Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Bouquets and Brickbats

Bouquets and Brickbats 

As a career diplomat for more than 35 years, I learnt to accept bouquets with humility and brickbats with dignity and fortitude. I also generally try to follow another diplomatic norm “Diplomats think twice before saying nothing”. But, of late, it seems, I failed
miserably on both the counts both in my writings (I write a regular
blog) and my occasional public speeches on various occasions. I 
tried to establish a reasonable level of dialogue both of my supporters and detractors. The supporters were too generous and kind to me. The detractors were too harsh and unreasonable.  I said and wrote freely on matters of concern and interest as a naïve thinker but without malice or self-righteousness.

Without going into details, let me touch on a couple of recent instances:-
·       Bharat Bandh of April 2 – I supported the Bharat Bandh but exercised and cautioned restraint as to not to disturb general law and order by resorting to ‘constitutional methods’ only in registering our protest against the efforts to dilute the provisions of the SC & ST (Prevention of atrocities) Act. I also advised the dalit communities to invite and solicit support and co-operation of the society at large in their lawful protest. I cautioned dalit youth which is increasingly getting volatile to exercise “Hosh” while demonstrating and applying “Josh”. It was appreciated in the educated and enlightened segments of the protesters and the society but found an underlying current of hostility and defiance by some of my own friends and so-called leaders of the community. Their major objection remained that I was too soft and yielding. I think, somewhere at the back of their mind, there was a lingering doubt that I was looking for some greener pastures with the ruling party and their mentors - BJP and RSS. Nothing could be farther from truth. My only agenda is to contribute positively, in my own humble way, to establish an inclusive society to live harmoniously with a sense of fraternity to our mutual advantage. My dalit brethren would understand and appreciate this. So I hope.
·       Ambedkar Jayanti and RSS: - Perhaps my over enthusiastic but ill-informed dalit brethren may not like my writing the name of Ambedkar with RSS in the same line. Things have reached such a pass. On April 14, Jalandhar RSS invited me to join them in celebrating Babaseheb Ambedkar on his Jayanti. In all fairness and
open mind, I accepted the invitation and joined them on this solemn occasion. The all knowledgeable worthies may have not even noticed this genuine but low key event. The print media carried it the next day in a routine manner. I myself circulated the news clipping among the interested circles. Lo and behold, a hellish fury of abuse was unleashed on me by the self-proclaimed followers of Ambedkar and Thekedars of the community.  I could not follow the reason and logic behind this uncalled for and mindless diatribe against me. Some of them even decreed and threatened my social boycott and segregation by issuing ‘Fatwas’. I don’t know how I should name these Fatwas – Tuglaki or Talibani or Ambedkari (if there is one in the name of Babasaheb Ambedkar, one of the most sagacious and democratic personalities of contemporary India). I tried to counter them with logic and solid arguments. I joined friends and fellow citizens at the RSS’s Peeli Kothi to pronounce and register the often repeated assertion that ‘Ambedkar does not belong to dalits only but to the entire society and the world at large’. Did I commit any wrong? I asked my detractors, the so called Ambedkarites and self-appointed leaders, whether they had read and considered the content and spirit of my speech at the RSS function which was duly published in the print media and subsequently, with view to further explain and put it into its right perspective, posted it in my blog But nobody was willing to listen. They continued crying from the roof-top. I think their behavior and reaction is most undemocratic and ill-mannered which Babasaheb would not have approved and pocketed. Do we want conflict or harmony in the society? We need to answer this. RSS, till yesterday, did not recognize one of the greatest sons of India, Babasaheb Ambedkar due to their own philosophy and agenda. But now, with changing social and political scenario, have started to claim and own the legacy of India. What is the objection and confusion? If RSS is coming around by their dalit oriented agenda, let it be. On our part, we should be alert and keep our powder dry to use it as and when needed. No party, Congress, Jan Sangh/BJP, Communists, Socialists, Akalis among others, supported and recognized Babasaheb. Now all of them are falling on each other to own him and his legacy. Should we shun them all as my friends intend to do with RSS/BJP? I don’t understand this logic. Let all of them come along and appropriate Babasaheb Ambedkar. We should not have any problem on that account. The more the merrier.
·       Ambedkar Jayanti at the UN: - Ambedkar Jayanti was celebrated at the UN in New York on April 13, 2016 for the first time. I started working on this in April/May, 2015, subsequent to GOI‘s decision to celebrate 125th birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar by writing to EAM Sushma Swaraj and PM Narendra Modi. Later, on my approach, Forum of SC&ST MPs and MLAs under the stewardship
of Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal and individual initiatives of people like dalit business tycoon Kalpana Saroj and other activists also came along who interacted with PMO and PR of India at UN in this regard. There was no official function in April, 2017 except some private event by the so called Ambedkarites and social activists in liaison with local NGOs. This proved to be, as reported, a gathering of anti-Indian establishment which sent a wrong message to the GOI and genuine Ambedkarites back home in India and abroad. I came to know sometime in February/March, 2018 that UN has refused permissions to private initiatives to host a function in April, 2018 on the formal or informal advice in this regard. This news got viral on social media in India and obviously the concerned and interested Ambedkarites were boiling over this. I took the initiative again and wrote to EAM Sushma Swaraj and PM Narendra Modi in one of my e-mails “Currently, a story is getting viral in the social media that the government of PM Narendra Modi has instructed the Indian PR at the UN not to celebrate the birth anniversary at the UN this year that is April 14, 2018. The vested interests tend to exploit this.” The matter ended with a good solemn function to pay tributes to one of the greatest sons of India organized by the PR of India to UN on April 13. I posted the Speech of Indian PR to the UN Syed Akbaruddin, who happens to be my diplomatic colleague, on my Facebook timeline. Many of my well intentioned friends appreciated it and even congratulated me, but on the other side, some of the self-righteous and jealous lot refused to stomach this. Many of them criticized the GOI and the Indian PR to UN for not inviting the reported anti-national and anti establishment individuals and outfits to the function. It was even reported that on the High-Table of the function “only Brahmins were seated”. It is the height of blissful ignorance and willful joining of hands with the vested interests. This misguided lot even supported and appreciated the demonstration and forced barging-in by some Sikhs to protest against the GOI’s suppression and injustice meted out to the dalits and Sikhs. It is ridiculous on the part of dalits. Will the Sikhs disturb and create disorder at a function in which a Sikh icon would have been celebrated? Will they allow others to create nuisance at their functions? If they are so concerned and agitated about the injustice and ill-treatment to dalits, why did they not join hands and support the Bharat Bandh of April 2 in India. Most of the high caste Sikhs are Manuwadis themselves. Ambedkar should be celebrated and recognized at the UN in a befitting manner as and when an opportunity arises. We all should endeavor for that rather than claiming credits.
·       International Day of Equality: - I have written about my proposal on “International Day of Equality in my blog many a times and shared it on my Facebook Timeline. I have also been writing to some of my friends and opinion maker on e-mails in this regard. The latest consolidated position may be seen on my blog Subsequent to March 6, 2018, I followed it up with EAM Sushma Swaraj and PM Narendra Modi under information to BJP President Amit Shah and RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat through emails. The matter is resting at that. I have been appealing to all my fellow Ambedkarites and soliciting their concerted support in pursuing the matter in whatever way they can. Only a few of them have responded and took some action. Others
are sitting tight on the fence and looking for some opportunity to come by to find faults, criticize and issue certificates as to who is a good Ambedkarite or a bad one? Who is a good/bad Buddhist or a good/bad Ravidassia? Who should go to Peeli Kothi or Neeli Kothi? These worthies have no time and mind to write a line about the proposed International Days of Equality. They are busy in bad-mouthing on one pretext or the other those who are engaged in some good and positive work

All said and done, it was my feeble attempt to save and defend my integrity as a humble Ambedkarite in the face of ‘Bouquets and Brickbats’ from my friends and the society at large.

यह कहाँ की दोस्ती है के बने हैं दोस्त नासेह;
कोई गमगुसार होता कोई चारासाज होता !

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Ambedkar Jayanti – April 14, 2018

Ambedkar Jayanti – April 14, 2018

Of late, Ambedkar Jayanti has increasingly become a day of great importance and significance both in India and abroad. On one hand, it is a matter of great satisfaction that the iconic personality of one of the greatest sons of India is getting due recognition and rightly so but on the other it has become a triggering point for some sort of social and political confrontation which is worrisome. We, as a democratic society, must ponder-over this before it becomes too late. Both the government and the civil society should consider and handle this sensitive situation without delay. Pushing the dirt under the carpet will not help. All political outfits are falling on each other to claim Ambedkar and his legacy owing to obvious reasons of ‘Vote Banks’. The followers of Ambedkar are increasingly getting assertive and vocal for their rights and due space both in the polity and society as equal stakeholders. The Thekedars, fanatic Hindu Right-Wingers, of the upper-crust of the society following
the traditional manuwadi mindset in the caste ridden social and economic order are not yet ready to shed their sense of superiority. Here lies the problem which needs to be addressed with tact and foresight. Babasaheb Ambedkar stood for ‘Samta and Samarasta’ – Equality and Equitable Order - in the society and the country at large. He pleaded to adopt constitutional and non-violent methods and approaches to get redressal of grievances, if any under the laws of the land. The political leadership and the society at large must understand and heed to the warning of Dr. Ambedkar that if our poltical democracy is not transformed into social and economic democracy as stipulated and enshrined in the constitution we would tend to subscribe to “Grammar of Anarchy” and put our independence into peril. Let us follow Ambedkar in a larger context. Babasaheb was not a dalit leader. He belonged to India that is Bharat and to the whole world as an international humanist.  Administrator of the UNDP, at a function in the UN in New York on April 13, 2018 to celebrate Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary under the theme of UN’s goal ‘Leaving No One Behind’, said that “B.R. Ambedkar’s ‘efforts’ towards ensuring excluded groups were politically and socially empowered and made him a “pioneer” in the world and his vision of equality and social justice echoes the ambitions of the UN’s 2030 development agenda.” Let nobody stop anybody to own, respect and follow Babasaheb Ambedkar in the larger interest of establishing a casteless society based on the lofty principles of ‘Equality, Liberty and fraternity’. It will be a befitting tribute to the great leader, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

As a small and humble Ambedkarite, I participated in some of the events to celebrate the Jayanti of my icon to pay my debt of gratitude and homage to Babasaheb Ambedkar:

·       Participated in the Ambedkar Chetna March on April 13 which commenced from Bootan Mandi Jalandhar. It was a great show by the followers of Babasaheb. It was gratifying to note that over the years the Chetna March has become a regular event in the social
and cultural life of the city of Jalandhar on the eve of Ambedkar Jayanti. The Chetna March was spontaneous and voluntary on the part of the Ambedkarite followers. All efforts should be made in the years to come that the event becomes a landmark of discipline and democratic manifestation to remember the worthy son of the soil.

·       Participated in a prayer meeting on the morning of April 14 to pay homage to Dr. Ambedkar at the Jalandhar RSS complex along with Community activist Ram Gopal, Educationist Principal Ravi Sharma, Advocate Balraj Sharma, Politicians Manorajan Kalia and K.D. Bhandhari, Editor Rakesh Shantidoot, among others.  Special numbers on Babasaheb Ambedkar of the two periodicals ‘Yug Bodh – Punjabi and Pathik Sandesh’ were released at the function. I underlined the much needed approach, in my brief remarks, that
RSS, a well organized outfit of the Hindu society, should see to it that good things said in the prayer meetings in closed rooms trickle down to the grassroots to benefit the society. The public perception of the RSS and its activities, particularly among the dalit masses, required to be changed by associating them to the mainstream of the society as equal partners. I also added that India was India, in spite of many ups and downs in the process, because of the constitution of India which was given by our forefathers under the stewardship of Babasaheb Ambedkar. I also warned that any attempt to change or dilute the fundamentals of the constitution will amount to an invitation to a ‘bloody revolution’ which Dr. Ambedkar and his followers never wanted and supported. The secular fabric of the polity and society needs to be preserved and protected at all costs as visualized and stipulated by Babasaheb. Many of my friends may not like my going to the RSS for the event. But I am open to sit with them and discuss the matter, if need be.
Postscript: In fact, many of my friends, self proclaimed Ambedkarites, have already started abusing me on social media. Some of them have even suggested or threatened to do my “Mera Hukkapani Bandh”. Should they be still called Ambedkarites?

·       Participated at a celebratory function to remember Dr. Ambedkar at Bolina Doaba, a historical village in the out-skirts of Jalandhar, to pay tributes to the great leader along with known environmentalist Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal, an accomplished educationist Principal Jagroop Singh of Mehr Chand Polytechnic College, a renowned Punjabi films actor of yesteryears Satish Kaul, a worthy
son of Bolina, former Chairman of Punjab SC Commission Rajesh Bagha, a renowned literary critique Desraj Kali, Editor Rakesh Shantidoot, Social activist Sarwan Dass Bolina among others. My cherished memories became alive. I visited Bolina many a times in my younger days as a student to participate in the ‘Vidyak Samagam’ which was regularly arranged at Bolina under the patronage of Babu Sarwan Dass Bolina, one of my family friends. Sarwan Dassji was a source of inspiration to many of us in the 1960s.

·       Joined the large congregation of Ambedkarites at Ambedkar Bhawan at Jalandhar under the aegis of Ambedkar Mission Society, Ambedkar Bhawan Trust and Samta Sainik Dal and paid homage to Babasaheb. Fiery speeches by Dr. Gian Kaul, Chandan Grewal and Lahori Ram Balley clearly depicted the mood of the restless audience in view of the tense situation prevailing in the society due to recent political events. Dr. Chaman Lal, a left oriented intellectual, was the key note speaker. Referring to the RSS and BJP’s alleged agenda to subvert and change the constitution, Dr. Chaman Lal said that Ambedkar himself wanted to tear and burn the constitution as it did not turn out to be conforming to his liking. He obliquely hinted that yes, the constitution would be reviewed and changed to suit the under privileged and proletariats. He also underlined the need of cooperation and joining hands by the votaries of Jai Bhim and Lal Salam. The high-ups sitting on the
high table and the audience clapped. I was wondering whether the message was understood or it was just to keep ourselves blissfully happy. There are questions but only time will throw the answers. A good photo exhibition of Babasaheb’s rare photos was arranged at the podium of Lord Buddha’s statue at the Bhawan Complex. I was told that it was the initiative and endeavor of one our Ambedkarite enthusiast Gurdev Chand. I met and thanked Gurdev Chand for his thoughtful gesture.

·       Doordarshan (DD) programme on Babasaheb Ambedkar was a good exposure but the time was too short. Desraj Kali is a staunch Ambedkaite and a literary thinker of standing. Advocate Santokh Lal Virdi is an intellectual and community activist of worth. It was
rewarding to join and sit with them to talk about the greatest son of India, Babasaheb Ambedkar. DD Jalandhar has been thoughtful and cooperative in remembering and felicitating dalit icons as a professional channel of information and communication to the benefit of the public. I appreciate and commend the DD Jalandhar management.

The idea of writing these details is to generate awareness among the general public about the legacy of Babsaheb Ambedkar.

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

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Dalit Assertion – Emerging Scenario

Dalit Assertion – Emerging Scenario

Bharat Bandh of April 2 to protest against the dilution of SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by the Hon’ble Supreme Court has brought to fore many pointers which has implications for the coming political and social scenario in the country and the society. One it was a spontaneous uprising to register the pent up feelings and outrage of dalit masses against the piled up ill behavior and willful neglect and disregard even after more than 70 years of freedom. The growing undue clamour against the reservation for dalits without doing anything to bring about a casteless society is one of the major reasons of dalit dissatisfaction.  Everybody tends to speak against reservation for dalits. No one speaks against the caste based discrimination and high handedness. The growing perception of “Manuwadi” mindset and agenda of the ruling dispensation is yet another major factor for the growing unrest among the dalit youth. The recent happenings like Rohit Vemula’s suicide, thrashing of dalits in Una, Saharanpur incidents and arrest of Chander Shekhar Azad, Bheema-Koregaon incidents and the recent judicial outreach to dilute the efficacy of laws meant for the protection of hapless dalits are, inter alia, a few such acts of provocation which have resulted in a united dalit response, prime facie. Though it will take some more time to assess and formulate a more detailed analysis by the political and social pundits yet it is evident that challenges are potent and has the potential to spillover, if not handled to the satisfaction of the suffering humanity on the basis of the cardinal philosophy of ‘Equality, Fraternity and Justice’ stipulated in the constitution of India. But unfortunately, it seems that the political and social leadership and also the fourth pillar of the state that is the media are blissfully oblivious, though will not agree, of the ground realities and the simmering discontentment among the under-privileged. Just
to point out off the cuff, media, as usual, is not only suppressing but also not presenting the correct position. The media took no time to call the sporadic violence on April 2 as “Dalit Hinsa” inspite of the fact that violence was initiated, instigated and inflicted by the opponents of the Bandh and almost all killed in the violence were dalits. The statues and busts of dalit icons like Babasaheb Ambedkar and Periyar Ramaswami are disfigured and desecrated everyday under the watchful eyes of the administration and the civil society. PM Narendra Modi and his associates do not let go any occasion to state that his government has done all for the empowerment of dalit communities and has honoured Ambedkar more than anybody else. Dalits don’t like this ‘patronizing attitude’ at all. Dalits are not interested in clamouring for undue favours but in the rightful and equal share in the pie. Yet another clear sign of dalit assertion is the revolt of many vocal and silent MPs of the ruling party by aligning themselves with the dalit protest and agitation. It is something alien to the political set-up and is a welcome trend. Let the governments and the society do their best to implement honestly the empowering and affirmative provisions to help the weaker sections of the society rather than befooling the masses to take advantage of their strength as vote banks. Babasehab Ambedkar, who figured nowhere in the political and social reckoning, not long before, has become a darling of all, all of a sudden. Let it be, but let us be honest and diligent in addressing the issues agitating the dalit masses.

मस्जिद तो बना दी शब्ब  भर में ईमान की हरारत वालों ने;
मन अपना पुराना पापी है बरसों से नमाज़ी बन सका !


With a heavy heart and a sense of remorse: – Where are the Administration and the Media? Who will bring the rogues to book? For how long dalits would tolerate this? Where are the political parties who are falling on each other to own the legacy of Babasaheb Ambedkar? If dalits would respond to this non-sense, it would be immediately condemned as “Dalit Hinsa” by the so-called free and fair Media and the Thekedars of the society. Today, April 8, one of the Bhagat TV Channels in a debate on Dalit Assertion in its programme “Taal Thok Ke” found blaming and instigating the political outfits to term the recent violence as “Dalit Goondagardi”. It was the height of shamelessness on the part of self-righteous media

Please see a clip getting viral on the social media. Only the wearer knows where the shoe is pinching.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A Memorandum Not Delivered

A Memorandum Not Delivered

It is common knowledge that Babasaheb Ambedkar’s famous treatise on the caste system in India, a book named “Annihilation of Caste” was a lecture which he was to deliver in Lahore in 1935 on the invitation of Jaat Paat Torak Mandal. But due to some reservations on the side of the Mandal, the lecture could not be delivered. Babasaheb published it later in form of a book which proved to be a par-excellence analysis of the issue and remained so till date. I have no illusion of my intellect and capacity. But I take
At Guru Ravidass Chowk Jalandhar
the liberty of publishing a Memorandum which was drafted by me on the request and approach by one of my close friends on behalf of my own fraternity in Bootan Mandi, my native place in Jalandhar.  The Memorandum which was intended to be delivered to Mahamahim Rashtrapatiji, President of India through the Deputy Commissioner of Jalandhar District with regard to the Bharat Bandh on April 2 called by the dalit organizations and outfits to protest against the recent rulings of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India diluting the provisions of the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 but could not be delivered due to reasons best known to the elite at Guru Ravidass Educational and Charitable Trust and Satguru Ravidass Dham of Bootan Mandi.  My off the cuff and informal interaction with some of the leading lights of both the Trust and the Dham put forward bizarre reasons and arguments with which I was surprised and got somewhat anguished too. The basic argument was that since no one else was submitting such a Memorandum, there was no need for us to do so. The second argument further astonished me. Where was need to give anything in writing to Rashtrapati? Did he not see what was happening with regard to the Bharat Bandh? One of them even remarked, “Rashtrapati is not blind and moreover he is an RSS Chamcha”. I decided to share the draft Memorandum through my blog, as usual with a simple question. Where was the need for the senior leaders of RSS and the Government of the day to issue statements and explanations on the issue of SC & ST Act and the Bandh? Rashtrapatiji, being one of them very well knew their views and intentions and still they chose to make statements. Our self proclaimed and learned elite think that there was no point in issuing any written submission. Why did the dalit outfits raise ruckus on the roads and streets, if they don’t have anything concrete to say and submit in writing?

I leave it at that with one pertinent observation that the Bharat Bandh of April 2 was successful with an overwhelming support. Some points, prima facie, become evident. The day long events and incidents gave way to the pent up feelings and emotions of the
suffering masses i.e. dalits. It was a spontaneous rising with scattered leadership or no leadership at all like the mutiny or rising or the first war of independence in 1857 in the struggle for freedom of our country. Dalits are no more interested in sitting tight and undergoing the sufferings being inflicted on them by the unjust social and economic order. The so called ‘Muhafizs’, in an expression of Sahir Ludhianvi, of Bhartiya polity and society  need to understand this, the sooner the better.

Text of the draft Memorandum which was not delivered


To:    Mahamahim President of India
          Shri Ram Nath Kovind

Subject: Protest against the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s Ruling on the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act – Support of Bharat Bandh 0n April 2, 2018.

Respected Mahamahim Rashtrapatiji,
We at the Guru Ravidass Educational and Charitable Trust, Bootan Mandi, Jalandhar, in solidarity with the other concerned organizations and outfits, fully and whole heartedly support the Bharat Bandh call to protest against the recent untimely and uncalled judicial out-reach by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to dilute the efficacy of the provisions of the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. We strongly feel that any dilution of the provisions of the Act will be detrimental to the interests of SCs and STs who have been made to suffer an organized and willful suppression and oppression by the society and the polity for centuries together. Under the provisions of the constitution of India, the Parliament of the country, in its own wisdom and consideration, made appropriate laws to address the sufferings of the under privileged by due process. We don’t understand the need and desirability to change the law of the land by judicial activism as long as the law is not an ultra vires to the constitution. Nevertheless, if Hon’ble Courts are still convinced that some laws are bad in the justice system of the country, the courts may suggest and advise the Executive or the Parliament or both to consider and change the laws with due process under the provisions of the constitution. There is no justification, as far as common people understand, to change the law and dilute its efficacy by judicial dictates. The dalit masses of the country are perturbed and alarmed at these developments which are aimed at putting the cloak back by the vested interests. We should not allow it to happen. The spirit of the constitution of India stands by the suffering humanity. The laws of the land should conform to that spirit to bring about affirmative actions to undo the systematic suppression of the weaker sections of the society. The popular will of the people fully endorse that dalits, the suffering masses, should be made to join the main stream of the society as equal partners and stakeholders in the development of the country.

All said and done, we humbly submit to Mahamahim Rashtrapatiji, the protector and custodian of the constitution of India, the following:
·       All the organs of the government that is the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary should endeavor to establish a just social and economic order as stipulated in the constitution.

·       The Executive should immediately move a Writ Petition in the Hon’ble Supreme Court against the recent rulings by the Court to water-down and dilute the provisions of the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The much talked about Review Petition is not the answer. We feel that the present government has not taken the matter seriously and has not presented the matter in its right perspective. Mahamahim Rashtrapatiji may consider sending a suitable message to the Executive in this regard.

·       In case the Hon’ble Court still feels that its decision and judgment conform to the law and norms of justice, the Parliament may consider strengthening the law by due process to safeguard the interest of the suffering masses. We are of the view that the suffering humanity is no more willing to sit tight and listen to the dictates of their tormentors.

·       We look towards Mahamahim Rashtrapatiji for support in defending our constitutional and human right by all constitutional means as taught and propagated by the father of the Indian constitution and the greatest son of India, Babasaheb B.R. Ambedkar.

Done and submitted at Jalandhar on April 2, 2018 through the Deputy Commissioner of Jalandhar

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Debt of Gratitude to Ones Alma Mater

Debt of Gratitude to Ones Alma Mater

It has been observed that one does not generally forget ones productive years spent as a student at respective educational institutions. One remains eager to pay the debt of gratitude to ones alma mater as and when such an occasion arises. I witnessed and experienced a touching event this week. A senior retired Indian diplomat, Ambassador Bal Anand, delivered an interactive talk at his alma mater DAV College in Jalandhar on March 26. He shared his diplomatic experiences with the young students and the members of faculty at an informative and interesting session on the theme “Representing India around the World: Memoirs of a
DAVian”.  Emotionally charged, being a student and a teacher at the esteemed DAV College before joining IFS in 1971, Ambassador Bal Anand persuaded and motivated the students to choose their careers carefully to become dignified members of the society. He gave an interesting overview of his diplomatic experiences, as an ‘undiplomatic diplomat’ and more as a teacher. It was a unique hands-on exercise for the students and the discerning members of the faculty. Ambassador Bal Anand not only shared good anecdotes but also quoted liberally from his three books, Naye Niband (Punjabi) – his articles in the GOI publication Yojna on developmental issues, Sukh Sunehein (Punjabi) – a compilation of his correspondence with his kith and kin and also with his friends and his latest publication, Expressions of Freedom (English) – an anthology of his articles and writings over the years on various subjects of interest and concern. Ambassador Bal Anand graduated from the DAV college in the early 1960s and later joined the English faculty at the esteemed college in 1966 in the run-up to preparing for the civil services examination. The audience, mostly comprising of graduate and post graduate students of political science, was duly charged and spirited by the engaging demeanor of Ambassador Bal Anand and the inter-active session was virtually turned into a dialogue of the experienced and inquisitive minds. The honours to preside over the function fell on me. It was an added honour to be with my senior colleague and friend philosopher, Ambassador Bal Anand Sahib. In my brief remarks I complimented the College, my alma mater too, and Ambassador Bal Anand for the fascinating and thoughtful interaction for the benefit of the young students. Commenting on the foresight and diplomatic acumen of Indian diplomats I recited an Urdu couplet:

पर्दों में जो पिन्हा है; चश्में बिना देख लेती है,
ज़माने की तबियत का तकाजा देख लेती है !

Dr. B. B. Sharma, Head of the Political Science Department of the College welcomed Ambassador Bal Anand. Prof. Dr. Dinesh Arora ably conducted the proceedings of the function as Master of
Ceremonies. Jagish Chander Joshi, a senior Scholar and Historian and a DAVian of standing, introduced the Chief Guest and in his usual poetic style said, referring to Ambassador Bal Anand:

मैंने अपनी नज़र से देखा है दुनिआ को;
अब मेरी नज़र से दुनिआ को देखो !

The sense of belonging was clearly over-flowing not only in the speeches and interaction but also in the general atmosphere around. Though it is said that ‘Diplomats think twice; before saying nothing’ yet everything was said to pay the debt of gratitude to the temple of learning, our alma mater, DAV College Jalandhar.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Bits and Pieces – As I Please – 13

Bits and Pieces – As I Please – 13

Grammar of Anarchy – Butshikni - It is a matter of remorse and worry, of late, some anti-social and misguided lot have again started a dangerous game of removing, tarnishing, damaging of the statues of the recognized social and political icons belonging to diverse school of thoughts. This uncalled for and ill-conceived pursuit was, allegedly, started by the right wing BJP/RSS activists in the various towns of Tripura by removing the statues of Communist leader Vladimir Lenin in the wake of their electoral victory over the Leftist parties in the recent state elections. The Right-wingers under the explicit support of the political dispensation including the Governor of the State of Tripura tended to justify the misdeeds of a few without realizing the inherent danger and negative fallout of this unconstitutional behaviour.  Obviously, the fire spread and resulted in avoidable violence. The chain reaction started. In West Bengal, the statue of Syama Prasad Mookerjee was tarnished, allegedly, by the Lifer-winger. The statue of E.V. Ramaswamy Periyar was damaged somewhere in Tamil Nadu. There are reports that statues of Babasaheb Ambedkar in Meerut in UP and the statue of Mahatma Gandhi somewhere in Kerala were also desecrated by anti social elements. What do we want to prove? The perpetrators of the crime in Tripura justify their action and argue that Lenin was not an Indian icon and as such did not deserve any honour in India. It is a dangerous and lop-sided argument which requires immediate refutation. It is recorded history that Lenin was one of the first international personalities who supported Bal Gangadhar Tilak in his famous assertion “Swaraj is my birth- right”. In an article “Lenin, too, inspired our freedom struggle “in the Tribune of March 8, 2018, S.N. Sahu wrote, “Lokmanya Tilak, who electrified the nation by his slogan "Swaraj is my birthright", commanded admiration from Lenin for his role in standing against British imperialism and colonial rule which devastated India. When Tilak was charged with sedition and sentenced to six years' imprisonment in Burma, Lenin described it as "infamous sentence pronounced by the British jackals on the Indian democrat Tilak." In hailing Tilak as a democrat and condemning his unjust treatment at the hands of the British, Lenin made invaluable contributions in recognizing the leadership of
In Edinbrgh (Scotland)
India in the first decade of the 20th century for the cause of India's freedom.”  The chief architect of the Indian constitution Dr. B. R. Ambedkar warned us not to indulge in unconstitutional methods to achieve political goals and get our grievances redressed, if we want to save our freedom. S.N. Sahu has rightly quoted Babasaheb Ambedkar to make its point in this regard, “
Dr Ambedkar had cautioned that any attempt to eschew constitutional method on the part of people and political formations would result in the grammar of anarchy. The dismantling of the statue of Lenin is an affront to the ethos of the freedom struggle and our Constitution.”

We Indians, particularly the self-confessed Rashtrabhagats, feel proud to see the statues of Indian icons, inter alia, Vivekananda, Gandhi, Tagore, and Ambedkar in foreign lands. But it gets the
At Prague (Czech Republic)
other way round with Vladimir Lenin and others. We must shed this duplicity. I have the pleasure to become a part of honours conferred on Indian icons abroad many a times during my diplomatic career. I myself unveiled the statue of Rabindranath Tagore in the famous Thakurova square in Prague, Czech Republic. I myself put the plaque – “Gandhi Avenue” to name a street adjoining a park in Edinburgh (Scotland) in UK which adores a statue of Mahatma Gandhi. I have had opportunities to see the statues of Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Indira Gandhi in Sofia (Bulgaria) and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in Tokyo (Japan). These statues justify and register our interaction with friendly countries in the course of diplomatic process. A unique honour comes to my mind when I see and read that Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statues are coming up in various cities all over the world without any government backup and diplomatic intervention. It is a matter of satisfaction to see that one of greatest icons of India is getting spontaneous recognition internationally.

This mindless exercise of Butshikini- desecration or breaking of statues of leaders must stop forthwith otherwise it will amount to inviting trouble to our democratic and liberal credential.

Mayawati – Beginning of an end – I am not a political soothsayer but certain things are gradually becoming clear like the writing on the wall. The things have come a full circle for the BSP, it seems. I am pretty certain that my views will not find an easy understanding and appreciation with several of my friends in the BSP and the followers of Babu Kanshi Ram. But, nevertheless, somebody should speak and see the ground realities. BSP has reached its nadir, to my mind. Whereas I will tend to say that BSP needs
 Behan Mayawati
adjustment; and understanding with the left of the centre outfits and also minority parties is needed in view of the electoral realities. Any trunk with Samajwadi Party is untenable given the hard ground realities and social underpinnings in the wake of animosity of long standing between the two parties. The recent win-win situation for the co-operation and joining of hands in the two parliamentary by-elections in UP does not convey anything which could bring about any long term arrangement between the traditional foes and opponents. In the case of partnership with SP or Congress, the major players in UP, BSP lose its identity and base. As usual, BSP votes may be transferred to SP or Congress but it is doubtful that their votes will be transferred to BSP. It is harsh ground reality which should not be ignored. BSP may go along with smaller players like Left parties and minority outfits like AIMIM of
Asaduddin Owaisi. If BSP has to survive and stay, it has to maintain and protect its own identity. But it is easier said than done. Mayawati, I think, has out-lived her usefulness and ability to do anything concrete, if we go by her political behavior and delivery. I share this analysis at the risk of being dubbed as anti community and going against the grain. In the changing political scenario, the slogans like “Sarvjan Samaj” and “Bahujan Samaj” have lost efficacy and relevance. Realistic polarization on social and economic issues is needed. Mayawati could not retain and sustain the political pragmatism and long term vision of her mentor Babu Kanshi Ram and icon Babasaheb Ambedkar. The BSP cadre has scattered and has been attracted by other greener pastures. Mayawati could not provide any second line of leadership. BSP, under her leadership, has become insular. It seems, she doesn’t have much interest beyond UP. The BSP cadres have been over-taken by the natural fatigue. It is going the RPI way, unfortunately. As the legacy of Babasaheb was owned and flouted by the Congress and later by others to sideline RPI, the same is happening for the legacy of Babu Kanshi Ram. Both the Congress and the BJP are falling on each other to own, for their limited agenda, the legacy of Babu Kanshi Ram, of late. Mayawati is more interested and concerned to save her own skin and personal interests. It is becoming increasingly evident that she has lost the will and capacity to stand and defend the community. I have personal respect for Mayawati but I cannot imagine that a national leader of her standing, CM of UP for four times and MP of both the Houses of Parliament for several years, is condemned to read prepared and dictated speeches at ordinary public meetings. She has lost the confidence and the public touch. She feels more comfortable sitting on designated sofas under Z-plus security. These trappings tend to distance her from the ground realities and the masses to which she claims to belong. I am writing these harsh things with lot of pain and concern with the hope:
हर दर्दमंद दिल को रोना मेरा रुला दे;
बेहोश जो पड़ें हैं शायद उने जगा दें !

Friday, March 16, 2018

National SC & ST Hub – Empowerment of SC & ST Entrepreneurs

National SC & ST Hub – Empowerment of SC & ST Entrepreneurs

The National SC/ST Hub has been set up to provide professional support to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Entrepreneurs with view to help them to avail the facilities and programmes of the government and become equal stakeholders in the economy of the country as an affirmative and empowering initiative for the advantage of the socially and economically weaker sections of the society. The National SC/ST Hub (NSSH) would provide professional support to the SC/ST enterprises thereby enabling them to effectively participate in public procurement process. The Hub would also work towards the development of new entrepreneurs to participate in procurement process leveraging on the ‘Stand up India’ programme. NSIC is the nodal agency of the NSSH under the administrative control of the Ministry of MSME. Government has earmarked Rupees 490 crores for the NSSH for the period 2016-20. A special website has been launched to apprise the concerned and interested of the activities and functions of the Hub:
There are three major prongs of the Hub to implement the policies for the benefit of SC entrepreneurs:
·       Public procurement policy for SC & ST suppliers.
·       MSME Data Bank – to provide the requisite data for the business facilitation of SC and ST stakeholder,
·       Finance facilities – to provide for loan and venture funds through banks and other financial institutions.
The North India Chapter of the National SC & ST Hub was ceremonially inaugurated on March 14 in Ludhiana, an industrial centre of Punjab at a solemn function led by Chairman and MD of NSIC Ravinder Nath. Representatives of various SC business organizations and prominent businessmen of the community participated in the function. Chairman Ravinder Nath held an interactive session with the media and other participants and said that the sole purpose of the Hub was to help and assist the SC entrepreneurs to join the mainstream of business as stipulated in the recent policies and programmes of the Government like Start up
and Stand up initiatives. He further said that NSIC being the nodal agency, under the administrative control of the Ministry of MSME, will do its best to engage the weaker sections of the society as equal stake holders with regard to financial backup as well as participation in the Public procurement. I, in my capacity as the Chief Patron of SC Entrepreneurs Empowerment Forum, represented the Forum at the function accompanied by Former Chairman of Punjab SC Commission Rajesh Bagha. In my brief intervention at the interactive session, I thanked the government and the NSIC for their well meaning initiatives in inviting and motivating SC entrepreneurs to take advantage of the government schemes to establish and better their businesses. I also appreciated the affirmative and empowering provisions of these endeavors to realize the vision of Babasaheb Ambedkar to transform our political democracy into an economic and social democracy. I took the opportunity to advice and alert my SC brethren to come forward and take full advantage of the government schemes so that these schemes did not remain on paper. Resident-In-Charge of the Hub at Ludhiana Ravi Kant and Deputy GM of NSIC at Jalandhar A.K. Verma assured us all due facilitation and assistance to the young and infant enterprises of SC businessmen as envisaged in the various schemes.

It may not be out of place to mention that SC Entrepreneurs Empowerment Forum under the spirited leadership of Shri Rajesh Bagha and his team of young activists like Shammi Kapoor, Jiwan Singh, Bhupender Kumar, Prem Domeli, Gurdev Mahey, Vijay Sehjal among others is fully geared up and committed to motivate
and generate awareness among the concerned SC business circles to stand up and avail of the government schemes to establish their economic identity with a view to join the main stream of the society. The recently held Begumpura Business Conclave in Jalandhar was one such activity which was a great success. A delegation of the Forum led by Rajesh Bagha and Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal also met Hon’ble Minister of MSME Giriraj Singh and the Secretary MSME to solicit their help and direction in this regard.

Let me conclude by adding that we should try to engage ourselves with the concerned agencies like the NSIC and MSME with an open mind, not as complainants but as positive stakeholders to mutual benefit. We have nothing to lose but everything to gain.