by Ranbir Singh
THE late Hardwari Lal, one of the leading educationists and politicians of Haryana at one time, reportedly often boasted that there were only “one and a half educated men” in the state then — one was he himself, and the half was Sarup Singh.
He based his claim on the fact that he was one of the few first class graduates of his times from St. Stephen’s College of Delhi University. That he became the Principal of Vaish College, Bhiwani, even without having a master’s degree formed another basis for his boasting. It is another matter that he acquired a first class degree in political science from Panjab University later on to fulfil the eligibility condition for heading a degree college.
Subsequently, he was also appointed the founder-Principal of Kirori Mal College, Delhi. Besides, he remained the Education Minister of Haryana in the Congress government headed by Bhagwat Dayal Sharma in 1966 and in the Samyukta Vidhayak Dal government with Rao Birender Singh as Chief Minister in 1967.
Hardwari Lal also remained the Vice-Chancellor of Kurukshetra University from 1959 to 1962 and of Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, from 1977 to 1983. Furthermore, he regularly contributed articles to English dailies like The Tribune, The Indian Express, Hindustan Times and The Statesman. Also, he always wrote a booklet whenever he felt offended with the Chief Minister.
But how could he deny the claim of Dr Sarup Singh, who had not only headed Kirori Mal College as Principal but also Kurukshetra University. He (Singh) had a first class master’s degree in English from Delhi University as well as a Ph.D. degree in the same subject from London University. Moreover, he had held the offices of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor in Delhi University.
If Hardwari Lal had been a member of the Punjab Public Service Commission, Sarup Singh remained that of the Union Public Service Commission. The latter also held the position of the Chancellor of the universities in Kerala, Rajasthan and Gujarat in his capacity as the Governor of those states. If Hardwari Lal had authored one outstanding book on “Myth and Law of Parliamentary Privileges” (1979), Sarup Singh had penned three well-reviewed books and contributed a large number of papers in distinguished journals.
While Hardwari Lal received recognition as an expert on law, Sarup Singh was an internationally known scholar in the field of English literature. Then, how could Hardwari Lal claim to be the only educated man of Haryana, describing Sarup Singh as a half-educated man?
The answer will have to be searched in the old District Gazette of Rohtak where a British Deputy Commissioner is reported to have recorded: “A Jat is right when he is right. He is also right when he is wrong.’’ Let us not forget that Hardwari Lal was a Jat from Chhara village of Rohtak district in the colonial period, which is now a part of Jhajjar district.
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