118 years of Trust S P E C I A L

Wednesday, September 9, 1998

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The legacy lives on!
by Hari Jaisingh

Remembering our founder is a matter of pride for us. He left behind a legacy of rich contribution to society 100 years ago on this day. The legacy lives on in our thoughts, words and action. It is extraordinary that by the sheer force of his genius Dyal Singh Majithia made a profound impact on his times and, in fact, heralded a new era in Punjab. There was nothing narrow in him — everything was large and on a grand scale. While he assimilated new ideas, he did not allow himself to be swept off his feet. His discriminating intellect chose what he thought was necessary for the regeneration of society. He died at 49, and yet in this short span of life he built remarkable institutions for the amelioration of the social, economic and intellectual condition of the people of Punjab.

Three passions dominated the life of Dyal Singh Majithia: education, information and economic development. Education meant to him an onward march of the mind, an adventure in ideas. The Press, he thought, was necessary for creating enlightened public opinion and economic strength lay in setting up banks and industries for the growth of wealth and for prosperity. This multi-dimensional approach of Dyal Singh Majithia entitles him to the stature of a spirited reformer of 19th century Punjab. And yet he was not a fire-spitting revolutionary who turned his back on the past; he believed in slow and peaceful changes in society like a truly well-meaning man of moderate disposition who never mistook shadow for substance. "Intense" or "extreme" became for him a byword for scornful approbation. His immense benefaction accelerated the shift from personal alms to impersonal Trusts which were set up for the promotion of learning and diffusion of information on current affairs for the public and for vitalising economic ventures. These means of social and educational changes transformed Punjab's society along new lines.

Along with The Tribune, the great Sardar founded educational institutions and libraries as part of his resolve to bring about qualitative improvement in the social order. Equally noteworthy was his role in setting the pace for economic renaissance. His banking venture is a living example of his commitment to all-round growth in Punjab, nay, India. All his institutions have grown to dizzy heights. And they are today living symbols of success with a mission.

The Tribune has grown into a great institution since its seeds were sown in the soil of Lahore by this great Indian. He conceptualised a Trust framework in his will which has stood the test of time. This shows his tremendous foresight.

The Tribune does not belong to any political group. Nor is it a part of any business interest. It thrives on the faith the readers have in its fearlessness, fairplay and crusading spirit for just public causes. It represents a great liberal tradition set in motion by the Sardar against innumerable odds. He had the courage of conviction which continues to inspire us all. The Tribune today represents a movement of ideas, ideals and values. If we look around, the uniqueness of this institution stands out amidst the interplay of sectarian pursuits and vested interests that are increasingly becoming evident in the Fourth Estate.

For us, The Tribune is an instrument of service. It plays a positive role in the sphere of the people's right to information and contributes to society's thought processes, not by a selective approach but by allowing a free play of ideas, including dissent. We do not believe in scandal-mongering or sensationalism and try to play our role within the parameters that our founder had set for us. Just to think that more than 100 years ago a man of such varied talent and enlightened outlook lived in this land instantly makes us salute him. Great souls like him will continue to inspire the generations to come. This is how the flame of freedom, social equity and economic uplift is kept burning.

The Sardar gave to the country an agenda which remains to be attended to with relentless vigilance. He had a strong will and what is called "the vision thing", to which he brought a pragmatic approach. On his death centenary we cherish his memory with gratitude. We have to complete the task he had set forth. We have promises to keep. May the succession of such men never end!

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