family friend of Prem Shant. Later in the evening, Ashok Das left to catch up with his already fixed engagement with the Bodhisatav Ambedkar School at Phoolpur-Dhanal, a village in the vicinity of Jalandhar city. Let me conclude this piece by registering a wish and idea of Ashok Das. He would be happy to join hands with the community entrepreneurs and investors who might like to help the community by investing in the print and electronic media, the field yet to open and contribute to the empowerment of dalit communities as wished by Babasaheb Ambedkar and Manyawar Kanshi Ram. Let us hope Ashok Das gets a desired response, sooner than later.    

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Greetings on Teachers Day – September 5

 

Greetings on Teachers Day – September 5

In India, we observe and celebrate Teachers Day on September 5, the birth anniversary of President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a great teacher and philosopher of his times. I wrote a couple of times before also on Teachers Day in my blogs. But somehow I feel like revisiting the subject and greet my friends, teachers, my school and college mates on this great day with a view to pay the debt of gratitude to my


teachers and mentors not only in the course of my formal educational years but throughout my life otherwise too. Somehow, I also feel that it is good to be a student always as learning is an ongoing and continuing process. Guru, the teacher, not only teaches you the academic curricula but also prepares you to enter life fully ready to meet the challenges on the way as Dr. S. Radhakrishnan himself said, “The true teachers are those who help us think for ourselves.”

With Dr. K.C. Mohendru and Prof. K.K. Ghai
With regard to my own experience, I vividly recall my school teachers – Shiela Behnji in the primary, Lala Dwarka Dass and Khullar Sahib in the high school and Mohendru Sahib and Ghai Sahib in the college to mention some among others. I think my
teachers made me what I am today. President Barack Obama rightly said, “If you were successful somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.”

I am an alumnus of DAV College Jalandhar. It is a matter of great satisfaction, on my return to Jalandhar after my retirement of a long service as an Indian diplomat; I could pick up the threads and revive my association and connection with my alma mater and my Gurus namely Prof. K.K. Ghai and Dr. K.C. Mohendru and others. I write this with a great sense of gratitude that DAV College

Speaking at DAV College Jalandhar

invited and honoured me at various occasions in recent years. I recall the words of one of the greatest sons of India, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. While speaking at my alma mater in Jalandhar  on October 28, 1951, he said,
“I am very fond of the teaching profession. I am also very fond of students. I have dealt with them. I have lectured them in my life. This is the first opportunity I have got to address students since my resignation from the Cabinet. I am very glad to talk to students. A great deal of the future of this country must necessarily depend on the students of this country. Students are an intelligent part of the community and they can shape public opinion. I, therefore, take special pleasure in addressing you the members of the Parliament and I am really thankful for the opportunity given me.” From this one can understand the importance and significance of Teachers Day which we are celebrating today, September 5.

It is, again, a matter of gratification to note that I can boast of as a fortunate man to meet and make friends with a number of great teachers and academicians in and around Jalandhar in the process of living a retired life namely; Principal Jagdish Joshi, Prof. K.K. Ghai, Prof. Balbir Chander, Prof. Savita Tiwari, Principal Sarita Verma, Prof. Ahsanual Haq, Principal Parminder Singh, Principal Kulwant

With Principal J.C. Joshi and Prof. Balbir Chander

Sngh Phull, Principal Vinay Sharma, Principal Navjot Kaur, Principal Sarbjit Singh, Prof. Dinesh Arora, Prof. Varun Nayyar, inter alia, both serving and retired. I learn a great deal from these big names in the intelligentsia in and around Jalandhar. They are great teachers by their own right.

Greetings on the Teachers Day. I would love to remain a student throughout as Urdu poet Jagannath Azad has rightly said:-

इब्तिदा ये थी कि मैं था और दा'वा इल्म का

इंतिहा ये है कि इस दा'वे पे शरमाया बहुत

 

 

 

           

 

 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Ambedkar College at Bootan Mandi Jalandhar

 

Ambedkar College at Bootan Mandi Jalandhar

                     It is a matter of great satisfaction that the proposal of having a college in Bootan Mandi Jalandhar, the deemed capital of the dalits in Punjab particularly the Doaba region, has fructified. Government of Punjab under the stewardship of Captain Amrinder Singh finally got another feather in its cap by establishing – Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar Government Co-education College at Bootan Mandi to honour of the greatest son of India who visited Bootan Mandi in 1951 and rightly so. The College has started functioning from the current educational year i.e. 2021-22. I spoke to the first Principal of the College, Sarbjit Singh, an educationist and administrator and congratulated him on his elevation from the Government College Kapurthala. I found him
Ramesh Chander with the Principal


an enthusiastic person to head the new institution at an historic place. Let us hope Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar College becomes a ‘Centre of Excellence’ in the area and fully justify its existence not only as a tribute to Babasaheb Ambedkar but also in meeting the educational needs of the weaker sections of the society.


As I said that there was a long standing idea of having a college in the area. Many people contributed to realize this dream in their own way. In the recent years a non-script outfit called Sarb Samaj Sangharsh Committee agitated for the project and convinced the local MLA Sushil Rinku a young and energetic politician and others at the helm of affairs to cajole the Punjab Government to deliver in this regard. Some of the social activists of Bootan Mandi namely; Varun Kler,
Varun Kler

Jagdish Disha, Paramjit Mahey among other,
Paramjit Mahey

worked hard in pursuing the matter with the
authorities. I have been writing, as a playback singer, about the project off and on in my blogs. The end result is available on ground – Dera Ayet Daroost Ayet. Congratulations to all the stake holders and thanks to the Government of Punjab and also all the best wishes to Principal Sarbjit Singh and the teaching faculty of Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar Government Co-education College. I am confident the young students would benefit from the college immensely and fully justify the need of the residents and right decisions of the government. It is a University Graduate level college for courses in humanities, to begin with.

I am told that there is some dispute or new proposal to give the adjacent plot of land earmarked for a vegetable market to the college for play ground and other extracurricular activities. The proposal seems to be good. The play grounds will not only encourage the students and residents of the area to avail of sports facilities but also provide a green-lung to the congested residential localities in the vicinity. More to have a vegetable market in the neighborhood of the college goes against the esthetics and serene atmosphere needed by the temple of learning. I humbly urge the Administration to consider the proposal to allot the adjacent plot of land to the college favourably for the benefit of the community at large.

It goes without saying that the socio-economic and political empowerment of the weaker sections of the society was the primary agenda of Babasaheb Ambedkar in whose memory the college has been named. It becomes our joint duty to see that Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar College becomes a centre of excellent education without which no empowerment is possible.

Postscript:-         

I visited Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar College on September 2 and met Principal Sarabjit Singh and members of the teaching faculty. They welcomed me and were happy that I could come on my own initiative to wish them well. While thanking them I added that, obviously, I felt happy to see that the dream of the community around was realized to the benefit of the residents of the region. We discussed some of the teething problems and irritants with regard to


the civil works while fully appreciating the efforts being done by all the concerned like MLA Sushil Rinku, PWD authorities, Financial authorities, Contractors among others. Since the academic session has started and admissions are on, students and their parents were visiting the college hope and enthusiasm.  The desired facelift of the venue and building was of utmost importance that is the main entry gate and approach road, boundary wall, porch, reception area etc. need immediate attention and completion. Principal Sarbjit Singh and the teaching faculty were hopeful that the concerned authorities would not let them down and the birth pangs would subdue in the days to come. The college would start functioning to the satisfaction of all. I would like to take this opportunity to urge the concerned to kindly look into these matters and address then appropriately. The time is of essence.


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Minar-e-Begampura at Khuralgarh Sahib

 


Minar-e-Begampura at Khuralgarh Sahib

I wrote about the Guru Ravidass memorabilia at Khuralgarh Sahib (Village Khurali) in Tehsil Garhshankar of Dstrict Hoshiarpur in Punjab in my blog on April 22, 2016 after the Punjab Government decided and pronounced to build a befitting memorial donated to the great guru and harbinger of equality and justice, Guru Ravidass. I thought of revisiting the issue after seeing a recent report on the PTC Channel in which a dismal state of affairs at the site of Minar-e-Begampura was given as a painful revelation that the memorial was lying as a deserted site and nobody was bothered about it. It is a matter of pity and concern which must be registered with the current


administration and the past and forthcoming governing outfits. It goes without saying that all the political parties and their leaderships are falling on each other to woo the dalit voters, the followers of Guru Ravidass, for grabbing the corridors of power in Chandigarh but are blissfully ignorant of the ground reality and willful and I repeat willful neglect of matters of interest and concern to dalits. This mindset needs further elaboration to put the things in their right perspective.

The memorial, Minar-e-Begampura is a historical site where the great Guru Ravidass stayed and lived for more than 4 years. One of the travel and tour companies to promote the site as a tourist attraction wrote in its brochure -  Khuralgarh Sahib: Khuralgarh Sahib is one of the most prominent historical places of Guru RaviDas ji  situated at village Kharali, Garhshanker, district Hoshiarpur. Khuralgarh Sahib is revered as this place was visited by Sri Guru Ravidas. As per the legend Guru visited this place after being persuaded by Meera Bai for the upliftment of the weaker section. Guru’s preaching attracted a huge following which upset the local ruler. The Guru was arrested and imprisoned. As punishment HE was ordered to grind the Corn in a local grinding mill known as CHAKKI. Guru, as is believed, sat in a Samadhi and the corn was being grinded by itself. Seeing this, prison guards went and told the Ruler that Guru is no Ordinary Human Being but a divine incarnation. After seeing the miracle of corn coming out of Chakki without any human intervention, The Ruler realized the mistake and set Guru free. Since the area had shortage of water, the ruler requested the Guru to bless the place. It is said that Guru turned a stone in a dry river bed with his left toe thumb and a spring erupted which is presently known as Charan Choh Ganga. Wake up early morning. The guest’s have an option of trekking down to the Ganga or drive through a private jungle. Minar-e-Begampura, a 151 feet high hallmark of Guru Ravidass Memorial is also being constructed here.With this background, one may say that Minar-e-Begampura would attract the masses as  a ‘Journey of Faith to pay obeisance to Guru Ravidass, the proponent of the concept of Begampura Shehar(city without sorrow) to bring about Democratic Socialism ‘in India and the world at large.

The site of spiritual interest and importance at Khuralgarh Sahib is a historical place which was blessed and adorned by Guru Ravidass in 1515. Baba Banta Ram Ghera of All India Ad-dharam Mission was instrumental in research and establishment of Guru Ravidass Dharam

Baba Banta Ram Ghera

Asthan and Charan Choh Ganga in the hilly train of Village Kharali. The Punjab Government, under the leadership of Parkash Singh Badal decided to acquire 15 acres of land in between the Dharam Asthan and the Charan Choh Ganga thoughtfully and erect Minar-e-Begampura as a memorial of Guru Ravidass at the estimated cost of about Rs.110 crores. The foundation of the memorial was laid in April, 2016. The Akali-BJP Government started work but was unseated by the Congress Government of Captain Amrinder Singh in March/April, 2017. With regard to the progress of work at Minar-e-Begumpura, I checked the factual position and ground reality from the stake holders like All India Ad-dharam Mandal independent of the media reports and found that PTC report revealed only a
half truthby saying that no work has been done. There may be some political motivation in these reports. The fact, as I came to know, is that about 70% work has been done but it requires completion and further impetus to dedicate the memorial to the public. The earlier the better.

One thing comes to surface. Though all political parties have no other option but to engage with the followers of Guru Ravidass in view of their sizeable vote bank yet most of their promises turnout to be mere lollipops to satisfy them. Political will is missing. Mindset to keep dalits on the margins is still at work. Otherwise there is no explanation as to why Minar-e-Begampura could not be completed in five years which was to be finished in 15 months as planned. In the wake of the forthcoming elections in Punjab early next year, all

Sant Satwinder Hira explaining the historical background of the Holy site

political parties and their leaders are visiting the important dalit Deras like Sachkhand Ballan and others. These Deras and spiritual leadership of dalits could play a definite role in getting and securing a due space and place in the emerging political and social equations, if they act wisely. But it is a matter of regret to say, as far as I know, there is hardly any visible
Think Tank ‘working behind the Deras to advise and persuade them to work and watch the interests of the community. They tend to get satisfied by loaves and crumbs of police escort vehicles and gun-wielding security guards and photo opportunities with political big-wigs. These political vested interests tend to exploit the community by keeping them divided to negate the effect of 35% dalit share in the population of Punjab, the highest in the country. We are to educate ourselves and stand up to meet the challenges ahead. Nobody else would do this for us. If not, these projects like Minar-e-Begampura would remain hanging in the air and we would remain bemoaning and complaining.

हर दर्दमंद दिल को रोना मेरा रुला दे ;

बेहोश जो पड़े हैं शायद उने जगा दे।

Monday, August 23, 2021

A Memorable Trip to Pune

 

A Memorable Trip to Pune

In my last blog, I gave some glimpses of my trip to Pune on August 13-15 and promised to write a detailed report of my memorable trip to Pune. I visited Pune on the kind invitation of Social Studies Foundation (SSF), an newly floated outfit to engage itself in study and research on matters of interest and concern to the ‘discriminated and depressed’ segments of the society and create a ‘positive narrative’ for the empowerment and progress with the motto “Knowledge for Empowerment. It will not be out of place to thank my friend Dr. Varinder Garg of Chandigarh who referred and introduced me to SSF. The main purpose of the visit was to release the special issue – Silent Contributors of Modern India  - of the newly launched mouthpiece of the SSF “The Unheard Voices” and speak on the theme ‘Role and contribution of depressed classes in the freedom struggle and nation building’ to celebrate the 75th
anniversary of our Independence. I accepted the kind invitation of SSF and reached Pune, a historical and cosmopolitan city of the Peshwas and builders of modern India like Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Bal Gangadhar Tilak among others in the morning of August 13.  Jitendra Pawar of SSF, well placed professional and businessman, received me at the airport called Lohagaon, a military airbase also used as a civil airport in the outskirts of Pune, a city of more than 32 lakh habitants, second only to Mumbai in the state of Maharastra.

Jitendra suggested taking a quick breakfast in a 70 years old and famous South Indian restaurant ‘Vaishali’ in the heart of the town before checking into the Hotel Centro nearby. We could get a table in a packed to capacity eatery. The Mysore Masala Dosha with a large coffee was really satisfying. I was all the more happy as Vaishali is


also the name of my daughter. Again on in the morning of August 15, we thought of going to Vaishali for breakfast. But it was not to be as on reaching there, we found that a big crowd of young boys and girls and also families were queuing outside to find a table inside. I was told that it was nothing special and it was the daily scene. I was told that Puneites (Punewalas) love to eat outside and the city was full of small and big eateries. My hosts treated me to special Marathi Thali and special dishes like Masala Bhaat, Puran Poli (Sweet Prantha with added sprinkling of pure ghee, Mutton curry with Bakhadi (millet tandoori roti) among others over several meals. I found that many of the traditional dishes were similar as we have in rural Punjab.  

With a view to use my time profitably while in Pune, I had suggested to my hosts to fix engagements/visits to some of the places/persons I would like to visit along with the main programme of the SSF on August 14 which included; Ambedkar Museum and Memorial, Jyotiba Phule Memorial, Dalit Chamber of Commerce, Aga Khan Palace and my interest injoining them at the Independence Day celebrations etc. My SSF hosts imaginatively could get two important slots for me:-

Visit to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Museum and Memorial at the Symbiosis Society – My visit to this important landmark on the map of Pune in the afternoon of August 13 was a rewarding experience. Director of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Museum and Memorial, Smt. Sanjivani Majumdar personally received and conducted me to the iconic landmark spread over 2 acres of prime land in the heart of the city. The foundation stone of the memorial was laid on April 14, 1990 by the then CM Sharad Pawar and finally inaugurated on November 26, 1996 by President K.R. Narayanan. The premises is called “Prerana Bhumi” which hosts Museum, Memorial and Library in the name of the greatest son of India, Babasaheb Amedkar at one place with – 280 artifacts, 190 photos and 490 rare books and


manuscripts donated by the wife of Babasaheb, Dr. Maisaheb Savita Ambedkar to the Symbiosis Society for the purpose. I must write that the Museum, Memorial and Library is a befitting tribute to the memory of the great reformer, leader and visionary, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. It was a pilgrimage for me to pay obeisance in reverence. I was personally touched by the kind gesture of honour bestowed on me by offering me a Shawal, Babasaheb’s Bust and Mahamanav – a Photo Biography and brief biography of Babasaheb compiled and written by no other but Director Sanjivani Majumdar herself. I will keep and preserve these mementos as a cherished memory of my visit in the years to come. Dr. S.B. Mujumdar, Founder and President of Sympoisis and an eminent educationist and also administrator has correctly written in the brochure of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Museum and Memorial, “One of the objectives of this museum and memorial is to introduce Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, who initiated the movement of social justice and equality in India to the foreigners well as Indian students so as to inspire them when they return to their own home land.”  On my return from Pune, I was further humbled by an e-mail message of Pro Vice Chancellor of Symbiosis International University, Dr. Vidya Yervadekar offering me to join them as visiting faculty at their Symbiosis School of International Studies. Thanks Dr. Vidya Yervadekar.

Independence Day Celebrations at Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics – I joined the students and faculty of Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics on the 75th Independence Day Celebrations on August 15, an auspicious and joyous occasion. I did not know that a big honour was to fall on me. On reaching the congregation, after a brief courtesy call on Prof. Rajas Parchure, RBI Professor of Finance of the Institute, Prof. Parchure humbled me a great deal by declaring me as the Guest of Honour on the occasion


and invited me to garland the statue of Gopal Krishna Gokhale and hoist the Tri-colour. Frankly, I and may be my SSF hosts who arranged the visit did not expect this. The solemn ceremony concluded with joint singing of Jana Gana Mana followed by snacks and hot masala tea. Thanks Prof. Rajas Parchure and his colleagues and my SSF hosts, Vijendra Sonawane and Avinash Mulye. It may be appropriate to mention for the benefit of my readers that Pune is the ‘Hub of IT’ after Bangaluru besides esteemed institutions like Pune University, Gokhale Institute, Fergusson College and University, Symbiosis Group of Institutes, Television and Film Institute among others are located in the beautiful city and is rightly called as the ‘Oxford of the East”.  Convener of Samajik Samarashta Chapter of the RSS, Ravendra Kirkole came to my place of stay for a courtesy meeting to welcome me to Pune. It was nice of him. I found Ravendra a calm and quiet personality with easy demeanor.  He compelled me to think that, perhaps, that was the reason why RSS was holding a unique status in the society at large. The Swayamsevaks are fully dedicated and well trained to carry forward their agenda, one may or may not agree with that. Ravendra Kirkole left me impressed with his simplicity. In the evening of August 13, my host Pramod Gosavi took me to the esteemed Pune University’s well kept and maintained campus, a green lung of the city for a quick detour before the dinner to relish Marathi food.

SSF function to release the special issue of the” Unheard Voices” on August 14 –

The SSF function to release the special issue of the Unherad Voices was held on August 14 on the eve of the 75th anniversary of our Independence Day at a prestigious venue of the auditorium of Deccan Education Society of Pune, an educational wing of the RSS. It was a well arranged programme. One of the Directors of SSF, Pramod Gosavi in his introductory presentation explained the purposes for which the SSSF was launched and added that the outfit would engage and involve the intellectuals and academics to create ‘a positive narrative’ on the role and contribution of our brethren belonging to the depressed and marginalized sections of the society. It will work as a ‘think tank’ in this regard. Dr. Anil Baisane, an eminent historian and academic with more than 75 books
to his credit released the special issue of the Unheard Voices – Silent Contributors of Modern India. Earlier, the Chief Editor of the E-Magazine, Vijendra Sonawane explained the purpose and rationale of starting the Unheard Voices to give impetus to the information needs of the marginalized segments of the society. He informed that the magazine which was formally launched on April 14, 2021 was received well by the discerning readers. Dr. Anil Baisane, while speaking on the theme ‘Role and Contribution of depressed classes in the freedom movement and nation building, gave an excellent and informative analysis from its historical perspective and said that it was unfortunate that the role played by the heroes belonging to the weaker sections of the society did not get any place in the history books and justify his assertion with reference to the role and contribution of Raja Nayak among others. I as the Chair of the Session congratulated the SSF for bringing out the Unheard Voices and its special issue on ‘Silent Contributors of Modern India” the

cover page of which adorns the photos of the contemporary icons of dalit communities in various spheres of life headed by none else but Babasaheb Ambedkar. Referring to the Mooknayak published by Baasaheb Ambedkar himself in the year 1920, I said that the Unheard Voice will try to fill the vacuum in providing much needed voice to voiceless. Speaking on the theme of the talk, I recalled the role of the Veeranganas including Jhalkari Bai, Adviser of Rani Laxmi Bai in the First War of Independence in 1857 and Kuyili, Brave Commander of Velu Nachirar in 1780, Uda Devi, Helen Savitari, Udham Singh, the warriors of Bhima-Koregaon, Chamar Regiment, Virsa Munda among others. The pioneer role of Babasaheb Ambedkar, Gadri Baba Babu Manguram Mugowalia, Joginder Nath Mandal, Babu Jagjivan Ram, D. Sanjivaya, Dadasaheb B.K. Gaikwad, Babu Kanshi Ram, President KR Narayanan, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan cannot be ignored and I added that the history will take note of their role and contribution in the run up to Independence in 1947 from the colonial rule but also in the development and progress of the country. The function, which was steered by Jitendra Pawar as the Master of Ceremonies, was concluded with the vote of thanks by Director of SSF, Hari Sowani. It was a satisfying and fulfilling experience to meet so many of the elite society of Pune at the fnction.

During my to and fro journey to Chandigarh to catch up with Pune, I enjoyed the hospitality of Sushil and Lovely Sheemar, my fellow BootanMandians, at their spacious and elegant villa in the “The Foothills” of Shivalik Range in the New Chandigarh – a serene and peaceful place to live which is the heavenly abode of senior retired and serving IAS, PCS elite and Judges. Both Sushil and Lovely and also their son Akun were totally caring and kind, as always.

 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Glimpses of my short trip to Pune

 

Glimpses of my short trip to Pune

On the invitation of Social Studies Foundation (SSF) of Pune, I visited Pune from August 13-15. It was memorable visit about which I would make a detailed report in due course to share my impressions and reflections on my engagements in Pune, a historic city of the State of Maharashtra. Here I give some of the highlights for the benefit of the readers of the Ambedkar Times as one of the slots in my programme  was the official release of the a special issue of the Unheard Voices a newly launched mouthpiece of the depressed and marginalized sections of the society.

August 13 – Visit to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Museum and Memorial hosted at esteemed Symbiosis Society. It is an important landmark on the map of City of Pune.



August 14 – Release of the special issue of the Unheard Voices “Silent Contributors of Modern India”. It was formally released by a renowned researcher and historian Dr. Anil Baisane I presided over the function as


the Chief Guest and spoke on the theme “Role and Contribution of depressed classes in the freedom struggle and nation building”

August 15 – Independence Day Celebrations at the esteemed temple of learning Gokhale Institute of Political Science an Economics. I garlanded the statue


of Gopal Krishan Gokhale founder of the institute and hoisted the tri-colour at a brief but impressive ceremony.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Jinhen Naaz Hai Hind Pe Woh Kahan Hain?

 

Jinhen Naaz Hai Hind Pe Woh Kahan Hain?

We are celebrating the 75th anniversary of our Independence on


August 15 this year. We the people of India are here – Jinhen Naaz Hai Hind Pe. This poetic expression of Sahir Ludhianvi throws a gauntlet to the people like us and rightly so. Sahir compels us to sit and think to find an answer as to where  we are heading even after the seven long decades of  independence in 1947 and proclaiming to be a Republic in 1950 with the lofty principles of Equality, Liberty, Justice, Fraternity and ensuring the Dignity of an individual , rightly enshrined in our Constitution.

While, I take this opportunity to greet my fellow countrymen on the Independence Day, I would like to make one or two pertinent observations with regard to the trenched caste divide and caste discrimination which is not diminishing in spite of legal framework and often repeated or flouted so called ‘affirmative actions’ by the governments and the Thekedars – conscious keepers of the society. The immediate provocation in this regard is the treatment meted out to the hockey player, Vandana Katariya by the anti social people. The

Vandana Katariya

caste slur as reported in the media, more on social media, are shameful and tend to justify the questions raised by Sahir  many decades ago. Sahir’s question – Jinhen Naaza Hai Hind Pe Woh Kahan Hain? -  cries for an answer. It is not only shameful but also a crime under the law. The whole country should be proud of, and I think it is, Vandana who amply demonstrated her prowess with a hat-trick of goals in the Olympic Games.  It is not only Vandana but many more from the marginalized segments of the society who have done well and brought laurels to our motherland and held the Tri-colour on the high podiums of various international sporting events. We are to go a long way as yet to break this vicious circle of caste based discrimination, if we intend to save India from the uncivilized and inhuman tendencies. Many of us who cry from the house-tops against the ‘affirmative’ provisions of reservations and other ‘empowerment’ measures introduced and undertaken by successive governments must understand the problem in the parlance of the age old traditional saying ‘Jis Ke Paon Na Phati Vivai; Woh Kya Jaane Peed Parai’. It will not be fair if we say nothing has been done to arrest this divisive and inhuman traditional treatment done to the socially weaker sections of the society but much more is needed to be done. Mere lip service in this regard will not do. Mahatma Gandhi ostensibly did his bit but most of the people suffering from the ‘graded inequality’ in the society doubted his sincerity in addressing the problem. It is a matter of regret and concern that no political outfit and political players showed any real concern and priority in this regard. The spiritual and religious leadership of the mainstream of the society is blissfully silent on this important issue. They tended to support and nurture the traditional mindset of ‘caste ridden’ social edifice consciously or otherwise. It is time to revisit the problem afresh and do the needful in the 75th year of our independence. Let it be very frank and candid, the ruling BJP who claims to represent the mainstream of the society and intends to associate and engage the socially weaker sections of the society give an added impetus to the eradication of caste based social maladies by education and practice. RSS, the biggest social outfit of the world, has given the slogan of ‘Samrasta’ and rightly so but matching efforts and actions are yet to


be seen on ground. RSS and other outfits like SGPC among others should look into this before it is too late. The main stream of the society that is the Hindu majority has a special responsibility to come forward and reform the society as per the needs of the contemporary times. It goes without saying that the problem is unique and difficult but it has to be addressed wholeheartedly, if India wants to remain India. The soon the better.

The problem is real. I recall a story which one of my friends, Hussan Baudh narrated to me some years ago. He was travelling on a train along with some of his friends or colleagues. One of them mentioned about some photos taken the other day and asked how they did like the photos. Another, belonging to the so called upper caste, replied with disdain and utter contempt ‘ Oh Yaar Photo Khaak Ani Thi Woh Saala Chamar Jo Saath Baitha Tha’ (How could the photo be good as that low caste was sitting next to me). Do we have any right to shout from the roof-tops against the Human Rights Activists or organizations like the Amnesty International? Let us first mend our outdated and deplorable mindsets to negate the poetic pick of Sahir Ludhanvi and Allama Iqbal who said long time ago:-

आह! शूद्र के लिए हिंदोस्तां गम खाना है
दर्दे इंसानी से उस बस्ती का दिल बेगाना है

The second observation is to negate Sahir again. Our boys and girls at Tokyo Olympics have made us proud. We the people of India are rejoicing on the excellent fete of our players led by Neeraj Chopra with a GOLD in athletics, Two SILVERs by Mirabai Chanu in

Neeraj Chopra

Weightlifting and Ravi Dahiya in Wrestling, Four BRONZES – one each by our Hockey Team, Bajrang Punia in Wrestling, Lovlina in Boxing and PV Sindhu in Badminton. Our Women’s Hockey Team and many individual players did their best and put up an excellent show – I believe some of them belong to the so called marginalized sections of the society. It gives a big slap on the faces of Casteist and anti social elements in the society. Beware of these snakes. India is a big country. We are to go a long way. Much more is needed to be done to find our due space and place in the comity of nations as a democratic, pluralistic and civilized society. Not only we are to kill the casteist snakes to clean and reform the society but also gear up to appear repeatedly on the high podiums of world events like Olympics. The Hindustan Times of August 9, 2021 has rightly said in an editorial, “Tokyo 2020: A new era begins – India’s success, both visible and invisible can mark the start of a new journey”.

We are determined to negate Sahirs and Iqbals, though they may be correct in their perceptions in a particular context, and are fully ready and geared up to pronounce loudly that  - Hamein Naaz Hai Hind Pe, Hamein Naaz Hai India Pe, Hamein Naaz Hai Bharat Pe.

Jai Hind – Jai Bharat

                                                                                      

Thursday, July 29, 2021

It is Time to Remind – International Day of Equality

 

It is Time to Remind – International Day of Equality

Over the years, since June, 2015 when the proposal to declare April 14, birth anniversary of Babasaheb B.R. Ambedkar as International Day of Equality was made to the Government of India, much water has flown in the Yamuna in Delhi and Hudson in New York. It is surprising and not understandable why the Government of India

Ambedkar Jayanti at UN in New York in April, 2016

(MEA and PMO) is sitting tight and not responding to our several submissions in this regard. We have been writing to EAM, PM and other Ministers and stakeholders and reminding them rather religiously but to no avail. We have no other option but to remind the Government with the hope someday that they would wake up and listen to the voice of the masses, we the people of India.

Babasaheb Ambedkar’s name and legacy is a potent force which may not be ignored for long. It has been repeatedly proved not only in India but abroad too. All the political outfits are only too eager to own Ambedkar and cannot afford to do without him. Over the recent


decades, it has been noticed that Ambedkar, one of the greatest sons of India in the contemporary times, is much recognized and felicitated personality with his statues, memorials and other insignia not only in India but throughout the globe. Not that successive Governments of India particularly the current government of PM Narendra Modi have not done their bit in this regard but still Ambedkar deserved much more. And moreover, it will not go in vain but will help in strengthening the democratic edifice, secular credentials and democratic socialism based on the lofty ideals of Equality, Liberty, Justice and Fraternity as enshrined in the letter and spirit of our Constitution by no other but Babasaheb Ambedkar himself as the Chief Architect of the Constitution of India. It is a matter of gratification to note that taking cue from the proposal on International Day of Equality our interlocutors abroad pursued with their local counterparts the idea of honouring Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in one way or the other. Chetna Association of Canada succeeded in convincing the State of British Columbia of Canada and they proclaimed April 14 as ‘Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Day of Equality’ in April, 2021. Earlier the City of Burnaby of Canada had done so in April, 2020. Now in July, 2021 itself, the Gray’s Inn in
Ambedkar Room at Gray's Inn at London

London named and opened Ambedkar Room and unveiled his portrait to recognize Babasaheb. You may know that ‘Dr BR Ambedkar is the first person of the Indian origin and the very second jurist in the world to have a room dedicated to him at the Gray’s Inn. The Inn, previously had a room dedicated to Rose Heilbronn, England’s first woman queen counsel and judge’ as reported by the Tribune – Jalandhar Edition of July 22, 2021.

With this background, I thought of reminding our own Indian Government of the subject and again wrote a letter to EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar on July 25, 2021 under intimation to PM Narendra Modi and his concerned Ministers and other important functionaries belonging to the ruling BJP which is appended to this piece. It is the time to act and take a decision to make a demarche by the Government of India to the UN well before the UNGA – 76 scheduled in September, 2021. With an explicit support of India, Foreign Minister of our close friend Maldives Abdullah Shahid will preside over the UNGA – 76 in New York on one hand and on the other India herself will sit at the main Chair at the Horse Shoe Table of the UNSC beginning August, 2021. We are confident that GOI would not let the opportunity pass and take the proposal to the UN immediately to add to its international standing under the soft diplomacy endeavors. It goes without saying that Ambedkar’s name and his legacy would dictate the political course of India in the days and years to come. The proposed International Day of Equality would tend to send a positive message to the Indian masses particularly the followers of Babasaheb and the weaker sections of the society. The ruling outfits, having the mandate to take a decision, would stand to gain by honouring one f the greatest sons of India and an international icon, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

Ik Tarze Tagafil Hai; So woh Unko Mubarak,

Ik Arze Tamanna Hai; Woh Hum Karte Rehange.


Appendix:-

Text of letter dated July 25, 2021 to EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar

July 25, 2021

 

Dear Sir,

Ever since you have taken over as the EAM in May/June, 2019, I have been writing to you about the International Day of Equality, my last letter dated April 1, 2021 (copy enclosed for ready reference) refers. The proposal to declare April 14, birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, as International Day of Equality was first made in June, 2015 to your predecessor EAM Sushma Swaraj ever since the proposal is resting with the esteemed MEA.

I thought of reminding you on the subject in the run up to the forthcoming UNGA in September, 2021. You would appreciate, Sir, Babasaheb Ambedkar is increasingly getting international recognition. It is surprising that our own government, which has taken many initiatives to honour one ofthe greatest sons of India otherwise, is taking time to consider the proposal and take a decision to make an appropriate demarche to the UN in this regard. I may inform, which you may already be aware, that the State of British Columbia in Canada proclaimed to declare April 14 as Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Day of Equality in April, 2021. Some days ago in July, 2021 itself the Gray’s Inn in London has named and opened Ambedkar Room and unveiled his portrait to recognize Babasaheb. You may know that ‘Dr BR Ambedkar is the first person of the Indian origin and the very second jurist in the world to have a room dedicated to him at the Gray’s Inn. The Inn, previously had a room dedicated to Rose Heilbronn, England’s first woman queen counsel and judge’ as reported by the Tribune of July 22, 2021

I don’t feel any need to say much, Sir, as you very well know and understand how to go about and what to do to get declared April 14 as International day of Equality. There may not be more opportune time when India will occupy the Head Chair at the UNSC and UNGA -76 in September, 2021 will be presided over by Foreign Minister of our friend Maldives, Abdullah Shahid

I am confident that my submissions would find an urgent consideration and a favourable decision is taken to see that the proposal is sent and taken up at the UN appropriately. It would send a very positive political signal within the country and to the international community in under-pinning the ‘Soft Diplomacy of India’ to move towards establishing a just and equitable world order.

With personal regards,

Yours truly,

(Ramesh Chander)

Dr. S. Jaishankar,

Minister of External Affairs,

South Block, New Delhi

 

Copy to:

1.     Shri Narendra Modi, PM of India, PMO, South Block, New Delhi

2.     Dr. Varinder Kumar, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, New Delhi

3.     Shri Ramdas Athawale, MOS, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, New Delhi

4.     Shri Som Parkash, MOS, Ministry of Industry and Trade, New Delhi

5.     Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi, MOS, MEA, New Delhi

6.     Shri Vijay Sampla, Chairman, National SC Commission, New Delhi

7.     Shri Dushyant Gautam, MP, New Delhi