A Philosopher – King in Vigyan-Dham

By R S Tolia • Random Thoughts • 28 Oct 2015

Re-organization of states in India is a political process which is yet to be studied in its entirety, particularly from the point of view of what it does to various institutions that existed before any such re-structuring. Re-organizations result in division of physical and financial assets, man-power and institutions. While financial and physical assets and man-power are amenable to speedy substitutions the same cannot be said for institutions. Institutions, particularly those related to academic and intellectual puruits take their own sweet time to be built and therefore their partition between two political autonomous units leaves a void that has more debilitating impact on the successor region which is left to create a new one, ab – initio.

Re-organization of Uttar Pradesh

While division of various physical assets between Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have received attention of both administrations there have hardly been any voice that has raised concern in regard to deprivation of historical records, i.e. Archives and various official and semi-official libraries. While the public at large are generally unaware of the treasure-troves that existed in the shape and form of Civil Secretariat and State Assembply Libraries, as the access to these institutionals is beyond the reach of even accredited research scholars, leave aside an ordinary serious scholar, their retention by te parent state has not received any attention at all. When it comes to still richer academic trasure-troves, namely the State Archives, the existing law is most unkind to the successor state, Uttarakhand. According to the Re-organization law the originals cannot be shifted to the successor state, even though some of the old records may belong exclusively to the latter. To wit, even te old records of the Officers of Kumaon Commissioner and part Meerut Commissioner, and corresponding Collectorates cannot be shifted to or handed over to Uttarakhand. While the logic of their continuity for past two hundred hundred years and ease of referencing is understood, the aspect of inconveniences caused to research scholras is simply brushed aside. Lucknow, the state capital of undivided Uttar Pradesh had many outstanding libraries and the State Archive, at Niralanagar and many parts of the old Lucknow city, besides various educational and cultural institutions, the loss in terms of libraries for interesetd readers has particularly been felt very acutely by many. The Hill districts of Uttarakhand being remote and bearing modest populations never boasted of any library tradition, except of course Naini Tal and Dehradun-Musoorie. here, one is not talking of private libraries or collection of manuscripts, about which not much is either known or being attempted. Of Departmental Libraries, e.g. the celebrated library of the Survey of India, or ICFRE, of the LBS National Academy of Administration, there has been no dearth, but these have never been considered public libraries, open to a common man.

Doon Library & Research Centre

It is in this context that the initiative taken to set up Doon Library and Research Centre ( DLRC ) some six years after the state was carved out, has to be appreciated. That a robust Library for the Civil Secretariat is a sine qua non had been appreciated early and the same was compensated by this writer, as In Charge State Capital, when he advised all officers joinging the new state to procure their official publicationas via Messers Natraj Book Depot and keep them in the newly established Civil Secretariat after their use. It became quite an exercise to hunt for a suitable Librarian for the newly set up Secretariat Library during the early days. Be that as it may comenced in 2006 the Doon Library and research Centre, situated at the Parade Ground, has come a long way and to a considerable extent it has addressed the loss of excellent Libraries left behind in Lucknow, by the serious library-goer. However, that this library still lacks the basic infrastructure and libreray support systems, continues to be a major issue.

Academic Events

That the Libraries serve a major intellectual need of the city literatti and intellectual class was amply demonstrated by what Doon Library did via joining hands with the Uttarakhand Council of Science & Technology ( UCOST ) today. The occasion was birthday celebration of the eleventh President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam ( born. 1931 ), who helped build an altogether different image of the highets public office the land (  24 July 2002- 25 July 2007 ). The 84th birth anniversary of President Dr APJ Abdul Kamal was suggested by his old friend Prof Dhirendra Sharma and executed into a function jointly by Prof BK Joshi, Director Doon Library and DG, UCOST, Dr Rajendra Dobhal. The anniversary was held at UCOST, near Sela Quin, in their Vigyan-Dham Campus.

Philosopher King

Prof AN Purohit, first to pay homage to this Scientist cum President, likened him to what the Greek Philosopher had idealized as a model, Philosopher King. A philoshopher King, he said could come via two routes, a King was also a philoshoper, or a philosopher who went on to become a King. As Dr Kalam was not a practicing or retired politician but a professional scientist, naturally he belonged to the latter category. of the other thriteen Presidents that India has had so far, arguably only Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan ( b. 1888; 1962-67 ) and his successor Dr Zakir Husain ( b. 1897; 1967-69 ) came closest to this description. While all remaining Presidents rose to the highest public office via political ladder, the other exceptions consisted of Justice Mohammed HidayatUllah ( born. 1905. officiating 1969 ) and Dr KR Nayrayanan ( b. 1918; 1997-2002 ).

All invited speakers, as it transpired, spoke of their first hand experience of meeting President Kalam and the personal qualities that came to the fore were his disarming smile and simplicity, hard work, dedication, love of children, extremely inquisitive instincts, and interestingly enough his love and care for mountains and mountain-people. His chairmanship of TIFAC, which aslo helped this new state during its infancy as well as DRDO ( Defence Research and Development Organization ) brought Dr kalam to this new mountain state on several occasions.

High Integrity & Public Office

Prof Dhirendra Sharma in his personal reminisciences of his old mate related several examples of his high integrity, particularly his entering the Rashtrapati Bhawan with just two bags and leaving the same after five years, with an equal number; how he never offered him tea there and visiting his Purukul house, purely as an old friend, without any security or even guides. His deep concern about children and youth and equally about science education, as shared by Mrs Kamala Pant, was reflectd in his opening of  Rashtriya Bal Vidya Congress, every year, attended by two youngest students from each state. Those who shared their personal experiences of meeting him consisted of Prof AN Purohit, Dr RS Tolia, Dr Rajendra Dobhal, Prof Dhirendra Sharma and Mrs Kamla Pant.

Vigyan – Dham &  Vaigyanik Sant

The sprawling campus of Vigyan-dham, headquarters of UCOST, provided a perfect setting for the event and how the event came to be held at this place was also shared by the chief haost, Prof BK Joshi, Director Doon Library  & Research Centre. A larger than life coloured photograph of Dr APJ Kalam, which now adorns one of the Conference Rooms of UCOST, is now left behind as a symbol of collaboration between UCOST, Science Eriters Forum and the Doon Library & Research Centre.

The icing on the cake came through the visit of various Exhibition venues that are being raised in UCOST campus, making UCOST Vigyan-dham one of the major destination for the students of the state and the city, as its various exhibits are going to be a sure hit both with the science teachers and students alike. Vigyan-dham turned out to be the right venue to pay homage to a Scientist-Sage who used his Presidentail seat to charge up the imagination of the nation, particularly its youth with his Vision 2020, reminded the nation that its poor equally deserved the most modern infrastructure through his conceptualisation of PURA ( Public Utilities for Rural Areas ) in peri-urban areas, host to inmigrating people from backward rural regions; and set an example for our present-day parasitical politicians by setting examples of absolute integrity while receiving guests in the Rashtrpati Bhawan and by living in a single room while working as a DRDO Scientist on its Rocketry programme.

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