|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Monday, September 20, 1999
battle of the ballot
OF BANNING EXIT POLLS
The house of Bagrian
poll: apex court ducks the issue
turnout for French reception
date with Krishna
Bloody battle of the ballot
VIOLENCE on polling day in Bihar carries a chilling message: perversion of the political process cannot get worse than this. Violence as such is not a new phenomenon; in the past it had been generously employed to shape the mandate in favour of one or the other party. But that was an attack from within the system. This time though the attempt is to reject the election process itself by random killing of security men and polling officials. It is no consolation that the wreckers are two fringe groups with limited social base but unlimited mischief potential. The naxalite outfits have chosen the venue of the carnage with some care. Palamu and Hazaribagh are in south Bihar, far away from Jehanabad in the central part and hence not known to have a strong anti-landless organisation. An ideological angle is sought to be given to the murder plot by concentrating on the BJP stronghold that south Bihar is. By the same token, the Jehanabad-brand of caste violence as between the landowning Bumihars and the landless dalits will soon become endemic to this region as well.
There are, however, a few factors which induce hope for the future. Despite the killing of 26 individuals in the two districts (Palamu 17 and Hazaribagh 9) the voter turnout has been a healthy 55 per cent or thereabout. The boycott call enforced through brutal violence had failed to evoke much response. Jehanabad witnessed peaceful polling to the pleasant surprise of the administration and political parties. In the Telengana area of Andhra Pradesh, a similar call by the dreaded Peoples War Group went unheeded, with the polling percentage crossing 60. In Uttar Pradesh, another state prone to violence on polling day, there were only minor disturbances and no major incident of violence. In a cluster of villages in the Bulandshahr Lok Sabha constituency not a vote was cast as a protest against the utter neglect of the area. Even campaigning was shunned there, but all very peacefully. A big-sized notice board outside a polling station explained the reasons for the boycott and listed the collective demands of the neighbourhood. In the Indian system there is no provision for a negative vote but often Indian voters have resorted to boycott to improvise one.
Brave are the voters of
Baramullah who defied the boycott call by the militants
and the Hurriyat Conference and registered a 27 per cent
turnout. The situation there is very similar to what
existed in Punjab in 1992 when the Congress came to power
and the polling percentage plunged to about 12. Tomorrow
it will be different in Baramullah but it is not possible
to be equally optimistic about the badlands of Bihar. All
political parties there hawk verbal violence and the
people suffering silently for years absorb this angry
sentiment and give expression to it in physical terms.
The irreversible fragmentation of society on caste and
subcaste lines has cemented the we-versus-they belief.
With politics being practised at this low level, election
day provides a combustible atmosphere for the people to
indulge in mindless violence. Chief Election Commissioner
Gill has appealed to the political parties to find ways
of ending violence. They may not for it would require a
return to principled politics with emphasis on programmes
and policies. Most political parties have forgotten this
art a long while ago.
MR Dan Burton, the rabid India-baiter in the US Congress, and those of his ilk are at it again. In a letter to President Bill Clinton they have reportedly raised the bogey of a nuclear holocaust visiting the sub-continent. The letter signed by 20 Senators and 42 members of the House of Representatives states that Kashmir is the most dangerous nuclear flashpoint in the world today....The clash between Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India over the disputed Kashmir territory could erupt into the worlds first war between nuclear powers. The American lawmakers lack of understanding about global developments is amazing. Or it could be a case of their not wanting to be reminded that the Gulf war was fought between two nuclear states with other nuclear powers waiting to jump into the act of bombing Iraq out of existence. And the Kargil war saw India reiterate its unilateral commitment to no first use of nuclear weapons against any hostile country. Of course, for Mr Burton and company any excuse is good enough to demand the direct intervention of the USA for the speedy settlement of global disputes. And Kargil was a giant excuse for them to poke their nose in the bilateral dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan. The irresponsible US lawmakers, with a marked pro-Pakistan tilt, had even planned to make public the letter they have written to Mr Clinton in which they have demanded the appointment of a special envoy for finding a just and lasting solution to the issue which is the source of avoidable tension between India and Pakistan.
The release of the
letter would have given Pakistan yet another opportunity
to claim that the Kashmir issue has been
internationalised. But bad weather disrupted the ceremony
where the letter was to be made public. In any case, it
is not a new development. Members of the US Congress seem
to have made it a habit to demand from time to time the
intervention of the USA for the peaceful resolution of
the Kashmir dispute. There is no need for the Indian
Foreign Office to even react to the initiative of the US
lawmakers because both the White House and the State
Department have rejected the demand for the appointment
of a special envoy for overseeing the settlement of the
Kashmir issue. White House spokesman Joe Lockhart was
quoted as having said: I think we have made our
views well known that we believe that the parties need to
resolve this problem between themselves, and the USA is
not seeking a role as a mediator. State Department
spokesman James Rubin was equally forthright in
dismissing the demand for a special envoy for Kashmir.
Much to the discomfiture of Pakistan, he said that the
USA would involve itself in the Kashmir issue only if
asked to do so by both New Delhi and Islamabad. The
clarification has exposed as hollow the claim made by
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on return from
Washington during the Kargil crisis, that the Kashmir
issue has been internationalised. He was summoned to the
White House by President Clinton not to give legitimacy
to his stand on Kashmir but to order him to get out of
Kargil without any precondition.
ISSUE OF BANNING EXIT POLLS
THE Election Commission got a well-deserved rebuff from the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court over its interlocutory and writ petitions on the enforcement of the ban on public and exit polls once the poll process had started and not yet ended.
For the record, the Constitution Bench said that it saw no merit in the petition at all. But spoken words were more eloquent than the written ones. The Bench wondered whether the court had any role to play when the Election Commission claimed that it had powers, under Article 324 of the Constitution, to issue the guidelines. If this was so why could not the commission itself enforce them, if they had any (legal) teeth? It wondered how these guidelines could be enforced against the third parties. Was the object to seek the apex courts declaration in order to initiate contempt proceedings against the recalcitrant sections of the media?
Leaving the Election Commission in no doubt about where it stood, the Constitution Bench told its counsel that, at the end of the day you may go with the perception that you have less powers than the public perception.
The courts tongue was silvery, but the message deadly. And, hastily, the Election Commission withdrew the guidelines, but with somewhat less grace than what one would have expected from an organisation created by the Constitution.
The Election Commission said in a Press note that it was happy to comply and to withdraw the guidelines, as it indicated in the Supreme Court, but said in the same breath that the substantive issue still needed to be debated by the country and the new Parliament.
One would have thought that the constitutional function of the Election Commission ended with the completion of the elections and reporting the matter to the President. Since when has it become its function to lay down the new Parliaments agenda or to organise public debates?
And if a debate was needed, in the absence of any statutory provisions to back the Election Commissions guidelines, why did the commission consult only the political parties and the Press Council and leave out of the consultative process the print and non-government owned electronic media?
The conclusion is inevitable that, having successfully bullied the political parties which had too much to lose from its adverse decisions, the commission felt that it could take on the media too and issue its fiats supposedly under Article 324 of the Constitution and prevent public opinion and exit polls.
The 1999 fiat issued by the Election Commission was only an extension of the one issued in 1998. Since a written order of the Election Commission of the 1998 order exists, it would be worthwhile to examine it in some detail.
The commission noted that exit polls, especially, when the elections were held in a phased manner, were likely to affect, one way or the other, the unbiased exercise of franchise by the elector. It said various political parties and others (who these others were has not been mentioned) had represented to it that the opinion and exit polls should be stopped, so that no party or candidate suffered adversely or gained an undue advantage.
The commission said it had carefully examined the matter and also taken note of what the law was in countries like Canada, France, Italy, Poland, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, all of which placed restrictions on public opinion and exit polls. It also felt encouraged by the fact that the Chairman of the Press Council, Mr Justice P.B. Sawant, had drawn the commissions attention to the guidelines issued by the Press Council on the subject.
Did the commission have any statutory backing? It had by implication, according to the commission. It argued that Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act prohibited public meetings during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of the poll. This, said the commission, was a clear manifestation of ground realities by Parliament that the voter needed to reflect in tranquillity whether to vote or who to vote for. The commission is statutorily bound to take all such steps as will give effect to the parliamentary intent and implement the law, in letter and spirit, as laid down by Parliament.
What is noteworthy that, in its 1998 decision, the Election Commission did not claim that it had powers under Article 324 to issue the guidelines. It talked about the parliamentary intent, by referring to Section 126 of the R.P. Act, without being able to show any specific provision on a ban on public opinion and exit polls. The commission quoted in full the Press Council guidelines, but slurred over the fact that the councils jurisdiction is the ethics of the profession its work ends when that of law begins.
Even in the field of law, the commission quoted, for instance, the Canadian law, without mentioning the fact that the Canadian courts had declared a ban on public opinion and exit polls as unconstitutional a fact the Attorney-General, Mr Soli Sorabjee, was to point out to the Division Bench of the Supreme Court when taking the position, on behalf of the government, that the Election Commissions ban on public opinion and exit polls was unconstitutional and illegal. Clearly, the commission had not done its homework, especially in 1999.
An analysis of the 1998 order leads to the conclusion that the Election Commissions claim to have acted under Article 324 while banning exit polls has been an after-thought. Its prayer to the court that it should come to its aid was really an affront to the judiciary. Can one hope that the apex courts rebuff has made the commission fully realise the extent of its powers?
Media fixation on surveys
WAY back in 1938, the Democratic mayor of Milton in the state of Washington in the USA put a mule named Boston Curlis on the ballot in the race for membership of the Republican district committee. The candidates hoofprints were imprinted on the filing notice, and the mayor signed as legal witness.
On the day of the election, the mule won by a 51 per cent plurality. After the race, the mayor said he had sponsored the mule in order to prove that many voters are careless in how they vote. In this case, the election showed that the candidate was not the only jackass involved.
The above incident narrated in the Blunder Book, written by American author, Hirsh Goldberg may serve to illustrate that the voters can be careless while they exercise their fundamental right a democratic system gives them. It may also seek to prove that they can be equally careless or casual (or can even lie) in responding to pollsters as to how they are going to vote or have voted.
The general elections are mercifully coming to a close, but the nation has to wait for at least another two weeks before it learns which hotch-potch political alliance has earned the right to govern or misgovern at the Centre. The leaders of the two major parties, the BJP and the Congress, however, cannot wait that long, and each is already confidently predicting victory for itself.
Thanks to the recent ruling by the Supreme Court allowing the print and electronic media to carry the results of opinion and exit polls, surveys have surfaced with Doordarshan telecasting the outcome of an exit poll conducted by a private agency. Voices of protest have already been raised by the Congress and other Opposition parties, which have labelled the telecast as gross misuse of government agency. A private TV channel, Jain TV, known to be pro-BJP, has been telecasting the results of an exit poll that has projected a majority for the National Democratic Alliance. A Times poll survey of the third phase of polling in 79 constituencies held on Saturday (September 18) has predicted that the Congress is set to make significant gains. In Kerala, Doordarshan and Jain TV have made totally different projections of the poll outcome in the state.
Experience in various democracies in the world has shown that attempts to pry into the voting preference of a sample electorate often end up in the pollsters and the pundits looking foolish. The opinion poll fiasco in Tamil Nadu in the 1998 parliamentary elections must be still haunting the pollsters who had confidently predicted a landslide for the DMK-TMC alliance in the state, and a rout for the AIADMK-led front. The results were exactly the reverse of what they had projected. Such failures, however, do not deter the pollsters, and the game goes on.
Even the countries which have a more sophisticated electoral apparatus have witnessed opinion polls that have gone awfully wrong and left newspapers and pollsters in a state of acute embarrassment. The most famous fiasco was the 1948 American Presidential election in which many newspapers and public opinion polls had predicted a Truman defeat at the hands of the Republican leaders and New York Governor, Mr Thomas Dewey. But Harry Truman, seeking re-election, had the last laugh with 303 electoral votes as against 189 secured by Mr Dewey. It was probably the worst moment for the Chicago Daily Tribune, which carried in bold type in its early edition: Dewey defeats Truman. In the 1996 general election in Italy, where the publication of poll surveys was banned three weeks before the poll, the Centre-Left Olive Tree Bloc scored a victory, confusing Italian poll pundits.
The Election Commission is probably right in suggesting that voter behaviour could be influenced by opinion polls. In the light of the Supreme Courts decision not to go into the question whether the Election Commissions guidelines were violative of the right to free speech and expression, Chief Election Commissioner M.S. Gills suggestion that the issue of opinion polls and exit polls ought to be discussed by the new Parliament merits approval by all concerned.
The Press Council of India has, from time to time, expressed itself against the publication of opinion polls on the eve of elections as well as exit polls, but its view is only advisory since it has no powers to enforce it.
Whatever may be the views of the Election Commission or the Press Council, media fixation on poll surveys is certain to continue. There is great thrill in all this, American pollster Richard Morin once wrote in The Washington Post. If you are right, you get to wear the prophets hat and flit around the newsroom, chirping who needs elections?
Around October 7 we will
all know the fate of those seeking to enter Parliament
and of the pollsters and political pundits. Political
parties, which are not happy with the opinion, poll
predictions, will, in the meanwhile, continue to sing the
familiar old song: the only poll that counts is the one
on the election day.
date with Krishna
ON reaching Okha, the last railway station of western India and one of the main Harappan settlements, on time to take the ferry to the island of Bet where Krishnas golden Dwarika lies sunk in the Arabian sea, I exclaimed: God is on our side.
My wife, who has a date with God every morning, corrected me and said: No, say we are on the side to God.
But strange are the ways of God. There were ferries but no ferrymen to take us to the submerged golden city of Dwarika. A busy port looked almost deserted. Only a few birds flew over the Gulf of Cambay.
Looking at the long line of empty ferries I asked: Where have all the ferrymen gone today ?
They have all gone to see the Ramayana serial. Today is the final battle between good and evil, A voice came as if out the deep sea.
We waited on the mouth of the gulf like stranded passengers who had missed the one train and waited for the other. A lone sadhu was seen in the distance counting his beads. My wife said: Let us go to the sadhu and seek his blessings. But by the time we started he left for some more convenient spot. Strange are the ways of our sadhus. In ancient India one could purchase a kingdom not a sadhu.
The Mahabharata says Krishna knew that the city was going to be submerged and that he asked Arjuna to get the population evacuated. No loss of life was reported.
The ancient Greek guide for the mariners called Periplus written in the first century AD warned the sailors to slow down their ships in the Gulf of Kutch because an ancient city lay underneath it. Writing in the same century Pliny, the famous historian talks of the drain of foreign exchange from the Roman treasury in buying the Indian luxuries. Marco Polo mentions Dwarika as an underground sea city.
The devout, however, re-built the city on the ground at Bet, an exact replica of what lay in the lap of the ocean. It is this Dwarika which swept us. My wife gazed and gazed as to unfathom the mystery of the lost city. We went right up to the seaward wall off the Bet marking the northern limit of the submerged city. It was an experience beyond words.
By the afternoon we returned to the bridge on the gulf. A number of children were diving into the sea picking up coins thrown by the pilgrims and the tourists into the deep sea below. My wife threw a one-rupee coin. Within no time a boy brought it back. She threw a five-rupee coin. That too was brought back in a jiffy.
How did you find it so quickly in the deep sea below? I asked the lad.
Not I, its Krishna, he replied pointing to the Krishna necklace he was wearing round his thin neck.
There was earnestness coupled with innocence in the boys eyes. I was moved.
You can try that ring, Sir, the boy said.
I looked at my golden ring. My wife hesitated. I threw the ring into the sea. The boy made a dash and a dive and became a part of the blue waters. I waited. There was no sign of the boy. I thought I had lost the ring. In sheer nervousness I said: O Krishna get me back my ring.
Just at juncture the boy emerged from out of the sea with the ring.
Exit poll: apex court ducks the issue
BOTH the Supreme Court and the Election Commission tripped up badly last week in the exit poll case. It must have been one of the briefest courtroom debates ever held before a Constitution Bench. And somewhere in the heat of the debate and the confidence of its own approach, the court apparently forgot what it might seem totally impertinent to remind it of. That a Constitution Bench is set up to expound the Constitution, not to duck it.The minimum number of Judges (says Article 145, Clause 3 of the Constitution) who are to sit for the purpose of deciding any case involving a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution, shall be five.That is what a five-member Constitution Bench is set up for. To consider (whichever way it might finally decide) a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution.That question in the exit poll case, as stated by the court itself on September 9, is the nature and ambit of the ECs powers under Article 324 of the Constitution vis-a-vis the fundamental right to information and expression. The matter, therefore, needs to be placed, said a three-member Bench, before a Constitution Bench of five Judges.From Mohinder Singh Gills case of 1978 to T.N. Seshans case of 1995, the Supreme Court has not unoften (though not very often) plumbed Article 324. And from Romesh Thapars case of 1950 to the Bengal Cricket Association case of 1995, the number of times it has pronounced upon free speech and expression under Article 19(1) (a) is legion.But never before has the court witnessed a clash between Article 324 and Article 19(1) (a), between these two giants of the Constitution the Election Commission and the Free Press. Last Tuesday, September 14, was a golden opportunity for another constitutional colossus, the Supreme Court, to stand bestride the two and, by a skilful application of the principle of harmonious interpretation, bring them together in the long-term interest of the worlds most populous democracy.
The Constitution Bench met, however, not to decide but to not decide. In our view, it said, in the briefest of written orders reportedly passed, the writ petition filed by the Election Commission has no merit. However, we have not gone into the question whether the poll-related guidelines passed by the Election Commission are violative of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.
The law declared by the Supreme Court, says Article 141 of the Constitution, shall be binding on all courts within the territory of India. With all great respect to the Constitution Bench, the written order passed by it on September 14 merely disposes of a writ petition. It declares no law and has, therefore, absolutely no value as a precedent for the future.
It is beyond dispute, of course, that oral judicial observations, however well-considered and however strongly made, do not amount to a judgement. Otherwise, there would be as many judgements in a case as there are newspaper versions of it and none of them signed by the court.
Turning now to the Election Commission, it has only itself to blame for rushing to the Supreme Court and falling flat on its face. Or, with due apologies, its lawyers.
A writ petition by the Election Commission under Article 32 of the Constitution can, strictly speaking, never be maintainable. For Article 32 (on its express terms) is available only for the enforcement of fundamental rights. And the EC as a body has no fundamental rights of its own.
The Supreme Courts oral observation that the EC has no power of enforcing its own guidelines is, of course, begging the question perhaps the most important question arising under Article 324. But there is no gainsaying the fact that the EC cannot ask the court to enforce its guidelines on its behalf. Or expect the court, the nations apex court, to act as its executing agency. And then, in the event of the court playing ball, invoke its contempt jurisdiction for punishing any infraction of the guidelines.
Regardless of the good intentions behind it, that was a tactic too clever by half.
To be fair to the EC, such tactics in the guise of public interest litigation were quite often employed in the not very remote past. For all sorts of things, from enforcing reports of commissions or committees of enquiry to cleaning up the environment. And with not inconsiderable encouragement from the court itself. The maintainability of the petitions, and there was a flood of them under Article 32, was the last thing that bothered the Bench.
Unfortunately for the Election Commission, times have changed. The Supreme Court of today is not the Supreme Court of yesterday even as M.S. Gill is not T.N. Seshan (thank God for that!). The reckless reformism of the past has given way to caution.
Big turnout for French reception
AT the reception hosted midweek, by the French Press Attache Dominique Pradet, one couldnt get feelers of the ongoing hue and cry in Paris around the Indian diplomat and his maid. In fact, the turn-out for this reception was in such numbers that Hotel Imperials particular restaurant The Spice Route was not even left with inroutes. Actually Pradet is on her next posting to Japan and this was her gesture to bid goodbye and also to introduce her successor Sylvia Fernandez. Here I must add that Pradet never came across like the routine Press Attaches but was highly liked and would take pains to help out with any detailing. The French Embassy in New Delhi is one of the most active embassies in New Delhi, where receptions and events and dos are concerned.
And coming back to this latest maid versus diplomat-master incident, though diplomatic sources are tight-lipped they add that this maid incident is just too frivolous to come in the way of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Also there is a simmering apprehension about our diplomats behaviour vis a vis the maid for its hardly possible for the maid or her French saviours to have mutilated her private parts just to make a joint against the diplomat. And the said ill-treatment shed been receiving at the diplomats household could be exaggerated though not entirely untrue. And though the latest on this incident is that a senior MEA official is already on his way to Paris to conduct an enquiry into this incident but that I am told this is a face saving device, a mere formality. To get the maid right back here, so that the entire episode gets hushed up or buried deep till amnesia takes over. As always.
I think it was indeed brave for Aruna Vasudevs Cinemaya to host a week long festival of Asian films. Supported by government of the NCT of Delhi, IHC and also by the Japan Foundation it brought on screen a week of good Asian cinema but the panel discussion on Asian cinema was disappointing. To begin with, penalists from only two other countries came Bangladesh and Japan besides the host country. And then, before the fireworks could start representatives from the government had left the venue so all those who had to be targeted, or perhaps lampooned were missing.
Nevertheless the panelists especially our Indian ones Adoor Gopalkrishnan and Bikram Singh left nothing amiss to blast the very system. It was last year that the then I&B minister Sushma Swaraj had declared cinema to be an industry but nothing has moved since then and this declaration remains only on paper ...Even the NFDC, which was put up for good cinema, is for the last 10 years without a board. Yet nobody complains and questions, not even filmmakers ...Coming to DD, they have very conveniently put all regional films under one slot the Saturday afternoon slot. And no matter whether the film is an award-winning film or the general masala film it can only be screened on that slot. With the result that all sorts of films are in queue for screening. Mind you the queuing period is three years and the payments for the screened films generally take another three years to be cleared! And no matter how much has been spent on the production the highest DD can pay is eight lakhs. The producer is helpless and accepts whatever payment DD makes. Together with this they blasted DD, pointing out that the worst from the Bollywood masala films are screened on DD, leaving the average viewer with no choice but to see trash and rubbish.
Surprisingly the panel member from Japan, Yoichi Higashi, was also armed with a list of complaints. In Japan there isnt much difference between art and commercial cinema, for you cannot afford to look down on commercial cinema. Then, there is a lot of American influence so much so that many a young person is heard uttering that how hed wish he wasnt a Japanese or at least didnt look like one! And to top it all there is a shortage of funds for filmmaking, so that way I should say the situation in Japan vis a vis filmmaking is not so hopeful yet not very hopeless too. And coming to two panelists from Bangladesh Tanveer Mokammel and Ahmad Muztaba Zamal they were not only upset with the state of cinema in their home country but also worried about Bollywood invading Bangladesh. Nevertheless, Zamal did bring in an optimistic note by adding Very much in keeping with the special film complex Nandan of Calcutta we are also pursuing with the idea of setting up an exclusive Art Cinema complex in Dhaka....
Battle hotting up
And as news comes by of
Karan Singhs electioneering in Lucknow, its
being said that the only aspect in his favour is the fact
that he is going to camp there right till the last
day. So together with his biwi (yes, hes one of
those fortunate few whose wife travels with him wherever
he sets off to) he is going to be there, electioneering
this entire fortnight. And though till date no filmstars
have descended to help him out there is a strong
speculation that some of those from the ageing brigade of
Bollywood Dilip Kumar, Sunil Dutt and Rajesh
Khanna would be soon unleashed on the poor people
of Lucknow. And on the part of his rival candidate, Atal
Behari Vajpayee, it is being said that the volume of his
poetry collection is doing the rounds or as some say
selling like hot cakes. Even I very recently
went through this volume and much to my disappointment
found some of the poetic lines to be reeking of hardcore
saffron sentiments. And that's putting it mildly.
The house of Bagrian
THE house of Bagrian is closely linked with the spread of Sikhism in the Malwa region of Punjab. Guru Arjun Dev Ji and later Guru Hargobind Sahib baptised the successive descendants of the family, i.e. Sindhu and Rup Chand. In recognition of the services of Rup Chand in the Sikh cause, Guru Hargobind named him as his own brother and bestowed on him the benediction of langer, a free kitchen, which to this day feeds the poor and those who visit the place. Thus came into use the family name Bhaika. This benevolence was further graced when the last Guru, ordained that the descendants of the family would be considered as his descendants. Two of the brothers from the Bagrian family had accompanied Guru Gobind Singh to Nanded Sahib. Sir Lepel Griffin in his book, Chiefs and Families of Note records that the house of Bagrian has been a beacon of spiritual light to the Sikh ruling princes and the Sikhs in general.
In 1754, the Mughal Governor presented to the family the village of Bagrian along with 29 other villages. Bagrian became a seat of Sikh spiritual thought and has been prominently associated with various Panthic and public institutions and the Sikh Sabha movement, especially under the guidance of His Holiness Bhai Sahib Bhayee Arjan Singh.
The House of Bagrian has served the cause of Sikh faith for close to four centuries. Raja Gajpat Singh of Jind was blessed with a daughter but the despicable custom of those days was to kill most of the female children at birth. Accordingly Gajpat Singh had placed the female child in a pitcher to be buried. At that moment Bhai Guddar Singh of Bagrian arrived and told Gajpat Singh that the girl he had put in the pitcher to be buried, will, in due time give birth to an avenger who will rout the Mughals and establish a great kingdom in the Punjab. That girl later gave birth to Ranjit Singh. Maharaja Ranjit Singh visited Bagrian in 1807 to pay homage to the then head of the Bagrian family, Bhai Sahib Singh.
The eldest son of Arjan Singh, Bhai Sahib Ardaman Singh, was born on September 20, 1899, in Bagrian village. His early schooling was from Ludhiana and for his graduation he attended Khalsa College, Amritsar. Bagrian House in Simla became the confluence of many thinkers, statesmen and enlightened Sikh scholars, the likes of Bawa Harikishen Singh, Principal Teja Singh, Bhai Kahn Singh of Nabha, Baba Prem Singh Hotimardan, Sardar Sardoor Singh Cavishar etc.
Bhai Sahib Ardaman Singh
was an enlightened soul, deeply immersed in Sikh
religious philosophy, nit naem and meditation. His
scholarly bent of mind, profound knowledge of Sikhism,
erudition and saintly disposition evoked reverence and
gave him a place of eminence amongst the Sikhs. He was
the guiding light and source of inspiration for various
Sikh associations and their work. His 100th birth
anniversary falls on September 20, 1999. To commemorate
the occasion his book entitled Thoughts of Bhai
Ardaman Singh is being released by Bhai Ashok
SINCE we last wrote on this subject the Agent of North Western Railway has deputed an officer of the Railway Department to make inquiries into the Harappa railway collision. We apprehend nothing substantial may be expected from a purely departmental inquiry like this unless definite improvements in the existing order of things are contemplated.
The ghastly nature of the tragedy has pushed into prominence the question of the safety of passengers, especially the third class passengers, who are the principal source of the revenue of the Railway Department.
Let this disaster serve as an eye-opener and persuade the Railway Board to appoint an impartial committee, consisting of a majority of non-officials, to go into the whole matter thoroughly and with powers to make recommendations for the adoption of definite measures to ensure safety to life, limb and property of railway passengers.
| Punjab | Haryana | Himachal Pradesh | Jammu & Kashmir |
| Chandigarh | Business | Sport |
| Mailbag | Spotlight | World | 50 years of Independence | Weather |
| Search | Subscribe | Archive | Suggestion | Home | E-mail |