On 8th November 2009, I got the news of sad demise of Prof. Kunwar Pal Singh (popularly known as K.P. Singh), former Chairman, Dept of Hindi and Dean faculty of Arts AMU Aligarh via an email from Prof. Mukhtar Ahmad of Dept. of Electrical Engineering. Prof. K.P. Singh breathed his last on 8th November at about 3.00 pm. As per his will his body has been given to medical college for study. I did not know much about Prof. K.P. Singh other than he was a Dean f/o Arts and an active member of Writers Forum when I was in Aligarh. His act of donating his body to Medical College touched my heart. It must be very tough for the family members and his close associates to handle this. Even after his death, he will remain as a teacher. Here is a brief life sketch of Prof. K.P. Singh who started his career as a teacher and remained a teacher even after his death.
Prof. Kunwar Pal Singh was born on 6th June 1937 in a farmer family in Karola Village, Aligarh district. Prof. Singh obtained the degree of BA in 1959, MA in 1961 and PhD in 1969 from AMU. He joined the University services as Lecturer in 1966, became Reader in 1977 and Professor in 1985. For him teaching was not merely a means of compulsive routine but an important tool of building character and transforming students into a worthwhile instrument to the accelerate the course of change in the society for the benefit of the country. Professor Singh was a good researcher and prolific writer. He has made invaluable contribution to the enrichment of academic life. He had authored six books and edited nine books. He was also Editor and Co-editor of several Hindi magazines and produced 15 research scholars. He has edited six books of Dr. Rahi Masoom Raza and his monograph on Dr. Raza was published by the National Academy of Letters.
Dr. K. P. Sing was elected as a member of all the AMU statutory bodies like Academic Council, Executive Council and the University Court. He served the University as a Chairman, Department of Hindi, Dean Faculty of Arts, Provost NRSC, Coordinator NSS, Chief of University Employment Bureau, Member Incharge Public Relations and Coordinator University Extension Lecture. He was member of several Selection Committees of the Public Service Commission and other Universities. Prof. Singh played an important role in promoting communal harmony. He considered illiteracy and communalism as a national threat and dedicated his life for the eradication of the scourge. He was an advocate of composite culture and organized several symposium and workshops to promote Urdu language and literature as well. The great ideals and traditional values of Aligarh Muslim University lived in his persona and he remained to be an epitome of the Aligarianism that an Aligarian is known for the world over.
Prof. Singh is survived by his wife Dr. Namita Singh, former Principal, Tikaram Girls College, son Sourabh Singh, a Bio-scientist in USA and daughter Sumita Singh, both alumni of this great seat of learning.
A condolence meeting presided over by the AMU Vice Chancellor Prof. P. K. Abdul Azis expressed its deep sense of grief and sorrow on the sad demise of noted Hindi critic and scholar, Prof. K. P. Singh, former Chairman, Department of Hindi and former Dean, Faculty of Arts, who expired on 8th November 2009 after a prolonged illness. He was 74. Addressing the condolence meeting Prof. P. K. Abdul Azis said that Prof. K. P. Singh created a history and set an example for others by donating his body for the noble purpose of medical studies and higher learning in this field and thus helping the humanity in his own characteristic unassuming way. On this occasion noted Urdu writer Padma Bhushan Prof. Qazi Abdus Sattar former Dean Faculty of Arts, Prof. S. J. R. Zaidi, Director Persian Institute Prof. Azarmi Dukht Safavi and Prof. Pradeep Kumar Saxena highlighted the contributions of Prof. K. P. Singh. AMU Registrar Prof. V. K. Abdul Jaleel presented a condolence resolution and said that the meeting of staff and students of Aligarh Muslim University mourned the sad demise of Prof. Singh and placed on record heartfelt condolences. The meeting expressed deep sympathy to his bereaved family. May his soul rest in peace and give courage to the family members to bear the irreparable loss and vacuum created by his untimely departure.
Life beyond death
Eminent Hindi scholar K.P. Singh pledged his mortal remains to Aligarh Muslim University for research
Some people give of themselves in life, and others go on giving even in death. In an unprecedented gesture of gratitude to his alma mater, Aligarh Muslim University, the late Professor K.P. Singh, eminent Hindi critic and scholar, pledged his mortal remains to the university's Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College,for research.
His wife Dr. Namita Singh, an accomplished Hindi short story writer, lived up to the promise made by the non-conformist scholar who died recently. But it is not only in the realm of physical sciences that his memory will live on. He lives on through his writings too.
Singh, who taught at AMU for over three decades, applied his immense learning and speculative intelligence to analyse Hindi fiction. He never lost his commitment to Marxist aesthetics. A cool, lucid and economical expository style coupled with incise analysis is the hallmark of his writings - a quality not frequently encountered in Marxist critics. Propagating a shared cultural legacy, keeping culture separate from religion and turning attention to the medieval Bhakti Movement are the three aspects of Singh's contribution to Indian literature. In search of some panacea for human suffering, he became a Leftist and became highly suspicious of claims to universal truths. He rejected the modernist notion that literature has a life of its own which cannot be securely anchored to a world of things. For him, utility was the ultimate determinant of all human actions.
Singh wrote extensively on literary criticism and aesthetics, history of Hindi literature, Hindi prose and Hindi fiction, and published six books. He edited eight books and co-edited 20 anthologies. Rahi Masoom Raza was his favourite writer, and two of his books and several articles are on Rahi. The Sahitya Akademi has published his monograph on Rahi in several Indian languages. Analysing the creative works of Rahi, who also wrote the dialogues for Ramanand Sagar's tele-serial "Ramayan", Singh observed that Rahi's fiction betrays an anxious and loving concern for the well-being of the common man. True literature heals wounds, wipes away every tear from every eye, and does not provides hedonistic pleasure to the elite.
Analysing Premchand's proclivity towards Gandhian ideology, Singh observed that Premchand was at variance with Gandhiji when he concluded that nothing could be resolved without a sustained struggle, and emancipation of the masses was only possible with complete tapering off of feudal society. Conversely, Gandhi tried to ensure the well-being of the common people without economic and social change. To him, Premchand and Gandhi are two planets rotating in opposite directions. "Marxist Aesthetics and the Hindi Novel" is a philosophical and rhetorical tour de force of his scholarship, sharp critical insight and painstaking research plumed with quotations culled from a plethora of Hindi novels. Equally perceptive are his other books: "Bhakti Movement and Folk Culture", "Literature and our Time", "The Hindi Novel: Social Consciousness and Premchand" and "Contemporary Hindi Fiction".
and Widely known as one of the illustrious scholars produced by AMU, Singh, through his writings, unfailingly exposed misguided assumptions on how to evaluate a literary text in the backdrop of Marxist aesthetics. Eminent Hindi and Urdu critics appreciated his immaculate research and sparkling prose. Noted creative writers Nagarjun, Trilochan Shastri Shaharyar, Kamleshwar and Rajendra Yadav were his close friends.
In recognition of his contribution, Professor P.K. Abdul Azis, Vice-Chancellor, AMU, has announced the commencement of the annual K.P. Singh Memorial Lecture.
First Prof. K. P. Singh Memorial Lecture
ALIGARH November 16, 2010: Notwithstanding the constitutional provisions of equality, the Indian state has not done enough to dispel insecurity from the minds of minorities as the most important symbol of the state – police – hardly enjoy the confidence of the Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, regretted Mr. Vibhuti Narain Rai, eminent writer and Vice Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi International University, Wardha today.
Delivering first K. P. Singh memorial lecture on “State Response to Communalism”, Mr. Vibhuti Narain Rai, IPS, said that the minorities never consider the police as friend or protector. The police is seen as the oppressor and the police behavior in communal riots bear testimony to the fact. Quoting his well-documented research on the role of police in combating communalism, Mr. V. N. Rai said that the Muslims always suffered heavy loss in terms of lives and properties at the initial stages and subsequently they were killed in police firing and police also arrested more Muslims.
Debunking the myth that the Muslims start riots, Mr. Rai said he sifted through the police records and found that even the first hour of the riots, more Muslims were killed. It proves that it is wrong to say that the Muslims start riot and the police control the situation. He said if the state is firm, no riot could continue more than 24 hours. During the communal strife, police become perpetrator of violence and the state lack the will to curb it.
Tracing the history of communal riots, Mr. Rai said that the assassination of Gandhi put a full stop to riot and no major riot took place till 1961. After that riots occurred in regular intervals of two or three years. The police always behaved in partisan manner and it resulted lack of faith in police that also denotes lack of faith in the state which is very alarming. This calls for serious introspection, he said.
Paying glaring tributes to Professor K. P. Singh, Mr. Rai said that he was an avowed enemy of narrow mindness and communalism.
Recalling K. P. Singh’s contribution to literature, noted Urdu poet Shahryar said that Prof. Singh wanted literature to reflect social consciousness. He also recited a poem in memory of Prof. K. P. Singh.
Delivering the presidential address, Prof. P. K. Abdul Azis, Vice Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University said that Indian democracy has become more matured and now there is a considerable decrease in communal riots. He paid rich tributes to Prof. K. P. Singh who pledged his mortal remains to the Aligarh Muslim University for the medical students. Prof. Singh’s gesture was unparallel and the university will always remain grateful to him, he concluded.
Prof. V. K. Abdul Jaleel, Registrar of the University extended the vote of thanks. Prof. Imtiaz Hasnain and Dr. Ajay Bisaria also spoke on the occasion.
Public Relations Officer
Medha Patkar delivers Prof. K. P. Singh Memorial lecture at AMU
ALIGARH December 26, 2011: Delivering the second K. P. Singh Memorial Lecture on “People development and Globalization” as part of the University Extension Lecture at Aligarh Muslim University, noted Social Activist, Medha Patkar said that laws should be made according to the constitution that will promote the cause of the people’s development. This is the real challenge where development will depend on the resources, capacities and needs of the local population rather than dictated by forces o globalization.
Patkar said that the issue of capitalization and liberalization, Sensex, GDP has usurped the real development of the common people. This is getting destructive since the law making process favours the special economic zones (SEZ). Patkar said there is an inherent contradiction between the tenets of globalization and the free flow of the global capital to purchase the market and finally control the value of product and mode of production. She said the right to livelihood is also not guaranteed since the liberalization and globalization has halted the people’s movement. She observed that besides Gharibi Rekha, there is a need to demarcate the Ammeri Rekha also. She also emphasized the need to preserve the human rights in the process of development.
Ms. Medha Patkar urged the intellectuals of Aligarh Muslim University to take up the research assignments based on these issues. She also highlighted the contributions made by Prof. K. P. Singh in the field of social and economic embedded factors related to people’s movement.
Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Mehdi Abbas Rizvi, Officiating Vice Chancellor highlighted the liberal writings of K. P. Singh and his contributions to the cause of poor and downtrodden in Aligarh. Prof. S. Imtiaz Hasnain, Coordinator, University Extension Lecture introduced Medha Patkar as a great environmental activist who has a deep commitment to the democratic process of development. Prof. Aleem, Department of Hindi elaborated on the Urdu and Hindi scholarship of Prof. K.P. Singh and his social activism including his crusade against communal and divisive forces.
Presiding over the programme, noted Urdu scholar, Padmshri Prof. Qazi Abdus Sattar appreciated the role of Ms. Medha Patkar in creating a public movement against the environmental challenges caused by unmindful developmental policies adopted by various agencies. Prof. Sattar said that Prof. K. P. Singh was a close friend to him and he always stood for communal harmony.
A large number of students, faculty members and Dr. Namita Singh, wife of late Prof. K. P. Singh was also present on this occasion.
Assistant Public Relations Officer