Refreshing memories of Indian Institute of Advanced Study Shimla

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I wished to write about Indian Institute of Advanced Study Shimla in some detail.I might have been visiting Shimla many times in the past, since it is a well known hill station, but it was only after 1990,my association with the institute started. I do not have a sharp memory, however sometimes in 1991 or so, on a visit to Shimla, I came to see Viceregal lodge as a tourist.Impressed by its grandeur, also knowing about its reputation as an academic institute of excellence, since the days of Nihar Ranjan Ray,its founder Director, though it has gone ups and downs later. Probably I met Ashok Sharma, courteous PRO of the institute, who gave me a form for ‘Associate’, also for ‘fellowship’.I think I filled Associate form and sent through my then University-Punjabi University Patiala.I was pleasantly surprised to join here in June 1992 for one month as associate, which could be further availed for two more months in two years.June was a privileged month for Shimla.I got a room in Public Entry then, if I remember correctly.Prof. J.S.Grewal, former Vice Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar and a renowned historian was Director of the institute and he was trying to get it back to its glory. That was the year, when Jaidev, Prof. of English in H P university Shimla, Satya Pal Gautam, then teaching in Panjab University Chandigarh ,J D Sethi a senior economist like people were fellows here,later Prof. Randhir Singh also joined.It was a warm atmosphere here.Associates were not generally making presentations then, only on their own request, they were invited to make presentation.That year i made presentation on Punjabi poet Paash, who was assassinated by Khalistanis in 1988.That year Rajan, now Professor in Pondichery University also made presentation on Dwarka.With that started my long association with the institute, which i started liking for its cool ambiance and academic atmosphere after JNU and Teenmurthi of Delhi.Next year in 1993, I came perhaps in October and made presentation on Rahul Sankartyayan.During my stay this time I was interviewed for Reader’s post in Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar and got selected too.Dr. Pankaj Singh from English deptt. of HP University Shimla was working on Punjabi drama.Under the leadership of Prof. jaidev, who enjoyed immense respect in institute,this year we pleaded with Prof. Grewal to invite Bhisham Sahni, eminent Hindi writer, to institute as Writer in residence.The request was accepted and Bhisham and Shiela ji came to institute to spend few years. In 1994,autocratic Vice Chancellor of GNDU Amritsar Gurdeep Singh Randhawa, neither allowed me to spend a month at IIAS Shimla, even though it was binding for him from UGC to sanction duty leave. I was even stopped by him to go to England to present paper on a international seminar of Punjab by that Vice Chancellor in 1994, though I was being paid TA by sponsors of the seminar.I could avail my third term as associate at shimla perhaps in 1996, when I was back to Punjabi University Patiala, after spending two years at Amritsar.By that time Prof Mrinal Miri, soft spoken gentle scholar from North east has taken over as Director.he was friend of common friend Swarajbir, Punjabi poet, a medical doctor in Indian Pol lice service.We organized young writers of Hindi, Punjabi and English meet in his term Also organized four days national seminar on Dalit and Black:Some issues in October 1997.By far this is the most pleasant experience in my life of organizing an academic seminar with all the best facilities in IIAS Shimla.Writers like Sharan Kumar Limbale came to participate. Krishna Sobti, another eminent Hindi writer has joined as Writer in Residence.She is bold in writing and in her assertion also and a warm host. There were lot of parties in her Postmaster’s bungalow on institute.Now 85, she is a typical Punjabi woman of pre partition Punjab’s Gujrat district.Those times were really most pleasant at institute.My edited book in Hindi on this Black-Dalit seminar was published by institute in 2001.I kept on coming to institute till 2000, then came a long break.In between came to shimla and stayed at Punjabi University Patiala’s guest house,while visiting institute in those years in 2003 perhaps, was shocking. Murli Manohar Joshi’s lectures in Hindi were displayed on new book displays counter. Murlai Joshi, so called Professor of Physicas at Allahabad University, has the worst image of claiming salary without teaching there for 18 years and known for safforanisation of education as MHRD misiter during NDA regime. He had made the institute again a mess. During UPA regime institute revived somewhat and now it has good scholar Dr. Peter D’Souza as its director.Now atmosphere again seems to be back to academic excellence, but found courtesy and warmth somewhat declining.
I am almost now in the last week of my assignment here and have to consult lot many books yet,may not be able to consult all.Was happy to get many old books, which I was searching since years. I did not go out for sight seeing in temptation of books, still not visited Mall, the most attractive spot of shimla. More than literature, this time my attention is on books about history,ideology and language.I have visited Rabinder Nath Tagore’s rented house in 1893 near the institute and hope to visit Amrita Shergill resided house in Summer Hills, again close to institute. Hope to see Tagore father’s house near Himachal Assembly, on way to the Mall.One of grand daughter of revolutionary Durga Bhabhi lives in shimla, may one day go and see her.

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Update on Punjabi Chair in JNU

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Some encouraging responses have come to my article in ‘The Tribune’-‘Why No Punjabi Chair in JNU?’, published on 12th February.Most pleasant was to receive mail from Ujjal Dosanjh, former Premier British Columbia state of Canada and still member of Canada’s parliament.He sought phone numbers of Punjabi background Central ministers of India to personally phone them for Punjabi Chair in JNU.I could send what was available on Govt. of India’s website. I am sure Sh. Dosanjh would have played his role to influence Indian ministers in this regard.Other pleasant surprise came in the form of copy of letter from Sh. Pawan Kumar Bansal, central minister for water resources and parliamentary affairs, coming from Tapa Mandi of Sangrur district in Malwa.Just 15 kilometers from my birthplace Rampura Phul in Bathinda district of Malwa. I had impressed upon him,in response to his new year greetings that Tapa-Rampura Phul from Malwa should play a role in establishing Punjabi chair in JNU during my term as Chairperson of Centre of Indian languages in JNU, which will be over by this July.Sh. Bansal sent the letter to Kapil Sibal, minister for human resources to favorably consider the request.Tarlochan Singh Rajya Sabha member had already written to Sh. Sibal in this regard.And newly nominated member and till recent tribune editor H K Dua has also committed support for this cause.Punjabi tribune also carried Yadvinder karfew’s article in this connection.
It was also conveyed to me that Dr. Sutinder singh Noor,Vice President Central Sahitya Akademi, raised this issue forcefully in Punjabi University Patiala seminar organized by world Punjabi centre there, in the presence of Manpreet singh Bada, most sensible finance minister in Punjab government.Manpreet Badal committed funds for Punjabi chair at JNU.Later Dr. Noor himself phoned me in Shimla to ask for papers in this regard, which I mailed to Amarjit Grewal and Manpreet Badal.
With these positive developments, let us hope that Punjabi Chair should come up in JNU in near future.

My Name is Khan-A Democratic-humanist, patriotic and nationalist film

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These days I am able to see films only with my daughter at laptop or computer.I wanted to see Shahrukh Khan’s .My Name is Khan.,so saw last night.Overall it is a good film.A simple Muslim boy Rizwan Khan, given good education by his mother and an old teacher reaches USA.He is honest , truthful , physically and mentally scared and believes as her mother told him-there are only two categories of people-either good or bad.No other category of Hindu,Muslim,Sikh or Christian etc. As a devout Muslim,he performs Namaz anywhere at the given time.His younger brother is a successful businessman in states and he falls in love with divorcee Mandira, mother of grown up boy and they happily marry.9/11 in USA brings misery in his life too,his son is killed in racial attack and he wants to meet US President to seek justice and he keeps on shouting-‘My Name is Khan and I am not a terrorist’. He is arrested and tortured by US police as the scenes are in ‘Khuda ke Liye’ as well.Islamic fundamentalist Dr. Faiyaz tries to incite Muslims,but Khan resist his actions, even by informing intelligence.He is proved innocent and released and he goes to help poor black people in Georgia during floods calamity.Ultimately US President ,a shadow of Obama himself, invites him, so the film ends on positive note,though unrealistic optimism.
There is a bit of Hindi film sentimentality and it is not as arty as Khuda ke liye,yet it has appeal to the heart.Thackery-Togadiya’s attack on film is understandable-A Muslim character, being too good human being, then marrying a Hindu divorcee,proving himself to be better and doting husband,giving full space to her religious faith, opposing Muslim fundamentalism ,getting himself murderous attack from a Muslim jehadi and surviving to be united with his estranged Hindu wife,exposing US torture machine, as is Indian one,not much different-how a fascist mind could swallow this much of democratic film!Film is influenced by Khuda ke Liye, and Shahrukh has somewhat created his own character as mixture of Taare Zameen Par +Paa, which shows that he lacks originality like Amir Khan,yet he understands the nerve of his audience.
The film is much better than the daily trash being shown,but in my view Thackerys, Togadias and Narender Modis are real stinking communal rots, making Indian society polluted by their stink. If Chidambaram has any guts,let him take action against such anti-national traitors to society,people and country.I dare call Thackerys, Togadias and Narender Modis anti national and traitors,because they try to destroy the real idea of Indian nation as perceived by people like Gandhi,Nehru, Ambedkar,Subhash Bose and Bhagat Singh,which is a multi religious,multi cultural, multi lingual, multi ethnic nation and country.Every group or community or individual in this country has equal rights and no group or community be it majority Hindu or anyone else, has any special rights over others and have right to call themselves as more ‘nationalist’ than ‘others’, in fact by doing so they perform the role of anti national and commit treachery to this plural society.Narender Modi controlled mobs can kill Muslims at will with Police kept at bay to help the killer goons. Chidambarams controlled forces of this country can kill poor adivasis in plenty but dare not face these traitors squarely!Chidambaram has to decide that whether he accepts Gandhi-Nehru and constitutional idea of Indian nation or Golwalkar’s ideas of a fascist and unconstitutional nation?

Scanning some rare Books

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I am mad after old and rare books and feel excited when find one.Keep on noting the titles in my notebook for years and keep on searching in libraries.Indian Institute of Advanced Study Shimla’s library is quite rich in this matter.Was searching for Sedition committee report since years and lo! I found the 1918 British colonial Govt. published first edition here,priced one anna or so.Scanning it between the lines,one can read it as early history of Indian revolutionary movement against British colonial regime.There are lot of pre partition publications from Lahore here,including Sarojini Naidu quoted Jinnah: Symbol of Hindu-Muslim unityI am mad after old and rare books and feel excited when find one.Keep on noting the titles in my notebook for years and keep on searching in libraries.Indian Institute of Advanced Study Shimla’s library is quite rich in this matter.Was searching for Sedition committee report since years and lo! I found the 1918 British colonial Govt. published first edition here,priced one anna or so.Scanning it between the lines,one can read it as early history of Indian revolutionary movement against British colonial regime.There are lot of pre partition publications from Lahore here,including Sarojini Naidu quoted Jinnah: Symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity

Remembering Franz Fanon

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Scanning books on Franz Fanon in Indian Institute of Advanced Study Shimla library,noted his words in my notebook–‘We are nothing on earth,if we are not in the first place,the slaves of a cause,the cause of the people,the cause of justice and liberty’.
Born on 20 June 1925, this radical African nationalist lived a life of just 36 years,died in USA on 6th December 1961,where he went unwillingly for treatment and USA almost killed him by denying him crucial treatment and interrogating for ten days.Known more for his ‘Wretched of the Earth’ with introduction by Sartre, his other books, not available these days, are no less important.These are ‘Black Skin White Masks(1952),’Studies In Dyeing Colonialism'(1961) and ‘Towards an African Revolution'(1964),published by Monthly Review Press.Where do we find such committed and dedicated personalities now?

Train To Shimla

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Traveled from Delhi to Shimla on 3rd March to join as Associate for the month of March at Indian Institute of Advanced Study Shimla.Journey from Kalka to Shimla through hills,crossing many tunnels is very pleasant.Took this journey after more than a decade. I stayed in Institute last in 2000. On the way read Yasmin Khan’s much appreciated book The Great Partition.. in Hindi Translation.Translation isĀ  OK,but grave errors at places.Book has been written with rigrous research and I also liked at a lot.Noted references of more than fifty books on partition from the book and later searched these in Institute library,found many.This Institute is one of the most favorite place for me, about which I shall write later .For the moment few photographs from my mobile camera of the train journey..

Tara Devi station

Summer Hill station

Summer Hill station