It is sad that the Punjab government has completely forgotten Partap Singh Kairon, chief minister of Punjab from 1956 to 1964, on his 50th death anniversary. A great visionary and architect of Modern Punjab, Kairon was assassinated on the Grand Trunk Road at Rai village (now in Haryana) on February 6, 1965, while travelling in his car from Delhi to Amritsar.
Kairon was the irrefutable builder of Punjab post Independence. Earlier, he was active in the national struggle and was jailed twice by the British-once for five years for organising protests against the British rule. He was an astute political leader with great vision, subtle intelligence and farsightedness. He played an active role in the consolidation of landholdings because it was a prerequisite to ushering in a new era of agrarian revolution in Punjab.
He also led Punjab towards mechanised farming and is credited with laying the foundation for the green revolution in Punjab. With this objective in mind, he established the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) at Ludhiana in 1962. The PAU, which pioneered the green revolution in India, has an international reputation for achieving excellence in agriculture and is considered one of the best agricultural universities of India.
Besides agriculture, he also encouraged the development of Punjabi language, art, culture and literature. To translate his idea into reality, he established Punjabi University at Patiala on April 30, 1962, with the key objective of furthering the cause of Punjabi language. The university has since become the largest in the state.
Before becoming the chief minister in 1956, Kairon served as minister for rehabilitation under Bhim Sen Sachar, then chief minister. As the rehabilitation minister in the period immediately after Partition, Kairon handled the phenomenal task of resettlement of millions of refugees who had migrated from Pakistan. Over three million refugees were resettled in Punjab, in new homes and in new professions in a short span.
Kairon was also behind the creation of Chandigarh and the industrial township of Faridabad, currently part of Haryana. It seems an unpardonable lapse on part of both governments -Haryana and Punjab, including the union territory of Chandigarh -- in their duty to remember the illustrious son of the soil. Ironically, even the PAU and Punjabi University have not marked the occasion in any way. The least these universities could do is to bring out a commemorative volume on his enduring contribution to various facets of Punjab.
However, it is never too late to follow a course correction. It will be in fitness of things for chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to take the lead and set up a highlevel committee immediately to pay adequate tribute to his legendry predecessor. The vice-chancellors of the PAU and Punjabi University should be made part of such deliberations to chalk out a detailed plan for functions and memorial lectures befitting the glory of the architect of modern Punjab. Gratitude should be given where it is due.
The writer is a former deputy speaker of Punjab. The views expressed are personal.