Thursday, April 14, 2011
Forgotten Indian Heroes & Martyrs: Their Neglected Descendants-1857-1947( By Shivnath and Neena Jha)
INAURURAL SPEECH at Press Club of India, New Delhi on 13th April 2011, Vaishakhi - 92-year after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre)
Esteemed ladies and gentlemen ,
It is a pleasure and indeed a privilege to be a part of this book launch function.
Today is the 92nd anniversary of the bloody Vaishakhi day of April 13, 1919 which was a watershed day in India's history. Hundreds of peaceful demonstrators including men, women and children - were massacred by the British imperialistic forces under General Michael O’Dwyer at Jalianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab. Those killed were largely the faceless people who had nurtured a dream of Freedom for the motherland.
It was twenty years later that their brutal murder was avenged by an inspired young man, Udham Singh, who killed Michael O’Dwyer and in the bargain, attained martyrdom.
Tragically, his selfless sacrifice for the cause of the country's freedom went unsung and as India got freedom, he sadly got confined to the dusty pages of history. It is indeed a grim irony that the grandson of a great hero of our freedom movement lives in penury, working as a labourer on daily wage.
Worst still , we are now quarreling over the caste of Bhagat Singh and Rajguru instead of doing something better to keep their memory alive. The same martyr had thundered that
शहीदों की चिताओं पर लगेंगे हर बरस मेले
वतन पर मरने वालोंका यही बाकी निशान होगा/
The perfidy of those questioning the caste credentials of these freedom fighters could only be summarized in two lines and that is
साहिल पर जितने आब गज़ीदा थे सब के सब
दरिया का रुख बदला तो तैरक बन गए
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have come a long way since India became independent on 15th August 1947. But it is ironical that the present generation of India does not even know how many young people and freedom fighters laid down their lives for the sake of the country. Even more ironical is the fact that not even five percent population of this huge nation actually remembers those who died during the freedom struggle.
How ironical it is that in every nook and corner of our cities, the statues and memorials of sundry politicians are erected, annual functions too are held with huge fanfare in their memory and remembrance but the people who made the supreme sacrifice for the nation have been confined to the memory of their equally neglected heir!
How ironical it is that even artists and film stars, who have enacted the roles of these real-life heroes on the silver screen, should find their way into parliament through nominated seats while the heroes have been wiped out from the nation’s memory!
But then India has always remained a country of peculiar paradoxes and catastrophic contradictions. I don’t wish to hurl or inflict a speech on those but then, it is important to bring forth a few points for your kind consideration and soul searching
India is being touted as the faster merging Superpower with the size of its economy touching over $3 trillion and yet it ranks 119 among 169 countries in human development index at per UN report of 2010 and is much lower to China which stands at 89th place..
The latest world Bank data indicates that every fourth person in India lives below poverty line and earns less than a Dollar a day. In other words, approximately 42 per cent population of rural India lives below poverty line. !
Three persons out of every hundred in India go hungry and India has the highest number of undernourished people in the whole world.
Our progress in higher education and science and technology has been stupendous and yet, half of the world’s illiterates live in India. In other worlds, we have 307 million illiterates.
India sends the largest number of students to USA, UK , Canada and even Australia for various kinds of specialized field and university education and yet more than 1.7 crore children in rural areas don’t have access to schools.
We have one of the best chains of government private hospitals and we have been practicing tele-medicine as well. We have been talking about harvesting rainfall, water conservation and river linking projects and already sunk a few thousand crore rupees in those projects. Yet, more than 318 million people in the country do not have access to safe drinking water and over 260 million people do not have and 250million people do not have access to basic medical care. More than 46 percent of infants in India have no standard immunization programmes.
Worst still, 630 million people do not have access to acceptable sanitation facilities and children and women still defecate at public places.
It is nice to see world class super markets, food chains and malls where our urban youngsters gloat over the choice of toppings on their pizzas, ice cream and macaroni and spaghetti. Yet, 51 percent children in the age group of 5 to10 years remain undernourished.
India is among the largest producers of engineers and scientists in the world. Yet,52 per cent primary schools have only one teacher for every two classes.
Our bureaucrats and politicians van have the choice of Bungalows in Lutyen’s Delhi and can splash money on any thing under the sun one pretext or the other. Yet 300 million people live on hardly Rs 454 per month as their earning and with no money for their clothing, schooling for their children, shelter and medicine.
But then, we have 2G scam, antrix, CVC, CGW and a plethora of other scandals and scams belittling us everyday at international level. The land of सत्यमेव जयते has become a paradise for practicing असत्य सर्वत्र पूजयेत. No wonder then that we are still hostage to the Agrarian reforms in Punjab being studied and seen from the prism of Cambridge(Manmohan Singh) and the concept of community living in Chinkponkli(mumbai slum) seen and sermonized by our innovators(Sam Pitroda) from the binoculars of Chicago. As a result, the people at the top are still trying to save their skin through their अश्वत्थामा हत नरोवा कुन्जरोवा style of functioning. The spontaneous support to Anna hazare on the Lok Pal bill issue is the barometer of the sign of frustration of a common man who is now convinced that अजा पुत्रं बालिंग ददात देवो दुर्बल घातकः
When it comes to media, India has the distinction of having more than 66,875 publications in various languages, it has more than 76 24X7 new channels dishing out all kinds of news and information. India can boast of 598 Fm radio stations in 175 cities and it would reach 800 mark in another 2 years.
Yet journalism in India is being accused of fast becoming a joke and the media houses are being accused of behaving like a gang of mercenaries. The fact is that if Media is being accused of turning even a trivia into titanic every now and then the politicians should also take the blame for continuous biting and bullying though the camera.
When I opened my eyes in the early 1980s in the world of journalism, I had pioneers like Sham lal and Gorge Vergeuse as my icons. Over the years there has been a sea change in the stance and tenor of media and as well as its character, credentials and credibility.….
जब तक न कुछ लोगों से मुलाकात हुयी थी
मैं भी ये समझता था,खुदा सबसे बड़ा है
This book is a resounding rebuff to those allegations and accusations and goes on to prove that idealism and those lofty values are still alive in Indian journalism.
But I am still wondering as to what prompted Shivnath to ask me to write the Preface of this book as I am sure, there are more erudite and conscientious scholars and intellectuals who could have perhaps done a better job than me.
Let me admit however that I have read Shivnath more than I have known him personally. He has always been a very hard nut to crack and I have always been impressed by his fierce sense of conviction and professional integrity. I have seen him resigning from his job at the drop of a hat and this streak of madness in him has more often impelled him to plough the lonely furrow and wade through those dangerous paths where even the most daring ones feel daunted. But then Shivanath is that breed of journalists which doesn’t preaches but always practices what is said as:
हिम्मत से सच कहो तो बुरा मानते हैं लोग
रो रो के बात कहने की मेरी आदत नहीं रही
Whether it was Mohd, jamil Akbar, or Vir Sanghvi, hare krishan dua or even Shekhar gupta, Shivnath always lived like a stormy petrel and never compromised on even one sentence of any story that he wrote. He paid heavy price at times for his obduracy even as he was advised by his seniors that while some are wise, others are otherwise and it takes a lot of pain and push to survive as a scribe. Bu then he has always been a votary of those famous four lines of Pakistani Shayar Ehsan Danish who said:
मंसब तो हमें मिल सकते थे,लेकिन शर्त हुजूरी थी
यह शर्त हमें मंज़ूर नहीं, बस इनती ही मजबूरी थी
It is indeed incredible that a 11 year old boy picks up Dr Haivandsh rai Bachhan’s Madhushala to chart out his path in life and find that in these four lines:
मदिरालय जाने को घर से, चलता है पीनेवाला
किस पथ से जायुं ,असमंजस में है वो भोलाभाला
अलग अलग पथ सब बतलाते, पर में ये बतलाता हूँ
राह पकड़ तू एक चला चल,पा जायेगा मधुशाला
What is all the more astounding is that he has been continuing his journey even today with the same zeal of a zealot and the devotion of a devout:
During this course of journey, Shivnath faced countless hurdles and I have been a witness to some of his moments of trials and tribulations, despair and despondency as well. There was a moment when he almost thought of giving up the project as he learnt it hard way that:
साहिल के तमाशाई हर डूबने वाले पर
अफ़सोस तो करते हैं, इमदाद नहीं करते
I always hoped and prayed that at least a few large hearted souls in Delhi would come forward to lend a helping hand to Shivnath and this book would see the light of the day soon. Right from top politicians to businessmen and even those so called philanthropist continued to promise him a moon in the afternoon but none of them could keep their words. I had cautioned him once that Delhi is a peculiar place where:
हर मोड़ पर मिल जाते हैं हमदर्द हज़ारों
लगता है इस बस्ती में, अदाकार बहुत ह
Interestingly, the help came from Mr Vijay Darda, MP who is also a part of the journalistic fraternity with his Lokmat times Group and who has agreed to rehabilitate Mr jeet Singh as a part of his solemn duty.
I come from the Land of Chanakya ,who . in his magnum opus, Artha shastra says:
सत्येन धार्यते प्रिथ्विः, सत्येन तपते रविः
सत्येन वाति वायुश्चा, सर्व सत्येन प्रतिष्ठितम //
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I please request you to join me in wishing Shivnath more such eventful journey in the days ahead and undertake such tasks with more courage and strength.
Thanks very much for your patience. !!
Ajay N Jha
Former Advisor to Speaker, Lok Sabha and Operating Head of Lok Sabha TV
Posted by आन्दोलन:एक पुस्तक से at 3:56 AM
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
New Delhi, Apr 13 (PTI) Udham Singh might have borne the burden of avenging one of the most gruesome colonial acts in Indian history--the infamous Jalianwala Bagh massacre--but his descendants were condemned to carry the burden of penury. When journalist author Shivnath Jha located Jeet Singh two years ago, he was working as a labourer at a construction site in Punjab.
Jeet Singh is no ordinary Indian but grandson of India''s freedom struggle martyr Udham Singh, who shot and killed Michael O''Dwyer, who as Lieutenant Governor of Punjab endorsed the massacre on Baisakhi day in 1919.
The 55-year-old grandson of Udham Singh lives in Sangrur village of Punjab with his two sons, all of whom live a miserable life despite promises of succour by government functionaries, including late President Giani Zail Singh.
Rajya Sabha MP and founder of the Lokmat media group Vijay Darda today honoured the memory of Udham Singh on the occasion of Baisakhi by handing over to Jeet Singh a cheque of Rs 11 lakh, collected through contributions by his media group and from some individual philanthropists.
''Forgotten Indian Heroes and Martyrs: Their Neglected Descendants-1857-1947''- a pictorial coffee-table book chronicling the lives of more than 22 such families of descendants of the martyrs of India''s freedom struggle, compiled by Jha and his wife Neena, was also launched by Singh and Darda jointly.
Jeet Singh was moved to tears at the felicitation and he mumbled "it feels good to be respected and loved by the people of the country".
The book, Jha says, is part of his attempts to bring to light the miserable conditions of such families and bring some dignity to their lives. "There is nothing about Udham Singh in this book that people do not already know. I have but changed the perspective of the story (by encapsulating the present lives of his descendants)," said Jha.
The coffee-table book is the fifth in a series of books, which began with a ''Monograph'' on legendary Shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan.
"The least one would expect any government to do is to identify the families of these heroes and to give them a pride of place in all national functions. Needless to say their education and medical care should be the responsibility of the state," he said. Darda said he will take up the cause of these martyrs'' families in Parliament and will try to work for their rehabilitiation.
"The neglect of Jeet Singh is an example of a black page in our system--one of which we have to be ashamed of," said Darda. "If the government can take care of its Parliamentarians for life, don''t the families of our national heroes need some attention. I hope various state governments will wake up to the cause of such families," said Darda. PTI WAJ/NES
Posted by आन्दोलन:एक पुस्तक से at 9:42 PM