By-Dr Prashant Thapliyal
Octagenarian Governor of Punjab and administrator of UT Chandigarh Mr Banwari Lal Purohit resigned from his post on 3rd February 2024. He was the 29th Governor of Punjab. He was born on 16th April 1940 in a family with farming background and religious orientation. He spent 5 decades in politics serving three times as the Member of Parliament (MP) from Nagpur constituency, and one time member of legislative assembly (MLA) from Nagpur south constituency. He also served as the Governors of Tamil Nadu and Assam.
On 31st of January 2024, I got an opportunity to listen to him on the occasion of inauguration of a one day conference on “Need for Entrepreneurship Development” at schools under Entrepreneurship and Rural Development Conclave (ERDC) Chandigarh 2024 organized by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Ropar in association with National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training and Research (NITTTR) Chandigarh, Panjab University Chandigarh and Entrepreneurship and Rural Development Centre (ERDC). NITTTR Chandigarh was the host of the event and ERDC has organized such conclaves at IIT Guwahati and IIT Madras in the past and will be organizing at different venues pan India in near future.
With this background of the conference underscoring the impetus on entrepreneurship development by the Modi Government in the wake of more than 40 million students completing their education every year and only about four million i.e. forty lakh job opportunities available to them, such awareness and efforts to develop entrepreneurial skills at school levels, college levels, rural levels etc is a welcome and much needed move.
Mr Banwari Lal Purohit, in the capacity of the chief guest for inaugurating the conference and commenced his speech with the words that he could speak at length on the importance of topic having a long experience in public domain. His style of public speaking is both simple and full of humour and reflects his simplicity and entrepreneurship ingrained in him. He shared some anecdotes related to his life experiences jocularly which is very relevant to share with the readers. He said when India got independence he was seven years old and remembered the day as holiday was declared on the occasion. When he grew older, being from the farmers’ family did innovation for producing optimum crops as he hailed from Vidarbha region where water scarcity was a perennial problem. He cleared PCS exam but did not join it as he wanted to become entrepreneur. In pursuit of the same and in order to challenge monopoly of a big brand DALDA he started hydrogenated oil business with a contribution of Rs 20 lakh by his father who was reluctant to give him as he had doubts on his entrepreneurial capabilities then. But the business thrived and his fortunes grew leaps and bounds. He was pioneer in establishing Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (BVM) Nagpur branch and served as the city president of the society. It is pertinent to note that BVM is a charitable trust dedicated to the promotion of education, art and culture and was founded by Dr K.M. Munshi on 7th November 1938. This trust was bestowed upon the prestigious Gandhi Peace Prize in 2002. He said that when the renowned lawyer and jurist Mr Nani Palkhivala was the national Vice President of BVM, his visit for BVM Nagpur centre was fixed for one hour from 9 am to 10am. That time he was also MP from Nagpur and used to be busy to listen to problems of the people of his constituency. He was late by 15 minutes to receive Mr Palkhivala. In the beginning and at the end of the visit Mr Purohit apologized for his late arrival to Mr Palkhivala. He didn’t mind it but after few days Mr Purohit received a consignment from Mr Palkhivala having a few books on time management. Mr Purohit was quite impressed with the technique of receiving lesson on time management without impacting his self- respect and dignity from Mr Palkhivala and said this is the way learned people give life lessons. Now he religiously follows time line to complete an assignment. Mr Purohit is brimmed with sense of humour and believes on family values and family system. He said he contested 05 MP elections out of which emerged victorious three times and lost two times. He felt contented as the success rate was 60 percent, he jokingly said. When he lost his last election, he spent most of time in consoling the party workers as he believed that their confidence and motivation should not be shaken. But his prudent father read dejection in his face. He consoled him with the words that we are the creations of Lord Brahma. He has given us everything and he is the one who will take it back so why should we cry on such materialistic occurrences in between. Then a better sense prevailed in Mr Purohit and he was not dejected later when denied the party ticket for the MP elections. He said he became Governor thereafter and was fully contented. I shared this instance with Mr Vinod Chamoli, honourable MLA of our constituency who has also been bestowed with great sense of humour. He said with the challenges and time demanding involvement in public service if humour is not practiced then life will become difficult. As a Physicist I also believe in cracking jokes intermittently to the students to break monotony and boredom that frequently intrude in Physics learning. This I learnt from some great physicists and noble laureates such as Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne whose lectures I attended at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in 2011 on the occasion of inauguration of ambitious Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project in India.
Without going into the nitty gritty of ouster of Mr Purohit as a Governor of Punjab and administrator of UT Chandigarh, its pertinent to note that he maintained his composure, sense of humour and entrepreneurship acumen and enthused the listeners to the hilt. I wish him good luck for his future endeavours.
Author is an academician.