Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Spirit of Fazilka

Writer is a Guest Professor at IIT Delhi and Retired Prof from Mechanical Engineering Department IIT Delhi. He is also a Chairman of Hukmi Devi Pujara Trust and Practicing Acoustic Consultant.

If you have lived in Fazilka and then lived in other places,you tend to compare and only then realize that Fazilka has a distinct spirit.The overall impression is that there is a kind of harmony and integration of people.As in other towns , Fazilka has its own rich and poor,its own educated and uneducated,its own sophisticated and unsophiticated , but the distinction is that in Fazilka your group is not isolated from other groups.In the rich there is no special odour of richness.If there is any unlikely arrogance,it must be too deep to be seen or felt.Similarly the rural hinterland of Fazilka is in intimate and constant contact with the town and its people.
Another hallmark of the town is an intense desire to get education.I recently met a retired person of the town studying for a higher degree.He does not need it but he will still have it for his own satisfaction.And there have been always countless young people constantly improving their qualifications.
May be because of its proximity to the border Fazilka young men have always had fascination to get to the Army.The two Dhawan brothers who retired as Lt. Generals are only two outstanding examples.
Some names come to mind.Of course they will be different according to who remembers.I remember L. Sunam Rai ,the Gandhian idealist who would try to speak to the people into discipiline to promote cleanliness (not a hall mark of Fazilka inspite of the current efforts of Fazilka Graduates Association).I remember the more practical Congressman L. Nand Lal Soni who in earlier days helped Hindus in Okara to shift to India in 1947.They walked to Fazilka in a kafla starting Septembe 3 and reaching Fazilka on Sept 5,1947.In fact these refugees have been responsible for some present day characteristics of Fazilka.
I remember politician Hare Kishen Surjeet impressing the people with his oratory from the clock tower.He recited examples of his persecution by the Govt.Even as a school boy I could see that examples were always the same.Now I realize that revising lessons always helps in classrooms or outside.
I remember Headmaster M R Chopra of Govt High School who inspite of being in the Govt was able to spruce up the place.Teacher Harcharan Singh who made learning Hygiene & Physiology effortless because of his examples from real life.Master Ashwini Kumar whose handsome physical presence and oratory impressed me.I recently noticed that the Hons. Board of the fifties which had Harpreet Singh (now Prof in USA) on it as having demolished previous records including mine, was nowhere to be seen.Fazilka has history but a sense of history ,well, is a different matter.Are Bhupinder and Navdeep listening?Bhupinder was my classmate in school who preferred learning by writing .No wonder he wrote a poster on Enviroment for Pakistan and pushed it through the border on 2008 independence day through Sadki post.I remember athlete Nathaniel walking from his village on Bikaner Road side.
I remember Om Parkash Tarana who in his school days wrote afsanas in Urdu .These were published in Beeswin Sadi.I wonder where he is now.
I remember advocate Gokal Chand who spoke so kindly to school boys.Smart advocate Nand Lal Dhingra 's son Ashwini was my classmate.Once I went to his his house.The senior Dhingra brought a large jug of milk.I thought it was my duty to finish it single handedly.Sorry.
iiremember Ram Lal Angi who rose because of his extreme hard work.
While talking of sons of Fazilka, I have not ignored the daughters.I shall give an example to keep my narrative short.Once I was responsible for inviting eminent persons to speak to IIT Delhi students.I invited Jagdish Dhingra, a very successful engineer entrepreneur.He is only 4 years younger to me but carries the burden of having been briefly taught by me.He obliged.His lecture was indeed impressive and students wanted to know the secret of his success.Before I let him answer,I said the secret was that he married a girl from my town.As you can guess all the young man wanted the name of this town.
I remember Dr. Brij Lal who was the first MBBS doctor in town and his compounder who later set up his independent practice.He worked hard to send his brother out for specialisation in Opthalmology.Then there was Dr. Sadhu Ram the popular doctor and Dr. Mohan Singh the effective doctor.Dr. Mohan Singh's children are doing him great honour.
Fazilka has grown over years.Now it needs more organisation than ever before.
I might end this narrative by citing an example of thoughtfulness of Fazilka people.An old couple from the town went to the hills on a trip.Unfortunately the man died in the hill village and the villagers were thinking of buying supplies required for his last rites.The wife then told them that they always travelled with these supplies which were then used.Then after two more days the wife died and the villagers knew where to look.A great couple indeed!
Researching the name of this couple should be a rewarding exercise.
Prof Dr. K.K Pujara
75,South Park,Kalkaji,
NEW DELHI 110019

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