Professor Chaman Lal (Retired) Dated:–22ND November 2017
Professor& Former Chairperson
Centre of Indian Languages (SLL&CS)
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi-110067
Fellow (Senator), Panjab University Chandigarh
Former Visiting Professor, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad Tobago
Former Professor Head, Comparative Literature/Punjabi, CUP, Bathinda
Former President JNUTA
Subject: Regarding Dyal Singh College Name Change issue
Dear Professor Yogesh Tyagi,
I am writing this open letter to you at a considerable risk to your career, as a letter written in utmost social concern from a former JNU colleague, can put you in bit embarrassing position, even if you ignore or reject it. As the socio-cultural atmosphere of Indian society, having reflection on educational institutions has been vitiated so much by certain forces in society, now ruling the country, that any talk of reason has become almost impossible. Yet I am taking this risk to make you aware of the certain facts regarding the controversy of Dyal Singh College (Evening) to be renamed as ‘Vande Matram College’ (morning), while functioning from the same building.
In this respect I wish to bring certain facts to your notice, as I understand that Management Committee of Dayal Singh College with common President for both morning and evening college, is bent upon changing the name of evening college to Vande Matram College as morning college and the matter has been referred to affiliating University of the college for approval, which is Delhi University itself. In fact as the history of the college explains that Dayal Singh college was set up by Dayal Singh Trust and which was continuation of Dayal Singh Trust from its origin Lahore, where the Dayal College already existed and continue till date, which I myself visited in year 2008, when I as JNU Teachers Association(JNUTA) President had gone for a conference invited by All Pakistan University Teachers Federation and Peshawar University Teachers Association, along with four other colleagues from JNU-Dr. M M Kunju(Then JNUTA Secretary), Prof. Khwaja Ekram and Dr. Raman Sinha from CIL and Prof. Akhlaque Ahan from Centre for Persian Studies. The front pictures of Dayal Singh College whose name is now changed to Govt. Dayal Singh College Lahore and other Dayal Singh named institutions in Lahore are attached with this letter.
- The decision of Dayal Singh College Delhi management committee to change name of the reshaped morning college as Vande Matram has invited strong resentment from various quarters in Delhi and Punjab. Delhi MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa has protested very strongly on the change of the name of the college, though he is part of Akali-BJP political alliance in Delhi and Punjab and the gentleman who is heading Dayal Singh college management committee is from BJP, which probably has been nominated as Chairman of committee from your office. There was a time when only academician’s used to be nominated as Chairmen of College managements by Delhi University! Apart from MLA Manjinder Singh, many teachers and student activists from College and Delhi University itself are opposing and protesting against name change, yet Chairman and Principal of college are paying no attention to the views of these important sections of society.
- In Punjab also this unthoughtful decision of Chairman is giving rise to great resentment. Lok Sabha member from Patiala Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi and few student organizations have criticized this decision. Many intellectuals/Advocates and writers have also condemned this move of College Chairman. The most significant daily of the region founded by Dyal Singh Majithia himself in Lahore from 1881-The Tribune has not only written a strongly worded editorial to oppose this decision, it has carried many reports and articles to show how irrational and provocative this decision is for Punjabi people who love their heritage in the form of personality of Dyal Singh Majithia-the great philanthropist, visionary and promoter of modern education, Banking and journalism in pre-partition Punjab, whose legacy continues even today in Delhi, Karnal and Chandigarh in particular.
- Dyal Singh Trust society itself, which is running Dyal Singh College Karnal and which gifted this college to Delhi University in 1978, after running it from 1959-almost for two decades, is feeling betrayed and offended at this decision of present Chairman of the college which is now managed by University of Delhi itself as University College.
- I wish that as Vice Chancellor of the University to know and understand the reasons behind this reaction of the Punjabi community at large, so that before taking any decision to approve or reject the name change decision of College Chairman, you are able to see its pros and cons and I am sure that you will not approve any such unthoughtful decision of management, which is not in the larger interest of the higher education and harmony of Indian society.
- The reasons behind such strong reactions from Punjab and Delhi are based on Punjabi people’s pride in its heritage in the form of contribution of Dyal Singh Majithia to Punjab’s enlightenment, which can be equaled only to Ram Mohan Roy’s contribution to Bengali society’s enlightenment. And this change of college name in the place contributed by Dyal Singh Trust to DU, looks immoral, illegal, politically motivated and as an insult to the great son of Punjab and Punjab’s heritage. In fact Punjab Government in Pakistan has not only preserved the heritage of Dyal Singh by retaining its name on College and library, it promoted it further by setting up Dyal Singh Research Foundation in Lahore a decade ago or so. While a so-called religious-Islamic state preserves the common pre-partition Punjab heritage and a ‘secular’ republic Indian state tries to demolish that heritage by changing the name of the great man of history! What an irony. Read The Tribune stories, how India would be ridiculed by such unthoughtful decisions in Asia and the world in field of education.
http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/editorials/renaming-legacy/500835.html (Editorial-21st November)
Punjab Chief Minister has also condemned the name change in his tweet-
Strongly oppose renaming of Dyal Singh College as #vandemataramcollege. Founder Dyal Singh Majithia was a progressive visionary. We should preserve his great legacy instead of indulging in petty name changing games.
To dwell a bit further on the issue. After partition in 1947-48, a Camp college was set up under Panjab University jurisdiction to cater the needs of lakhs of refugee students migrated from West Punjab. Though Delhi University had its own colleges, as a special provision Panjab University was allowed to continue this college in its area of jurisdiction till 1958-59 and finally it was merged with Dyal Singh College as a natural process. Dyal Singh College continuing from Lahore was set up in Delhi and Karnal and Camp College became part of it and it got affiliated to Delhi University, thus ending Panjab University role. Eminent Political Scientist late Prof. Randhir Singh had taught in Camp College for many years.
- One is perplexed about the name change process. Argument is given about Ram Lal Anand College and Desh Bandhu College of evening stream being name changed to as Arya Bhatt and Ramanujan College in morning stream respectively, both on the names of historic personalities. But Dyal Singh College has different history, the trust which gave it to Delhi University in 1978, its successors should have been consulted before taking such decision. Evening College turning into morning could have been named Dyal Singh Majithia College, adding Majithia word or making it Dyal Singh College-2, till it functioned from this very location. As and when new college gets new location, new name could have been considered. And why the name-Vande Matram? Dyal Singh was influenced by Brahmo Samaj, why Brahmo Samaj College was not considered? And how many colleges in the country are named on songs-even if it is a national song? Would another college would be named as ‘Jan Gan Man’ college-on National Anthem? Institutions are named on personalities, why instead of ‘Vande Matram’, its author Bankim Chander Chatterjee name was not considered? Vande Matram is part of Bankim Chander novel-‘Anand Math’ in chapter ten of the novel. Why ‘Anand Math’ college name was not considered? These examples are not suggestions for naming any college, these examples are cited as argument to show the absurdity behind changing the name to ‘Vande Matram’. ‘Vande Matram’ name for college is not only an absurdity coming from a skewed mind, it seems to have a political design to create divisions in society and undermining the diverse cultural heritage of the country.
- So in view of the above mentioned facts and factors, I appeal you- do not approve the name Vande Matram College for earlier name Dyal Singh college (Evening). In fact you can form a committee of historians/academicians/Trusties of Dyal Singh trust/Punjab and Delhi Govt. representatives to review the whole process and reach at such decision, which does not damage the heritage of Punjab and Dyal Singh institutions. I know how hard it is for you to take independent decisions as Vice Chancellor since the autonomy of the Universities is undergoing greatest stress for the last three years. You could not even accept Bhagat Singh Archives from me, despite your earnest wish to do so, thinking Bhagat Singh had been kept in detention in Viceregal lodge (now your office in DU) for a night during Delhi bomb case trial days
Still I hope and wish that as a fair minded person, you will be able to stand for reason and heritage and don’t succumb to oppressive tactics from the power arrogated forces.
With best regards
To understand the issue better I am pasting some historical references to Dyal Singh Majithia from eminent historians like V N Dutta and few other important writers-(Extracts are given here, full file of writings is attached for your perusal and making print copies)
SARDAR Dyal Singh Majithia was undoubtedly one of the most remarkable pioneers who led India out of the darkness of ignorance to the enlightenment of modernity. He did for North India what Raja Rammohun Roy had done for Bengal three quarters of a century earlier. It is unfortunate that we know so little about his contribution to liberal education, a factor which was instrumental in India’s freedom.(B K Nehru)
A visionary with a difference
By V. N. Datta
THE 19th century Punjab was at the bottom optimistic and melioristic and believed that something radical could be done about all sorts of arrangements in society that would promote material well-being and intellectual advancement. Each age leaves its mark on its generation. Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia had a different cast of mind from those of his forefathers. This was so because he belonged to an era of vital social and economic changes as contrasted with the period which was marked by military adventurism and political chicanery.
Dyal Singh Majithia had a lively and questioning mind. He had influential social connections which gave him entree into every political and intellectual sphere partaking fully in the life around him. The whole story of Sardar Majithia cannot be reconstructed without recourse to conjecture and imagination as the documentary evidence helpful for some parts of his life is almost wholly lacking for others.
He belonged to the family of the distinguished ruling chiefs of Punjab, who had held high positions in the times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his successors. His grandfather, Sardar Desa Singh, was Ranjit Singh’s trusted military general who was later appointed the Governor of the hill states of Mandi and Saket. He also acted as the civil administrator of Harmander Sahib in Amritsar, a responsibility he discharged with fervour. Because of his meritorious services Ranjit Singh conferred on him the title of “Kisrul-Iktdar”. Sir Lepel Griffin estimated Desa Singh’s income from various jagirs and other sources at 1,24,250 per annum. Desa Singh died in 1832, leaving behind three sons: Lehna Singh, Gujar Singh and Ranjodh Singh.
Dyal’s father, Lehna Singh, was an extraordinary man and, in many ways, an innovator. He was highly respected for his integrity of character, mild manners and amiable disposition. He inherited a major portion of his father’s estates. He acted also as the Governor of the hill states and was the chief administrator of Harmandar Sahib. Deeply interested in science, he set up his own laboratory for conducting experiments. Through his contacts with the British he acquainted himself with scientific knowledge in England and procured some literature on the subject for his own studies. An engineer, he improved the Punjab foundries and invented the clock which showed the day, the month and the changes in the moon. Though deeply interested in astronomy he was not converted to the Copernican system and still continued to believe in the earth’s immobility.
Ranjit Singh was greatly impressed by Lehna Singh’s diplomatic finesse and, therefore, sent him on several diplomatic missions to negotiate with the British on important political matters. In this connection he met Lord William Bentinck, Lord Auckland, Lord Ellenborough and Alexander Burnes. He was conferred the title of Hasham-ud-Daula (Lord of the State). During Chand Rani’s brief regime of violence and disorder it was proposed to appoint him as Prime Minister, but he was considered too mild a person for such a challenging task which needed ruthlessness and twisting of politics. When he witnessed how Punjab was breaking up due to the sinister designs and high-handedness of a few self-aggrandising and self-destructive individuals overpowered by overweening ambition during Mesar Julla’s regime, he left Punjab to settle in Benaras where Dyal Singh was born in 1849.
Henry Lawrence, the British Resident, who had much sympathy for the Punjab Chiefs, persuaded Lehna Singh to return to Punjab and appointed him a member of the Council of Regency in August, 1847. Henry Lawrence had high opinion of him and thought him the “most sensible Sardar in the Punjab”, but also noted his timidity in recourse to action when it was needed. Lehna Singh avoided controversies and loathed pettyfogging and intrigues. He foresaw the rolling clouds of disaster for Punjab and, therefore, left for Benaras again on January 14, 1848, and never to return. Lehna Singh died in 1854 leaving his five-year-old son, Dyal Singh, under the tutelage of Sardar Teja Singh, formerly the Commander-in-Chief and a member of the Council of the Regency. Dyal Singh inherited a large patrimony from his father. The most significant feature of the history of Punjab in the 19th century was its remarkable process of modernisation, and in this transformation certain aspects of urbanisation gained prominence in the various channels producing the changes were education, the Press, the means of transport and communications, the bureaucratic set-up and land settlement. It is not often realised that in the transformation of Punjab the Punjabi elite played a vital role to which Kenneth Jones in his studies has drawn our attention.
Dyal Singh kept himself substantially in touch with some of the influential members of the Bengali elite in Lahore. He had great admiration for the Brahmo Samaj which had initiated social and educational reform in Bengal. It was Surendranath Banerjea who had suggested to Dyal Singh the idea of setting up an independent paper for creating an enlightened public opinion in Punjab. In his memoirs, Surendranath Banerjea wrote about Dyal Singh: “He was one of the truest and noblest men I have come across. It was perhaps difficult to know him and to get the better of his heart for there was a certain reserve about him which hid from public view pure gold that formed the stuff of his nature.”
Seetalchandra Mookerjee served as the first Editor of The Tribune who was followed by Seetalakanta Chatterjee and B.C. Pal. During the 1919 disturbances Kalinath Ray was the Editor who was tried and arrested. Gandhiji had to intervene on his behalf and send a petition to the Viceroy about his release.
The Tribune became a success within a short time so much so that when Dennis Fitzpatrick was the Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab a civilian wrote to The Pioneer of Lucknow that Punjab was ruled by the Lieutenant-Governor and The Tribune. It remained Dyal Singh’s cardinal principle not to interfere in the working and management of the paper, and he left complete freedom to the Editor to use his discretion in running the paper. He emphasised in his Will that the paper should remain entirely free from any taint of communalism which was vitiating the atmosphere in Punjab.
Aristocratic in bearing, Dyal Singh was a reserved and taciturn person. He was a man of few words. Not a profound thinker, ideologue or scholar of the library, he possessed immense Punjabi commonsense of seeing the reality of things. He disdained controversies. This does not mean that he kept himself aloof when important issues of national interest were involved.
The very first issue of The Tribune on February 2, 1881, stood for the promotion of modern knowledge through the English language. About 25 articles supported by strongly-worded editorials in The Tribune knocked down Leitner’s argument and created a strong public opinion in favour of Dyal Singh’s stand on higher education. Ultimately, the government had to yield! Though separate arrangements for imparting oriental learning were made, instruction in higher education began to be given through the medium of English.
Dyal Singh Majithia, a public spirited liberal imbued with lofty ideals, left a rich legacy of a creative force calculated to produce far-reaching consequences for generations to come. His institutions continue to function in Punjab and elsewhere and act as a stimulus to the lives of so many people. Unfortunately, political developments took a different turn from what he had envisioned. He was out-and-out a liberal person, but his liberalism got swamped by the rising tide of communalism which led to the Partition of India. The value system he had projected with his insightful intellect has much relevance for us. He had the vision of a secular, prosperous Punjab, free from conflicts, and bustling with ideas and verve.
An educationist par excellence
By Justice Dalip K. Kapur
Sardar Dyal Singh had vast property in Lahore, Amritsar and Majitha. He made a will creating three trusts. These were the Tribune Trust, the Dyal Singh College Trust and the Dyal Singh Public Library Trust. He appointed three eminent lawyer-friends to be the trustees of The Tribune, but included some educationists, and among them was Dewan (later Raja) Narendra Nath in the College Trust. In the Library Trust, he included some well-known persons. The college and library took shape quite a long time after the Sardar’s death, as the will was challenged by the widow and another lady, Mrs Catherine Gill, who claimed to be Dyal Singh’s wife. The case was fought up to the Privy Council. The judgements upheld the Trust and give a good picture of Sardar Dyal Singh’s philanthropy and reputation.
The College Trust was well-endowed with property in Majitha and Amritsar, so it was able to start functioning again at Karnal and in New Delhi. Dewan Anand Kumar, Vice-Chancellor of Punjab University, who was the main Trustee, was responsible for opening the college at both places. The Karnal college had a small beginning but went on improving. The New Delhi college was very well housed. It had a beautiful building, and was doing well, but the government put some restrictions which forced the trustees to give up the college. It was the hardest decision to make. Huge amounts of money, the college building and all its assets were given to Delhi University. This was one of the blackest deeds of the national government. It was forced because the trust could not run the college under the University Grants Commission. It had no way to meet the deficit, all the income was taken by the commission and the trust was required to meet the deficit from “other sources”, which was impossible as there were no “other sources”. When the college was set up in New Delhi, the Central Government had done its best to rehabilitate the refugee college through the Rehabilitation Ministry, but later the government evolved an unworkable scheme, which led to the trust giving up its assets to save the college from closure. The college is still called Dyal Singh College, New Delhi, but no longer under the trust.
The Karnal college, on the other hand, has gone from strength to strength. The 10+2 policy, and the creation of the university at Kurukshetra, had led to the college having only a two-year B.A. course. That is not enough. The trustees with immense vigour and enterprise have set up Dyal Singh School, which is one of the leading schools of the area providing education up to the secondary level. A huge new building is under construction. The efforts regarding the college and the school principally of Dewan Anand Kumar and now Dewan Gajendra Kumar, have resulted in the creation of an institution of which the Sardar would be proud. There is now a move for some post-graduate courses. Some have already been started.
A pioneer in banking sector too
By Prakash Tandon
Punjab National Bank emerged in the late nineteenth century, inheriting the traditions trade and
banking and influenced by the impact of modern British banks, depicting the resurgence of the new Punjab. One of the ideals of the new elite was to start their own modern bank, professionally run with Indian capital and management, wide public participation and no personal control or ownership
|His greatest contribution perhaps was in the area of institution building. The rugged individualism of the Punjabis made them averse to forming and working together in voluntary associations. Dyal Singh, on the other hand, was an admirer of British institutions and their parliamentary system, though he did not like the bureaucracy and never cultivated its executive officers. He saw the need to build institutions in Punjab and in less than two decadesades found number of them; the Dyal Singh High School, College and Library. He helped all institutions with which he was associated with wisdom and guidance.|
Spreading the light of learning
By Brig Yash Beotra (retd)
“PROPAGATION of sound liberal education and dissemination of knowledge to inculcate pure morality”, was one of the cherished obsessions with Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia, a many splendoured personality. And to achieve this lifetime wish of his, he bequeathed assets worth over Rs 30 lakh way back in 1895, through a will, the last will and testament of his, to establish three premium institutions in Lahore (now in Pakistan):
(1) The Tribune – to spread knowledge through the print medium.
(2) Dyal Singh College – to disseminate knowledge through formal education.
(3) Dyal Singh Public Library – to spread knowledge through books.
The library was closer to his heart, as Sardar Majithia was himself a voracious reader, with a personal collection of more than 1000 volumes on various subjects. He dedicated his palatial building in the elite area of Lahore for establishing a premier public library.
H.No.2690, Urban Estate, Phase-II, Patiala (Pb.)-147002
Email: – email@example.com mobile no 09646494538