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All this was easy for him to augment his daily income which sometimes ran into thousands. The Banking Inquiry Committee found that the shopkeepers used false weights and measures even while dealing with ordinary customers who were not indebted to them. Guided by the prevalent view that the son of a zamindar has virtually to step into his father's shoes, Chhotu Ram, while yet a student, was married to Gyano Devi, daughter of an agriculturist of Kheri Jat village, Jhajjar District of Haryana. Gyano Devi was blessed with the birth of two daughters, Bhagwani Devi and Ram Pyari, who preferred to remain devoted housewives.
Curiously enough, it was the age when the birth of a male child was considered most auspicious. Accordingly, some misguided people approached Chhotu Ram in later years with the plea for his remarriage. Chhotu Ram politely told them that not one son but he had quite a number of sons who were getting scholarships from his salary and were being prepared for a good career.
Among the recipients were students of different castes and communities: Jats, Ahirs, Harijans and even the Nobel Laureate Dr. Abdus Salam, who shall figure prominently in a subsequent chapter. With no adequate cultivable land at his disposal. Sukhi Ram assigned to Chhotu odd duties, like cattle grazing, supply of seeds during the sowing season, carrying food for the men at work, etc. Strange as it may seem, the apparently looking rustic and ill-mannered, Chhotu 10 Sir Chhotu Ram : A Saga of Inspirational Leadership became the talk of the town when he topped the list of successful candidates in the primary school examination conducted by the Education Department of Rohtak District in winning a scholarship of four rupees per month.
Now there was no excuse for Sukhi Ram to deny his son the right to higher studies at Jhajjar, about 12 miles from Garhi. Chhotu Ram sought admission in a middle school which had no hostel. He hired a small room and began to work still harder so as to show better results. Articles of daily consumption, like flour, ghee, vegetables, etc. This time he was placed second in the merit list of successful candidates who took the middle school examination conducted by the Punjab University, Lahore, in This time too he was found eligible for the scholarship.
But all this did not mean much for Sukhi Ram who had not even repaid the debt he had taken sometime back. Also, he did not like that his son went to a distant place like Delhi. The moneylender told Sukhi Ram that a middle pass education was good enough for a Jat boy and that he could easily get the post a village patwari or a police constable knowing little that the boy would one day decide the fate of thousands of patwaris.
This was the kind of an advice which suited Sukhi Ram down to the ground. However, Chhotu Ram was hellbent upon continuing his studies further. He did not yield to any pressure or persuasion and at long last he persuaded his uncle, Raje Ram, The Travails of Early Life 11 to support him financially for sometime.
The boy got himself admitted in the St. Stephen's High School at Delhi where he was able to get a freeship and a monthly stipend for six rupees in recognition of his excellent performance in the middle school examination. He had learnt to live within his means, draw his books from the school library and with greater vigour and perseverance he threw himself into his studies. That was how he soon managed to be in the good books of his teachers.
But at times he demonstrated innate capacity for leadership. An opportunity came when the sweeper of the school became unduly arrogant towards the students. Chhotu Ram rose to the occasion and organised a peaceful sit-in strike of the students. The argumentative skills displayed by him in peacefully settling the dispute fully convinced the school authorities that there was justification for the cause which he was spearheading. He passed his high school examination with credit in Chhotu Ram joined the St. Without disclosing the nature of his ailment to anyone he went to live in his village.
He was much upset because he had no financial source to help him in his studies. Soon his continued absence from the college came to the notice of Principal Wright. Two teachers, S. Rudra and Raghubar Dayal, accompanied by some students familiar with the area were sent to persuade Chhotu Ram to return to his studies.
The college authorities assured him of all possible help and he resumed his studies with even greater vigour and application. He passed his intermediate examination in with good marks. He was always inspired with the vision of a bright future which he thought he could realise only through hardwork and unswerving faith in God. During his college life he had been adjudged the best student in Sanskrit and English Literature.
How could destiny turn its back upon a person bent upon moving heaven and earth for the realisation for his noble mission! While going to Lahore to seek admission to the graduate course in the local D AV College, Chhotu Ram chanced to meet at the Ghaziabad railway station one of the great philanthropists of his times, Seth Chhaju Ram A Calcutta-based businessman, Chhaju Ram was highly impressed not merely by what Chhotu Ram had done before amidst abject poverty and privation, but by what he planned to do in future.
Chhaju Ram advised the young boy for studies in Sanskrit and promised him all financial help so long as he needed it. For certain unavoidable reasons Chhotu Ram joined the St.
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Stephen's College at Delhi from where he graduated in Chhotu Ram called Chhaju Ram his god-father dharampita. A college at Hissar Haryana is the only memorial which his admirers, legions of them, have built after his demise. Chhotu Ram was a keen observer of people and events. The following words he noted down in his diary about his classmates during his stay in Delhi deserve special mention here.
My relations with them were entirely cordial. But in friendly banter these urban comrades always styled their school and college fellows from the countryside as rustics, clowns and pumpkins. Jats came in for a particularly heavy dose of these epithets. These epithets were used in a perfectly good humour, with no desire to hurt and no conscious sting behind them. He knew it well that his father had left behind a debt that had to be paid at an early opportunity to frustrate the malicious design of the moneylender to grab the family land.
He now felt called upon to take lip some job. He was well assured that his college teacher, C. Andrews, was in a position to bail him out of his predicament.
Carlyle was highly impressed by the theme and contents of the paper and asked Andrews to meet Mr. The British bureaucrat was unduly proud of his newly acquired knowledge of Urdu and this was for him a good opportunity to try his hand on the young Indian before him. Chhotu Ram did nothing of the sort and this must have annoyed the bureaucrat beyond repair.
The young aspirant started answering the questions put to him in English with confidence and clarity. Chhotu Ram did not accept the post of a Nayab Tehsildar offered to him. Just around this time Chhotu Ram came across an advertisement for the post of assistant private secretary which Raja Ram Pal Singh, the ruler of a small state, Kalakankar, in Pratap Garh district of U.
As such, he wielded considerable influence in almost the entire province. Surrounded by the river Ganga, Kalakankar presented an enchanting scene which captivated Chhotu Ram in his new surroundings. Its total population did not exceed a thousand and those who were in the service of the Raja had been provided dwellings on the campus. Chhotu Ram accepted the job on a consolidated salary of forty rupees per month.
Besides taking notes from the Raja, Chhotu Ram was also required to read proofs of editorials of the English edition of the Hindustan. The work of editing was also given to him and it suited his genius because he had been good at English during his college days. The Raja was himself a literary figure and maintained a well equipped library which was thrown open to Chhotu Ram as well. The Raja had long discussions and discourses with Chhotu Ram and this brought the two together, so much so that they had their lunch together almost daily. Chhotu Ram was often reminded of the debt which he had to clear at the earliest available opportunity.
He also confided to his friends that, instead of serving one person and keeping his loyalties confined to him throughout the whole of his life, it could be far more satisfying if he served his own community in his own hometown. He went to Bharatpur one of the well known Jat states about which he had heard and read especially of the chivalrous deeds of Maharaja Suraj Mai and his son, Jawahar Singh.
He had left the job in the hope of exploring the greener pastures at Bharatpur Rajasthan. Chhotu Ram felt disillusioned because even in their own state the Jats were no more than personel non grata. On reaching home, Chhotu Ram paid off the debt but there was no definite plan in mind about the future course of action.
After having failed in his search for a suitable job, Chhotu Ram went to Lahore and joined the law classes. Soon after plague broke out and engulfed not only the entire Punjab but also the adjoining Delhi. Chhotu Ram now had to seek shelter somewhere else but with no success. After exhausting all possible avenues of employment Chhotu Ram decided to take to farming in his own village. It was indeed a miracle for him to receive a renewed call from his old employer on an enhanced salary of sixty rupees per month, besides free board and lodging.
Chhotu Ram took up his old job and as before, devoted much of his time to writing for Hindustan and handling correspondence of the Raja. As before this time also the two had their lunch and dinner together. For months this schedule continued. However, Chhotu Ram felt annoyed when one day he went to the dinner room and noticed that the dinner was half through.
He believed that the Raja was no more interested in keeping him in his job. So he went to his boss and begged leave of him, once and for all. The Raja was an extremely polished and cultured person and sought to dissuade Chhotu Ram from leaving the job but to no avail. Not willing to listen to the Raja, Chhotu Ram was given the option to return to his job after six months with the provision that he would receive full salary for the period he remained absent.
However, Chhotu Ram did not relent and returned home once again. In order to meet expenses of board and lodging, he took up teaching at the local St. John's High School as a part time teacher. He passed his law examination in and started his practice at Agra itself. His work as a criminal lawyer created a flutter in and around Agra, with the result that he came to be ranked as one of the legal luminaries in adjoining districts of Mathura, Bharatpur, Aligarh, etc.
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He chose the local Jat Boarding House as his residence-cum-office, served as its superintendent and even collected funds for its repairs and renovations. The place came to be used for holding meetings of the Jat Sabha. In districts of U. P, Punjab and Delhi his clients grew enormously in numbers but he declined to take cases that were not based on reality of facts. He turned away many prospective litigants urging them not to waste time and money because their cases were based on fabrication. He was extremely honest in his dealings with his clients and in some cases he rendered free services.
It was the Arya Samaj which dominated the Hindu thinking in most part of the present day Haryana. Chhotu Ram often participated in the congregations which were spearheaded 18 Sir Chhotu Ram : A Saga of Inspirational Leadership by dedicated saints and swamis. The workers often visited villages at night and preached the basic tenets of the new faith. Some districts in U. Swami Dayanand extensively toured many states of Northern India and carried with him messages of the Samaj wherever he went.
He did not believe so much in creating a cadre of disciples as in preaching the tenets himself in big gatherings. However, the Swami struck a discordant note in his speeches and writings when he denounced the age-old practice of idol-worship. He asserted that there was nothing to justify idolatry in the Vedas and other Hindu texts and scriptures. Quite the contrary, the followers of Sanatan Dharma preached that idol-worship was the practice taught by all Hindu shastras.
They are often vehement in their condemnation of the Swami's thesis that the Vedas are against this practice. Nevertheless, such polemics are bound to exist so long as both camps stick to their own guns. Chhotu Ram came into close contact with the Arya Samaj during his stay at Agra. The teachings of the Samaj deeply influenced him and he vowed to follow its principles in latter and spirit both in his personal and private life.
He always wore a sacred thread around his neck and sat down on the floor for his prayers every morning and every evening. It may be pointed out, in passing, that when the examination forms were being sent from the St. He agreed to write Hinduism in the specified column only after his teachers were able to convince him of the use of the right word to be filled in the column.
The Travails of Early Life 19 Chhotu Ram was very much upset when, as a minister in the Punjab cabinet, he learnt that the Jat officers had fallen on evil days. They were found to be using alcohol and were taking bribes from even the poor zamindars.
He reminded them of the tenets of Arya Samaj and expressed the hope that they would follow and abide by them. He stood for revival of old spiritual values which alone, in his view, could take India to its pristine glory. Among the various values of life purushartha Chhotu Ram stressed the importance of all the four-viz. Chhotu Ram believed that every man is essentially spiritual and should not be blinded by false dogmas which necessarily make a man spirituality bankrupt, resulting in his bondage to the world of good and evil sansara. Even a little that a man may do by way of goodness saves from a great fear, said Chhotu Ram quoting a verse from the Gita.
A good man will always do the good and avoid evil. This is the essence of the life of a true karma-yogi. Rohtak in the Making of a Leader A lthough Chhotu Ram had distinguished himself as a lawyer of repute in the Agra courts, he was often overtaken by a recurring sense of nostalgia for members of his family, old friends and relatives. He had spent over three years in Agra, and yearned for returning to his village, Garhi Sampla. After a short stay, he moved to Rohtak and started his practice in the local courts. A Lawyer with a Difference Within a short time he was a name to be reckoned with in the Rohtak courts, both criminal and civil.
In course of time his colleagues began to feel the force of his legal genius. The word started doing the rounds in the nearby villages, with the result that the circle of his clientele began to grow wider with each passing day. Janani janma hhoomishch svargadapi gariyasi Rohtak in the Making of a Leader 21 with the result that an easy exchange of views became possible between the two sides — namely, the client and his lawyer.
This often brought about an intimate relationship which lasted even afterwards. Almost all his clientele came from the peasantry class, and the majority among these were Jats. Naturally, the non-Jat lawyers began to grow increasingly apprehensive of losing their Jat clients. It was the word in every village that Chhotu Ram meant victory in a legal battle. In most cases the cause of litigation was the dispute over possession of land. The litigation was a civil suit if the concerned parties were peace-loving, but it became a criminal case if the dispute took a violent form, resulting in bloodbath and even deaths.
Chhotu Ram tried to bring the warring factions together for a compromise or a negotiated settlement, but the vested interests often foiled such sincere efforts. Often the concerned parties got stuck up with a rigid posture, and refused point blank to accept a rational, reasonable solution. Chhotu Ram was perhaps the solitary figure in courts who brought the litigants around him and even shared hukka puffs with them. Such a practice often led to the desired result.
Soon his colleagues took it amiss. First there were whispering campaigns and later open revolt. The Bar Association passed a resolution asking Chhotu Ram to mend his ways. Threats to have him disqualified as lawyer were held out and was asked to reply soon. But Chhotu Ram laughed at such a resolution and in return sent them a strong rebuff His only defence was That all those who came to him were poor peasants and it was the duty of all of us to help them as much as we could.
He was firm in rejecting the resolution and reiterated that it was a human obligation to try to mitigate the sufferings of others. Sir Chhotu Ram : A Saga of Inspirational Leadership 22 A Model Code of Conduct After long, protracted deliberation, Chhotu Ram came out with a carefully worded code of conduct which he thought ought to be unconditionally and absolutely binding on all lawyers alike.
It was his conviction that the Code would enhance the prestige and status of the legal fraternity at large. This Code consisted of five principles which Chhotu Ram continued to fellow consistently throughout the whole of his legal profession.
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These principles were as follows: 1. Never to resort to dubious means to extract more and more money, on one pretext or another from the clients. Always to make full study of the case undertaken and to his best to take it to a successful conclusion. Always to render free advice to those who come for consultation. If some one comes to the lawyer for seeking his advice or help in order to cause harm to his rival, he should be dissuaded from doing so and prepare him, if possible, for reconciliation.
In case he is adamant he should be sent home. It is absolutely and categorically binding on a lawyer to treat his clients kindly, or if for some reason they happen to visit their lawyer at night or late hours, they should be provided with food and lodging. He had made a deep study of Hindu texts and treatises which influenced him profoundly. He often quoted the Hitopadesh which taught: In this mortal world who is not reborn and who does not die? But he alone is truly born whose birth leads to the elevation of his community vansh. Chhotu Ram quoted the Hitopadesh or most occasions when he sought to impress upon his listeners the need to take up social service without hope of recompense.
As we know, Chhotu Ram had a continuous rapport and interaction with his Jat clients, and this provided a valuable source of information about the cause of their backwardness. But Chhotu Ram wanted an institution that could bring them together for launching a crusade against exploitation, literacy, backwardness, etc. Such an institution, in his view, could be one which was all-inclusive, free from regional distinctions and differences. So, the nomenclature that was approved by some enlightened Jats was All India Jat Mahasabha, which was got registered in As per its Constitution, every district head-quarter was supposed to have a branch of the organization, governed by an executive committee, charged with a task of implementing its aims and objectives.
It was also expected that both the central and the provincial committees would chalk out policies and programmes that were instrumental in promoting emotional 24 Sir Chhotu Ram : A Saga of Inspirational Leadership integration among the Jats spread over different parts of the country. Chhotu Ram drummed up sufficient support in almost all the provinces dominated by the Jags, and used his personal influences to see that it served the purpose for which it was launched. Before proceeding further we shall remind our reader that Chhotu Ram had to seek admission in the St.
So he invited some well meaning persons of his community who helped him in starting the Jat High School in With Chhotu Ram as the secretary of the Jat Education Society, the gates of the school were thrown open to students of all castes and communities, but the priority was to be given to students of the Jat community. The school had a band of dedicated teachers, with the result that it made a name in the entire district. It is on record that almost all Jat officers civilian or military, are, or have been, the students of this school.
While Chhotu Ram was busy in doing something for the good of his community, First World War broke out, and in this he saw an opportunity to get the youthful Jat boys enlished in the army. The Jats have been traditionally Rohtak in the Making of a Leader 25 considered as coming from a martial race, who would like to sacrifice their lives rather than surrender to the ememy. That is why the British defence department was all praise for them. Chhotu Ram saw in this a chance for the sturdy Jat boys to go to distant lands, see for themselves how people there were trying to modernize themselves, and bring with them new ideas in the light of which they could learn to improve their condition and move towards their economic, social and educational advancement.
Accordingly, Chhotu Ram went to meet people in villages and inspired the Jat Youth to get themselves enlisted in the army. Impressed by such efforts the Punjab Government issued orders that even during the war days the agriculturist of Ambala Division be given priority in filling government vacancies. It may be noted, in passing that almost all nationalists, including Gandhiji and others, supported the British war efforts.
In recognition of his help and support to the British war preparations Chhotu Ram was honoured with the life of Rao Sahib. The Punjab Government allotted one hundred acres of land as a reward for his efforts from the newly developed forest lands. Before agreeing to such a reward, Chhotu Ram saw to it that at 26 Sir Chhotu Ram : A Saga of Inspirational Leadership least three thousand acres of land was allotted to the lower strata of the rural society kamins.
After independence various Congress governments in states took a clue from this innovative idea and started distributing surplus village panchayat lands to the landless people of the Rarijan community. This was a wonderful idea to bring social handicapped people on par with others of the higher strata. Naturally, he was led to the conception of a powerful medium of mass communication, which he called Jat Gazette. He was a prolific writer and he thought he could transform the backward peasant community into a progressive lot only when it was in touch with this news bulletin.
The writing work he did at Kalakankar for the English Hindustan was asset to him now. But it was not at all possible for him to continue with such a paper for long. He devoted most of his time to social work, with the result that his earnings were not even sufficient for properly maintaining his family. A close friend of his, Kanhaiya Tal, set the ball rolling by offering a handsome donation of fifteen hundred rupees. Many others jumped into the fray, one vying with another. Soon Chhotu Ram collected handsome donations and the Jat Gazette took off with a bang.
Chhotu Ram collected handsome donations and the Jat Gazette took off with a bang. Chhotu Ram served as its editor in the initial stage. Rohtak in the Making of a Leader 27 If the Whiteman were after the Jat Gazette , the latter was after the former, and the two did not miss even a minor chance. Once the Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon took liberty in indulging in the wanton pleasure of killing peacocks, and, as expected, the matter was soon reported by the Jat Gazette. As we known, such an incident is most repulsive to the Hindu Sentiment.
As soon as the news spread in the are, there were strong protests. Chhotu Ram came out with an anguished mind and demanded an immediate, unconditional apology from the British bureaucrat. Unmindful of consequences, the bureaucrat complained to the Commissioner of Ambala Division and the Governor that Chhotu Ram was behind the uprising and that the license of the Jat Gazette be cancelled forthwith. As is natural in such cases, some well-wishes of the British Officer sought to pressurize Chhotu Ram into offering an unconditional apology, but Chhotu Ram was not the man to be so easily swept off his feet.
He continued to stick to his guns to the last moment. With no other alternative in sight, the Deputy Commissioner had to eat the humble pie. He to the rationalization that he was not aware that killing a peacock was a sin. Gradually, the movement came to be endeared by most Hindus in the Punjab because of its simple principles fit enough to be easily intelligible to the common man.
The result was that those Hindu was jumped into the provincial election carried this tag intact. Certainly, those who were Arya Samajists voted for those who claimed to be the adherents of this movement. Now, he combined in himself three different roles: He was a leader of the Jats, an Arya Samajist and a Congressman. All this was good, but it did not take Chhotu Ram far enough. The need was now felt to transcend all limitations arising out of narrow considerations.
A universal standpoint was needed and this is how a sound political philosophy could be evolved so as to serve the interests of all, irrespective of considerations of caste, colour or creed. He was well aware of what it all could mean. A few attempts made earlier to secure the cooperation of all agricultural tribes, Hindu and Muslim, had unfortunately proved ineffective.
This was one reason why Chhotu Ram thought it wise to keep away politically from the Hindu Mahasabha. The conclusion he now arrived at was clear: that if there was anything that could unite all peasants, it was the economic factor, and nothing but that. Before the World War came to a close in , the British had made tall promises of granting provincial- autonomy and other rights to the Indians. The Indian soldiers had fought with bravery, many of whom had been killed in operations. Almost all political parties, with the solitary exception of the Muslim League, had unconditionally Rohtak in the Making of a Leader 29 supported the British war efforts, but the British Government was not prepared to redeem it pledge: Power remained in its own hands, and soon terror was let loose on those who threatened to resort to direct action.
There was, therefore, wide, spread resentment and disillusionment. With no alternative before the Indian leaders, Gandhiji issued a complete hartal call to the nation on 1st April The British administration decided to meet the situation by resorting to repressive measures. The First World War had ended, but its aftermath was most troublesome.
People were complaining of acute shortages of essential commodities, higher prices, unemployment, and atrocities of the British rule. It was natural, therefore, that the British Government take recourse to sweeping powers, the enactment of Rowlatt Act being one of them. Mahatma Gandhi and also his followers resented and reacted sharply. The arrest of the Mahatma on April 10 fanned the political fire, which broke out in the form of passive resistance or satyagraha. Consequently, the entire country was engulfed in anti-British demonstrations and strikes, which incidentially turned violent in some provinces.
The Punjab witnessed the same phenomenon. On 1 st April a big convention was arranged at the Gokaran tank in Rohtak city. Chhotu Ram attended the convention as president of the District Congress, who along with others, launched a blistering attack on the British administration for its obscurantism, atrocities, false promises and brazen violation of fundamental rights, Chhotu Ram and his other companions we tried for alleged sedition, but were acquitted by the District Sessions Judge soon after the arrest.
Another convention was called at Rohtak for the same purpose. It was in a sense an apology which Chhotu Ram rejected outright. Naturally, the British bureaucracy felt mortally hit and threatened to launch legal proceedings against him on various fabricated changes. Meanwhile, RC. They made it a point to meet the new bureaucrat almost daily in new combinations.
On learning of the conspiracy against him, Chhotu Ram wrote to Bolster to clarify his position, but the latter did not take the contents of the letter seriously. Determined to have his whim carried to its conclusion, he recommended deportation of Chhotu Ram, as the sole panacea for all political ills in the district. Happily enough, the British superintendent of police firmly refused to toe his line of action. The obstinate bureaucrat referred the matter to the Commissioner of Ambala Division, but here too there was nothing but utter disappointment for Bolster.
The Police officer's assessment was accepted as correct, and Chhotu Ram came off with flying colours. Many friends of Chhotu Ram met the Governor and requested him to tell Bolster to learn to behave. The matter did not end here, however. The arrogant British bureaucrat recommended cancellation of grant of one hundred acres of land which had been given to him for his services in the war efforts and collection of war funds.
Unable to cause any harm to his political status, the revengeful officer sent feelers to his Rohtak in the Making of a Leader 31 adversary for a compromise, but to no avail Chhotu Ram remained firm and unmoved, and this added to his political strength. The Commissioner of Ambala Division, H.
He took it all as an act of personal vendetta and publicly announced his decision to return the land as well as the title of Rao Sahib conferred on him during the war days. But the British policymakers advised the concerned Government not to go ahead; since he could still be of service to the province in ensuring cooperation of peasantry which provided manpower for the British army.
A better climate had come to prevail after Bolster's exit in There was another institution in Rohtak in whose 0 activities and objectives Chhotu Ram was much interested. The local district board was on his watch list. Elections, whenever held were often rigged and local vested interests, like zaildars safedposhs patwaris, kept them under their suzerainty. He was often seen bowing before the Deputy Commissioner whom he addressed as his 'mai bap' just for a few loaves and fishes. During an election Chhotu Ram put up Devi Singh as his candidate.
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