Remembering Pash on birth anniversary-Pash@65

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    While 27-10-09 032

Beech ka Rasta Nahin Hota release-Triveni-Delhi-25-3-89 Paash book release audience-Delhi-25-3-89 Pash article-Pashyanti-Jan.-March 1994 (1)s

Sharing an old post,which gives a glimpse of how Pash became a literary icon in years to come after his assassination in 1988,initially some role was played by me also in organizing these functions at Jalandhar in 1989,1993,2000&2002,in which greatest personalities like Baba Nagarjun, Sujan Singh and Bhagat Singh Comrade Jaidev Kapoor and many Indian illustrious writers participated.But irony is that our leftist political holders of Pash Trust now dont extend even an invitation to me to attend its annual function,as happened this year,when after long gap of many years Pash trust was able to gather large audience by inviting Arundhati Roy,who might have read Pash poetry in my translation,yet the man who did his best to bring Pash on international literary map,was not even invited for the function!

When Pash was martyred by Khalistani terrorists on 23rd March 1988 at his village Talwandi Salem, family was in no position to take care of his literary treasure, which was in his Chaubarha-upper floor room of his home at village. Many people started visiting his house, mostly leftist activists and few of them lifted the writings of Pash from his chaubarah, may be telling family members, but making no itinerary of the poems/writings/published documents lifted from there, it was a kind of irresponsible grabbing of assassinated poet’s  literary treasure. Some of the poems appeared in some volumes later with somebody’s name appearing as editor. Honest conduct would had been to keep all the things in Pash’s house, listing and handing over family to take care till some arrangement could be made by his comrades/friends. Later perhaps same year Pash memorial International Trust came into existence with initial five members-Gursharn Bhaji, Mohinder Singh Jathebandi from India, Avtar from UK, Harsharn Singh Dhido(Pash’brother in law) and Surinder Dhanjal from Canada. Surinder Dhanjal was assigned the duty of convener of trust. The whole literary treasure of Pash should have been transferred to Pash trust, which could have published it in a befitting manner. Pash trust in early years focused on organizing two Pash memorial functions-Birth anniversary-9th September as ‘Kavita Divas’, suggested by Amarjit Chandan and adopted as such by trust. 23rd March-martyrdom day was arranged at village Talwandi Salem, I attended one function there. Now no one calls 9th September as Kavita Divas or Poetry Day!  The first ever function on 9th September  1989 was organised by me on behalf of trust at Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall Jalandhar, which was a grand success. After few years five thousand rupees Pash memorial award was started and some good Punjabi writers got this award like Santoskh Singh Dhir, Surjit Patar etc. Some awards got controversial, then award scheme was discontinued.

Few early years after Pash’s assassination were like explosion of writings on Pash. Gianranjan brought out Pehl special Pash issue in 1988 itself in Hindi from Jabalpur, to which I contributed a lot.My translation of Pash poetry in Hindi was published by Rajkamal prakashan and released on 25th March 1989 at Delhi by Com Satyapal Dang, in which many eminent Hindi writers participated. Amarjit Chandan came out with Pash poems collection ‘Khilre Hoe Varke’. This momentum continued for many years as in 1993 and 2000 major Indian writers came over to Jalandhar to pay tributes to Pash on birth anniversary functions. However after 2000 things changed. Pash Trust itself was facing controversies. Mohinder Singh Sandhu Jathebandi had passed away. There was concerted effort to control Pash trust by certain individuals and a political group, with whom Pash sympathized, but remained critical of overall conduct of Comrades like in his long poem-Comarade naal galbaat-Conversations with Comrades. Those who had sincerely worked to preserve and promote Pash’s poetry and ideas, were never recognized or respected like Bharat Bhushan. On the contrary certain people pushed their names with the work done solely by Pash’s father Sohan Singh Sandhu, by forcing themselves as joint editors with Sandhu Sahib. After passing away of Gursharn Bhaji, now Pash trust has been made multi member with none of Pash’s old friends or comrade associated with it. Many of trust members have written nothing or little on Pash, some have just pushed their names to work done by Pash’s father. In this situation, inviting Arundhati Roy was an attempt to restore or save the falling reputation of Pash Trust. Audience was expected to come to listen Arundhati Roy, but how much Pash poetry/writings or ideas are promoted by trust, only time will tell. Meanwhile I remember Pash fondly and cherish my association with Pash family.

‘Virtual’ Vs./and Real World!

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Life these days has become too complex. Twenty first century has really changed the life styles of people, at least of educated urban middle class radically. Unimaginable things have happened, what even Rahul Sankartytyan did not imagine in 22nd Century-Baisvin Sadi, have come in advance in 21st century, just in first fifteen years. Though the seeds of change were getting matured in last decade of twentieth century.

First major change came with mobile phones. Although mobiles came up in last decade of last century, these became a necessity in 21st century. I avoided to have mobile till 2002, some of my friends avoided even till recently, a few still avoid it. Computer or internet was the other major impact on life. In last two decades of 20th century, Television was the major impact on social life. In India, when colour television came in 1982 in India, and then came a number of serials, which made people remain glued to television sets, that was the time of change in life styles!  It has affected the reading habits of people, which was considerably reduced in favour of television serials/programms. People’s socialising habits were not affected in first phase of TV expansion, as number of television sets was not high, rather it increased socialising for a while as it was community or Mohalla watching of television in few houses, which had television sets. It was particularly true about serials like Hum Log, Ramayna and Mahabharta.

Mobile phones affected life in different way, connectivity with friends-relatives-acquaintances became fast, and it affected normal postal channels of writing letters to each other. Mobile and internet connectivity expanded almost simultaneously in first decade of 21st century. I did not had any computer or email id till 2004 and it took long time to get used to email communication. Internet connectivity first exposed to websites and initially people were creating their websites with payments. Later development of blogs decreased dependence on paid websites and people created their blogs in huge numbers. Wikipedia was another internet discovery which was used by people in millions to create pages. Internet expansion or IT growth was phenomenal in years to come and social sites phenomenon started with Orkut in early years of 21st century and went up to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn like more popular sites, though number of these sites is too high, yet Facebook has covered one out of seven persons on this earth! This was almost a revolution in inter-people connectivity at universal level and people found long lost friends and contacts through Facebook. Along sides social and knowledge sites, the biggest expansion was of porn sites during all these times, perhaps having more viewers than other sites world over. Mail connectivity outlived its usage in shorter time giving way to mobile sms and now to WhatsApp. Email connectivity now seems archaical  and postal service remains confined to magazines, official letters etc. Telegraph service has already become a thing of the past.

This information technology explosion has shaken so called moral value systems world over and it has particularly hit feudal values of so called ‘purity’ in man-woman or sexual relationships. Sites like Ashley Madison have exposed middle class hypocrisy of fidelity in marital relations and open invitation to ‘cheating’ in marital relations with extra-marital affairs, which include thousands of accounts from India. On social sites like Facebook where men and women freely interact with each other, it has given women more freedom to express herself and assert her identity. Facebook like sites have contributed to democratisation between man woman relations, which had feudal control in Asian and Arab countries particularly. Facebook friendships may have certain cheating instances also, leading even to rapes and murders, but these are exceptions and because of some carelessness. Largely it has opened the window for both men and women to interact freely. Although virtual world ‘friendship’ is very slippery and fluid, yet it has brought men and women closer to each other without the formal bonding of couples, brother-sister, father-daughter or other relational bindings. It has expanded the scope of human relationships to newer paths and helped them get out of social or self-suppression. If one could make study of Facebook account holders inbox communication study, which is little difficult to do, because of privacy setting of people, one would have startling results to see. The whole edifice of single man-single woman relationship will look like a hollow house, where as men and women from unknown territories falling into deep friendships, even love or at least good human communicators will look like a reality, may be just at ‘virtual’ level, but line between ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ looks thin, even when people without any chance of meeting each other in real life exchange such warm feelings, concerns and solidarity that it may give them great solace.

In earlier times, people used to dream and in many people’s lives those beautiful dreams became a life sustaining support, even when none of the dream got actualised in life. In earlier times, letter writing to far away people in different countries was another way of warm human sharing of feelings and ideas, which in many cases never brought a chance for them to actually meet in life. Their mutual letters gave them great consolation, satisfaction and inspiration in their lives, which looked bit better than without those warm exchanges. What social media of 21st century has done, it has reduced the distance of world and made people close to each other at far ends. Sitting in different countries, even when not meeting physically people interact with each other on Skype, almost seeing and speaking the closest possible life of each other, except just touching. Virtual world of today is like dream world of the past. What one dreamt in past, is possible for them now in virtual world, yet something is away from real world.

I have made many friends in virtual world, some of them even met later in real world at USA, Venezuela, UK, and they proved as true, warm and real as they looked in ‘Virtual’ world of Facebook. Many more in other countries are having such interactions that one looks for occasions to meet them in one’s own country or their country or anywhere else in world!  Virtual world interactions make people realise their potentials, temperaments and desire to make friendships, which was very limited before the advent of ‘Virtual’ world! But perhaps like living in dream world was taking people away from harsh reality around, so is perhaps indulging too much in ‘Virtual’ world also make people asocial. A family in present world interacts with each other from their rooms in single house on laptops/mobiles, rather than getting together in common room of family or even at dining table. At even dining tables, people are found fiddling with mobiles most of time, rather than talking/conversing to each other. Like earlier Coffee House revolutionaries, new terms like Facebook revolutionaries have also got evolved, as people share the most radical thoughts but all the time sitting at Facebook, and not joining any protest march physically on street! So new technologies make world easy but very complex, people from whole world are brought at one’s door, yet people at door goes far away from each other, drowning themselves in mobile screens. They like photographs of their loved ones on screen, rather than spending time with their real physical entities! Not strange that even people’s interest in real sex life has given way to indulging in ‘Virtual’ world in beds! Aldous Huxely wrote ‘Brave New World’ and Rahul Samkartyayan Baisivin Sadi-these are now present in ‘Virtual’ world of today!

Lecture on Four Decades after Emergency at Bathinda-31st July

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31st July is Shaheed Udham Singh’s martyrdom day and Association for Democratic Rights, Punjab (AFDR-Punjab) decided to hold lecture on ‘Four Decades after Emergency’ to mark the day. Idea was to focus upon the dangers of recent times, which remind people of Emergency days of 1975-77. I had long association with AFDR-Jamhoori Adhikar Sabha in Punjab since its inception in 1979, when I joined its founding conference at PAU Ludhiana in 1979, where I came as part of People’s Union for Democratic Rights(PUDR), Delhi delegate along with Subba Rao, Sudesh Vaid, both no more alive now. Dr. Dharamvira Dv Gandhi was elected founder General Secretary of AFDR at that time. Later on my association continued and I attended many of its meeting at Andhra Pradesh and Bombay to form an all India organisation of Democratic Rights Organisation(AIFODRO), which continued for few years. OPDR(Andhra Pradesh), Lokshahi Hakk Sanghtna(LHS), Bombay, and an Odisa democratic rights organisation were other units of this all India organisation. After I joined Punjabi University as faculty member in 1985, I was elected to its district and state executive for one term. I had joined all India team for fact finding team during terrorism days in Punjab of AIFOFDR) also. However in 1989 or so, differences cropped up with state leadership and I withdrew from organisation. AFDR brought out a highly controversial report on Punjabi University Patiala incidents in 2002 and it refused to publish my rejoinder to that report, so much for its ‘democratic’ conduct of itself! So when AFDR Bathinda President Bagga Singh extended an invitation to deliver a lecture on this occasion, I was little surprised. He is Vice President of state unit of AFDR also. I checked up with him that does he know that past bitter exchanges of me with AFDR. He assured that Bathinda unit of AFDR has taken this decision after full deliberations to invite me only for this function. One reason being that I had spent seven months in Bathinda prison during emergency and there are few among all leadership of AFDR, who had seen the inside of jails. So I went to deliver the lecture and spoke for about one hour 20 minutes, later lively discussion also took place on issues raised by me-of saffronization of education, of land acquisition bill, of police atrocities, of judicial arbitrariness in decisions etc. Other participants included Pro. Aminder Singh, Principal Bagga Singh, Randhir Gillpatti, Sudeep Singh and Shirin and many more through their queries and comments. I was presented with memento by AFDR Bathinda with Shaheed Udham Singh profile on it. Next day’s report in Punjabi Tribune focused mainly on Yakub Menon’s execution, undermining all other major issues, which was little upsetting for me. Not much media reports came up of the function, perhaps some among AFDR leadership, who may not be happy at invitation to me for delivering the lecture, saw to it that the event is suppressed in the media at least!