Tuesday, January 09, 2018

A Tribute to a Teachers' Teacher

Prof. Pritam Singh Ji
As a life long industrious student of the various disciplines of humanities with particular focus on world literature as my post graduation; spirituality in humanity as family heritage and International Relations as my profession, I have always deemed myself as one of the most privileged disciples of Professor Pritam Singh Ji (Jan. 11, 1918 - Nov. 25, 2008), without ever attending his formal class! He had indeed become the tall human tower - a light house in Patiala - as an  eminent teacher and an extraordinary, an encyclopedic, scholar of not only Punjabi language and literature but the entire range of the composite cultural and literary heritage of humanity.

Prof. Pritam Singh had been an inspiration for generations of students of Punjabi literature till he breathed his last. He was one of the stalwarts among teachers who had been a witness, as a bright student with the most meager means, to the best of the 'un-partitioned' - of the Five Rivers - Punjab. For me, he signified an era - that is no more - of the most enlightening literary pursuits in Punjabi. He had come to personify a rare dedication to bring alive the glory of Punjabi, cutting across all the narrow divides of the dangerous mix of religion and politics with the mother tongue of the brave Punjabis. I was indeed  singularly fortunate to be in his close contact-in the ancient Guru-Shishya tradition. He remained a 'Pole Star' of guidance for me in the matters of our deeply shared mutual interests in the global contexts of languages, literature and all the myriad faiths of the people.

I vividly recall how, as a student of B.A. in the D.A.V. College Jalandhar - some time around November, 1962 - I had the first Darshan - a face to face glimps - of Professor Pritam Singh. He was presiding over an important meeting of the Kendriya Punjabi Lekhak Sabha. The meeting had soon degenerated into an uproar of noisy shouts with even the signs of clenched fists for physical fighting- between the dominant progressive writers led by the veteran Marxist S.S. Sekhon and the silver-tongued orator Comrade Jagjit Singh Anand on the one side and the promising upcoming exponents of the new-wave-experimental Poetry including Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia and Sukhpalvir Singh Hasrat. Professor Pritam Singh, impressively attired in black achkan and chooridar, reprimanded them all in chaste Punjabi, using even typically strong phrases like 'Kanwarauli, kanjarkhana, kuttekhani', etc.  The eloquence, tactfulness and firmness displayed by the Professor from Patiala had the desired effect and it turned out to be a memorable session of lively discussions interspersed with sparkling and learned interventions of wit and humour by the Chair. I, an undergraduate student, had become an anonymous life long admirer of this Professor from Patiala for his radiant charm, scholarship and unshakeable belief in order and discipline.

It was, however,  as a student of M.A. (English) in the Government College - with no needless S.C.D. prefix then - Ludhiana, perhaps, in October 1964, that I read Balwant Gargi's pen-portrait of Professor Pritam Singh in Aarsi, then a popular Punjabi monthly, alas, has ceased publication since May, 2000. Gargi, in his inimitable style laced with subtle satire and humour, had referred to the rare qualities of Professor Pritam Singh as an 'obsessed' researcher of the old manuscripts of the Punjabi language and the evolution of the Gurmukhi script. Around the same time; Professor Pritam Singh had been transferred to the College as Head of the Punjabi Department.

Prof. Pritam had been assigned by Principal K.S. Thapar, interestingly, to deliver lectures for all the students of the College, in the main lecture hall now named after old student Sahir, on the themes of National Integration, introduced under a scheme of Government of India in the wake of war with China. Again, Professor Pritam Singh was at his best both in oration and the subject matter. One day, I gathered enough courage to speak to him requesting him to visit my home to meet my father and have a look at various hand written old books in Gurmukhi in our family.  He indeed gracefully agreed and visited our home in Ahmedgarh on Jan. 24, 1964. He had an engaging exchange of views with my father, an Ayurved practitioner and a scholar of Sanskrit and classical literature. I also arranged his meeting with my school teacher Shri Ashni Kumar, a Lahore educated reputed learned man. Professor Pritam Singh wrote to me a post-card, in English, thanking me for arranging the visit and praised my teacher as a person of, 'deep scholarship and disarming courtesy' - the last phrase was indeed an ever lasting lesson for me and made me his dedicated disciple for life.

The time rolled on, I passed my M.A. in English and was delighted to achieve my dream of becoming a lecturer, first in DAV College, Jalandhar and later on Govt. College, Bathinda. It was as a lecturer in Bathinda that my contact was re-established with Professor Pritam Singh. I had to accompany another respected scholarly personality, Professor Harmandar Singh, an eminent teacher of Political Science, who had also been transferred to Bathinda, for his meeting with Professor Pritam Singh, then Principal of Government College, Faridkot. It was in November, 1968 and the time of elections to the Punjab University Senate / Syndicate. Professor Harmander Singh was upset that Principal Pritam Singh had switched to the constituency of Registered Graduates instead of the Principals, making a clash between the two great old friends inevitable. It was a mix of tension and learning for me to be a listener to the arguments between the two of my most respected Professors. After lengthy discussions, Professor Pritam Singh appeared to have convinced Professor Harmander Singh that there was sufficient space for victory for both of them in the larger constituency of the Registered Graduates. While walking with us to the Railway Station to see us off, in the 'rush of the continued arguments', he also decided to accompany us to Bathinda. We had to speak to the Guard that, in a hurry, we could not buy the tickets. Reaching Bathinda, I went to the guard to pay him the amount of tickets. Professor Pritam Singh, with a twinkle of an eye and a trade mark smile, said to the guard, "Badshaho, Eh Jhoote Tan Hoon Tohadi Bakshish 'ch hi aouon dio – let this swing-ride be under your kingly generosity!" The guard also laughed heartily and we came out thanking him. Around the time of the dinner, I requested Professor Pritam Singh that we should go to the nearby restaurant. He replied that he had his dinner in train when he was eating the 'Chholia', i.e., the green-peas of grams, taken directly from the plants!

There was again a long interruption in our correspondence after I joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1971 and moved to Delhi and many postings abroad. It was during my posting as the Deputy High Commissioner in the neighbouring Pakistan (September, 1992 - November, 1994) that we could resume our intense interaction, particularly in the context of the preparation Punjabi Lekhak Kosh – Directory of Punjabi Writers. I could contact several Punjabi writers and activists in Lahore and Islamabad to collate information for inclusion in the Directory. Prof. Pritam Singh was gracious to mention my name in the list of the persons who helped him in compiling the book which was published in 2003. Prof. Pritam Singh always replied at length to my letters regarding my observations on the shared heritage of the Punjabis and how the bond of language could be strengthened in the face of evolving complex and challenging circumstances. He had a large circle of friends and admirers in Pakistan and his deep knowledge of Persian and Urdu languages proved an immense asset as a bridge between the two Punjabs and the national and international forums..

It was after reading my long letter, in Punjabi, 'Battan Beete Vareh dian - Matters of the Year that is past', circulated in December, 1995 to my close circle of friends that he specifically directed me that I should seriously plan to write about my experiences, in Punjabi, when I am free from the burden and worries of the Service. In view of his failing eye sight, the correspondence got restricted and confined to brief and urgent e-mails. After my retirement in 2004, I availed the privilege of speaking to him more often  whenever there was some matter of mutual interest. He would again remind me of the promise I had made with him to write in Punjabi. I once said, 'Sir, there is so of much high quality writings available to read, it becomes difficult to discipline oneself and find a time to write'. He smiled and retorted, 'that is the tragedy of Punjabi, Bal Anand Ji... those who should be writing, say they have no time from reading; but those who should be reading more, go on writing more and more!'

Meeting on Jan. 11, 1999 - 81st Birthday of Prof. Pritam Singh

My last meeting with Professor Pritam Singh took place in the late evening of 1st October, 2008. He appeared some what frail and time - worn but his profundity of expression, smile and laughter were indeed as intact as ever. I had presented to him 'Diwan-e-Hafiz' brought from Iran - the 'Blue book' in the picture and my write-up in Punjabi on the popular 'Chhapar Fair of Punjab' and my recent columns on Urdu poets and scholar A.J. Zaidi and Ahmad Faraz. We touched upon the current educational and cultural scene in Punjab and in the country. When I took leave of him, he persisted in walking with me the up to the main gate. I mentioned to him - at the door step - that Panth must think of establishing a museum of letters, with name, 'Zafar Namah Sahib Bhawan', inviting Punjabis all over the world to donate letters on the themes of literature and culture of Punjab - to be scientifically preserved there.

I penned my last letter to Professor Pritam Singh, on 24th of October, a day before his joining the company of the immortals, sending it care of his daughter Doctor Harshinder Kaur so that she might read it out to him. The Destiny of this letter was fated  to be different - reaching him on the address far, far beyond his earthly abode! I salute this angel of a Teacher on his birth centenary - he indeed radiated knowledge and nobility with every word spoken by him!

*     *     *

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ek Sham - Ahmedgarh ke Naam

Dear Friends,

As you know, Ahmedgarh has been my beloved place of school education - May 1951-March 1959 and my home town upto July  1971...

It was Master Ashni Kumar Ji (1916-1999) - my unique Guru-teacher - who was my anchor of life in Ahmedgarh till he breathed his last - on Saturday, Feb 16, 1999.

I had been myself so stressed and always short of time till I setlled down in retirement in 2004... after spending more than 26 years abroad - 21 of them were consecutive, from 1982-2003!

I have tried to make the best of the sun set years of life by returning - full time - to my books, rediscovering good old friends - and my love for pen and paper - rather the modern age wonder, Shriman computer-Ji!

I know how the dear friends in the tri-city beautiful have been dreaming of an evening devoted to the golden memories of childhood in our beloved Mandi... a brand new town which had sprung up from no where - in the wake Rail Revolution of India in the early twentieth century.

I am heartily grateful to the dream team of friends - Jawahar ji & Janak in particular - who conceptualized the event of the evening of Friday, 24th March to recreate the genuine spirit of love, innocence and affection dedicated to our beloved town. The inimitable Mootki - Rakesh Bhai - is indeed blessed with an abundant artistic talent and the most infectious joy in bringing to pulsating life all the beautiful memories of the sweet past...

Prof. Anu Jain was the perfect compere of the event ... the memories of his most wonderful Tayas - Amrit ji  Madan Faryadi ji - have been my most precious wealth.

I was so glad to meet many new friends and younger friends of the new generation - nasal nau - who all swear by the love of Ahmedgarh!

Brig JJ Singh Jagdev's family - we met after more than fifty years - is closely related to mine for four generations - it was his grandfather who was instrumental in persuading my family to shift to Ahmedgarh.

Sh Gobind Thukral ji has been a dear friend, philosopher and guide since we met in my retirement... 13 years ago; Dear Ashwani Gupta put in a lot of effort in managing the event in Western Court...

My sincerest thanks to all the ladies who had graced the occasion as equal & active participants... I promise to be accompanied by my 'better half' when the next such get together happens.

With my greetings & best wishes to all the dear friends,

Bal Anand

PS - I am sharing three photos of the event..
Hope you would share more photos/visuals of the most joyful evening

Friday, July 01, 2016

My Lessons of History in School

I consider myself singularly lucky and blessed that the lessons in history - and poetry- started for me much earlier in life than for most people. I was myself, however, innocently unaware about all this at that time.

To begin with, take the case of the date of my birth. It was determined as 15th November, 1943 - perhaps, a year less - at the time of my admission, in October 1949, in the District Board (soon changed to be ‘Government') Primary School of the neighboring village, located in what was still called the Angrezi Ilaqa (British Territory). It was a school with one kutcha (made of mud) room; a small court yard which had low (less than three feet high) mud wall around it; two teachers and four classes. The school had about forty students from the surrounding villages.

The name of the village is Sohian, near the old town of Malaudh, about 30 Km from Ludhiana. I do recollect that the senior teacher Pandit Lachhman Dass Ji had asked my father whether he had thought for me a plan of higher education or putting me in some job soon after my matriculation. My father had replied, in a very polite but deeply determined voice, that he would like me to go for the highest possible education.

I was to come to know 55 years later - a few years after my own retirement at age of 60 - that this popular but strict disciplinarian teacher who had commanded deep respect among generations of students had served in the same school for his entire teaching career!

It was in this school, I had heard the couplets of the first folk poem by a senior student, Jagga Singh, praising Mahatma Gandhi to be clever enough to ‘outwit' the foxy white rulers!

The white Kothi (mini-palace) with high walls and surrounded by the thick lines of tall trees of a Sardar (petty chief, feudal lord) called Kaka Ji of Sohian was visible from the school. It was, however, more a like a mysterious fort for us, the young students- something like the complex buildings I was to see later in the horror films. I had, however, come to know that the Young Sardar-Kaka Ji has been recruited as a Poolas Kaptan (Police Superintendent) by the Government of Independent India. Later in life, my efforts to meet the then octogenarian, Sardar Narinder Singh Phulka, IPS (Retd.), could not bear fruit, in spite of the fact that one of his sons-in-laws, now retired in anonymity from the IAS, had been a friend from my college days.

The next historic turning point for me came in May 1951 when I was admitted in the third grade in the High School in Ahmedgarh, the nearby town. The family took some more time to shift there from the village. I felt quite at ease being exposed to a refreshing atmosphere of freedom, patriotism and nationalism surcharging this school named, soon after Independence, from Public High School to 'Mahatma Gandhi Memorial National (MGMN) High School'.

The eight years of the continuous studies in the school provided me with ample opportunities to look all around far beyond the lessons in the class rooms. I must thank Master Ashni Kumar, a senior teacher of English and Social Studies who had started mentoring me right from my sixth class.

The town of Ahmedgarh (named after Nawab Ahmed Ali of the tiny state of Malerkotla (1881-1947) had been founded in 1905 in the wake of the construction of the revolutionizing rail link connecting Ludhiana to the southern-eastern belt of Dhuri-Jakhal and beyond. The new look town regularly witnessed, as if it were a typical Greek city state, debates and dramas in the school which were often joined by the chaudhris (elders) of the town too.

The local wings of political parties - Congress, Socialists and Jan Sangh in particular - seemed to be vigorously competing to bring their national leaders to address the people in the Gandhi Chowk, in the miniature Connaught Place of the town, proclaimed to have been planned after Montgomery! The location of the town on the cross-borders of adjacent Riyasati (Princely) and Angrezi (British) pockets of territories had made it a favorite and strategic meeting place for freedom fighters playing grim games of hide and seek after daring protests and acts of defiance including an act of loot - at gun point - of the government funds in a train robbery between Ahmedgarh and Malerkotla!

In terms of history, I must refer to the tragically maddening times in the wake of Partition. My great grandfather Param Sant Vaid Bhushan Pramatma Nand Ji had passed away on October 19, 1947, a day after the death of Nawab Ahmad Ali of Malerkotla. I can vividly recall how the mourners at the Bhog ­- the last prayer - were cursing the kaliyuga (Evil Epoch) for the calamities befalling the nation and her noble people. I could later notice that many houses had been burnt down in my mother's village - apparently belonging to Muslims. The mosque had been quickly converted into a Gurdwara!

I was luckier as a child to be spared the trauma of witnessing the scenes of murders and violence. But what about the feelings of a ten-year-old boy who was witness to his father getting critically wounded when he fell down trying to board an over packed vehicle leaving Sialkot for India? He had been left behind as dead on the road. The boy turned out to be a brilliant student and rose to the highest professional position for an engineer in India. But how would the pain of losing a father in that cruelest way ever go away - even though in retirement, he became Director of Gandhi Museum, opposite the Raj Ghat!

I do remember that I was able to broadly read, when I was in the fifth class, the Golden History of India by Vishva Nath, M. A., B.T., and Jagan Nath Grover B.A., B.T., senior teachers of History, Arya High School, Ludhiana. It was a popular text book for high classes and belonged to my uncle appearing for matriculation.

I remember vividly how among brief sketches of the contemporary historical personalities: Winston Churchill was described as the plain and blunt speaker; Joseph Stalin was the son of a cobbler of Georgia; De Valera was a great revolutionary freedom fighter, and so on.

Among the teachers of history at school, Master Ram Kishore - in his typical Poadhi dialect of Punjabi - would become deeply emotional in praising Chanakaya, the great teacher and his gifted disciple Chandra Gupta Maurya. Then, he would blame all the current ills of the country on the lack of respect for the teachers! Kishori Lal Sahir would quote couplets of Persian and would turn the lesson into play - assigning the students roles of characters of history, e.g., showing Hemu getting wounded with an arrow in the eye by covering the eye of a student with the corner piece of his turban!

Giani Romesh, known for punishing students with Bhrind - painful pinches, would often use the idiom, Dushmanan de Dand Khatte kar Ditte (leave a sour taste in your enemy's mouth).  It was not by making them eat tamarind, but putting up a brave fight.

The most reputed teacher of history / Geography and English in our school was, however, Master Ashni Kumar, a skeleton-thin person known for his razor sharp intellect and sharp satirical remarks. I was destined to be his favorite student and remain so for more than four decades till he breathed his last at a ripe old age in 1999.

In the tranquility of the years of my retirement, I have endeavored to reinvigorate my interest in the history of the select historical personalities and places-particularly in the more intimate region of the Punjab. My childhood interest in Sirhind was strongly reinforced when, during my posting to Pakistan in 1993, I had to facilitate the visit for a pilgrimage to the city by Prof. S Mojaddid, a former President of the Interim Govt. of Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal - the family claims 14 generations to have been buried there! The city with a significant strategic location has the most fascinating and absorbing history of the rise and fall of its rulers. The Ambala-Ludhiana-Sirhind section of the Delhi-Lahore railway line was opened on Oct.1, 1869.

Sirhind has turned a new page in its history with the recent establishment of excellent institutions of higher education including the Shri Guru Granth Sahib World University. A sort of personal history was made for me when, on 8th of November, 2011, the Acting Vice Chancellor, Dr Gurnek Singh, welcomed me to the University with a very special personal warmth and affection. He surprised me by telling me that he was my student in 1968 when I was a lecturer in the Govt. Rajindra College, Bhatinda. After the privilege of crisscrossing the continents representing India in distant alien lands, it is a very special soulful delight to rediscover the deeper eternal roots of friendship and love in the soils nearer home!

The learning - and teaching - of the History of India with a balanced and dispassionate approach is a great challenge. The average individual in society rightly seems to consider the past dead and gone; and the future all day dreaming! It is, therefore, all in the present and near future which is relevant for thought and action. But our battles in the present are often fought over the different versions the past and visions of the future. When I remember the school books and the teachers, so many live images flash before my mind's eye. Alexander, the great, impressed us as students as the most mesmerizing figure of the earlier era. Ashok and Akbar seemed to define the essence of India. Whatever may his later day critics say, for most of my generation Jawaharlal Nehru certainly qualifies to be called the architect of modern India.


The history is continuously in the process of being re-evaluated; the state-craft is such a gigantic entity ­- the search for the total and un-alloyed truth in the affairs of the state would remain a noble pursuit. The pursuit of power and the greed for riches would seem to know no limits - the truth for the cash loads for votes in the Parliament House gets more and more mysterious! The Right to Information has been emerging as an interesting search-light to illuminate deeply hidden dark spots in the files of current history.

Let us hope for better times ahead in terms of truthful history.

References to this article

  • This article was included in the collection "India of the Past, Preserving memories of India and Indians"

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Megha Rajdootam - December 2002

The following magazine, Megha Rajdootam - मेघ राजदूतम् - The Cloud Envoy, Vol. 1 No. 2, was published for the High Commission of India in New Zealand in December 2002.

Cover Page of Megha Rajdootam, December 2002
Cover Page of Megha Rajdootam, December 2002

Message from the High Commissioner

Opening Lines ... 'Runs' of Memories

If someone is asked, 'What is the connection between cricket and a High Commissioner?', the answer would be, 'Ambassadors are called High Commissioners in the countries where cricket is a popular sport.' A similarly intriguing question for an Indian cricket fan would be, 'Who was the English cricketer to be the High Commissioner of India to Australia and New Zealand in 1950-53?' Well, the gentleman was Prince K.S. Dilipsinhji, the nephew of legendary cricketer Ranjitsinhji of Nawanagar, who had played for England against Australia.

Looking back to my early years at school, I vividly recall how the climbing of the Everest by Sherpa Tenzing and Edmund Hillary on 29th May, 1953 had been one of the most impressionable event for me. Again, it was the visit of the New Zealand cricket team to India in 1955 which opened vistas of the great game for me. I can exactly recall the tall scores made by the legendary New Zealand opener Bert Sutcliffe and the brilliant all-rounder John Reid. The headlines in the sports columns of English and Hindi dailies flash before my eyes. I do remember how the young and old in my town used to be glued to the radio sets - the running commentary was almost inaudible due to the continuously disturbing sound similar to the thunders of the monsoon clouds! The interest in the game continued to multiply, thanks to the brilliant coverage of international cricket in the Indian press.

Cricket has been sought to be explained as a sport which is played much more intensely in the minds of the spectators and also its remarkable resemblance to human life. The five-day tests were indeed perceived to represent the whole range of agonies and ecstasies of a lifetime. There could always be a chance of a positive turn; one had to grab all the possible chances; the batsman had to treat every ball on its merit; the bowler had to be brave hearted and tactful enough to tempt the batsman to mistime a shot. Above all, it was always the team effort which brought victory. In the typical context in India, cricket proved a great social equalizer.

The one-day version of the game has imparted a new vigour, dynamism and an explosive character to cricket. The slogan, 'Hit out or get out!', by the fatigued and bored spectators of the five-day rituals has been finally accepted. Cricket has blossomed in the deserts of Dubai and more nations across the continents seem to be falling a prey to a game earlier described as, 'the British disease'.

It is indeed significant that India, with its formidable batting strength, arrives in New Zealand in time for the much needed practice before the World Cup championship in South Africa. The Indian 'tigers' have been notorious roaring more on the home turf - hope they maintain their recent form of displaying a highly competitive game. The two teams are expected to ensure the triumph of the game.

I and my family have decided to herald the New Year, 2003, watching the 3rd ODI in Christchurch. Let us hope, pray and dream that this match would be the pre-play of the World Cup final!

I may confess that it was the interest in Cricket ignited by the visit of the first ever Kiwi team to India that put a shy lad from a tiny town of India on a path that has taken him to the position of the High Commissioner of India to New Zealand.

The list of those to be thanked for their generous support for this publication is a tall score - NZ Cricket Inc. and NZ Museum for providing rare photographs; contributors of special messages; Prof. R. Guha and the prestigious Indian weeklies - India Today and Outlook - for authorising utilisation of the invaluable material/photos published earlier. M/s Thames have indeed experienced the pressure of an ODI in timely bringing out this issue of Megha Rajdootam.

Bal Anand
High Commissioner of India to New Zealand
Concurrently accredited to Samoa, Nauru and Kiribati

Table of Contents

Opening Lines... 'Runs' of Memory2
My Cricket 'Affairs' with IndiaJohn R. Reid, O.B.E.3
Cricket Encounters of the Indian KindR. Guha4-5
Maharajas of CricketR. Guha6
J.L. Nehru - A 'Complete' Cricketer7
The Spirit of CricketMartin Snedden8
The Square RectangleTimeri N. Murari9
Dev... Devil... DivinitySyed Kirmani10-11
India - New Zealand Cricket - An Overview12-13
John Wright - A 'Kiwi Dronacharya'...Don Neely, M.B.E.14-15
Tales and Travails of a Cricketer's WifeSukhi Turner16
An 'Indian-Kiwi' RemembersDipak Patel17
A Famous Kiwi VictoryAmit Paliwal18
India's Best of the Century19
India in New Zealand, 2002-0320

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bharat Sandesh - January 2002

The following magazine, भारत सन्देश - The Indian HeraldԱԶԴԱՐԱՐ ՀՆԴԿԱՍՏԱՆԻ Vol. III No. 1, was published for the new Embassy of India in Armenia in January 2002.

Cover Page of Bharat Sandesh, January 2002
Cover Page of Bharat Sandesh, January 2002

Ambassador's Page

It is with great pleasure and satisfaction that the Embassy of India in Armenia releases the third issue of its Journal, Azdarar Handkastani, i.e. Bharat Sandesh. We have been immensely encouraged by the deep interest in and appreciative obervations on the contents and layout of the first two issues by the dignitaries and distinguished readers in Armenia and India. I may particularly quote H. H. Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of  All Armenians who, in his inspiring message of blessings for the last issue, pointed out that, "The word Azdarar transports us to the close of the 18th century when one of the devotees of the Armenian Church, Priest Harutiun Shmavonian, published the first ever Armenian journal with the same title in India from 1794 to 1796. We are confident that the magazine, 'Azdarar Handkastani' will become the herald of centuries-old friendship and cultural interaction between the people of two countries".

It may be stated that the first issue released in December, 2000 underlined the various parameters of the historical friendship between India and Armenia culminating in the new epoch with the establishment of the resident diplomatic Missions in Yerevan and New Delhi. The second issue celebrated the silver jubilee of the memorable visit of friendship to Armenia in June '76 by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and also the release of Armenian edition of epic Mahabharat. The present issue, while further elaborating on the landmarks of historical relations of friendship between the two countries, particularly dwells upon the various significant events of the recent past.

As regards, various manifestations of India-Armenia relations, the second session of India-Armenia Inter-Governmental Commission Meeting/Foreign Office Consultations held in Yerevan on July 25-27, 2001 has been prominently covered. A comprehensive protocol identifying specific projects of various sectors of mutual interest including information technology, seismology, pharmaceuticals, micro-enterprises, health and biomedical research, etc. while signed during this institutionalised meeting. An Agreement on Standardisation and Metrology was also  concluded.

I am glad to mention that the scheme of Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) has proved a great success with 18 Armenian nominees attending various training courses in India during 2001. The Reception Function of the 10th anniversary of Independence of Armenia was celebrated was celebrated as an important event in New Delhi with the prescence of the Vice President of India and other high dignitaries. Armenian troupe of dance and music, 'Akounk' was in India in November and presented highly successful performances in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Lastly, I would take this opportunity to mention that in March this year, the resident Embassy of India in Armenia will complete three years of its functioning. Looking back, the period has been full of such a satisfaction and pleasure for myself and the First team of my colleagues. Our tasks in Armenia have indeed been made so easier and pleasant by the deep feelings of friendship, warmth and admiration for India at all levels of the Government and people in Armenia.

Bal Anand
Ambassador of India to Armenia

Table of Contents

MessageH.E. Mr Vartan Oskanian4
Ambassador's Page5
Civilisations Never ClashPresident K.R. Narayanan6-7
A Vision for South AsiaP.M. A.B. Vajpayee8-9
Sarmad - an Armenian Sufi Poet of IndiaS.S. Hameed10-11
India-Armenia Relations: MilestonesManish Prabhat12
Events and Activities14
Highest Astronomical ObervatoryR. Rao15
Milk Miracle in IndiaDr. V. Kurien16-17
Nobel for NaipaulMadhu R. Sekher18
Land of AncestorsV.S. Naipaul19
Modern Indian AgricultureT.M. Chishti20-21
In Tune with Father's MelodyN.K. Sareen22-23
Indian Review24
Events and Activities25
India-Armenia Meeting in Yerevan26
India in 1700th Anniversary of Christianity in Armenia27
Events of Armenia in India28
Armenian Section
A Vision of Armenia in Madras; ԵՐԱԶԱՆՔՆԵՐՆ ԻՐԱԿԱՆԱՆՈՒՆ ԵՆ.David Zenian30-31
Armenians at Home in India; «ՀՆԴԿԱՍՏԱՆԸ ՄԻՇՏ ԷԼ ՀԱՅԵՐԻՍ ՀԱՄԱՐ ԲԱՐԵԿԱՄ ԵՎ ՀԱՐԱՁԱՏ ԵՐԿՒՐ Ւ»Sergei Yeritsian, MP32-33
Nutan - a Complete Actress; ՆՈԻՏԱՆԸ - ԱՆԶՈՒԳԱԿԱՆ ԴԵՐԱՍԱՆՈՒՀԻB.M. Malhotra34-35
India-Armenia Meeting in Yerevan36
When Dreams Dance; ԵՐԲ ՑԱՆԿՈՒԹՅՈՒՆՆ ԻՐԱԿԱՆԱՆՈՒՄ Է...Naira Shovgaryan37
Events and Activities39
An Evening of India in Yerevan40
Release of Mahabharat in Armenian; ՀԱՅԱՍՏԱՆԻ ՄԷՋ ԼՈՅՍ ՏԵՍԱՒ «ՄԱՀԱՊՀԱՐԱՏԱ» ԷՊՈՍԸ41
Gauhar Jan - Armenian Legend in India; ԻՄ ԱՆՈՒՆՆ Է ԳՈՀԱՐ ՋԱՆPran Neville44
Hindi Section
Ambassador's Page; राजदूत का पृष्ठ45
Gurudutt - A Talented Film Maker; गुरूदत्त - समर्पित और अतिसंवेदनशील फिल्मकारB.M. Malhotra46-47
Urdu - A Language of Love and Tolerance; उर्दू - प्रेम और सहिष्णुता की भाषाK.K. Khullar48
Gems of Urdu Poetry; उर्दू शायरी के रत्न49
Review - A Remarkable Repository of Ancient Texts; समीक्षा - प्राचीन ग्रंथों का एक उल्लेखनीय कोशHargulaal50

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Megha Rajdootham - August 2003

The following magazine, Megha Rajdootam - मेघ राजदूतम् - The Cloud Envoy, Vol. 2 No. 1, was published for the High Commission of India in New Zealand in August 2003.

Cover Page of Megha Rajdootam, August 2003
Cover Page of Megha Rajdootam, August 2003

Message from the High Commissioner

On Anniversary of Megha Rajdootam (August 2003)

It was with so much of circumspection verging on trepidation that this High Commission had ventured, on the last Independence Day Function, to bring out its maiden publication, Megha Rajdootam. The appreciative responses of esteemed readers have convinced us that the effort was worth undertaking.

The issue in your hands further dwells on the 'high' theme of the Himalaya to mark the Golden Jubilee of the First Ascent to Everest. The official visit of friendship to India by Sir Edmund and Lady June Hillary from May 20-22, 2003 indeed occasioned a festival of Himalayas.

The First Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in New Delhi on January 9-11, 2003 dealt with all aspects of the linkages of Indians abroad with Mother India. The material on this seminal subject would be of great interest to the Indian community, in the context of the institutionalization of the Divas as an annual event.

Recalling the activities of India-New Zealand friendship, I am glad to mention that Te Papa, National Museum of New Zealand, with fulsome involvement of the Indian Community, has put up a high quality exhibition, 'Indian Wedding'. We are privileged to devote a page in colour to this special event. Similarly, the Asia 2000 Foundation has adopted the festival of Diwali to be celebrated on a national scale. As if in a logical sequence, Ram Lila troupe of Shri Ram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, New Delhi is performing the epic drama in New Zealand this August/September.

A delegation of 23 members of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council/Assembly, led by Hon'ble K.N. Tripathi, Speaker visited New Zealand in October 2002. Admiral Madhavendra Singh, Chief of Indian Navy, was in New Zealand in November 2002. Hon'ble K.R. Rana, Minister of Textiles paid official visit to New Zealand in April 2003. There have been important visits from New Zealand also including that of Hon'ble Peter Hodgson, Minister of Energy and Forestry. Though the performance of the Indian cricket team in New Zealand turned out to be grossly below expectations, the Indian Tigers fought back and roared in the World Cup of this game of glorious uncertainties.

New Zealand has become a popular destination for location shooting by Bollywood film makers. Christchurch, Queenstown and the scenic places of South Island have become familiar to millions of Indian cine-goers. We are sure to hear soon about possible joint ventures among the global dream merchants like Peter Jackson and Sanjay Leela Bhansali!

To quote figures, India and New Zealand interestingly settled on a balanced trade figure for the first time ever at $192 million each between July 2001 and June 2002. India has emerged as an important resource country of skilled professionals for New Zealand. The sector of Information Technology holds promise for both sides. More Indian students are choosing New Zealand for quality education.

I have enjoyed my innings of 64 'over-weeks' to contribute to the scoreboard of India-New Zealand cooperation. I thank my colleagues for their valuable support towards realizing the goals of the High Commission.

Finally, in the context of this issue, I place on record my gratefulness to my distinguished friends - Judge Anand Satyanand, Prof. W.H. McLeod and Prof. Theo Roy - for their contribution of articles. The High Commission is grateful to the prestigious Indian weeklies 'India Today' and 'Outlook' for the permission to utilize their material and photographs. Similarly, thanks are due to the Hindi monthly 'Aajkal'. To Sir Edmund Hillary, words would not suffice to fathom our deepest gratitude, 'highest' inspiration and fullest access to photos from 'A View from the Summit'. I thank Indian Mountaineering Foundation for photos of Sir Edmund Hillary's latest visit to India. Thanks are, of course, due to M/s Thames Publications Ltd,. for quality and timely printing of this third issue of Megha Rajdootam, under the usual stresses and strains that go with the realization of such a creative endeavour.

Bal Anand
High Commissioner of India to New Zealand
Concurrently accredited to Samoa, Nauru and Kiribati

Megha Rajdootam, August 2003 - Table of Contents

More on Megha Rajdootam2
Vision for 2020Dr A.P.J. Kalam3-4
Ever-Evolving Canvas of IndiaA.B. Vajpayee6-7
India and the DiasporaYashwant Sinha8-9
Kailash - the Ultimate Himalayan PilgrimageT.S. Tirumurti10-11
First Ascent of Mt. EverestA.B. Vajpayee12
Welcome to India, Sir Edmund!13
Celebrating Indian Marriage14
At 'Home' among Friends15
India, More I Seek, More I FindVinod Khanna16-17
Truth - a Tangled WebShiv K. Kumar18-19
Punjab - Discovering Faith in HistoryW.H. McLeod, D.Litt.20-21
Garden of Delights - LucknowProf. Theo Roy22-23
Reflections on India's IndependenceAnand Satyanand24
Independence Day, 200225
Events in Pictures26
Glimpses of Indian Cricket Stars27
Meetings - Exploring more Co-operation with India28
In the Shadow of a SuperpowerManu Joseph & Sandipan Deb29-30
Devdas - Mystique of Tragic LoveB.M. Malhotra31-33
Esteemed Readers Write34-35
Books in a Nut-Shell36-37
Twinning of ArtHemant Sareen38
The Pathfinders39
Institutions of the Community40
Export-Import Policy 2003-4Arun Jaitley41-42
New Zealand Seismic Technology for India43
Tender NotesChild Poets44
Hindi Section
Indians Abroad; प्राक्कथनJ.C. Sharma; जे.सी. शर्मा45
Everest - An Eternal Challenge; कई ग्लेशियरों से उभरता विशाल पिरामिडीय आकार एवरेस्ट को अव्दितीय भव्यता प्रदान करता हैSuman Dubey; सुमन दुबे46
Let's Lit the Lamps Again; अटल जी की काव्य वानगीA.B. Vajpayee; अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी47
The Buddhist Heritage of Indian Art; भारतीय कला के प्रेरणा पुरुषJ. Chandrikesh; जगदीश चंद्रिकेश48-49
Earth, How Beautiful! इतनी तो प्यारी लगती है धरतीR.S. Prajapati; रविंद्र स्वप्निल प्रजापति50
Epitome of a Folk Song; एक लोकगीत का उपसंहारPrakash Manu; प्रकाश मनु51
A Distant Dawn - Poetry of Sahir Ludhianvi; सुबह का इंतजार कौन करे - साहिर लुधयानवी की शायरीR.S. Tiwari; राधेश्याम तिवारी 52

Friday, July 31, 2015

Missile Man - No more! May he rest in eternal peace

The finest product of the Syncretistic Culture of India.

I had firstly heard of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam some time in 1981 from my school time friend Dr CR Jagga who had then joined the Dept. of Chemistry, IIT Delhi.

After listening to Dr Kalam at some conference,  Dr Jagga was enthusiastically talking to me about this amazingly simple soul scientist - with a saintly serenity and a total dedication to his mission of  missile technology...

Dr Jagga - then 36+ had been simply mesmerised by an 'indefinable' magnetic charm of this 'gentleness personified' magician!

I had the privilege of 'Darshan' of this Maharishi of Vigyan from close proximity at the Republic Day reception in honour of President Putin in 2007.

At that reception I had also been privileged to talk to Marshal of Air Force Arjan Singh. Marshal had called his wife to talk to me when I had said, "Sir, on meeting you I feel as if I have met an incarnation of Arjuna of Mahabharat!"

I was also delighted to meet former Olympic hockey captain Zafar Iqbal & Swami Agnivesh the reception.

Long live an India of Kalam, Arjan, Zafar & Agnivesh !

I am glad that my letters of credentials as High Commissioner to Kiribati & Samoa - while resident in New Zealand - had been issued under President Kalam's signature.

I have the pleasure to attach a copy of the document

Salam to Kalam of India !!!
Credentials signed by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
Credentials signed by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam