Kairon: the most secular statesman

In 1949-50, settlement of land was completed in my village and due to some error, two kanals less was allotted to us. In the early 1950s, I was on board Warship “Rana” and I wrote a letter by name to Kairon who was then Minister, Consolidation holding, Punjab (Kangra was its part). The “Sardar of Soldiers,” as Kairon was popularly called, directed the Settlement Commissioner, Jalandhar circle, to take immediate action. To our surprise, the lost land was restored to us in a month’s time.

Similarly, in the late 1950s, a World War I veteran approached Kairon during his visit to Dharamsala. As usual, the partymen started garlanding him and the security staff pushed back people who had come to see him with their problems.

Finding the frail elderly man being pushed away, the CM snubbed the security staff and asked the soldier what was his problem. The war veteran told the CM that he was being harassed in a land dispute case by the party in collusion with a patwari. The CM directed the tehsildar to settle the land dispute within seven days and file a report to the DC on completion. Failing this, he should be ready for being transferred to a far-flung area. The land dispute was settled within four days. Such was Kairon’s command over arrogant officials.




Kairon has gone down in the history of the country as the most secular statesman who dared to abolish all religious holidays, annoying some but pleasing every one.

He remains the highest qualified politician and Chief Minister even to this day. He had a great love for the people of Kangra who in return gave him their hearts. Nehru publicly praised Kairon as the Pride of Punjab. People like me who had the privilege of meeting him can never forget his pleasing personality.

Kairon believed in delivering results and hated long speeches, unlike politicians of today.



Apropos of “A people’s leader” by Reeta Sharma (Saturday Extra, May 7), despite the fact that Partap Singh Kairon was the architect of modern Punjab (including Haryana and Himachal), he faced a hostile media, especially the vernacular press, during his chief ministership.

He pioneered the cooperative movement to unshackle the peasantry from the clutches of money-lenders. Another achievement of Kairon was encouragement of employment of women in government offices. In a speech delivered in Chandigarh’s Sector 22, Kairon had said: Why should young men sit on chairs doing paper work in offices? This is the job of women. Men should work in factories and fields to bring prosperity to the country. I wish only girls are recruited for office work.”

He had even formulated a plan to recruit graduate girls directly to the posts of assistants in the Secretariat.

S.S. BENIWAL, Chandigarh

Indian writers’ period of triumph

In his column, Harihar Swarup has aptly observed that writers like Vikram Seth, who are "equally proficient" in writing prose, poetry and travelogue, are "rare" (Sunday Oped, April 24). Frustrations of the Lost Generations and extremely cerebral, hard-hitting writings were the characteristics of the 20th century literature, as seen in T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland, Kafka’s The Trial, Camus’s Myth of Sisyphus and Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

It was also a period of triumph for Indian writers in English such as V.S. Naipaul, Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Amitav Ghosh, Upmanyu Chatterjee, Khushwant Singh, Nayantara Sahgal, Ved Mehta, Ruskin Bond, Shashi Tharoor, Dom Moraes, Ruth Prawar, Jhabwala, Rohinton Mistry, Anita Desai and Arundhati Roy, to name a few.

Vikram Seth, born in Kolkata in 1953, wrote the 20th century’s amazingly longest English novel, A Suitable Boy, running into 1349 pages. This itself speaks volumes about Seth’s talent, craftsmanship and his fictional material. No wonder, the novel won him the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2001. The novel has sold more than one million copies the world over.

Seth’s Arion and the Dolphin is the first opera written by an Indian to have a world premiere in UK. The Golden Gate, a novel in verse, won Vikram Seth the Sahitya Akademi Award.

The Sunday Times of London, hailing The Golden Gate, described it as "a tour de force of rhyme and reasonableness" and added that it doesn’t only compellingly advocate life’s pleasure, it stylishly contributes another to them. Seth’s books on poetry include All You Who Sleep Tonight, Mappings and From Heaven Lake.


Razing the bar

This refers to Sushil Kansal’s letter “Razing the bar” (May 8) in which he had said banning of dance bars was no solution unless other forms of vulgar depiction of women in TV channels are not tackled. Not only dancing but other forms of exploitations of women also exist in such bars. Moreover, crimes and moral corruption can be checked only one step at a time.


Ghalib’s best poem

With reference to Khushwant Singh’s write-up “Ghalib again” (Saturday Extra, April 23), Chiraag-e-dair (lamp of the temple) is not “less known” as remarked by the learned writer. It is one of the best poems of Mirza Ghalib. Lovers of his Persian poetry read it with keen relish. He described Banaras as Kaaba-e-Hindustan and not Kaaba-e-Hindustani.

Ghalib was so much enamoured of the delights of Banaras that he stayed there for about a month and eulogistically wrote about every thing he admired. According to him, the Hindus believed that whoever died in Banaras did not resume body again. He described the exquisitely beautiful women as saraapa noor-e-ezad (wholly composed of God’s light).

The poem comprises 108 couplets. The Hindus consider this a lucky number, as their rosaries also have 108 beads.



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