Saturday, December 25, 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS

I wish merry X'mas to all of you.

It is a festive season. The air is filled with love and romance. In Europe people like 'white Christmas' i.e. it shall snow. This year it is white as it has snowed heavily all over Europe. The christian community in India is a sizable minority and the X'mas is celebrated with religious fervor by the faithfuls and with and frolic by others. It is almost a national holiday for as everybody in India irrespective of caste, colour and creed tend to join the fun and celebrate X'mas. It is a good thing for a democratic and secular society of India.

We are celebrating X'mas in Minsk. My schedule is full both with greeting cards, farewell lunches and dinners, important meetings in the run up to our final departure from Minsk by the end of the month. Yesterday, the 24 December, I paid my Good-Bye call on the Chairman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus. Apart from other things Chairman Rubinov got nostalgic and recalled that how they were used to like Indian films and added that in his school days he even played popular tunes like ' Awara Hoon, Asman Ka Tara Hoon.' Second Secretary Anil Kumar hosted a farewell dinner for us in the evening. It was a emotional sitting with my colleagues in the Embassy. I enjoy this kind of in-house talk occasionally setting aside protocol and guard.

Today, the X'mas day, in the evening the Span Group of Indian Dance of Elena Sipach who aconducts dance classes at the Embassy of India in Minsk, is celebrating X'mas at the Embassy and at the same time is bidding us farewell. I am sure the function will be a good fun filled with Indian dance music by the young Belarusian girls. We will have the farewell dinner at the Taj Restaurant, the only Indian restaurant in Minsk, hosted the Managing Director of Taj, Vishal Jain. He told me that it will a good evening punctuated with the fusion of belly dance and bollywood variety.

It was a brief resume of our X'mas day in Minsk and also the countdown for the fascinating journey in the Indian Foreign Service.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Countdown - the End of a Facinating Journey - 4




I continued towards the final stages of the journey. My diplomatic colleagues social friends are keeping us busy with their gracious hospitality in saying farewell to us. These lunches and dinners, on the one hand, is a routine affair in diplomatic functioning but it also tends to touch the emotional cords beyond the diplomatic protocol. I may write separately on these individual functions later.

We hosted my official 'Good-Bye' reception on December 9 at the India House in Minsk. It was attended by the cross sections of the society from the diplomatic, official, business circles in Minsk. The food, as usual, was totally Indian done at home by my wife Vidya and Chef Purushottam. The Indian diplomats generally tend to entertain guests at home with a view to provide Indian touch to our functioning and rightly so. It not only becomes cost effective but also homely and informal. I personally think that protocol rigidity brings in avoidable drabness in such functions.
It was an evening of excitement for us. A few minutes before the function, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergie Alinek, who was to represent the Belarusian Foreign Office at the function, spoke to me on phone and expressed regret that he would not be able to do so personally because of some other pressing work. I said that I would understand these diplomatic pitfalls and there was nothing to worry. His message was delivered by Director of Asia and Africa Division in the Foreign Office which inter alia said "I would like to express, Ambassadoe Chander, my sincere gratitude for your cordial attitude to Belarus and for the efforts to strengthen friendship, cooperation and mutual understandings between Belarusian and Indian people. I am confident that for many Belarusian, incliding those present in the Hall, you have become a real friend and an honourable representative of your great country." Ambassador of Serbia who is the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Minsk spoke spiritedly which humbled me a great deal. He presented a beautiful painting as a farewell gift to me from the Diplomatic Corps with a Citation which, inter alia read ".It is a great pleasure for me to express the words of gratitude for the cooperation and understanding that contributed much to the strengthening of friendly relations among the Ambassadors and the Diplomatic Missions in the Republic if Belarus and the countries they represent." Many of my diplomatic colleagues made touching references to our interaction and working with each other. American Charge d' Affaires wrote in his message " It has been a pleasure-to know you as true professional and a warm human being." We would cherish the memories of Minsk.

The wines flowed. The Indian informal hospitality did the trick. I felt that everybody was at ease and enjoyed. That was the purpose.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Countdown - the End of a Facinating Journey - 3


I have already written two times on the subject. The final stages of the journey are approaching and completed. The process continues.

The first good-bye dinner was hosted by us at the India House in Minsk on December 8 which happened to be my birthday also. The members of the Embassy staff both local and India based were invited along with the members of the small Indian community in Minsk and also some prominent Belarusian friends like Indian dance teachers Elena Sipach, Ludmila and yoga teacher Natallia. It was a good fun. We purposely kept the party informal as an open house. The food was totally home made with the help of our usual help in the kitchen Purushottam of the Kebabji Restaurant and hot roti and lacha prantha from the Taj Restaurant.

Some of the guests like Naveen Kohli and Vishal Jain had given me the hint that they would like to dance and we prepared accordingly for the non-stop bhangra beats. Almost everybody, in turn, joined the bhangra. My wife Vidya, in spite of her knees, joined and ensured that everybody was at ease. The Bhangra was interrupted occasionally to give floor to the volunteers and impromptu singing talent among the guests led by R.P. Singh. They even sang ' कभी अलबिदा ना कहना ' We enjoyed the party as, we believe, was done by our guests. In fact, we tried our best to wind up, at each station of our posting, with a homely get-together of our fellow workers and friends around. We were all the more happy to see that some of the friends got pleasantly tipsy on that cold and snowy evening. We would miss them all.

I will continue writing on the countdown till be leave Minsk.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar - A Tribute


Today, December 6, is the death anniversary (Parinirvan) of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, father of the constitution of India, saviour of the down trodden, an intellectual of standing, a great social reformer and a fore bearer of revival of Buddhism in India. The whole country and the society at large is paying tributes to the memory of the great leader and worthy son of India, Dr. Ambedkar. I wish to join them with in doing so and pay homage to him.

My family beginning my grand-parents has been Ambedkarites, and rightly so, but with liberal views particularly with regard to political and spiritual philosophy of Dr. Ambedkar. I am no exception. I like and respect Ambedkar's mission and thought specially with regard to his great contribution to India's constitution on the bases of which India is the largest democracy in the world, his crusade for the upliftment of the dalits in India, his struggle for establishing a caste less society and above all for giving a sense of dignity to the poor and under-privileged segments of the society. I write this with a sense of gratitude.

I remember and recall that I used to participate with my father in various functions related to Ambedkar in my childhood in Jalandhar. It continued during my young and formative years as a student. I alongwith my fellow Bootanmandian Ram Lal Kainth participated in a paper reading declamation at the DAV College on the topic " The future of parliamentary democracy in India " sometime in 1967-68 and quoted extensively from Dr. Ambedkar's speech at the DAV College delivered in 1951-52 on the subject. My paper got due attention not only from the students in the audience but the members of the teaching faculty. I was happy and declared myself winner. We observed December 6 and organised a public meeting at Bootan Mandi in 1968-69. Prof. Krishan Lal Sachdev of the History faculty of the DAV College, who had shown keen interest in Dr. Ambedkar at the above mentioned paper reading contest was invited along with Sadhu Singh Hamdard the Chief Editor of the Punjabi daily Ajit as the lead speakers at the function. Prof Sachdev spoke, as usual at a high pitch, very highly of Ambedkar and narrated a few personal anecdotes too. Editor Hamdard, who was little reluctant to come initially, got spirited and spoke at length about the magnetic personality of Dr. Ambedkar and how he was personally impressed when he met Dr. Ambedkar in a sikh delegation to solicit him to become a Sikh. The Editorial write up in the Ajit on that day was revealing. Editor Hamdard in a signed editorial termed Ambedkar as " MUFKRE AJAM and handed over 200 copies of the paper for distribution at the function. I would like to make yet another mention which may be of interest. Keeping with the dictum of Dr. Ambedkar " Educate, Organise and Agitate ". We the dalit students of all the colleges of Jalandhar floated an association/federation of scheduled caste students some time in 1969. The newly created federation of students in co-operation with other organisations arranged a protest march and burnt the effigy of the Jagat Guru who had said something against the interest of dalits.. The march, before its termination at the district headquarter, was turned into public meeting. Though I always preferred to work as a back room boy in all these activities yet I was also invited to speak from the make shift podium and address the meeting which was also addressed by Master Gurbanta Singh and other politicians. The point I would like to make is that it instantly came to my mind and I suggested that the new university which was about to be set up either in Jalandhar or Amritsar shall be named after Dr. Ambedkar. It was a fresh and new idea from a novice like me but it electrified the audience. The demand got registered and later, I am happy to note that an important professional institute has been named after Dr. Ambedkar. It is a tribute to the memory of Dr. ambedkar from my unwritten diary. The great poet Gurdass Ram Alam wrote about Dr. Ambedkar's work and impact:

ਰੁਲਦੇ ਖੁਲਦੇ, ਬੇਘਰੇ ਲਾਬਾਰ੍ਸ਼ਾਂ ਨੂ, ਫੜ ਕੇ ਬੰਦਿਆਂ ਵਿਚ ਬੇਠਾ ਗਿਆ ਓਹ ;
ਬੁਜੇ ਹੋਏ ਅਸ਼ੁਤਾਂ ਦੇ ਦਿਲਾਂ ਅੰਦਰ, 'ਆਲਮ' ਜੋਤ ਅਹਸਾਸ ਜਗਾ ਗਿਆ ਓਹ !

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Countdown - the End of a Facinating Journey - 2

I wrote on November 18 on the process of binding up in Minsk before we move to India on retirement by the end of the year. The schedule is getting tight everyday with farewell calls, preparing for the Good-Bye Receptions we would host on December 8 and December 16. Some of these events turn out to be emotional and rightly so.

During our stay in Minsk and the course of our duty in the realm of public diplomacy, we gave demonstrations to the local media on Indian cooking at the India House which were well received. Vidya my wife is by now well recognised in the diplomatic and social circles in Minsk and also in the media that she is a good cook with simple recipes of north Indian food of Punjabi variety. The iTV, a leading online TV Channel contacted us for an informal cooking session which they would host. Keeping with the demands of our over crowed schedule in the processing of our final departure from Minsk, my wife was not too keen to undertake this long session of about 5 hours. But the iTV insisted and pleaded. We could not say no and the cooking demonstration for the TV was arranged on November 29.

The kitchen of the India House, our residence, was turned into a make shift studio by the technical staff. Later a good looking and well groomed middle aged beautiful lady came and we were told that she was Evlina Sakuro, a well known and famous Belarusian actress. She was specially engaged by the iTV to anchor the programme. I acted as the helper of Vidya in the cooking session and Olga, my Social Secretary, helped in interpretation into Russian. One by one, Vidya made chilli chicken, chanamasala, vegetable biryani and assorted vegetable pakoras. It was almost done with a professional touch. After the cooking, the table was laid with the cooked food and it was relished by the whole TV crew. The Producer Director and the Anchor were fully satisfied that the shooting was done without resorting to cuts and retakes. For us, it was a fulfilling experience to promote Indian food as part of diplomacy. The Anchor of the Programme Evlina, towards the end asked whether I knew the name of the programme. I said no. She said that they were considering to title programme as ' The Spicy Ambassador '. I said it sounded sexy. Let us see how would it turn out. We will not be in Minsk to see as the programme would be hosted in the iTV by the middle January 2011.

Friday, November 26, 2010

By the Way - Without Comments


PEACE of MIND

" My formula for 100% peace of mind is 25% money, 25% health, 25% social life and 25% family life "

Jonney Walker, Comedian Actor of Indian Cinema ( as quoted in the weekly Indian magazine the Outlook , November 2010)

PERFECT PROTOCOL

" We were t0 participate in the non-aligned meeting to held in Lusaka (Zambia) in 1970. Sardar Swaran Singh, then Foreign Minister, used to chair briefing sessions of the Indian delegation gor the summit. At one such meeting, Sardarsaab turned to the then Foreign Secretary, T.N. Kaul, and asked whether we had a region-wise break-up members of the non-aligned countries - from asia, africa and elsewhere. Mr. Kaul obviously did not have this kind of nitty-gritty information at his fingertips and looked at us to provide the information. As I raised my pencil to catch the attention of Sardarsaab, he said in Punjabi-Hindi: " Dikshat, tu Joint Secretary Narendra Singh nu dus; Narender foreign secretary nu batayenga; and foreign secretary muijhe batayenga. " Deputy Secretaries were not supposed to break the chain of command even in discussions. They had to be put in place. "

J.N. Dixit, former Foreign Secretary of India ( as quoted in the weekly Indian magazine the Outlook , November 2010)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shri Bhagwan Das - A Tribute


Shri Bhagwan Das (April 1927 ) passed away ( attained Parinirvana ) in New Delhi on November 18, 2010. He was a renowned scholar, intellectual, researcher of the philosophy and mission of Lord Buddha and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. His contribution to the dalit literature is considerable. The dalit community has lost one of his worthy sons in the death of Shri Bhagwan Das.

I had two opportunities to see him in action long time before. I heard him speaking at a function at the Ambedkar Bhawan at Nakodar Road in Jalandhar in late sixties when I was a young student. I read him many times in the columns of the Bheem Patrika which is edited and published by Shri Lahori Ram Balley, an associate of Shri Bhagwan Das in his research and immense contribution to the Buddhist and Ambedkar thought. The second time I met him at the House Warming ( Greh Pravesh) function of one of my colleagues who was also a Buddhist in Munirka DDA flats in New Delhi amidst the peace giving chants of ' Buddham Sarnam Gashameen'. I was impressed by his personality and knowledge.

Bhagwan Das was a self made man. He educated himself with great effort and dedication from a mere Matriculate when he started working in the Royal Air Force and a Clerk in the Department of Labour and the Controller of Accounts to an MA and then a law Graduate in Delhi. Apart from his intellectual pursuits, he was a successful practising lawyer at the Supreme Court of India. He worked with Dr. Ambedkar as his Research Assistant. Bhagwan Das compiled 4 volumes of the speeches of Dr. Ambedkar and published them as 'Thus Spoke Ambedkar'. As a true disciple of Ambedkar, he was a crusader against social inequality and discrimination. In 1983, Bhagwan Das gave a testimony against the caste system and untouchability in India before the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. I recently saw a documentary ' Navayana ' - Bhagwan Das - In pursuit of Ambedkar which is good and informative. The passing away of Bhagwan Das is an irreparable loss to the community and the society at large.

हजारों साल नर्गिस अपनी बेनूरी पे रोती है;
बड़ी मुश्किल से होता है चमन में दीदाबर पैदा!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Countdown - The End of a Facinating Journey



The ' Hi ' and ' Bye ' is an important aspect of the game called diplomacy. We have experienced the both, the happiness and the pain, of the process in the four decade long but fascinating diplomatic journey beginning in March 1970 and coming to an end on December 31, 2010, the day I retire from the Indian Foreign Service. It was a most satisfying and rewarding experience. I say this with a great sense of contentment and humility that from a humble beginning as a Clerk in the Ministry of External Affairs, I could become an Ambassador. I have no regrets and complete my first inning successfully and get ready for the second of which I will workout the details in due course.

The countdown for the first leg of the journey has started. My wife Vidya, who remained a constant companion throughout, has started the process of binding up in Minsk. She hosted a 'Good bye Reception' at India House for the members of the Minsk Diplomatic Ladies Club on November 18. She told me that it turned out to be an emotional event. Along with traditional parting gift of a set of Belarusian table linen, there is an entry in the coffee table book 'Minsk and Surroundings' by the ladies from the Turkish Embassy and I quote " ....we love you and respect you and will remember you all the time. We love India and the Indian movies." A diplomat's success gets manifestation when the country he or she represents gets recognition and comes in the reckoning. I feel good in writing that though Vidya has a limited ability to communicate in English yet she has a god given attribute to make friends with her earthy and simple style and manners. It is satisfying to note that we could make it together. The nature of a diplomat's work and job is such that the lady at home has to be fully supportive and engaged. Vidya fitted the bill. Jawaharlal Nehru, speaking in the Parliament in the early years of the founding of the Indian Foreign Service and referring to the wives said that we pay salary for one and employ one and a half. Of course, Vidya is my better half.

I will write again on the process of The Countdown -The End of a Fascinating Journey.

Monday, November 8, 2010

OUR DIWALI AT STOCKHOLM



I, alongwith my wife Vidya, came to Stockholm to be with our son Naresh and his lovely family - Anju, Pallavi and Arvind on the Diwali festival. I found Palloo and Abi totally excited. They took extra pains in seeing that we were comfortable in whatever small way they could think and belong to their grand parents. We felt very good. God bless them. They are lovely children.

Now a days, generally, I tend to keep such visits as a private affair but Naresh's circle of friends is good and hospitable and it is just not possible to sit at home. The week of Diwali, obviously, remained fully busy parting and enjoying in and around
Stockholm. We started with a small friendly but impromptu dinner at home on November 3 over a session of cards which is by now is traditional must on the Diwali. Inder & Poonam treated us over a heavy dinner on November 4 at a wonderfully done new villa in the outskirts of Stockholm and we again ended up with a session of cards. The Diwali day, November 5, strated with exchange of greeting on the FaceBook which is increasingly becoming an essential routine. Naresh planned to
take us out for lunch for a change at a Pakistani Dhawa owned by the brother of one of our old friends, Salim and Salma. But it was not to be. Ajay & Anmol, friends of Naresh & Anju insisted to lunch with them to which we could not say no. Ajay thoughtfully ordered some of the dishes from the same Dhawa where we inteded to eat. It was good and we enjoyed the lunch. The after dinner party was hosted by Seema and Stephen, a mixed Indian and Swedish couple with a twin purpose to celebrate Diwali and do the House Warming of their redone villa in Upsala. It was a fair mix of Indians and Swedes. We were happy to see the culutual
mix with Swedes dressed in traditional Indian Kurta Piyjama and Saree. Some of the Swedes both gents and ladies were even playing cards (Indian poker- Teenpati). The Diwali weekend i.e. Novermber 6 and November 7 was fully loaded with further fun. A
nil and Lena, again a mixed couple and long time friends of Naresh and Anju organised a big Diwali dinner. It was good. We could meet many of the friends circles in Stockholm at one go over a good meal. Anil, I know personally, is a good cook himself. Children enjoyed the fire works and we, as usual, ended up with session of Teenpati. It was a good fun. It was a different flavour the next d
ay, a musical evening of traditional songs with Pakistani friends at the residence of Kuldip and Indu. We could meet again a very cultured couple Mushtak and Farida and listen to Khawaza Sisters from Pakistan singing good old Punjabi songs on the beats of Dholak. Anju who herself sings and enjoys joined them and added to the sitting.. The hosts Kulip and Indu, to my surprise, sang almost professionally both as karoke and otherwise. The Diwali week and our short leave turned out to be fully rewarding with a fun filled festive activity. We are grateful to all our hosts and friends of Anju and Naresh for a wonderful time we spent in Stockholm. God bless them all. Ofcourse, Naresh Anju, inspite of their busy schedule, planned our holidays very well.

We will go back to Minsk tomorrow the November 9 with the hope that we will come back again to continue our connection and friendship in the eautiful city of Stockholm.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS - DIWALI


Tomorrow, November 5, is Diwali - the Festival of Lights. It is one of the most important festivals of India which is celebrated through out the country and abroad with great ferver and festivity. Without going into the religious or denominational aspects of it, I personally feel one shall tend to jointhe mainstream of the society in celebrating and enjoy the movements of joy and festivity and bring cheer to ones ownself and the society at larde in these days of strife and tension. I think it is good enough a reason to celebrate Diwali. Diwali is also celebrated in many more countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji.

The Diwali is an important occasion in the lives of the Hindus - Lord Rama returned back after excile and defeating Ravana, the Jains - Lord Mahabira attained nirvana and the Sikhs - Guru Hargobindji alongwith many more were released from the Mughal prisons and Sikhs observed the day as the Bandi chod Diwas.
I take this opportunity to wish all my friends and their families all the very best in the year to come and say HAPPY DIWALI. A famous Punjabi poet Gurdass Ram Alam said about Diwali:

Har saal de picho milde ne bishde sahel diwali nu,
sajna de chehre dekhan lyi bali da tel diwali nu !
saun kha ke lagiya preetan di, jo bahda kar ke aunde nahi,
ulfat de imtian bichon ho jande fail diwali nu !

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

India's Youth Dividend


India is the second most populated country after China with more than 1.2 billion people. India is the largest democracy in the world. India is one of the fastest growing economies globally. Not long before, the growing population of India was increasingly considered a problem. But the changing demographic scenario in India presents a different picture. The demographic dividend is turning out be 'India's Youth Dividend'. The majority of our population is under 35 years of age. The following figures speak for themselves:

(i) 459 million are between 13 and 35 (ii) 333 million are literate young Indians (iii) 62 % of the literate youth live in the villages (iv) 40 % of the literate youth are OBC,s, 27 % are general castes, 23 % are SC,s and 10 % are ST,s

By the year 2020, the average in India will be only 29 as against 37 in China and the US, 45 in developed Europe and 48 in China. India has 459 million young people who were born after1975. Of these 333 are literate which 73 % of the total youth population. It seems the future belongs to India. The Editor-in-Chief of The India Today magazine wrote 'What will be our tomorrow is what young people decide today.'

में नहीं सन्देश सबर्ग का या लाया;
इस भूतल को ही सबर्ग बनाने आया !

Monday, October 25, 2010

THE BLACK MONEY & INDIA



Last week in a land mark decision, the Central Information Commission of India (CIC) directed the Enforcement Directorate to make public its investigations on the amount of black money stashed in Swiss banks by Indians. I don't know what information will be given under the Right to Information Act by the Enforcement Directorate. But here is some information on black money given by B.V. Kumar, Former Director General of Revenue Intelligence in an articles he wrote in the Defence and Security Alert (DNA) in its July 2010 issue.

According to the Report of the Swiss Banking Association in 2006, the details of bank deposits in Switzerland by nationals of the following five countries are given below. It may be observed that Indian deposits are the highest.

(i) India - US$ 1456 (ii) Russia- US$ 470 (iii) UK - US$ 390 (iv) Ukraine - US$ 100
(v) China - US$ 96 ( in USS$ Billions)

B.V. Kumar further wrote that the black money in India, according to some reliable estimates has gone up to Rs. 10,00,000 million. If black money deposits was an Olympics games event, India would have won a Gold Medal hands down, writes the Answers.com and says futher:

Quote
Is India poor, who says? Ask the Swiss banks. With personal account
deposit bank of $1,500 billion in foreign reserve which have been
misappropriated, an amount 13 times larger than the country's foreign
debt, one needs to rethink if India is a poor country?
Unquote



हर शाख पे उल्लू बैठें हैं; अंजामें गुलिस्तान क्या होगा !

Monday, October 18, 2010

POLITICS & POETRY


Punjab's political climate is somewhat hot because of Manpreet Singh Badal, Finance Minister of Punjab who had to resign some days before from the coveted position on account of disagreements with the Chief Minister and his political party the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on some matters of policy particularly the state finances and the state debt. I would refrain from commenting on the political aspects of these developments. But I would like to add that I am impressed by some other attributes of the personality of Manpreet Singh Badal. He appears to be a good politician and a man of ideas and knowledge. It is gratifying to note that.

Today, I saw two video clippings of his media inter-action. I was impressed. Manpreet was laud and clear in his interview by Shekhar Gupta at the NDTV in his famous show 'Walk the Talk' I came to know Manpreet likes Urdu poetry and often recites or quotes Dr. Mohd. Iqbal to make his point. He learnt Urdu to correspond with his father Gurdas Singh Badal, brother of Punjab's Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal who himself is an established politician in Punjab. It is just a co-incident, if I may mention, that we share these attributes. I also like Urdu poetry. I also follow Dr. Iqbal. I also learnt a little bit of Urdu, though I have forgotten most of it by now, just to interact with my father as he knew only Urdu. Manpreet also spoke on the Punjabi Zee-TV channel in 'Ek Khas Mulakat'. He was equally forthcoming and impressive. Making a point on the importance of planning and fore-thought, Manpreet quoted Iqbal:

हुस्ने तदबीर से ऊपर उठता है कोमों का नसीब; कभी बदलती नहीं तकदीर अरमानो से !

Expressing his concern on the developing political situation, Manpreet recited yet another couplet:

उने यह गम की हम से छुटकर दीवाने पे क्या गुजरी;
हमें यह फ़िक़र है की इस महफ़िल का क्या होगा !
Referring to his flair for poetry, Shekhar Gupta asked him to say something in Punjabi also. Manpreet promptly agreed and recited from the poetry of Munir Niazi, who belonged to Hoshiarpur before migrating to Pakistan in the wake of partition, obliquely touching upon his departure from power and said:

ਕੁਜ ਤਾਂ ਰਾਵਾਂ ਵੀ ਅਓਖੀਆਂ ਸਨ; ਕੁਜ ਗਲ ਬਿਚ ਗਮਾ ਦਾ ਟੋਯਨ ਵੀ ਸੀ,
ਕੁਜ ਸ਼ਹਰ ਦੇ ਲੋਕ ਵੀ ਜਾਲਮ ਸਨ; ਕੁਜ ਸਾਨੂ ਮਰਨ ਦਾ ਸ਼ੋਕ਼ ਵੀ ਸੀ !


Manpreet Badal gets poetic at his best occasionally. Speaking on his on-going misunderstandings with the party leadership, he said:

हम दुआ लिखते रहे; वह दगा पढ़ते रहे, इक नुक्ते ने हमें; महरिम से मुजरिम बना दिया !

It is gratifying to note that well educated and groomed people like Manpreet are in politics. It is a tribute to the Indian democracy. As regards his views and ideas, I quote Dr. Iqbal, Manpreet's favourite poet:

उडाए कुछ बर्क लाला ने कुछ नर्गिस ने कुछ गुल ने; चमन में हर तरफ बिखरी हुई है दास्ताँ मेरी !







Thursday, October 14, 2010

THE PROUD BUT HUMBLING MOVEMENTS

The two proud but humbling movements for India happened yesterday, the October 12 at New York and today the October 14, 2010 at New Delhi - India got elected to a non-permanent seat at the UNSC and India successfully conducted and concluded the Commonwealth Games respectively. Both the events are, as it is, important for the Indian nation. But we shall take it as a humbling experience as we have ' miles to go before we sleep '.

India became a non-permanent member of the UNSC after about two decades. But the success is not small. India got 187 votes out of the 192 total votes against the required votes of 128 to be elected, the highest among the other candidates. It is a proud movement for the wheel of Indian diplomacy of which I am also a small cog. India deserves to sit at the High Table of the UN. India's credentials for a permanent seat at the Security Council have been fully established. But it is not easy we are to be strong to get our due space in the comity of nations. It is satisfying that we are on track.

The Commonwealth Games got concluded successfully and peacefully. The Indian players brought Gold and Glory to with the second position in the tally of medals with 101.It is not a mean achievement in the background of problems in the run up to the games. The lessons learnt in the process shall duly noted. The guilty in bringing disrepute to the country shall be brought to book to ward off such repetitions. The stakes were too big. We could make it. It shall humble us further to get ready for the times to come. While watching the concluding ceremony of the Games, I got fully involved emotionally. The next Games will be hosted by Scotland in 2014 at Glasgow. The Flag and Baton of the Commonwealth Games was formally handed over to the Lord Provost of Glasgow Bob Winter with whom I interacted many times both officially and socially when I was the Consul General of India in Edinburgh. I could see First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond sitting with other dignitaries and happily waiving the Scottish Flag to welcome and cheer elegantly tartan- kilted young Scottish boys and girls danced on the bagpiper tunes. I wish the Glasgow Games all success. The Indian contingent at the XX Commonwealth Games at Glasgow will receive good support and cheer from the ever hospitable Indian community in Glasgow. Let me conclude with a quote from Robert Frost:

The Woods are lovely dark and deep;
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Indian Mass Media's Social Profile


I read yesterday in the Facebook a comment by Shri C.L. Chumber that there is no dalit news reader in the entire electronic media of India. It is a sad commentary on the state of things in a democratic country of over one billion people even after more than six decades of independence. Some of us, who oppose the affirmative actions of the Government for empowerment of the weaker sections of the society, have the habit of shouting from the top without even knowing or understanding the facts. Let me share with you some hard facts in this regard.

The Media Study Group, in association with Anil Chamaria, Freelance Journalist, Jitender Kumar, Independent Researcher and Yogendra Yadav, Senior Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
(CSDS) conducted a' Survey of the Social Profile of the Key Decision Makers', in June, 2006. Some of the key findings of the Survey were:

* India's national media lacks social diversity, it does reflect the countries social profile.

* The Hindu upper castes dominate the media. They are about 8 % of India's population but among the key decision makers of the national media their share is as high as 71 %.

* The media's caste profile is equally unrepresentative. The Hindus (dwijas comprising Brahmins, Kasyasthas, Rajputs, Vaishyas and Khatris) are about 16 % of India's population but they are about 86 % among the key media decision makers. Brahmins including Bhumihars and Tyagis alone constitute 49 % of the key media personnel.

* Dalits and Adivasis are conspicuous by their absence among the decision makers. Not even one, out of the 315 key decision makers of 37 national media organisations, belonged to the Schedule Caste or Schedule Tribe communities.

* Muslims are severely under represented in the national media: they are 3% among the key decision makers, compared to 13.4% in the country's population.

* Christians are proportionately represented in the media ( mainly in the English media ): their share is about 4% compared to their population share 0f 2.3%.

These findings of the survey speak laud and clear about the role of the mass media in addressing the issues of the lower strata of the society with disdain and unconcern. The Lala (family orientation) character of the media is required to undergo change with a view to have its social profile representative of the society at large. Dr. Mohd. Iqbal said:

यह कैसी जवां बंदी है साकी तेरी महफ़िल में; जहाँ तो बात करने को तरसत्ति है जवां मेरी !

Dr. Ambedkar started publishing a paper ' The Mook Nayak ' ( the leader of the dumb) in the thirties, realising the power of media. It is time that the elite and intelligentsia of the dalit communities rise to the occasion and start their own both print and electronic media organs.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA.....

As It Comes - Without Comment

QUOTE

Perhaps our Preamble should read, " We the upper castes and classes of India, having secretly resolved to constitute India into a Corporate, Hindu, Satellite State..

Unquote

From an Article ' The Trickledown Revolution ' in The Outlook issue of September 20, 2010 written by Arundhati Roy

Quote

Something must have gone terribly wrong in the social fabric of Sikh Society that the ugly caste system again started crushing the lower castes into vulgar , inhuman conditions, against which they reacted and revolted , not politically, but by creating their own space : their separate Gurwaras.

Unquote

From the Editors note ' The Social Divide : A Personal Saga ' of The Beyond Borders - The SAARC Journal Edited Ajeet Cour

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The XIX Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi







The XIX Commonwealth Games 2010 will start today the October 3, 2010 at New Delhi and will conclude on October 14. The stake holders, particularly the Indian organisers, the Indian Government and the Indian nation at large are keeping their fingers crossed for the smooth conduct and success of the games, in the background of considerable difficulties and adverse public image. At times, it became so scary that the games were likely to be called off, as some of the skeptics wished. The honour and the prestige of the country was at stake. The venues were not ready, the desired services were not in place, the Organising Committee under Suresh Kalamadi were facing corruption charges.There were endless problems like security, floods, civic amenities, dengue, sale of tickets and so on. The blame game started and it further added to the confusion. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to take intervene and to set the things right but it was too late. He should have done so much earlier as the stakes were too big. I even thought that Rahul Gandhi should have come forward with his youth brigade, like his father Rajiv Gandhi did in the Asian Games in 1982, and extended his hand in saving the prestige of India which was badly hit in the run up to the games. Today, it seems things, by and large, are under control and the games are due to be inaugurated with a gala supporting extravaganza in a few hours time. It only shows that we have the capacity to do things under pressure. The army could make and get operational the bridge which collapsed a few days before near the games venue just in six days which the contractors could not do so in more than six months. The Indian companies can make magnificent palaces, world class infrastructure abroad to the entire satisfaction of the clients. Why shall we fail at home.Why shall it be so. Perhaps, we lack in collective sense of performance and delivery. We suffer the corrupt, sitting at the helm of the affairs. We lack in national pride. We lack in partnerships among the Government, the civil society and the corporate sector. The Fennels and the Hoopers, the czars of the Commonwealth Games, joined the band wagon of skeptics and stared to shout from the top. It would have been better if they had taken their share of blame and responsibility in the process of missed targets and timely delivery of the logistics of the games by the concerned. India has to face this challenge and fight in removing the tag of a developing country. We Indians ourselves shall come out of the psyche and feel good and equal. Only then the others will consider and recognise us. I have no difference with the likes of Mani Shankar Aiyer who did not approve of the Commonwealth Games to be hosted by India, as I respect Mani Shanker Aiyer as one of the finest minds of India, but once the decision has been take it becomes our responsibility and duty to do our best to make it a success. The world would see us as India and not as individuals how so big one may be. It also does not mean that we shall not learn from the mistakes. Not only we need to learn but also to bring to book the guilty who could not deliver and are still clinging to their chairs.

The mega event will showcase India and its culture to the world. I understand the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and the Commonwealth Games Village are the modern temples for the sporting community and present state of the art facilities.. The Games are set to be declared open in the evening by President of India Pratibha Patil and Prince Charles (Prince Charles is a Charming person. I met him two times closely - once at the funeral of Prime Minster Rajiv Gandhi, dressed in a Scottish Kilt and second time in Glasgow at a cricket match between the Indian team and the Scottish team) who is representing the Queen Elizabeth to the Delhi Commonwealth Games at the gala ceremony. The Delhi Commonwealth Games is the biggest ever with about 7000 players from 71 Commonwealth countries and territories with about 600 strong Indian contingent.The Indian contingent will be lead by the Olympic gold medal winner in shooting at Beijing Abinavh Bindra.

The Commonwealth Games are held every four years and is one of the world's largest multi-sports event. The Commonwealth Games were first held in 1930 as the British Empire Games in Hamilton in Canada. It was renamed as the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954, the British Commonwealth Games in 1970 and from 1978, it is called as the Commonwealth Games. India has been participating in the Games since 1934. India bagged the first gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in 1958 in 400 metre race by the ' Flying Sikh ' Milkha Singh. By 2006, at the last Games held in Melbourne, India stood 4th in the tally of medals after Australia, Britain and Canada. It is hoped that India will improve its performance in Delhi and will bring firmly India on the world sports map.

The next Commonwealth Games will be hosted by Scotland in 2014 at Glasgow. The Flag and the Baton will be passed on to Scotland at the closing ceremony of the Delhi Games on October 14, as per the tradition. I remember fondly when the First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond personally thanked me ( I was the Consul General of India in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland) for India's support to the Scottish bid for the games a couple years before. I also visited the sports facilities in Sterling where the Scottish players were trained in the run up to the Pune Commonwealth Games held in 2007 and met the players who were enthusiastic to visit India not only for the Pune games but also the Delhi commonwealth Games.

The opening and closing ceremonies of the Delhi Commonwealth Games have been prepared meticulously and will present an exposition of the highest tradition and culture of India. It has been firmed by by the experts like Javed akhtar, Shayam Benegal and will be performed by the artists - about 1000 drummers, 1000 classical dancers, yoga demonstrators, etc under the Oscar winner music maestro A.R. Rehman of JAI HO fame. Now the stadiums will echo the slogan ' यारो ! इंडिया बुला लिया ' । The negative publicity and skepticism will be met by a resounding success, it appears. The Delhi Commonwealth Games will prove to be a land mark in India's journey to glory. WAH ! SHERA WAH ! Allamah Iqbal said:

कुछ बात है की हस्ती मिटती नहीं हमारी; सदिओं रहा है दुश्मन दौरे जहाँ हमारा;
सारे जहाँ से अछा हिन्दोस्तान हमारा; हम बुलबुलें हैं इस की यह गुल्स्तान हमारा !

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shaheed Bhagat Singh - a Tribute


Yesterday the September 28 was the 103rd birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. The Indian nation paid homage and tributes to one of the greatest sons of India. He was a freedom fighter, a patriot and a nationalist par excellent. He sacrificed himself at the altar of freedom.

I join the nation in paying my humble tributes Shaheed Bhagat Singh but from a different perspective. Apart from the qualities and attributes in his personality mentioned in the proceeding paragraph, Bhagat Singh was a great visionary and a social crusader. He was dead against untenability and the caste system. He realised full well the pain and sufferings of the lower strata of the society because of the unjust social order. I will like to remember Shaheed Bhagat Singh for his voice and effort to standby the dalits and the downtrodden apart from his known contribution to the freedom struggle and his huge personal sacrifice.

I have read today an article ' The Untouchables ' in the Beyond Borders - the SAARC Journal edited by Ajeet Cour and K. Satchidanandan written by Shaheed Bhagat Singh and published in the Punjabi paper the Kirti in June, 1929. It provided the depth of Bhagat Singh's thoughts on the the uncivilised and inhuman caste system and untenability. Bhagat Singh said I quote:

" Our country is in a really bad shape; here strangest questions are asked and the foremost among them concerns the untouchables who count 6 crores in a population of 30 crores. For instance:
Would contact with an untouchable defilement of an upper caste ?
Would the gods in the temples not get angry by the entry of untouchables there ?
Would the drinking water of a well not get polluted, if the untouchables drew their water from the same well ?
These questions are being asked in the twentieth century is a matter which makes our heads hang in same. We Indians boast of our spiritualism, but then, we avoid accepting every human being as a fellow being just like ourselves." Bhagat Singh further wrote " Just imagine how shameful ! Even a dog can sit on our lap, it can freely move in our kitchen but if a fellow human being touches you, your dharma is endangered." He lamented and said " We could worship even animals but would not tolerate fellow humans to sit beside us." Bhagat Singh asked how precisely can we solve this tangle and answered himself " The answer is quite obvious; above all, it needs to be settled for good, that all humans are equal without distinctions of birth or vocation".

There is a message to the dalit brethren, as the caste system, is still prevalent in the society in form or the other. Bhagat Singh said long back in 1929 " Ultimately, the problem can not be satisfactorily solved unless and until the untouchable communities themselves unite and organise. " Bhagat Singh fully recognised dalit assertions for their ' distinct identity ' and asking for their share and space in the society at large. Bhagat Singh underlined that the privileged class would try to maintain the status quo and continue to enjoy. He cajoled the under privileged and downtrodden and said " Waste no time and unite to stand on your own feet and challenge the existing order of the society. Let it then be seen as to who dares to deny to you your due." It will a befitting tribute to the memory of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, if we all consider and take seriously in our daily lives, his views on untenability and caste system with a view to bring about further sense of unity and brotherhood in the county. The message to the dalits is loud and clear that nobody else would help but themselves. I conclude with a poetic expression of Faiz Ahmed Faiz:

अए खाक नासिह्नों उठ बैठो; वोह वक़्त मुकाबिल आ पहुंचा;
जब तखत गिराए जाएँगे , और ताज उछाले जाएँगे !

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Beyond the News - The Ambedkar Times


The legacy of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar is of interest to me and also to the millions not only in India but beyond across the world at large. There are several publications - newspapers, magazines, handouts, etc. which are dedicated to the name and legacy of the great leader and social reformer - Dr. Ambedkar. Today, I will comment on one such important newspaper and on-line web-site. - The Ambedkar Times which is published and hosted by Mr. Prem Kumar Chumber from Sacramento (California), USA. I regularly peruse and follow both the English and the Punjabi editions of the esteemed Ambedkar Times on- line on the Internet sitting cosy in my Study at home. I found the paper educative and informative particularly with regards to the issues and matters of interest and concern to the dalits and other weaker sections of the society. I wish the Ambedkar Times all success and good health and further prosperity to the Chief Editor Mr. Prem Kumar Chumber in the years to come. Though I have not met him in person as yet but we are in contact through E-mails. I have found Prem Chumber totally responsive and forthcoming. I wished to write about him in my Blog but the paucity of information with me is the constraint. I know his brother Mr. C.L. Chumber who is also engaged in the Punjabi newspaper ' The Qoumi Udhariyan', being published from Jalandhar. He is also involved, like Prem, in social and community matters. Both the brothers and , I understand, their families are the followers of Guru Ravidass, Dr. Ambedkar, the Gadari leader and founder of the Ad-Dharam Mandal Babu Mangoo Ram Mugowalia and are fully dedicated to the common causes of the community.

While walking through my memory lane, I recall that some young enthusiasts of my native place Bootan Mandi in Jalandhar started bringing out The Ambedkar Times, a weekly in Punjabi in the late 1960s. Among this group, Shri Sagli Ram Shant and Shri Hans Raj Bhukha were the most active and engaged. It was a good effort but could not be sustained due to the obvious reasons of lack of funds and not so cohesive approach of the community. Dr. Ambedkar yet did not come on the radar of some of the leaders, particularly of the Congress and other national parties like the Jan Sangh and regional parties like the Akali Dal. The Republican Party was the deemed custodian of the Ambedkar's legacy. The scenario has changed. It was bound to change. Dr. Ambedkar is the celebrated hero of the nation and particularly so of the dalits. The legacy of Dr. Ambedkar will remain a potent force for the establishment of a just social order in India.

The good work, in spreading the message and mission Guru Ravidass, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Babu Mangoo Ram Mugowalia, being done by the Ambedkar Times under the stewardship of Mr. Prem Chumber, will go long way in adding positively to the movement and the lofty ideals of fraternity and brotherhood in the society. I wish the Ambedkar Times becomes a daily, the earlier the better. You may like to access the Ambedkar Times on-line at the following web-sites:

www.ambedkartimes.com and www.ambedkartimes.org

The power of media is great. The voice of dalits and other under privileged has to find its due space in the society as yet. The Ambedkar Times is expected to play a role in the process. Allama Iqbal wrote:

नहीं मिनत कशे ताबे सनिदन दास्ताँ मेरी; ख़ामोशी गुफत गु और बेजुबानी है जुबान मेरी !
यह कैसी जुबान बंदी है सकी तेरी महफ़िल में; यहाँ तो बात करने को तरसती है जुबान मेरी !

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Caste-based Census - Some random thaughts


I have read an article 'Mere tokenism won't do.....' written by Shri Surendra Kumar in the Economic Times (September 13, 2010 issue) on the ongoing debate on the issue of caste-based census. It is timely and thought provoking assertion. I am all the more happy that well-placed and well-informed people like Shri Surendra Kumar have started taking keen interest, and rightly so, in the matters of interest and concern not only to the dalits but also to the society at large. It is also gratifying to note that Shri Surendra Kumar belonged to the Indian Foreign Service of which I am also a humble member. I also recall reading yet another write up by him recently in which he wrote about the deep rooted caste consciousness in the power hierarchy of India. He revealed his sad experiences when, during the service, he was made to realise that he was a dalit not only by the ordinary but by the so called high caste big-wigs occupying positions of authority and power under the constitution which stipulates caste less and secular society.

Though I am not in favour of caste-based census ( I would elaborate it separately ) yet I fully agree with Shri Surendra Kumar that caste consciousness and prejudices cannot be wished away by mere 'tokenism' currently being professed by the opponents of the caste-based census. The ground realities are different and painful. We need to go a long way to establish a caste less society as visualised by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. One of the major arguments against the caste-based census is that it is divisive and would lead to politicisation of castes. It may be so. But the question remains that what has been done by the society particularly by the elite to rectify the situation. The answer is precious nothing.

Some of the suggestions made by Shri Surinder Kumar to eradicate caste are really good and would certainly make a dent in the steely frame of the caste system and the mental outlook of the upper strata of the society, if followed and implemented. The idea to lead from the front is good to meet challenge of caste stratification. The elite, particularly those in the public life, shall come forward and set an example by marrying out one of the daughters in the family to a dalit boy. It shall be followed by members of the IAS, IFS, IPS and other top services. The business houses, the media, the intelligentsia, who have the tendency to shout from the top, shall encourage their children to go for inter-caste marriages. I think the inter caste marriages would lead to assimilation and result in empowerment. The political bosses should check and counter ' an orchestrated and deliberate perception ' as noted by Shri Surendra Kumar, created by caste conscious authorities that most of the officers belonging to the lower castes entering through the affirmative action of the state i.e. reservation are generally inefficient and incompetent. These dalit officers are not given their due and ruled out from the important and crucial positions. It is most painful for the competent and intelligent dalit officers when they get ignored only because they belong to the lower segments of the caste ridden society.

All said, let me conclude that it is the time senior dalits like Shri Surendra Kumar who can stand and speak with knowledge and authority shall come forward and speak up their mind. The younger generation will find it encouraging. On the part of the dalit community and the society in general, it will be only appropriate that senior dalit officers are brought to the fold and recognised. It will send a positive message to their fellow brethren to emulate them to make a dignified space for themselves in the society. These affirmative actions should replace ' mere tokenism ' if we mean to establish a caste less social order - a lofty ideal of our polity and society. There is a message for us in the poetry of Allma Iqbal who said:

कर खुदी को बुलंद इतना की हर तकदीर से पहले;
खुदा बन्दे से खुद पूछे बता तेरी रजा क्या है !

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Poetic Talent in the Indian Foreign Service

I have seen and read a book of poetry "इंतजार है अब तक " written in Hindustani ( mix of Hindi & Urdu) by one of my colleagues in the Indian Foreign Service Jitendra Tripathi who is, currently, the Consul General of India in Sao Paulo in Brazil . It is a well written and nicely presented book. I did not know that Jitender is a poet that too of a good calibre. I like Urdu or Hindustani poetry and read and recite it whenever possible as my pastime. Here are some quotes from Jitender's book which would give you the flavour his poetry:
i) कदम कदम पे गरेबान चाक हुआ; तुम ही बताओ इसे कब तलक रफ्फु करते !
ii) एक अजब सा खौफ सारे कारबान में बस गया; रहजनो का डर दिखा कर रहबर छलते रहे !
iii) मैं अकेला ही नहीं मेरी खुदी भी साथ है; चलूँगा तो साथ मेरे कारबान हो जायेगा !

There are many more poets in the IFS, some known and some yet to come out. I know some of them personally. I read some years before a book of poetry " सौगात " written by Amarjeet whose pen name is 'अंजान' . It is a fine collection of his poetry. I posses a copy of the book which Amarjeet kindly presentaed to me. We worked together in Kampala andand he would try to get it published soon. I have listened him reciting his own poetry man Prague. Amarjeet's poetic spells in the parties were famous and liked by all. He not only writes good but also has a good command on its delivery. Here in Belarus, my present station of work, we have Suraender Baboo. His literary name is 'सुरेंदर सोनू' . His book of poetry ' सहर होने तक ' was well received. He has also presented to me a copy of the today with a touching citation "आपकी आशानियाँ और आप का उच्च वेवहार मेरे दिल में बहुसुंदर जगह लिए रहता है ! आप के साथ आप की करम शैली और आप से पहचान मेरा सौभाग्य है !" It is as good and sweet as his poetry. Suraender told me that the manuscript of his second book of poetry is ready y a times. Suraendra is a talented poet. I think his whole family has artistic aptitude. I am told that his daughter is a classical and modern dance teacher with an established theater group in Delhi. Let us read some of his poetic thoughts:

i) तुम को शूया तो मैली हो जाओगी; तुम को शू कर लेकिन पाक होने की तम्मना है मेरी !
ii) कोई जखम अंशूं से धुल भी जाता; मगर जिन्दगी अंशूं से लिखी हो तो कोई धोए कैसे !
iii) कौन कहता है मजहव के नाम पर बहा दो लहू; क्या किसी मर कर तुम को खुदा मिल जायेगा !
Again in Minsk, we had BC. Tiwari who has now gone to Ankara. Tiwari is a budding poet. I enjoyed his poetic outbursts many a times. Our Embassy in Minsk can boast of yet more. R.P Singh is also a poet by his own right. I quote one of his compositions 'माशुका-ए-बेपरवाह का ईश्क्' and you may see the talent yourself.


क्या खूब हमारी किस्मत का सितारा है ?
हासिल हुई हर चीज़ जिसे दिल ने पुकारा है !
क्या ख़ुशनसीबी है कि तेरा प्यार भी पाया,
वरना ना जाने कौन कौन आशिक़ तुम्हारा है ?

चाहने वाले तेरी नज़रों को तरसते हैं,
प्यार के ये बादल क्या हर किसी पर बरसते हैं ?
जबसे हुई है नज़रें इनायत हम पर,
तेरे ही ख्यालों मे डूबते-उतरते हैं !

डर है हमे तो अब सिर्फ़ एक बात का,
करना पड़े ना हमको जुदाई का सामना !
हम सह नहीं पाएँगे तुझ से जुदाई का गम्,
इल्ज़ाम तेरे सर लगेगा मेरे आत्मघात का !

The poetry of the IFS personnel speaks for itself. I join them with a couplet of Dr. Iqbal:

हुबेदा आज अपने ज़ख्मे पिन्हा कर के शोठुन्गा;
लहू रो रो के महफ़िल को गुलिश्तां कर के शोठुन्गा !

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Some of my fellow BootanMandians - 3


I wrote about the Seths of Bootan Mandi. Some more families including Seth Sat Paul Mal ( I understand that he is the current President of the Guru Ravidass Education and Welfare Trust), Harish Mahey, Manohar Mahey, Seth Bhagwan Dass, Kamal Mahey and Girdhari Lal are also doing well. Girdhari Lal's wife Narinder Kaur is also an elected member of the Jalandhar Corporation. It is a matter of regret that the economic and financial soundness of these Seths could not contribute effectively to transform the backwardness of the society into success and progress. They remained divided and mired in narrow considerations of politics and self promotion. I feel bad in my mind to this hard fact but it is so, to my mind. I think most of the dalit society in the region still look towards Bootan Mandi for the lead. I may quote Dr. Iqbal:
" जरा सी नम हो तो यह मिटटी बड़ी ज़रखेज है सकी "
Let me mention a few names with whom I interacted quite closely during my formative years in Bootan Mandi both as a fellow student and also as a social activist. Prem Shant - one of my close family friends. Prem, to my mind, is the first person in the recent years who showed upward social and economic mobility in real terms. He was the first to change his residence from Bootan Mandi to the new posh adjacent colony-Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar in the early 80s and many others, rightly so, followed him. Prem retired as Excise And Taxation Officer some years before. He and his family are committed Ambedkarites and politically oriented towards the BSP. Prem, I know personally, was close to Babu Kanshi Ram even when Babuji was still struggling to find his feet in politics. During his visits to Jalandhar, he used to stay with Prem at his residence. Hardev Kaur, the wife of Prem, is also socially and politically active. She even contested though unsuccessfully an election for the Punjab Assembly as a BSP candidate some years before. I like and respect Prem particularly because of the fact that he paid good attention to the education of his children. Their two daughters are professionally qualified doctors who are happily married to well placed doctors, the third daughter has a Master's degree plus and married to a professionally qualified legal attorney, son Sushil is a Senior Executive in the Indian Telecom Service is married to Lovely ( I forget her full name) who herself holds a senior position of a Judge in the Judiciary. I feel good to have Prem as my friend. Moreover, he has been very helpful in some of my personal matters, I being a small man of Bootan Mandi. My another fellow BootanMandian who made a mark in the government service is Bihari Lal. He retired as a Senior Executive in Tele-communications more than a decade ago and now lives in Delhi. I write with a sense of gratitude that Chacha Bihari Lal extended all due help to us and treated me and my family with lot of love and care during my initial years in Delhi. Bishambar Mahey (brother of my friend Sat Paul) also comes to my mind. I don't know exactly but some years before I was told that Bish Mahey (as he is known) held a good position as Director/Producer at the BBC in London. We shall be proud of Bish Mahey. I may be excused if I have missed some other person who deserves a mention. It is not intentional but a gap of information and contact.

It will be difficult to conclude this without referring and mentioning some of my personal friends in Bootan Mandi, outside the realm of the Sethhood. I interacted and associated with most of them in some of my social and civic activities under the umbrella of the Guru Ravidass Youth Club in the 60s. These are: Hardial Banger - a complete gentleman, Manohar Mahey - a down to earth businessman with social and friendly aptitude. He is also the President of an NGO called Vigilant Brotherhood, Hussan Baudh - as good as the Budha. He contributed positively to the establish the Budha Vihar in Bootan Mandi alongh with Darshan Kaler and others., Ram Lal Kainth - a scholar and philospher friend, Sat Paul Mahey - can even sell Taj Mahal ( a made a mark in insurance business). Yet another name which comes to my mind is that of Swaran Duggal. He is a good man but unfortunately lost his bearings and lost track. It is a pity. After a few months as of now, after I retire from the Indian Foreign Service, I intend to go back to Jalandhar and revive my association with of them and benefit from their experiences. I think, it will be a good fun.