Tuesday, May 25, 2021

My Fellow-BootanMandian – Umesh Mahey (Sunny) – Hidden Talent


My Fellow-BootanMandian – Umesh Mahey (Sunny) – Hidden Talent

Yesterday, May 24, Umesh Mahey, my nephew- son of my younger brother Paramjit Mahey, whom we call Sunny in the family, became a celebrity in a few hours. He released his maiden song – IBADAT - on Youtube and other related social media vehicles and the public

response was heart-warming as the beautifully sung and presented song became viral instantly. Many of us did not know that Sunny, an unassuming young man, was such a latent and hidden talent. Kudos to Sunny and his team and congratulations to the proud parents Savita and Paramjit Mahey.

Listening to the song, sung beautifully by Sunny and written thoughtfully by yet another budding talent Satnam Argowal, I was reminded an Urdu couplet:

तू पहले बात; फिर  बात का अंदाज़ पैदा कर ,

फिर दुनिया में तुझे कोई नज़र अंदाज़ कर नहीं सकता।

I heard Sunny doing Kirtan of Gurbani at various family functions occasionally and singing popular numbers on Karaoke at our residence over the relaxed family get-togethers.  Now to earn his bread and butter, Sunny was diligently engaged in his business

initiatives and rightly so. But it is a matter of satisfaction that at the back of his mind he was nurturing his musical aspirations. He proved himself and deserved all due appreciation and encouragement in pursuing his musical interests.

I spoke to Sunny and Paramjit to know more about Sunny’s involvement in this lofty activity of music. It was happy to note that Sunny was initiated to music by our uncle, Chacha Jai Ram, himself a poet and singer of sorts, under the expert training of Master Girdhari Lal of Bootan Mandi who belonged to the genre of renowned Sufi-singer Bibi Nooran when Sunny was in his teens. He showed promise and his father Paramjit, who himself nurtured some interest in writing spiritual poetry and songs, fully supported Sunny and was placed and enrolled in the Shagirdgi (studentship/disciple) of a living legend of classical music, Sujit Singh Samundar of Jalandhar. Ustad Samundar Sahib honed the raw talent of Sunny into a budding vocalist. Since 2013, Sunny said that he was still a student under the wings of his Guru Ustad Sujit Singh Samundar ji. In the run up to the first sound track – Ibadat – Sunny was a much sought after performer in his college days at CT College Jalandhar and won many awards and recognitions.

I quote Allama Iqbal with all the best wishes to express my fore-sight about the coming phase of Sunny’s journey to further success: -   


परदों  में जो पिन्हा है चश्मे वीना देख लेती है,

ज़माने की तबीयत का तकाजा देख लेती  है।

            I am confident that Sunny would not lower his guard and keep himself on track for further glory in the days to come as famous English poet Robert Frost said:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   

But I have promises to keep,   

And miles to go before I sleep,   

And miles to go before I sleep.





Monday, May 24, 2021

Jai Singh Phillaur – An Obituary


Jai Singh Phillaur – An Obituary

Jai Singh Phillaur (1954-2021), a social and community activist of his own standing passed away on May 22 due to the deadly virus of Corona. I did not know Jai Singh Sahib very intimately and met him only a couple months ago at a meeting of Scheduled Caste Ekta (Entrepreneur) and Empowerment Forum (SCEEF) at Chandigarh and more recently at a Webinar of SCEEF some two weeks ago. Jai Singh himself informed that he was not well and was running a high fever and was found Corona positive. I was impressed by his commitment to and engagement with matters of community

interests. Jai Singh was suffering from some sort of infirmity in legs as even in Chandigarh he was using a walker to help himself. I found Jai Singh was a man of brevity and would tend to say his mind and view point candidly but briefly. Though I was impressed by his presentations and dignified demeanor yet I was yet to fathom his depth. He himself informed that he was engaged in the issue of bonded labour and other matters pertaining to the weaker sections of society particularly dalits and felt that Jai Singh was an activist belonging to the left orientation. But his presence at the meetings of SCEEF which is an outfit affiliated to the right-wingers like the BJP and RSS waffled me. Later I came to know that Jai Singh and his family have had RSS connection from the days of his grandfather, who was an employee with the Railways, was an active RSS Swayamsevak. Notwithstanding all this, it was certain that Jai Singh was a much respected and sought after personality as mentioned and referred to by many like Dr. Varinder Garg an RSS Swayamsevak, BJP leader Rajesh Bagha and Former Chief Parliamentary Secretary Avinash Chander, Social and Political activist Paramjit Singh Kainth among others.

After getting the sad news of the demise of Jai Singh and obtaining the telephone number from Rajesh Bagha, I spoke to one of the Aides of Jai Singh, Jasbir Singh to register my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. Jasbir Singh, giving the background of the departed soul, informed that  Jai Singh was fully engaged in the welfare and wellbeing of the weaker sections of the society through

Jai Singh at the SCEEF meeting in Chandigarh

his various outfits like - i) Volunteers for Social Justice ii) Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan iii) NAREGA workers Union etc. Though Jai Singh belonged to Phillaur in the Doaba region but his ‘Karambhoomi’ remained Moga and many places in the Malwa region of Punjab.  On the two occasions when I have had the chance to interact with Jai Singh ji, he spoke about issues pertaining to labour and land issues of the landless and also his untiring efforts for the emancipation and empowerment of the under-privileged particularly dalits both in India and international and multi-lateral fora. Jasbir Singh connected me to one of the two sons of Jai Singh, Jaskaran Singh and I spoke to him. I felt that Jaskaran, an advocate like his father, must be a good and humble personality. Giving the family details, Jaskaran informed that they were two brothers and one sister. The brother and the sister were also advocates. Jai Singh’s father was a teacher by profession. One may observe that the whole family, from the grandfather onwards, was a well placed and educated lot and was engaged in social and community matters. I was fully impressed by the persona and credentials of Jai Singh in a short span of our association. The deadly virus did not allow us to carry on and learn from each other and work together for the wellbeing of our fellow brethren in the weaker sections of the society. I feel cheated and robbed and conclude it with a heavy heart and prayers for the nirvana of Jai Singh ji.

 हाथ थाम सके पकड़ सके दामन,

बहुत करीब से उठ कर चला गया कोई। 


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

An Open Letter to Punjab Civil Society


An Open Letter to Punjab Civil Society

Dear fellow-citizens particularly Jalandharites,

 Some months ago, you may be aware, enthusiasts interested in community matters initiated an outfit called Punjab Civil Society and I wrote about this in my blog on: https://diplomatictitbits.blogspot.com/search?q=punjab+civil+society

It was clear that the on-going Kisan Andolan was the immediate provocation coupled with interests and subtle agenda of some socio-religious right-wingers sitting on the fence. The initiative, as expected, survived only a couple of subdued meetings of the so called core group of almost defunct Punjab Civil Society. The issues remain as it were. I thought of picking up the threads because of the current political and social developments in Punjab in which one of

MLA Pargat Singh at the inaugural meeting of Punjab Civil Society

the founding members of Punjab Civil Society, MLA Pargat Singh, happened to be a party besides the fact that these developments concerned the entire civil society of Punjab and the country at large.

I am apolitical stakeholder in the matters of wellbeing of the community and as such would refrain from touching the political sensitivities involved. The on-going political slugfest, notwithstanding, on account of issues of ‘sacrilege and Bargari’ incidents etc., MLA Pargat Singh’s allegations about ‘arms twisting’ and ‘use of government agencies’ by CM Captain Amrinder Singh’s government, should really be

Media interaction of Punjab Civil Society

issues of concern and worry to the civil society. It has also been reported in the media that one of the senior Ministers, Charanjit Singh Channi, who was said to be differing with CM Captain Amrinder Singh, was also picked to show him his place by racking up an old case of ‘harassment of a lady IAS officer’ against him. I think civil society should not remain a silent spectator to all these developments which adversely impinge the community and the society directly.

Vaccination at Ghai Hospital
Let me take this opportunity and register my concern as an ordinary citizen on the vaccination issues to deal with Covid pandemic. We in the civil society must prevail upon the concerned health authorities
to undertake the work of vaccination with all seriousness and responsibility particularly to the economically weaker sections of the society as – Jaan Hai To Jahan Hai. We must defeat the deadly virus resolutely by standing together.

With all the best wishes to all my fellow citizens.

Yours truly

(Ramesh Chander)

Ambassador – IFS (Retired)

Telephone: 9988510940

Monday, May 17, 2021

My Fellow-BootanMandian Seth Ram Lal Mahey – An Obituary


My Fellow-BootanMandian Seth Ram Lal  Mahey – An Obituary

I say with a heavy heart that this is the third obituary I am writing in a month’s time in succession after the demise of a Community Activist Jiwan Singh and my friend and colleague Ambassador Ashok Amrohi and now that of my fellow-Bootan Mandian and one of the elders of our Mahey clan, Seth Ram Lal. It is not a pleasant experience; nevertheless, one has to live with the realities of life. Seth Ram Lal, 89, passed away on May 15 on account of some age related maladies he was suffering from, of late. Ram Lal was holding the flag of the family with élan. Ram Lal’s father Seth Munshi Ram was the cousin of Seth Sunder Dass, a known community leader of Bootan Mandi, a hub of dalit consciousness and awakening in and around Jalandhar.

I did not know Ram Lal as late as mid 1970s. Ram Lal chose to migrate to the UK in mid 1950s in the first wave of migrant labour from Doaba region for greener pastures. I left Jalandhar for Delhi for my career in the IFS in early 1970s. Ram Lal, as I know, did not come back to India for almost 20 years. The family, including his

wife, suffered the pangs of separation and Ram Lal voluntarily or otherwise spent his formative and prime years of youth in the UK earning his bread and butter with dignity. On his return from the UK in mid 1970s, he fully engaged himself in the betterment of the families of his brothers and stood by them through thick and thin, besides soothing the hurt and ruffled sensitivities of his diligent and gracious wife, as Ram Lal and his wife did not have any issue on their own. Ram Lal was a good and courteous man. On meeting Ram Lal during one of my home-leaves in mid 1970s, we got good and friendly vibes and started liking each other. I found Ram Lal always dressed fairly well with jacket and tie in winters and pleasant and dignified summer outfits. My brothers, Kishan and Paramjit and even my father, Papa Sodhi Ram told me that Ram Lal was instrumental in making the family - Hussan, Surinder and Paramjit sons of his brother Rup Lal and even sons of his yet another brother Karam Chand, stand up and establish themselves as successful business entities by their own right. Surinder Mahey even made to the esteemed position of the Mayor of Jalandhar in early 2010. It is said that Ram Lal helped and stood by him financially and otherwise as a responsible head of the family.

Ram Lal was a committed and dedicated community activist pertaining to Guru Ravidass and his mission. After his return from the UK, he involved himself in community matters and did a lot for the community. In Bootan Mandi itself, he was instrumental in renovating and rebuilding schools, both high and primary which were handed over to the government to run them. Though I would not appreciate and endorse this action of handing over these assets to the government and not handling them on our own for the advantage and benefit of the community yet I have not an iota of doubt about the sincerity and integrity of Ram Lal ji. I think his younger and educated associates should have taken the correct decision in this regard. Seth Ram Lal played an important role in the construction and development of Guru Ravidass Dham, a nerve centre of community activities in the region. I was told that he took special interest in the renovation and upkeep of the cremation grounds of the

Guru Ravidass Gurpurab at Bootan Mandi in 2011

area at Jalowal Abadi which was much appreciated by the people. Today, May 16, when I visited the bereaved family to pay my condolences, his nephews Hussan Lal and Paramjit told me that not only in and Bootan Mandi, Ram Lal contributed and donated handsome amounts in lakhs of rupees from his personal funds to hospitals and schools run by Dera Sachkhand Balan, Dera Swami Gurdip Giri of Pathankot and also development of facilities at Seer Govardhanpur at Varanasi (Banaras). Ram Lal led the caravan from the front as President of Guru Ravidass Educational and Charitable Trust for several years and did many appreciable deeds without much fanfare and credit. He was a considerate and humble man.

I am sorry to add that later when I returned to my roots after retirement in 2011, I found Ram Lal a bit bitter and dejected on account of activities by some of his associates and co-functionaries. The project of development of Guru Ravidass Dham  at Bootan Mandi was close to his heart but some vested interests were having their own agenda with regard to properties and assets (land etc.). Ram Lal, true to his salt, did not like it and even stood his ground in the court of law and won the court case which he fought single handedly on his own. Unfortunately, the matter is still not solved and the vested interests are trying to hoodwink and by-pass the system by hook or crook. It must be resisted and a fair position restored at the earliest in the interest of the Dham and the community at large. It will be a big and betting tribute to Seth Ram Lal ji whom we would miss greatly.

I close this with Naman to the departed soul of my fellow BootanMandian, Seth Ram Lal.