Mother’s day out

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In an unusual trip out of our home, my mother, Inderjit Kaur Sandhu, released the book Jat Sikh Women-Social Transformation: Changing Status and Lifestyle, by Amarinder Sandhu, at the Chandigarh Press Club on Saturday, August 30.

Amarinder has done extensive research on the subject and was particularly keen that my mother release her book, I suspect not only because of Inderjit Kaur Sandhu’s achievements, which are considerable—she was Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala (1975-1977), and chairperson, Staff Selection Commission (1980-1988), but also because she is considered an exemplar for Jat Sikh women.

Speaking extempore and choosing to address the audience in Punjabi, the one and only woman Vice-Chancellor of a university in northern India, spoke about the early steps taken to empower women through education in the state, dating back to 1890 when Bhai Takhat Singh started Sikh Kanya Mahavidalya, Ferozepore. A boarding school for girls opened four years later and in Barnala by Bibi Pardhan Kaur, daughter of Baba Ala Singh, the founder of Patiala dynasty also started a school for women.

Education produced eminent daughters in Punjab include Serla Grewal (Government College for Women, Ludhiana), Kiran Bedi (Government College for Women, Amritsar) who rose to commanding heights.

Commenting on the book, she went into some detail about the survey and contrasted the lack of education and decision-making power among women in the area under study, with the rosy picture that had she had mentioned earlier. She also lamented that some parts of Punjab were still living in dark ages. She also criticised the morally reprehensible murder of unborn daughters of Punjab that had just not stopped.

Amarinder’s book is an important documentation of the changing face of rural Punjab, and was the subject of her PhD thesis. The book, published by Unistar Books, a Chandigarh-based company.

Meeting Amarinder’s PhD guide took me back to my younger days when I would visit my mother at the university at Patiala. “You used to come from St Stephen’s and visit Prof H S Gill’s house,” she remembered.

We also met many other friends after a long time. The book release was widely covered in the media. My friend Baljit Singh has made a video and I am trying to have that put on the Net too.

My mother’s day out was a memorable one.

Read report in The Tribune

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