Avid LINK Reader Khushi Ram Reaches Century And Still Going Strong

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By Zile Singh

A beautiful daydawned on August 20, 2021, carrying Mr. Khushi Ram into its bosom and crossing over the threshold of 100 years. It was an occasion for celebration for his near and dear, his country of origin and also for the Beautiful British Columbia, where he has spent most of his ripe age to work for his livelihood and devote a major part of his time in reading and engaged in the community activities.  He has a large collection of books on varied subjects.

Born without a silver, iron or even a plastic spoon in his mouth on August 20, 1921 as Khushia, into a poor and illiterate household of ShriDhanna Ram and Smt. Jassi, he did his schooling from his village Primary School, Husainabad (Punjab). Thanks to the Compulsory Education System, otherwise he would have grown a sturdy young man helping his father in the farms and contributing towards their meagre earnings to meet both ends. He got married to Mrs. Bhagwanti at an early age. He passed his 8th class from Khalsa High School, Shankar in 1940 winning a scholarship and breaking previous records.  Shankar village has the proud history of producing eminent lawyer and Indian’s Foreign Minister Sardar Swaran Singh, an Indian Civil Servant (ICS) and later India’s Foreign Secretary, Mr. Kewal Singh including several Ministers in the Punjab government. For Matriculation he joined SamraiJindiala High School. He had to commute seven miles on foot every day. For higher studies he joined D.A.V. College Jalandhar and passed BA(Hons- Economics) in 1946. He was a meritorious student in school and in college.  He joined as a teacher in Khalsa High School, Shankar, the same school, where he studied but was forced to quit because of his favourable attitude towards the Dalit issues. The Dalit issue or the Untouchability has been a social and political problem in India forcenturies.

Though, for him and his family to be without a job, was a bolt from the blue, yet it opened new vistas for him.  He bade goodbye to the rural settings, and left for the national Capital; New Delhi which became his abode for the future.  He joined the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) as Assistant in 1948. On deputation, he served as a Magistrate in Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh), Ministry of Commerce and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes. After rendering 31-year yeoman’s service, he retired as Deputy Secretary to the Government of India in 1979.  While in service, he passed two years’ Master’s Diploma in Public Administration from IIPA, New Delhi.  He stood third among 30 candidates. The UPSC- an examining body for Indian Civil Servants, gave him an opportunity to look after the interests of the underprivileged.  After retirement, he was taken on the Recruitment Board of the State Bank of India and on the Board of Directors of Andhra Bank.

He came to Vancouver with his family in 1986 under sponsorship of his daughter.  As a new immigrant, he had to work hard in various capacities till the age of 80, before settling down in his own house in Vancouver with his son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons.

I came in contact with Mr. Khushi Ram in 2016 in a community function celebrating Lord Buddha’s birth.  He is a Buddhist by conviction and a humanist by nature.  In 2011, he penned his autobiography “From Servitude to Freedom”.  In addition to his life, therein he has given some philosophical aspects of life. To quote from his book, “Whether from the point of view of material possessions or of intellectual attainments, of social prestige or of spiritual status, my case is one of ascent from powerlessness to empowerment, from ignorance to knowledge, from subservience to personal autonomy, both practically and philosophically.  However, the progress has been more by chance than by design.  I am amazed at the “turning points” I had in my life.” He had the good fortune to sit at the feet of Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar while he was alive.

Crossing the threshold of a century also is another amazement for him as well as for all of us known to him. Physically he is reasonably agile and mentally he is quite alert.  He says, “Leading the life on the Middle Path is good.”

It was a transcending moment for Mr. Khushi Ram when on August 23rd ,His Excellency Mr. Ajay Bisaria, High Commissioner of India in Canada delivered his well thought of congratulatory message on this momentous occasion through the Indian Consulate- General, Vancouver. Mr. Manjish Grover, Consul, presented Mr. Khushi Ram with the Message and a Shawl.  Manjish extended his personal greetings as well. A lively and engaging discussion prevailed for almost an hour. Mr. Harsh and Mrs. Bharti, son and daughter-in-law of Mr. Khushi Ram hosted   a sumptuous tea and snack party.

In the picture from left to right: Mr. Ram PartapKaler, a close friend, Mr. Khushi Ram, Mr. ManjishGorver, Consul and Mr. Zile Singh, Ambassador (Retd.)

Mr. Khushi Ram is an avid reader of The Link.He has friends across religions and ethnicities.  He is a living inspiration for the multicultural community of British Columbia (Canada).

May Mr. Khushi Ram stay healthy and happy for years to come.

Zile Singh is a well respected Columnist, Writer and a Vipassana Meditater. He has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Rights.  He can be reached at [email protected]