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.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Re-visited: International Day of Equality

Re-visited: International Day of Equality

I have been writing about the International Day of Equality, my proposal to declare April 14, the birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, as the International Day of Equality under the aegis of the UN. It is almost three years that I have been pursuing the matter with the high offices of MEA and PMO and also with many interested and concerned individuals and their respective organizations. I am not
At Un at New York in April, 2016
tired as yet. I have re-visited the subject by writing again to EAM Sushma Swaraj and her junior MoSs, General V.K. Singh and M.J. Akbar and solicited their consideration and support. I have endorsed my letter of March 3, 2018, along with a Non-Paper, to Minister of Social Justice Thavar Chand Gehlot and his deputies MoS Vijay Sampla and MoS Ramdass Athawale and also some Swayamsevaks of the RSS and have urged them to kindly back and take up the proposal with the concerned offices to seek GOI’s support for the proposal. With a view to involve the dalit intelligentsia and fellow Ambedkarites, I have also e-mailed to about 50 of my friends beside posting the matter on social media for inviting a wider support in this regard. The text of my March 3, 2018 letter to EAM Sushma Swaraj and the Non-Paper are appended below.

 Let us hope for the better.

इक तर्जे तग़ाफ़िल है; सो वह उनको मुबारक,
इक अर्ज़े तमन्ना है; वह हम करते रहेंगे !

Annexure 1.

March 3, 2018

Dear Madam Minister,
Kindly allow me to recall that subsequent to GOI’s decision to observe and celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar in 2015, I wrote to you and proposed that it will be in fitness of things if GOI considers and makes a demarche to the UN to declare April 14, the birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, as the International Day of Equality. Since then we have been following up the proposal. The attached Non-Paper on the subject would provide you the details and developments in this regard.
You would observe, Madam, the matter is resting with MEA and PMO. I thought of reminding you and soliciting your considered support to the proposal. You would appreciate that the decision of the MEA in this regard will not only go a long way in contributing positively to the establishment of a just and equitable world order which is one of the lofty ideals of the foreign policy of India but also deliver good political dividends internally. The subject is close to the hearts of millions of followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar both in India and abroad. It is not difficult to see and understand its political and social potential. I fully realize and appreciate your diplomatic proves and political acumen in understanding these important aspects of the proposal to declare April 14, birthday of Dr. Ambedkar as the International Day of Equality.

I am confident, Madam Minister, that you would spare a few minutes from you busy schedule to study the proposal and take necessary action before the next birthday anniversary, April 14, 2918,  of one of the greatest sons of India, Babasaheb Ambedkar.
With regards,
Yours truly,
(Ramesh Chander)
Smt. Sushma Swaraj,
Minister of External Affairs,
South Block, New Delhi

Copy to:
1.     General V.K. Singh, MOS of External Affairs, South Block, New Delhi.
2.     Shri M.J. Akbar, MOS of External Affairs, South Block, New Delhi.

Annexure 2

A Non-Paper

International Day of Equality – April 14 – Birth Anniversary of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
·       Government of India, under the stewardship of PM Narendra Modi, decided to officially celebrate and observe the 125th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in March/April, 2015. It was an appreciable gesture to pay a befitting tribute to one of the greatest sons of India, Babasaheb Ambedkar.
·       Ambassador Ramesh Chander, a retired career diplomat, wrote to Hon’ble EAM Sushma Swaraj in May/June, 2015 and proposed that the GOI should make a demarche to the UNGA to declare April 14, birth date of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, as the International Day of Equality on the lines of October 2, birth date of Mahatma Gandhi as the International Non-Violence Day and the International Yoga Day. This decision and action of the GOI will be highly appreciated by the followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar and the society at large as well as the international community on one hand will certainly register the keenness of the Government of PM Narendra Modi to commit itself to the empowerment of the weaker sections of the society of the world and contribute positively to establish an equitable world order while paying befitting tributes to Babasaheb Ambedkar. The proposal of Ambassador Ramesh Chander was duly acknowledged by the MEA in August, 2015. The letter of Ambassador Ramesh Chander to EAM Sushma Swaraj and its acknowledgement by the Joint Secretary (UNES) of MEA may be seen at Annexure 1 and 2 of the Non-Paper.
·       Subsequently, keeping in view the UNGA session of September, 2015, the proposal was pursued both with the EAM and PMO. PMO also acknowledged it electronically. Many organizations and individuals both in India and abroad supported the proposal either through social media or directly writing to the EAM and PMO. Please see Annexure 3 for the letter to Hon’ble PM.
·       Ambassador Ramesh Chander solicited the support of Forum of Schedule Caste MPs and MLAs under the leadership of the then Speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, Sardar Charanjit Singh Atwal to the proposal. Please see the letter to Sardar Charanjit Singh Atwal at Annexure 4. The Forum very kindly adopted the proposal and decided to submit it to PM Narendra Modi. Accordingly, a Memorandum was submitted to the Hon’ble PM by a high power delegation of the Forum, led by Hon’ble Minister Thavar Chand Gehlot, which also included some other Hon’ble Ministers and leading politicians and intellectuals of the community in November, 2015. The Memorandum, inter alia, included the proposed International Day of Equality.
·       With these efforts and background, the 125th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, was observed and celebrated at a solemn function at the UN in New York for the first time under the aegis of the PR of India at UN. The Indian delegation to participate at these celebrations was led by the Chairman of the Forum of Schedule Caste MPs and MLAs, Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal. He in his speech at a function on April 13/14, 2016 at the UN referred to the proposal to declare April 14 as the International Day of Equality and urged the international audience to support the proposal. Sardar Charanjit Singh and many other delegates later informally informed and confirmed that the proposal was received well and an over-whelming majority of the participating delegates of the countries of the world supported the proposal by thumping of their desks. The world community appreciated the initiative of the Indian delegation in this regard.
·       Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal submitted his report of his visit and function at the UN to PM Narendra Modi in April/May, 2016 and informed him of the proposal on the International Day of Equality and his speech at the UN and also requested the GOI under the leadership of the Hon’ble PM to make a suitable demarche to the UN through diplomatic and official channels. The letter of Speaker Atwal may be seen at Annexure 5 of the Non-Paper.
·       Ever since, Ambassador Ramesh Chander and various organizations and outfits have been following up the proposal both through social media or otherwise. Ambassador Ramesh Chander’s letter of February, 2017 to Hon’ble EAM Sushma Swaraj may be seen at Annexure 6.  It is a matter of great satisfaction that the proposal of International Day of Equality got an over-whelming support and endorsement from the entire Indian society both at home and abroad. GOI is yet to take a decision. The matter rests at that.
·       Forum of Scheduled Caste MPs and MLAs again submitted a Memorandum to Mahamahim President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, in September, 2017 and included the proposal of International Day of Equality in the Memorandum for Rashtrapatiji’s kind consideration and direction.
·       It will only be appropriate for the GOI under the able leadership of PM Narendra Modi to a decision and make an official demarche to the UN appropriately to get the birthday of Babasaheb Ambedkar declared as the International Day of Equality. The decision may be announced on the forthcoming birth anniversary of the great leader on April 14, 2018. It may be followed up with the UN through diplomatic channels. EAM/PM may pursue the matter in their respective customary addresses at the UNGA in September, 2018.
·       The first International Day of Equality may be observed on April 14, 2019 as a grand gesture to commemorate one of greatest sons of India, Babasaheb Ambedkar on the eve of the first successful and glorious term of office of the government of PM Narendra Modi. It will not only be an important milestone in our journey to establish a just and equitable world order, a very lofty ideal of the Indian foreign policy, but also be yet another colourful feather in the turban of PM Narendra Modi.

Done on March 3, 2018


Annexures of the Non-Paper

Annexure 1 & 2

Text of the Letter to EAM Sushma Swaraj –

Dear Madam,

I am one among the IFS fraternity. After retirement in December, 2010, I have come back to my roots in Jalandhar. As post retirement activities, I engage myself in educational and social matters pertaining to the socially and economically weaker sections of the society. I am a dalit and a humble follower of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. After the Government’s decision to observe 125th Anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar, I wrote to Foreign Secretary Dr. S. Jaishankar (copy enclosed for kind perusal) and offered my services with regard to the programmes to be made and conducted by the MEA in this regard.

The purpose of this letter is to make a humble suggestion for your kind consideration. PM Narendra Modi’s government, particularly you as the Minister of External Affairs, has given due weightage to India’s “Soft Power” in diplomacy. The latest feather in your cap is the International Yoga Day under the aegis of the UN. With a view to honour Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, one of the greatest sons of India, by celebrating his 125th Birth Anniversary, the Government has taken a right and laudable decision. It will go a long way in assuaging the ruffled feelings of millions of poor and socially backward followers of the great leader. My humble submission is that it will only be appropriate if India makes yet another proposal at the next UNGA in September, 2015 to declare 14th April, birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, as International Day of Equality. You would agree, Madam Minister, that it would not only carry forward the UN goals of “Empowerment” of the weaker sections of the world population but also instill the democratic values of “Equality, Liberty and Fraternity” in the world order. These democratic and humane values were dear to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and his spiritual Guru Mahatma Buddha, the greatest son of India.

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

With regards

Yours sincerely

Ramesh Chander)

Smt. Sushma Swaraj,
Minister of External Affairs,
South Block, NEW DELHI – 1100

Annexure 3

Text of the Letter to PM Narendra Modi –

September 11, 2015

Dear Sir,
At the outset, let me say, Sir, you are one of the pro-active leaders of India who understands the pulse of the Indian masses. It is a well deserved compliment and rightly so. As PM of India, you have done well and have initiated many good ideas and programmes for further progress and prosperity of India. I take this opportunity to wish you and your government all the very best and all success.

I am writing this to invite your kind attention to an important matter of public interest. You are aware, Sir, under your able leadership, GOI has decided to celebrate and observe 125th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. It is a good decision which has found universal appreciation. It is a befitting tribute to the memory of Dr. Ambedkar, the greatest son of India in contemporary times. I thank and congratulate you and your government for this commendable gesture.

You would agree with me, Sir, that Dr. Ambedkar was such a personality that limiting his contribution and legacy to India alone will not do justice to the greatest son of India. Some of the foreign universities and other political and social fora have duly recognized the great contribution and work of DR. B.R.  Ambedkar in bringing about the world order where the principles of Equality, Liberty and Fraternity would be the cardinal fundamentals of governance. We Indians are proud of this. With a view to fete Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as a world leader on his 125th birth anniversary, I made a humble proposal to EAM Smt. Sushma Swaraj and requested that India under your stewardship shall make a demarche to UNGA to declare April 14, birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, as the International Day of Equality.  A copy of my letter to Hon’ble EAM is enclosed for your kind perusal. My letter to her has been duly acknowledged by the Joint Secretary (UNES) in the MEA vide his letter dated August 6, 2015. Subsequently, I endorsed copies of my letter to the concerned Ministers and BJP MPs and also wrote to Shri Charanjit Singh Atwal, Speaker of Punjab Legislative Assembly who is a Member of the High Power Committee to celebrate 125th Birth Anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar under your able Chairmanship with a view to seek their support and understanding.

You would agree with me, Sir, that if GOI under your leadership approaches the UNGA and you kindly consider and make this proposal to declare April 14 as International Day of Equality in your forthcoming address to the UNGA, it will be a befitting tribute to the worthy son of India, Dr. Ambedkar on his 125th anniversary. I need not add, as you very well understand and know, Sir, how it will be appreciated not only by the under-privileged masses not only of India but also by the suffering humanity the world over crying for their empowerment. You are aware that Empowerment and Equality are the cherished fundamentals of the aims and objectives of the UN. Dr. Ambedkar remained the champion of these lofty ideals to establish an equitable world order. The dalit communities and followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar in India and abroad would appreciate and support you in this regard. Obviously, the social and political dividends in this regard would be considerable which would further strengthen you and your resolve in taking India to further heights.

I am confident, Sir, my submissions would find due consideration at your hands. Your office may like to visit my blog to know my views and thinking on various issues of interest and concern:
With personal regards,

Yours Sincerely,
(Ramesh Chander)

Shri Narendra Modi,
Prime Minister of India,
New Delhi.

Annexure 4

Text of the Letter to Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal –

July 15, 2015

Dear Sir,
I am taking the liberty of writing to you on an important matter of mutual interest that of an immense significance to the community at large. You are aware that Government of India has decided to observe the 125th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as an official celebration. You are a member of the high power Committee appointed for the purpose.

I have made a proposal to declare April 14, birthday of Dr. Ambedkar, as International Day of Equality. PM Narendra Modi may take up the matter appropriately at the next UNGA in September, 2015. In this regard, I have written to EAM Smt. Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Secretary Dr. S. Jaishankar. I am enclosing a copy of my letter to the Hon’ble Minister for your kind perusal. I am confident, Sir, your support and intervention in the matter will make a definite dent in taking a favourable decision by the Government. I may inform you that I have sent copies of my letter to Hon’ble Ministers T.C. Gehlot, Ram Vilas Paswan and Vijay Sampla.

I will be grateful, Mr. Speaker, if you could kindly consider and pursue the matter not only in your capacity as a Member of the High-Power Committee headed by the Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi but also as a recognized leader of the community and follower of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. You would appreciate, Sir, that time schedule is of essence to prepare for PM’s address at the UN and include this idea in his address. I would, therefore, request you to kindly make a suitable approach to the Committee at the earliest.

With regards,

Yours sincerely,
(Ramesh Chander)

Shri Charanjit Singh Atwal,
Speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly,Chandigarh

Annexure 5

Annexure 6
Text of the letter to EAM Sushma Swaraj

Respected Madam,
I take the liberty of writing to you again on my proposal to declare April 14 (Birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar) as the International Day of Equality which I made to you vide my letter of   June, 2015 (copy enclosed for ready reference). My letter was duly acknowledged by JS (UNES) of the MEA vide letter No.  Dated August 6, 2015. Thereafter, I wrote to PM Narendra Modi on the subject and endorsed it to the Forum of Parliamentarians and MLAs for their kind consideration. The Forum of Parliamentarians and MLAs under the leadership of Speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly Charanjit Singh Atwal took up the matter with PM in a Memorandum submitted to him by a high powered delegation in November, 2015. With these efforts and MEA’s kind support and direction, the 125th Birth Anniversary was observed and celebrated at the UN at New York on April 13, 2016. The Indian delegation to these functions at New York was headed by Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal. He in his speech requested the UN to declare April 14 as the International Day of Equality which was much appreciated not only by the participants at the UN function but also by Ambedkarites and the society at large not only in India but also throughout the world. On return from New York, Speaker Atwal in his report to PM requested him to kindly take up the proposal of International Day of Equality with the UN. Speaker Atwal’s letter dated May 3, 2016 to PM in this regard is enclosed for ready reference. As far as I know, the matter rested at that.
I thought of writing to you again and seek your kind understanding and support to the proposal. Under your directions, Madam, MEA did well and celebrated the 125th Anniversary of the greatest son of India throughout the world under the aegis of our Missions. It was highly appreciated and liked by one and all. I need not add that all educated and enlightened Indians particularly the weaker sections of the society will be happy if the MEA under your able leadership and the GOI under the dynamic leadership of PM Narendra Modi decide and endorse the proposal to declare April 14 as the International day of Equality. The current political scenario also dictates that it is the right time to do so. There is no point in elaborating this. You fully know and understand.
I will be grateful, Madam, if the proposal is kindly given a fresh thought and a demarche to the UN is made accordingly. It will be much appreciated.
With personal regards,
                                                                                                                                     Yours truly,
(Ramesh Chander)
Smt. Sushma Swaraj,
Minister of External Affairs,
South Block, New Delhi

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Bits and Pieces – As I Please – 12

Bits and Pieces – As I Please – 12

Spiritual Tourism and Guru Ravidass – Indian society is multi-cultural and multi-religious. Caste consciousness has tended to make various communities do something to establish their separate identity. The followers of Guru Ravidass are no exception. They have also started thinking, on the lines of other communities like Sikhs, Jains, Parsees, Buddhists etc. and also the main stream
religions like Hindus, Muslims and Christians, to have their own sites and places where the faithful may go for spiritual pilgrimage. My motivation to write on the subject emanated after my recent brief interaction with the National President of Ad-dharam Mission, Sant Satwinder Singh Hira. He told me that they have explored and identified a place, down south in the city called Tuticorin (Kanyakumari) in Tamil Nadu which Guru Ravidass is believed to have visited in the 15th century during his various spiritual sojourns throughout the country. The place is called “Land of Ellora”. Banta Ram Ghera, a social and spiritual
activist of the Ravidassia community who was closely attached to the Ad-dharam Movement of Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia did a great job in this regard. It will not be out of place to mention that Banta Ram Ghera was the chief explorer and leading personality to start the development of the birth place of Guru Ravidass at Seer Govardhanpur in Kanshi (Varanasi) in the 1950s-1960s with the active support of Sant Sarwan Dass of Sachkhand Ballan of Jalandhar and the community at large. The foundation stone of the Seer Govardhanpur Dharamasthan was formally laid by Sant Haridass, under the patronage of the great Sant Sarwan Dass. The rest is history. Now Seer Govardhanpur Dharamasthan has become a hub and catalyst of Ravidassia religious and social identity under the administrative control of Dera Sachkhand Ballan. The political big-wigs remain on the lookout for an opportunity to pay obeisance at the holy place. President K.R. Narayanan was the first to set the ball rolling. Mayawati and Kanshi Ram followed suit. Eyeing the Ravidassia community as a potential vote bank, PM Narendra Modi and CM Aditya Nath Yogi, obviously, could not afford to skip and visited the Dharamasthan in recent successive years at the Guru Ravidass Jayanti. And rightly so. President Ram Nath Kovind may not
be far behind. Minar-e-Begumpura and Charan Chhoh Ganga at Khuralgarh at Hoshiarpur in Punjab has already been identified and developed as a centre of pilgrimage by the followers of the great Guru Ravidass. Sant Hira told me that they were planning to develop some other places in J&K, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and in Himachal Pradesh to make it as a “Guru Ravidass Trail” for the benefit of the followers of the Guru to meet their spiritual and cultural needs. It is not a bad idea to consolidate the positive influence of the lofty Bani of Guru Ravidass to create social harmony and spiritual fulfillment of the community and the society large. I would like to suggest in this regard that the Ad-dharam Mandal should endeavour to engage not only the governmental authorities but also all well meaning dalit outfits to achieve this goal.

Relevance of Allama Iqbal – Muhammad Iqbal, philosopher poet and ideologue, of erstwhile united India and later Pakistan, is as relevant today as he was before even though some of the narrow-minded and communal quarters both in India and Pakistan have tried to suppress and marginalize the lofty ideas and philosophy of the great thinker and writer of our times. Though Iqbal is not a favourite of the ruling elite because of the pseudo-nationalism they
profess yet surprisingly these days, the ones who generally discount him, the right wing Hindus, say of the RSS family, often quote him to convey the importance and relevance of Allama Iqbal by referring to his very thought provoking poetic expression on the culture and tradition of Hindu India, particularly in which he termed Shri Ram as “Imam-e-Hind”:

है राम के वजूद पे हिन्दोस्ताँ को नाज़,
अहले-नज़र समझते हैं उसको इमामे-हिन्द
In this regard in a recent debate on a “Cheer leader” TV channel, the spokesman of the BJP was happily quoting the above mentioned couplet and advising Muslim stakeholders to handover the Babri Masjid site to Hindus as Iqbal called him “Imam-e-Hind”. One of the Muslim panelists on the debate countered him and quoted another gem of Iqbal’s “Na samjhoge to mitt jaoge eh Hindustan walon; tumhari dastan tak bhi na hogi dastano mein”. It worked as a red rag to the bull. The BJP spokesperson challenged Iqbal and questioned who he was to say this. How can anybody say that India could be finished? Not that the BJP spokesperson did not understand the context of Iqbal’s expression but it was clearly evident that he was in no mood to admit that Iqbal was a great man of vision. It is unfortunate and sheer narrow-mindedness.

Iqbal was a great thinker of all times. I like his “Qalaam” as a lay man. His many renditions and expressions clearly demonstrate and establish that he was a staunch nationalist and proponent of India and her tradition and culture. What happened later in his life time is history which most of us know. Some of his famous and thought provoking poetic compositions still make us stand in spirited pride and patriotic fervor and well placed nationalism. Let us accept this reality as Allama Muhammad Iqbal will remain relevant in the years to come as he was before. Can we ignore and forget the everlasting tarana “Sare jahan se accha Hindustan hamara”? No, we cannot. Will we not laud him when he says “Yunanon misro roma sab mit gaye jahaan se; ab tak magar hai baki naamo nishan hamara”? Will we not acclaim him when he says “Nanak ne jis chaman mein vaihdat ka geet gaya; mera watan vahi hai”? Did he not lament the erosion of Buddha’s message of peace when he wrote:

“Qoum Ne Pegham-e-Gautam Ki Zara Parwa Na Ki
Qadar Na Pehchani Na Apne Gohar-e-Yak Dana Ki

(The nation could not care less about Gautama’s message—It did not know the price of its unique pearl!)
Much more could be said but I will contend by quoting only one more:

गैरियत के परदे; इक बार फिर उठा दें,
बिछ्ड़ों को फिर मिला दें;नक़्शे दुई मिटा दें.
सूनी पड़ी हुई है मुद्दत से दिल की बस्ती,
इक नया शिवालय इस देश में बना दें.

Happy Valentine’s Day – Today is Valentine’s Day. My hearty greetings to you all. Generally, I don’t practice any excessive rituals on this day and view it as any good and happy occasion in these days of strife and conflict. But Valentine’s day remains in my psyche after the year 2001. I fell seriously ill with a brain haemorrhage while in office in Tokyo on February 12, the so called Hug Day. I almost hugged death. On February 12-13, I was in the ICU, almost kissing death, the so called Kiss Day. But God is great. I was saved and was moved to a designated room in the hospital on the morning of February 14, the Valentine’s Day. My wife Vidya
was alone with me as my daughter Vaishali and my son Rupesh had gone to Stockholm to oversee the birth of my grandson Arvind who was born on February 4 that year. Vidya did not remember the V Day. My office aide, Chander Prakash came to see me and wished me well but without mentioning the word V. But a pleasant surprise was to come. After the close of the day at the Embassy, the entire local staff i.e. Japanese, Filipino and Indian came and filled my room with profound and hearty Valentine’s Day wishes and greetings with chocolates and variety of roses to share. Many young and gracious girls kissed me spontaneously. After the hugs and kisses with death, I felt I was flying in the sky of love on that Valentine’s Day of February, 2001. It will remain with me as a cherished memory.
 Happy Valentine’s Day.