Saturday, January 22, 2000
M A I N   F E A T U R E

Founding fathers

On January 26, the Republic of India will celebrate the golden jubilee of its existence. G.S. Aujla profiles luminaries from this region who were members of the Constituent Assembly which drafted the Constitution of India.

R-Day parade, 1950
A memory relived

NOVEMBER 26, 1999 marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of India. This document came into effect on January 26, 1950 when India declared itself to be a Sovereign Democratic Republic. It is an appropriate time to take a look at the life sketches of those founding fathers of the Constitution who belonged to this region. Some of them were personalities of social and political eminence. While confining myself to then Punjab, which included the entire State of Punjab, Haryana, some parts of Himachal Pradesh and PEPSU which though a part of the princely order constituted more than about a dozen districts of the present Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Out of the total 303 members of the Constituent Assembly, 15 of them were from composite Punjab and erstwhile Pepsu.


Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Defence Minister Baldev Singh at the first Republic Day parade on January 26, 1950
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Defence Minister Baldev Singh at the first
Republic Day parade on January 26, 1950.

As the son of one of the founding fathers of the Constitution, S. Sochet Singh Aujla, I was fortunate to have access to the calligraphic edition of the Constitution of India which contains a reproduction of the autographs of the authors of the Constitution as they are borne on the original statute. The founding fathers of our Constitution from the region deserve to be remembered on the golden jubilee of the Indian Republic.

S. Baldev Singh S. Baldev Singh — The most prominent member of the Constituent Assembly of India was born in the family of S. Inder Singh of village Dumna in District Ropar. Earlier, this village was a part of district Ambala in composite Punjab. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, S. Baldev Singh was one of the richest Punjabis outside the princely order. His father owned large industrial establishments in Jamshedpur (Bihar) and East Bengal (now Bangladesh). S. Baldev Singh took active part in the politics of India and represented the Sikhs in all important negotiations with the British, including the London Conference. He was the Minister for Development in pre-Independence Punjab from June 1942 to September 1946. When the Interim Government of India was established, S. Baldev Singh became the Member for Defence and played a crucial role at the time of Partition in not only maintaining the sanctity of the international borders but also in the partition of armed forces between India and Pakistan. On the achievement of Independence of India on August 15, 1947, S. Baldev Singh became the Minister in-charge of Defence — a portfolio which he kept for a number of years and remained a highly respected figure in all political circles.

Giani Gurmukh Singh MusafirGiani Gurmukh Singh Musafir — Born in district Attock (now in Pakistan) in January 1899, he underwent imprisonment for participating in various nationalist movements. He was known for his poetic disposition and patriotic fervour. He became President of the East Punjab Congress Committee in 1949.

Subsequently he became the Chief Minister of Punjab in the mid-sixties.

S. Hukam SinghS. Hukam Singh — Son of S. Sham Singh of Montgomery (now in Pakistan), he was born on August 30, 1895. He studied at Government High School, Montgomery, Khalsa College, Amritsar and Panjab University Law College, Lahore. He practised law at Montgomery from 1925 to 1947. He was arrested in connection with the Gurdwara Reforms Movement in 1924-45. He was Secretary of the Reception Committee of Sikh Education Conference at Montgomery in 1935. He was a member of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee for 15 years. Due to his distinguished legal background, he was appointed Judge of the State High Court of Kapurthala, a post which he held from December 1947 to November 1949.

S. Hukam Singh was appointed Speaker of Lok Sabha twice and later on became the Governor of Rajasthan.

Lala Achint Ram Lala Achint Ram — Born in Kot Mohammad Khan village in Amritsar district in August 1898, Lala Achint Ram studied at Government High Schools at Amritsar and Simla and graduated from D.A.V. College, Lahore. He was imprisoned for participating in nationalist movements in 1930, 1939, 1940 and 1942.

He held many public offices, including that of the President Punjab Provincial Election Tribunal, President, Managing Committee, National Industrial High School, Member, Cottage Industries Sub-Committee and Industrial Development Board, Punjab since 1946. He was Member, Executive of the All India States People’s Conference, General Secretary, Reception Committee of the All India States People’s Conference, Ludhiana and Member Board of Trustees, Gulab Devi Tuberculosis Hospital, Lahore. He was Vice-President, All India Postmen and Lower Grade Staff Union and President, Punjab Harijan Sewak Sangh, Member Executive of the All India Refugee Association, Secretary of Servants of the People Society.

Lala Achint Ram’s son Shri Krishan Kant is now the Vice-President of India.

S. Ranjit SinghS. Ranjit Singh — A Sardar Bahadur from the British regime, he was born in November, 1897 in Akoi village in Sangrur district in the house of Sardar Bahadur Narain Singh. Sardar Bahadur Narain Singh was one of the leading contractors of Lutyens New Delhi and constructed the impressive building of the Parliament of India. S. Ranjit Singh studied at Raj High School, Sangrur. Being a leading contractor and businessman, Sardar Bahadur Ranjit Singh was the Hony. Magistrate, New Delhi, and Member, Advisory Council to the Chief Commissioner, Delhi, President, Panthic Darbar, President, Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Delhi and Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Dehradun, Member, Managing Committees of Hindu College and Indraprastha College for Women, Delhi and Member, Khalsa College Governing Council, Amritsar.

Bakhshi Tek ChandBakhshi Tek Chand — Son of Jaishi Ram, Bakhshi Tek Chand was born at Nurpur, Kangra district, now in Himachal Pradesh on August 26, 1883. He studied at Municipal Board School, Nurpur, Mission School, Dharamsala, D.A.V. High School, Lahore Government College, Lahore and University Law College, Lahore from where he got his LL.B degree. He practised as an advocate at Lahore from 1922 to 1926. He was President, Punjab High Court Bar Association from 1922 to 1926 and a judge in the High Court of Lahore from 1927 to 1943 during which period he officiated as Chief Justice four times. Bakhshi Tek Chand was Secretary and President, D.A.V. College Society, Chairman, Sir Ganga Ram Trust, President, Punjab Medical Education and Relief Society, Trustee, Naraindass Moolchand Hospital for Children and Jaswant Rai Churamani Maternity and Child Welfare Trust, Chairman, Punjab Engineering Education and Research Society, Member, Governing Board, V.D.J.R. Technical Institute, Lahore, Member, Punjab Riot Sufferers Relief Committee, Lahore and Secretary Punjab Martial Law Enquiry Committee. He was member, Punjab Legislative Council in 1926.

S. Sochet Singh AujlaS. Sochet Singh Aujla — Born on December 22, 1905, at Aujla village, Kapurthala district, in the house of Late S. Harnam Singh, S. Sochet Singh was educated at Randhir High School, Kapurthala, Randhir College, Kapurthala, Government College, Lahore and East London College, London, where he completed his Masters in English. On his return from England he was appointed a Deputy Superintendent of Police in the princely state of Kapurthala. He rose to the rank of IG, Police. Due to his administrative acumen he was given various non-police assignments, including that of District Magistrate, Secretary- Commissioner, and Director, Food and Civil Supplies. Following his involvement in the Parjamandal and freedom movements in Pepsu, he resigned from the service of the princely state in February 1948. He was a member of the Governing Council of Khalsa College, Amritsar from 1944 to 1946 and was one of the Founder Directors of the Punjab State Co-operative Bank.

S. Bhupinder Singh MannS. Bhupinder Singh Mann — Born in the famous Mann clan of Manawala in Sheikhupura district now in Pakistan in July, 1916, S. Bhupinder Singh Mann studied at Government College Lyallpur and Law College, Lahore. He underwent imprisonment for participating in nationalist movement from 1942 to 1945. He was member, Punjab Congress Committee in 1946 and later on General Secretary Shiromani Akali Dal in 1947.

Shri Bikram Lal SondhiShri Bikram Lal Sondhi — Born in 1900, Bikram Lal Sondhi got his B.Sc (Hons) degree from Panjab University. He was imprisoned for participating in the Quit India Movement and underwent imprisonment at Dalhousie and Lahore. Hailing from Jalandhar City, Sondhi was Investment and Finance Advisor to various organisations.

Chaudhari Ranbir Singh — Born on November 26, 1914, in the house of Matu Ram in Sangli village Rohtak district, Ranbir Singh studied at Vaish High School, Rohtak, Government College, Rohtak and Ramjas Chaudhari Ranbir SinghCollege, Delhi from where he graduated in early thirties. He was imprisoned four times for participating in nationalist movements. Taking a greater interest in education, he founded Subash High School at Kharkhande and primary schools in villages of Munger Bilbilan and Polangi. He also started a weekly called the Hindi Haryana and headed the Haryana Vidya Parcharani Sabha at Rohtak.

Ranbir Singh was a minister in the Punjab Government for a number of years.

Master Nand LalMaster Nand Lal — Born in 1887, at village Jhang Maghiana in Jaranwala district, now in Pakistan, Nand Lal received his education up to high school level. He suffered imprisonment for 11 years for participating in nationalist movements. He was an active member of the Jaranwala Congress Committee for a number of years. He was Municipal Commissioner, Layallpur three times and after Partition settled at Panipat in Haryana.

Kaka Bhagwant RoyKaka Bhagwant Roy — He was born on January 15, 1917, in the house of Mangat Roy Bansal of Ludhiana. He was the President, Students Federation and Labour Federation, Ludhiana. He was Member, Working Committee, All India Students Federation and Secretary, Ludhiana D.C.C., Vice-Chairman, All India Radical Youth Conference, Lahore, Secretary, Burmese Evacuees Relief Committee and Tagore Society. He suffered imprisonment for participating in Congress Satyagrah Movement in 1942 and 1946. He was President of Patiala State Congress Committee in 1945, Member General Council of All India States Peoples Conference and Vice-President, Gandhi National Memorial Fund, Pepsu. He was also President Congress Organisation Board, Pepsu and Nehru Youth Centre, Delhi and Vice-President, East Punjab Railway Staff Union, Delhi.

Prof. Yashwant RaiProf. Yashwant Rai — Born on May 16, 1915 in the house of Ram Krishna at Jagraon in Ludhiana district, Punjab. Yaswant Rai studied at R.K. High School, Jagraon, D.A.V. College, Lahore and D.M. College, Moga. Yashwant Rai was President of the Reception Committee of Harijan Conference, General Secretary Provincial Depressed Classes League, 1938, Member and Joint Secretary, Working Committee of the All India Depressed Classes League, Editor Dalit Bandhu, founder of L. Lajpat Rai High School at Lahore, Member, All India Council for Education, Harijan Welfare Board, Punjab and Punjab Provincial Harijan Sewak Sangh and President, Rohtak Harijan Conference.


R-Day parade, 1950
A memory relived
By Hope Gaur

THIS morning I inspected my solitary potted calendula. It seemed to be growing well, but there were no orange or yellow buds to be seen. The calendula took my imagination wandering to the India Radio (AIR) by my late guru, Melville de Mellow. In the circumstantial descriptions prefacing his Republic Day commentaries, the calendula was unfailingly the first flower to be mentioned.

No doubt, this January as in other years, the flower beds that line Raj Path, would already be flaunting their colours — not only of the ubiquitious calendula, but phlox and geranium and daisies, yellow and white. Raj Path would be meticulously readied up for the big day, the Golden Anniversary of India’s institution as a Republic.

It is as it was with us fifty years ago on that first, newborn Republic Day.

In 1950, I was just one year into broadcasting, so it was encouraging to discover that I had been put on my standby duty in the studio with the actual anchor. Reggie Carrapiet had been quite irritated "I don’t need a standby" he had declared with some heat. But it was an order in black and white and we had to obey it. "What do they think is going to happen?" he asked, ".... that I might choke, or stutter or collapse....?"

He suggested then that after he had made his announcement, I should go up to the roof and watch, and, "If anything does happen, someone will fetch you," he added.

It was not hard to be persuaded. So, on the morning of January 26, 1950, Reggie Carrapiet made the studio announcement from AIR, Delhi, for the community on the first Republic Day Parade. Then he handed the commentary over to field commentator Melville de Mellow with a flourish!

I went by the back stairs, two flights, to the rooftop. Others with the same idea were there before me. I made my way to the parapet on the further side.

Down below, Parliament Street gleamed wetly from the gentle sprinkle the skies had showered in benediction. At the entry and exit gates of the AIR campus, some AIR personnel had assembled. The massive buildings that stand on either side of the road today had yet to be built, so the vista from the roof top of the then Broadcasting House’s was the claim, shining ribbon of road and an expanse of neem and jamun trees, young and sturdy, lining it on both sides. A rope barricade had also been erected against possible thrusting spectators, which at the time of I looked down were three Rajasthani labourers, two women and a man, but a few more people could be seen hesitatingly approaching the Old Mill Road.

We, upon the roof and those below, waited not knowing what to expect. Then we heard it ... a motor bike approaching from the Parliament House side. It roared down Parliament Street, to alert all. As its noise died away there came other, the more delicate clip clop of horse hooves. Soon we had the first glimpse of the President’s Bodyguard, trotting past, resplendent in their uniform. Followed the outriders, equal in splendour, and then the President’s Carriage drawn by six horses, perfectly groomed and shining. The coachman on the box of the carriage sat very dignified holding his whip straight, and controlling the horses with efficient ease. The carriage contained only one occupant, the first President of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad, who sat erect, looking neither left or right. A liveried footman stood behind the carriage. More outriders followed. The cavalcade passed below us and along the road towards Connaught Circus.

Since none of us was listening to the commentary, those of us upon the roof had no idea of what was happening at the Connaught Place, but we learned later, from those who had gone there, that there had been a good crowd waiting. Girls from Indraprastha College, Miranda House students, highly decked up young ladsfrom Delhi University’s many men’s colleges, school children, house holders, trade people, lined the verandahs and crowded he rooftops, all clapping enthusiastically and cheering the cavalcade all along the Connaught Place. It must have been heartwarming for the first citizen of the country!

By the time the equipage returned to Parliament Street some half-an-hour later, spectators had increased in number, both down below and on the roof. As it came nearer, we saw the white capped face of the President, smiling. He even took time to look at us — and we clapped for him. Soon the cavalcade made its stately progress towards Parliament House and thence, presumably up Raisina Hall to Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Duty recalled me to the present. I arrived in the studio in time to hear Melville de Mellow say "I now return you to the studios of All India Radio Delhi". The red light came on Reggie Carrapiet made his closing announcement. He did not choke or stutter or collapse, but flicked off with a flourish.

The first Republic Day parade was over. The First President had made his first ceremonial appearance. He would make others, but thereafter on Raj Path. It was also the only actual Republic Day parade I ever saw, because, as "they" say "ad nauseam" "The rest is History"!!! (WFS)