Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Who’s Sir Ganga Ram and why his legacy lives on in India and Pakistan?

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A portrait of Sir Ganga Ram

Sir Ganga Ram’s contributions spanned the fields of structure, engineering, agriculture and rights of widows

There are few personalities in India and Pakistan who left an enduring legacy on either side of the border as iconic engineer and philanthropist, Sir Ganga Ram.

Hospitals in Delhi and Lahore – constructed by his belief and household in his identify – proceed to uphold his legacy to at the present time.

Whereas Pakistan’s Lahore metropolis was his dwelling, throughout the 1947 Partition of India, his household moved to Delhi in India.

Ganga Ram died in 1927, however author Sadat Hasan Manto’s brief story, The Garland, summed up simply how a lot the person and his legacy is intertwined with the town of Lahore.

Within the story, stated to be based mostly on a real incident throughout the Partition, a mob assaults Ganga Ram’s statue in entrance of his hospital to wipe out his Hindu identify. However when a person is injured, the mob shouts, “Allow us to rush him to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.”

Ganga Ram hospital in Lahore

There are hospitals in his identify each in India and Pakistan

A strict disciplinarian, Ganga Ram was additionally identified to be a kind-hearted man. His contributions spanned the fields of structure, engineering, agriculture and ladies’s rights. He specifically centered on the welfare of widows.

A lot of what we find out about him comes from the 1940 ebook Harvest from the desert, the life and work of Sir Ganga Ram by Baba Pyare Lal Bedi.

Ganga Ram was born in 1851 in Mangtanwala village, about 40 miles from Lahore.

His father Daulat Ram had left Uttar Pradesh, a northern Indian state, and labored as a junior police sub-inspector right here.

The household later moved to Amritsar in Punjab province the place Ganga Ram studied in a government-run highschool.

His increased schooling noticed Ganga Ram journey throughout northern India and Pakistan as he went to Lahore to review on the authorities faculty after which later secured a scholarship to review engineering on the Thomason Engineering School in Uttarakhand’s Roorkee in India.

Of the 50 rupees ($0.63; £0.52) he obtained as scholarship, he would ship half to his mother and father in Amritsar to complement their earnings.

After Ganga Ram secured his engineering diploma with high marks, he grew to become an apprentice within the workplace of Rai Bahadur Kanhaya Lal, the then chief engineer of Lahore. Right here started the “Ganga Ram interval” in Lahore’s structure. He went on to change into a high civil engineer and formed the structure within the metropolis via his work.

A postcard showing the Lahore Museum

Sir Ganga Ram is taken into account the daddy of contemporary Lahore

He’s credited with designing and developing a number of magnificent buildings, together with the Lahore Museum, the Aitchison School, the Mayo Faculty of Arts (now known as the Nationwide School of Arts), the Basic Publish Workplace, the Albert Victor Wing of the Mayo Hospital, and the Authorities School Chemical Laboratory.

Ganga Ram used arches and different Indian architectural traditions whereas using western development units to guard them from the warmth and chilly of the local weather within the Punjab province and guarantee environment friendly and unobtrusive sanitation, Bedi wrote.

Famend Pakistani journalist Khaled Ahmed described Ganga Ram as as “the daddy of contemporary Lahore,” for the indelible mark he left on the town.

The Gangapur dream

Whereas Ganga Ram was remodeling city structure in Lahore as a part of his authorities job, his coronary heart remained in rural Punjab the place he had grown up.

The hydel power plant in Renala Khurd

One in every of his most bold tasks was the the hydel energy mission in Renala Khurd in Punjab province

He returned to his roots, in 1903, when he retired from his authorities publish and was allotted land in Chenab Colony (later generally known as Lyallpur and Faisalabad) as reward of his previous providers.

Right here, he got down to set up Gangapur, a mannequin village with new irrigation and farming methods.

He additionally constructed a novel system to move passengers from the Buchiana railway station, two miles away (3.2km) to Gangapur – laying a slender observe to permit two trollies hooked to one another to be drawn by a horse.

Ganga Ram was eager to try the irrigation system he had arrange in Gangapur on a much bigger scale. One in every of his most bold tasks was the the hydel energy mission in Renala Khurd in Punjab province.

The mission, which was formally opened in 1925, used 5 generators to irrigate 360sqkm (139 sq miles) of wasteland and rework them into fertile fields.

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Rights of widows

Ganga Ram can be up early within the morning to undergo his recordsdata and put together for his day. Bedi writes that he would generally recite verses of Munajat-e-Bewgan (The widow’s prayer), a poem by Urdu poet Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali, to himself.

He was typically moved to tears when he learn the verses. It was the inspiration behind the work he went on to do for widows in conservative Hindu society.

In 1917, Ganga Ram tried to go a decision on widow re-marriage at a spiritual Hindu convention within the province’s Ambala metropolis.

When it failed, he based the Widows Marriage Affiliation and donated 2,000 rupees (a big sum on the time) from his personal cash to it.

The affiliation would increase consciousness concerning the difficulties widows confronted in society. Ganga Ram quickly realised that whereas a few of the widows have been too outdated to re-marry, a lot of them didn’t wish to marry once more.

With the federal government’s approval, Ganga Ram constructed a Hindu Widows Residence in 1921, costing 250,000 rupees, to coach such ladies with expertise to assist themselves. The house would go on to have two faculties and a hostel. It might assist the widows go examinations and prepare them to change into lecturers of handicrafts.

Ganga Ram additionally funded the institution of Girl Maynard Industrial Faculty for Hindu and Sikh ladies who confronted monetary difficulties.

Sir Ganga Ram Belief

In 1923, the Sir Ganga Ram Belief was fashioned within the engineer’s identify.

The identical 12 months, the Sir Ganga Ram Free Hospital and Dispensary was established within the coronary heart of Lahore. It was later developed as a full-fledged hospital with well-equipped surgical and medical departments, Bedi’s books says.

The hospital was second solely to Mayo Hospital, the oldest and largest hospital within the Punjab province, based on the ebook.

The belief additionally established a Hindu Pupil Careers Society in 1924 to assist Hindu college students achieve employment and the Sir Ganga Ram Enterprise Bureau and Library.

The Ganga Ram Samadhi in old Lahore

Ganga Ram’s ashes have been introduced again to Lahore after his loss of life in London

Ganga Ram’s final charitable mission throughout his lifetime was the institution of the Hindu Apahaj Ashram over two acres of land. This was a house for the aged, the disabled and the infirm.

After his loss of life in July 1927 in his London dwelling, a part of his ashes have been introduced again to Lahore and buried subsequent to Hindi Apahaj Ashram as per his needs. Whereas the ashram is now not right here, his tomb, the Ganga Ram Samadhi, nonetheless stands.

In line with Bedi, famend Urdu author Khawaja Hassan Nizami wrote about Ganga Ram’s loss of life, saying that if one may donate one’s life, then he would have chosen so as to add his years to Sir Ganga Ram’s life, “in order that he may need lived longer and rendered even higher providers to the distressed ladies of India”.

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