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.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

THE TEACHER'S DAY


India observes the September 5 ( President Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan's birthday) as the Teacher's Day. It is a befitting tribute to the memory of President Radhakrishnan, who was a philosopher, thinker and a great teacher, and also an honour for the teachers of the country, who play an important role in the progress and development of the country and the society at large. The Indian thought provides a great importance to the role of a teacher (guru) as the great saint Kabir said- गुरु गोविन्द दोनों खड़े, किस के लगूँ पांव; बलिहारे गुरु आपनो, जिस दर्शन दिओ दिखाए !

Today, I will like to join the nation in paying my gratitude to some of my teachers for their immense impact on my life during my student years at various levels of my education in Jalandhar and also later in life. Though I could not attain much in terms of lofty degrees yet in my life and career my teachers certainly contributed a great deal.

One great teacher, who is still alive in my cherished memories, was Shiela Behanji, at the Bootan Mandi Guru Ravidass Primary School. A dusky but charming and benevolent face of Shiela Behanji will ever remain with me. She was totally involved and dedicated not only in our schooling but also almost as a family member joined our good and bad. I remember, she was liked by all the students also our parents. I distinctly remember that we used go to her home at a nearby locality Abadpura for extra and additional classes particularly in the long summer vacations, without any fee. She treated us like her children. I do not know for sure if Sheila Behanji is still around. If she is, I am happy and wish her all the best.

After the 4th Class in 1961, I moved to the Sain Dass Anglo Vedic High School at Basti Nau, one of the leading schools in the area, some 5 kms. from Bootan Mandi. I used to walk to the school (later from the 8th class onwards I was given a cycle) with others from our Mohalla. I remember Headmaster Baldev Raj, whom we all ebbed but respected, with good memories. He was a good Administrator and ran the school with total command. He was a great teacher of Mathematics ( I was never at ease with that difficult subject) with an additional flare to solve the difficult sums with quite an ease. Pandit Dev Dutt, a simple man, also taught us Math with his own home-made style and solutions. Lala Dwarka Dass was the Vice Headmaster, a saintly personality, taught us English. We all in the class found his style of teaching generally boring. He always insisted to make notes of all what he lectured in the class. Being a mediocre and timid boy, i did it rather religiously. Later in the College, I found that Lalaji was a good teacher and the notes of his lectures came handy and helped a lot.. Lala Dwarka Dass was, i shall admit as a matter of compliment, instrumental in teaching, whatever little English I know. Lalaji's weekly spiritual and cultural lectures on the Saturdays were of great value for the day to day life.I also remember with fond memories Giani Malluk Singh who was the Punjabi teacher. He was a poet of a sort. I still recall a small booklet of his poetry which i used to read. He will generally enter the class reciting his poetry which went like -ਸਚੋ ਸਚ ਬਤਾਨਾ ਚੰਗਾ; ਇਸ਼ ਦੀ ਸਬ ਸਰਦਾਰੀ, ਇਕ ਦੋ ਬਾਰ ਝੂਡ ਜੋ ਬੋਲੇ; ਹੁੰਦੀ ਬੇਇਤਬਾਰੀ ! It is just a co-incident that I still have a close linkages in the nearby localities of my Alma mater in Basti Nau. My two sons are married in the families having small businesses in sports goods and my sister married and living in Nizatam Nagar. Her husband Prof. Balbir Chander is also, incidentally, a senior lecturer at the faculty of Political Science at Doaba College and belongs to the teacher fraternity. My brother Kishan is working with the Soccer International as a Senior Executive. I feel good to revive memories of my school days when I happen to pass by to visit my relations around the Sain Dass School.

I graduated from the school in 1966 and joined the DAV College Jalandhar, one of the finest and leading institution, at that time, not only in Punjab but, I think, the entire region. Principal B.S. Bahl was a great Administrator with a clear vision and mission. He was much revered and respected educationist not only with the students but also with the faculty of the great college.. I liked him for his special imputes to the extra-curricular activities like debates, contests, talks, sports etc. The library of the college was not only well stocked but well managed also. I was much interested in General Knowledge and as such my added interest in Political Science was natural. Prof. K.C. Mahindru and Prof. K.K. Ghai were my favourites among the teachers. Prof. Krishan Lal Sachdeva was yet another whom I liked because of his professional command on the subject of History ( He was regular in the debates and talks of interest) and also his utter simplicity though I was not a student of History. I recall that we invited him to Bootan Mandi for a function to pay tributes to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on his death anniversary in 1969. He came and made a thought provoking speech. It was a rare occasion to have this kind of involvement.

All said and done, the schools and colleges in which one gets educated in the formal sense and also the role and contribution of the teachers goes a long way in moulding our personalities by imparting informal education also. These connections and affinities become an integral part of our lives which we cherish through out. I salute my Alma mater on the Teacher's Day.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Some of My Fellow BootanMandians - 2

From the Memory Lane

I continue from my memory lane and write about yet another Seth family of Bootan Mandi. It is the family of Seth Munshi Ram. They used to have a vast complex of residences, shops and huge godowns located in the vicinity of Guru Ravidass Chowk. Seth Munshi Ram, who knew me very well when i was a young student, was a good and easily approachable person. Since my father and grand father was also situated in one of the shops, for the bread and butter, owned by Sethji's family, I often used to be around. Seth Munshi Ram along with one of his brothers had their business in Kanpur and were doing well. He used to visit Bootan Mandi, quite regularly and often, to be with the family which generally stayed back in Bootan Mandi. Dr. Om Prakash Bhatia, Sethji's son, was an up-start. Even in the late 60's, he used to flaunt the packet of 555 cigarettes and living an extra-normal life. I exactly remember his sarcastic remarks ( on my lowly position to earn a few hundred bucks) in early 1970 when I told him that I have joined the Ministry of External Affairs as a Clerk. Shiela, the daughter of Sethji, was my class fellow and we used to exchange notes as good friends. The family had a big name and an established business in Kanpur with a sprawling Kohinoor Tannery. My grand-father visited the Tannery in Kanpur along with a few more invited guests at the time of its launch in the mid 60's. He used to talk about Seth Munshi Ram's empire in Kanpur which was enviable among the dalits. Seth Munshi Ram was the only family who had an Ambassador car in the 60's in Bootan Mandi. Let me come to the point which I have laboured in telling the story. The family got dis-integrated. They lost their bearings. They lost the business and the status. Dr. Om Prakash Bhatia, I am told, ended up in small clinic at a non-descript location and died. Other brothers also could not save the situation. The reason, to my mind, and I say with some pain, as I liked Seth Munshi Ram, was that he could not provide the requisite up-bringing to his children and made them worthy of the great heritage. It is a pity that still, perhaps, many Seths of Bootan Mandi have not learnt any lesson from this great fall and degeneration. The community do require more Munshi Rams' with a sound business sense and calibre.

The time does not stop. Seths of Bootan Mandi cintinued to do well in the traditional leather business. They made their off spring to join them but without educating them to take over with a modern outlook. Some of them survived and some, who could not sustain, vanished or changed track. One family requires special mention, the family of Shri Surinder Mahey who rose to the coveted position of the Lord Mayor of Jalandhar. He belongs to an ordinary and poor background with little education. His uncle Shri Ram Lal, who came back from the UK after many years, provided financial back-up and support to the family. It was a wise move and appreciable action. But the young boys Hussan and Surinder, sons of Shri Rup Lal, availed off the god sent opportunity and proved their worth in establishing themselves in the leather business. I was not aware of Surinder's political inclinations. He got himself elected as a member of The Jalandhar Municipal Council sometime in 1985. He made good contacts in political set-up. I remember meeting the then Union Minister Yogender Makwana, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Chaudhary Darshan Singh Kaypee and some Congress leaders at the residence of Surinder in early 1986, the occasion was the marrage of Surinder, if my memory is correct. He gained further strength and could succeed in occupying the prestigious position of the Mayor of Jalandhar. It is not a mean achievement. Bootan Mandi shall be proud of him. I understand that Surinder still enjoys a good standing in political circles. Apart from his good work as the Mayor, he also contributed considerably to the betterment of the community. I am told that he is the main force behind the project of the magnificent Guru Ravidass Dham at Bootan Mandi. The project is not yet complete and would require further efforts to bring it to completion. Surinder also did a good job in constructing a new building for the school in Bootan Mandi and handed over the Government to run the school, as usual. It would, to my mind, have been better if the school is run directly by the Guru Ravidass Education and Welfare Trust, with a view to provide quality education to the children of the area. It was feasible but the Trust itself, to my knowledge, unfortunately is not fully functional because of internal problems and personal ego of the Seths. I pray that some better sense prevails and Bootan Mandi retains in the lead in the affairs of the community.


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