Dressed as elegantly, Sanjay Dalmia, Chairman, Dalmia Group of Companies, looks every inch the business tycoon that he is. The ornate wall hangings, costly painting and the chandelier leave no one in doubt about his patrician tastes. Once the conversation veers on freedom fighters, there comes a glint in his eye. It’s the sort of topic which makes him emotional. “I get the goose bumps when someone talks to me about freedom fighters and the freedom movement. I love the passion and patriotic fervor which they had for their country,” he says.
Little wonder then that Dalmia celebrates his birthday as Bhaarat Maa Gaurav Sandhya, an evening of a musical program which consists of patriotic songs, to felicitate the families of our great freedom fighters, in the remembrance of their supreme sacrifice. This is is an annual event held on 17 March, and this year, also, the event was held at the Dalmia House in the capital.
Never afraid to call a spade a spade, Sanjay Dalmia is quick to say that the genuine freedom fighters never got a fair deal. “Look I am quite certain that the genuine freedom fighters were never recognized or feted. Their descendants still continue to languish. Some of them live in penury as the government has turned their back on them,” he added.
He illustrates his point by saying that the privy pass was given to principalities which sided with the British rulers but not to the rulers who opposed them. “I just cannot understand a basic thing — as to how the privy passes were denied to those rulers who fought against the British. If this was not good enough, then another major faux pass which was done was that the rulers who were with the British got this privy pass. I was very angry and made a big issue out of this — telling the government to issue the privy pass to those freedom fighting states. I could not simply stomach the fact that the freedom fighters and nationalists were being given such a raw deal,” Dalmia added.
Dalmia was troubled by the government’s apathy towards the descendants of freedom fighters. To prove his point, he quotes an example. He had asked for the list of the dependants of those who were housed in the Cellular Jail in Andaman. “I happened to visit this place and must say it was quite a dreadful place. Then I asked the government for a complete list of the current family members of the freedom fighters who were jailed then. The government promised to give me a complete list, but almost a decade later no list has been given to me. It just goes to prove the apathy towards our freedom fighters,” said Dalmia.
When asked as to how he developed his admiration and love for the freedom fighters, Dalmia said that since childhood he used to listen to the tales of bravery of the freedom fighters. “I was very fascinated by the stories of the bravery and valour of the freedom fighters which I used to listen to as a youngster. It sort of gave me the goosebumps. My fascination for them grew as I grew older and when I came to know about their plight (how they were ignored) I wanted to do something for them. In fact, when I was an MP, I used to take up their causes,” he added.
When asked what made him so sympathetic towards the families of freedom fighters, Sanjay Dalmia said, “As a responsible citizen of India, it is our duty to give back to the nation in whatever small tokens we can. It is my endeavor to lead the conversation on highlighting the supreme sacrifices which fueled our freedom struggle. Furthermore, there is a need in today’s fast paced society/culture to engage with the youth and encourage them to be proud of the rich history of our great nation,” he went on to say.