An NRI’s tribute to his martyred father

Rami Ranger was yet to be born when his father lay down his life trying to save students from being lynched by a violent mob in 1947 in Pakistan. Even though he lives in the U.K. for the past 40 years, Ranger has remained a torch-bearer of his father’s memory and cause, that of fighting for the unity, integrity and brotherhood of mankind. The 3rd Shaheed Nanak Singh memorial lecture was held at the Punjabi University on February 14

“India’s unity is like the colours of a rainbow. If one were 
removed, its charm and beauty would be diminished" 
—Shaheed Nanak Singh

Amarjit Singh Chandhiok, Additional Solicitor General of India delivered the third Shaheed Nanak Singh Memorial Lecture to a packed audience. People from the USA, UK and Canada were amongst the guests who came to hear the lecture. In his keynote speech on “India’s Diversity and Future”, organised by the Punjabi University’s Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur National Integration Chair, Mr Chandhiok paid tribute to Shaheed Nanak Singh who championed the cause of unity and religious tolerance and opposed the division of India on the basis of religion alone. He also praised the widow of Shaheed Nanak Singh, Harbans Kaur who brought up 8 children in the most difficult and testing circumstances, but still gave 5 of her sons to the Armed Forces to defend the integrity of India.

Chandhiok said, “India is a land of contrasts as it has assimilated people belonging to different ethnic, religious, castes, linguistic and regional identities. While these identities co-existed for centuries and presented a mosaic culture, we are presently in the grip of a kind of fear psychosis, created mainly by the present social and political ill.” He further advocated the idea of private-public partnerships to promote academic excellence as the State alone could not aid higher education for all. “If we do not resort to innovative measures, then we will end up with educated unemployment and unemployable degree holders”, he said.

Canadian M.P. Ruby Dhalla laid emphasis on investing in institutions of primary and higher education, empowerment of women folk and motivating the youth to transform the vision of a shining India into reality. Women in India, she said, are themselves responsible for their poor plight as a large majority of them, especially in villages and suburban areas choose to remain as “girls-next-door”. She endorsed the idea of the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Jaspal Singh to forge stronger ties and a lasting relationship between Punjabi University and Punjabi NRIs settled in Canada and elsewhere to promote Punjabi and religious pluralism, which happen to be the major fortes of the Punjabi University.

In his presidential address, the Vice-Chancellor referred to the Guru Granth Sahib as the richest source of the concept of unity in diversity as it advocated not only accepting and respecting identities of others, but also going to the extent of defending them at every cost. Guru Tegh Bahadur gave up his life to defend the identity of Indians. The holy scriptures attempt to shatter all types of boundaries, be they cast, language or religion. Paying obeisance to this great scripture amounts to worshiping all religions. The Vice-Chancellor honoured ASG Chandhiok, MP Dhalla and Lord Daljit Rana, and other dignitaries who graced the occasion by presenting to them mementoes and sets of University publications.

Lord Daljit Rana said that social and religious divisions were bigger dangers to the international community as compared to political divisions. He praised the Haryana Government for making available 20 acre land for a museum to showcase the sacrifices of India’s freedom fighters. Baltej Maan, professor and head of the chair welcomed the guests and Registrar Manjit Singh proposed a vote of thanks.
Punjabi University Vice Chancellor Jaspal Singh with Canadian MP Ruby Dhalla. In the middle are British-Indian businessman Rami Ranger and his wife  Former Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs J.C. Sharma is 
honoured by Vice Chancellor Jaspal Singh
Chief Guest and additional solicitor general of India Amarjit Singh Chandhiok (fifth from right) delivered the 3rd Shaheed Nanak Singh Memorial Lecture A cross section of the audience listens to VC Singh
Publisher of INDIA EMPIRE Sayantan Chakravarty receives a shawl and memento from VC Jaspal Singh Sukhinder Singh Mansahia who is the private secretary of Minister of State for External Affairs Preenet Kaur is honoured

February 2011

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