The high of defeating Sushma Swaraj | Column
Sushma Swaraj, with her excellent command over Hindi, always brought her fierce style making it difficult for us to win any debate against herpunjab Updated: Jul 02, 2017 16:02 IST
Only once did we manage to defeat Sushma Swaraj (then Sushma Sharma and now minister of external affairs) at an inter-college declamation contest during my time in DAV College, Chandigarh. She, with her excellent command over Hindi, always brought her fierce style making it difficult for us to win any debate against her. Back then, she was in the debate team of the Panjab University law department and I was the president of the debate club at my college.
But isn’t that what college is all about? You win some, you lose some. Nostalgia is a comfortable place where I often dwell, reliving my days as a DAV student from 1971 to 1973. A period full of growth and joy, my college life was full of constructive activities and social service. Be it the debate club or attending youth leadership training camps under professor KC Anand of PU, the college environment was one of education in the true sense.
I trained under professor CL Dhamija in the debate club which saw luminaries such as Ranjiv Dalal, who later became director general of police, Haryana. Ranjiv sir was my mentor and we often took walks together. It was heartening to connect with my fellow student and debate partner, Pranav Singhal. In typical fashion, Facebook put us in touch after 45 years. We both teamed up to represent our college at the PU debating. We have defeated teams of prominent colleges such as that of St Stephen’s, Delhi.
It was during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war that I first donated blood for our soldiers as part of the National Service Scheme (NSS), motivated by Saroop Kishen and JG Jolly. This was among the many blood donation camps that we organised during our college days.
Who can forget Madan Lal Verma, Vimal Chander, Sapra, Rishi and a host of other outstanding sportspersons. We all stayed at the BTC Hostel, under our affable warden, professor KS Arya. He later became the principal of this college.
All these activities were possible as we hardly saw any strike or protest in the college back then. There was no question of violence or disrespect to our professors. I often went to our teachers’ houses for help, not only in studies but also for writing debates. They would never allow me to leave without a meal or tea at the least. Who can forget professor SK Mehta (political science), professor KL Vermani ( English), professor Mehra (economy), professor Mathur (botany), Maj MM Singh (NCC), professor Chadha (sports) and so many others who were ‘gurus’ in the real sense.
I joined the army in 1974 but never lost touch with my college. It is enriching to visit your Alma mater as a proud alumnus. Today, the college has expanded and changed a lot. But, whenever I visit, I still get a whiff of that inspiring fragrance. When I see the memorial and photos of our alumni martyrs, my chest swells with pride as a soldier. When I meet professor Arya, I feel connected as if my roots were here. And when I interact with young students (now both girls and boys), I see a bright new India.