Is it the spirit of Vande Mataram?

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What’s in a name? Probably everything, if we go by the misplaced zeal for name-changing by a certain class of our politicians, public men and educationists. Take the18th November decision of the governing body of Dyal Singh evening college to rename the co-educational institute of University of Delhi as Vande Mataram.

I have no idea whose brainwave it was.  The college principal says that the decision was taken without “pressure from any political individual”. I am not sure if the principal has been authorized by the governing body to speak the ‘truth’.

It is no secret that nothing works in India’s public arena these days without some “hidden” political or sectarian agenda. I, however, must say that members of the governing body have done a big disservice to the very spirit of Vande Mataram by renaming the institution. They have either no proper appreciation of the rich legacy in education and knowledge-building that Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia has left behind, or they are simply playing to the political gallery for some kudos or favours.

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The governing body needs to be reminded that Dyal Singh’s pioneering work represents the very spirit of Vande Mataram. He was India’s first rate visionary ahead of his times. He was instrumental in setting up a successful bank, Punjab National Bank. Dyal Singh College and Dyal Singh Library were set up after his death out of funds earmarked by him.
The Tribune, set up in 1881 in Lahore, was part of his vision to bring about socio-economic and political awakening among the people of Greater Punjab. During the British regime, it raised its voice against socio-economic and political injustice and played a major role in evolving enlightened public opinion.

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I have tremendous respect and admiration for Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia since I was closely associated with The Tribune for 20 years – first as Assistant Editor for 11 years and later as its Editor for nine years. I can proudly proclaim that apart from its pioneering role in the freedom of India, The Tribune has always upheld “liberal, ethical and democratic values and stood for national unity and reconstruction of society on progressive and modern lines”. The guiding spirit of Dyal Singh, is spelt out in The Tribune Trust papers.
Maulvi Syed Iqbal Ali, the contemporary of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, said about Dyal Singh: “Truly speaking, it can be said that not in Lahore, but in the whole of Punjab, if there is one man of whom Truth and India can be proud, it is he” (Dyal Singh Majithia).

Dyal Singh’s close friend Jogendra Chandra Bose called him the “Leader of the educational community of Punjab”. Prof V N Datta writes: “He (Dyal Singh) fulfilled what he had planned. He was indeed the herald of a new era in Punjab. He acted as a focal and rallying point of the ‘moderates’ in the first decade and half of twentieth century Punjab. It is amazing how much respect he commanded in his time. He was indeed one of the leading figures of the country”. The Tribune: 130 years. A Witness to History by V N Datta).
I am briefly recalling Dyal Singh’s historic role in promoting education knowledge- building through libraries and creating informed public opinion for the benefit of the governing body of Dyal Singh Evening College. The guardians of the college set up in Delhi in 1959, do not seem to have proper idea of this legendary figure in education.    It is supposed to represent “a synthesis of tradition and mordernity”.

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My point is simple: how could the members of the governing body obliterate the rich legacy of this great soul who represented the very spirit of Vande Mataram, the hymn to the Motherland? Dyal Singh’s whole life and contribution to the Indian society reads like a living hymn to the Motherland! May I, therefore, humbly request the governing body to rethink and reverse its decision.

The spirit of Aurobindo’s Vande Mataram that Dayal Singh represents must not be killed. This move goes against the very spirit of India’s crusade for freedom from illiteracy.

Let me recall the words of Sri Aurobindo: “Unbelief in blind – it does not see far ahead, neither stimulates strength, nor inspires action. The lack this faith has kept our moderate politicians ties to a worn-out ideal which has lost its credibility. No man can lead a rising nation unless he has faith, first of all, that what other great men have done before him, he also can do as well, if not better.

It is a pity our “learned persons” often allow themselves to get lost in the short-cut jugglery of name-change, without giving a serious thought to the contribution made by great souls for the good of the Nation. A great educational cause and knowledge-building cannot be sustained by shadow boxing of name-changing.

For the benefit of honourable members of the managing committee of the college, I wish to recall what Surendranath Banerjee wrote in his memoir about his close associate Dyal Dingh:
“It is not the only gift (The Tribune) Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia gave to the Punjab. He gave away all he had for the benefit of his country, and the Dyal Singh College is an enduring monument of one of the worthiest sons of Punjab whose death all India mourns in common with the province of his birth” (A Witness to History by V N Datta).

On the foundation day of Dyal Singh College in Lahore on May 3, 1910, Sir Louis William Dane, the lieutenant Governor, lauded ‘his patriotic and public spirited action in devoting so much of his fortune to promote the cause of education in Punjab’.

The moot point here is: how can the guardians of the evening college be party to obliterating the name of the patriotic and visionary institution-builder who will remain an inspiring model for the generations of students today and tomorrow. It is also worth remembering that patriotism is not a slogan-shouting, but a pious act of doing something constructive for the larger good of society. Taking to shadow for substance does not make the nation great, nor does it serve the cause of education and welfare of society.

Finally, the college authorities ought to remember that the hymn to the Motherland symbolizes the pioneering work of great souls like Dyal Singh of our great land. Whose cause are they serving by their senseless move!

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