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Diwan Chunilal Harani – A Great Visionary and Social Reformer of Tharparkar

Diwan Chunilal Harani was born in 1910 and one of the few students, who had passed final (8th class) and joined then British Government in revenue department.

A great scholar, Diwan Chunilal understood the role of education in empowerment and alleviation of poverty. Owing to his efforts, thousands of men and women from Tharparkar can now be found in every sphere of life in Sindh and around the world.   

Diwan Chunilal also lives in the hearts of those who migrated to Ahmadabad during last two decades.

Diwan Chunilal Harani was born in 1910 and one of the few students, who had passed final (8th class) and joined then British Government in revenue dept.  At the time of partition, many of his friends migrated to India. He chose to live in Pakistan because of responsibility of many of his relatives. During his job, he had offered his duties in whole of Sindh and got information and insight about the outer world. He saw and felt that education plays an important role in personal and community development. He understood the role of education in empowerment and removal of poverty.

He was firm believer in Karma and follower of Arya Samaj traditions. Simple living, high thinking was his way of life. He had made his mission to educate maximum persons of his reach and contact. He made available to them books and other resources. He would bring books, charts, and journals, stationary from the cities to Tharparkar. In vacation time, he used to take the students of his neighborhood to city of his posting. These students will interact with other students of schools, colleges and gain much knowledge about outer world, jobs, economy etc. On their return to Tharparkar they used to share this gained information with other school mates. This was informal students-exchange program in olden times.

He was visionary and great scholar. In his drawing room (Autaq), there were large number of photos of Hindu scholars and other world leaders. The portraits of Swami Ram Kirshan Paramhans, Swami Vivekananda, Dayanand Sarswati, S.Radhkirshanan and Sadhu Vaswani were seen hanging in the room. He had big library having books on world religions, Hinduism, Bhagvat Gita, Ramayan, Ved and interpretation of different authors. He was linguist having knowledge of English, Sindhi, Urdu, Hindi, Gujarati, Sanskrit and some Arabian, Persian languages. He had more than 100 books of Bhagvat Gita in different languages written by different authors.

He had tremendous faith in power of Gayatri Mantra. Large photo of Gayatri Mantra along with its interpretation was main attraction in the center of front wall in Autaq. He was disciplined reader of books. Every morning and evening, he read 2 hours and used to makes notes of it.

He was ahead of time having great vision and foresight. His works done are relevant today. He had given the roadmap and had shown power of education for uplift of community and region from poverty to empowerment.

Dewan ChunilalSome of his initiatives for empowerment of community were taken some 50 years ago in 1970 after retirement from Govt. job as Mamlatdar.

He established the first and only one Bal Mandir for kids in Mithi, where they were provided environment of playful learning with fellow kids. Small kids were provided different chocolate/food stuffs every day to sustain motivation.

With efforts of other friends, a Government Intermediate college was established at Mithi, which became base for college education at Tharparkar.

District Council Hospital was upgraded to Taluka hospital with many facilities.

Gauchar land was notified in Tharparkar for grazing of cows and other domestic animals with the help of Courts. This action saved cows and other animals from hunger in time of famine. These actions resulted developing of economy around animal husbandry. This trend preserved vegetarian culture and rearing animals for living. Still today Tharparkar has more cows and animals than any other district of Pakistan.

He established the Pathshalla for imparting education of Hindi, Gujarati and Sanskrit to Hindu girls. Classes were held in the evening and regular exams held by experts. All books were given free and other prizes were given for motivation.

With government help, skill development center for training of tailoring and embroidery was set up in locality. Poor, uneducated middle aged women were given training to raise their household income.

He advocated good habits and against showmanship and wasteful expenditure on the occasion of marriage and other unnecessary social events.

Diwan Chunilal strongly worked against social evils of taking opium, tobacco, liquor, dowry and sweet at the time of death.

He always maintained Gangajal from India at home. Whole village used to take it for Puja purpose or during last rites of loved ones. Tulsi, Kesar, Gopichand and other Puja materials from India were made available to all any time without any charge.

He was firm believer in practicing, before preaching to anybody.

Due to disturbed political conditions in Pakistan, a large number of Hindu population migrated to Ahmedabad in last two decades. Many of them have memories of Diwan Chunilal Harani. One Pushpa  Ajeetkumar remembers him as always helpful and punctual. Every evening at 4 o’ clock, he personally visited pathshalla and took report from teachers. Another lady Dr. Darshana told that he was progressive and always supportive for learning new things. Some girls from India visited Mithi. He arranged function for them in pathshala. These Indian girls were requested to demonstrate and teach Garba for those girls. Later this garba function and competition became annual affair.

Shri Khajumal Lachhmandas informed that in 1970s, Diwan Chunilal used to take 8-10 youths from Mithi village to Digri nearby business center for jobs, where they learnt and established the businesses. This chain of business not only helped to have changed the fortune of family but also of other near ones. Retired teacher Shamu had other side of Diwan sahib personality. His relatives got help for establishment of school in their area.

Shankarlal Lohana, a migrant engineer from Karachi, remembers him in the company of saint Khemchand, who was strong believer of Aurveda. With Bhagat Khemchand they had been mobilizing different communities to celebrate the Hindu festivals and their importance. Retired District Education Officer and leading advocate of Sindh, Shri Mathradas Kachoriya was fond of him. He was near to Diwan Sahib. He was the leader of young brigade of movement against excess expenditure on weddings and raising the voice against opium and dowry in community. He told that, he had seen very few legends in Tharparkar in his lifetime, who extensively worked for education, and against social evils. Even at that time, he had to face resistance from so called landlords. But he never changed his path of social reformation and community empowerment.

Elderly lady Manki  Bheel and his husband Gulab narrated the story of how Diwan sahib had arranged job as laborer in shop. Then he financed his studies to complete B.A. Even after that he helped him in getting Govt. job with Sindh revenue dept. He helped him like a father.

Lajpat Rathi informed that Diwan Chunilal had helped his uncle Prabhulal to migrate to USA for higher education 50 years ago. Only 4-5 persons from Tharparkar went to foreign country. Presently he stays in Boston. Bharat Mohta told that Diwan Sahib had other special quality. His wife Smt. Jamnabai will often visit kitchen and note the requirement of homes of group /relatives, who find it difficult to bear household expenses. Next day he would arrange grains and provisions from market and send to their homes anonymously.

Dewan Chunilal- Women gather to pay tribute
Women at a gathering in Ahmadabad paying tribute to Diwan Chunilal.

There are hundreds of other stories to be heard for Diwan Chunilal but in Ahmedabad, women remember him after his death in 1982 with special reason. Hindi, Gujarati they learnt in Diwan Sahib’s Pathshala have benefited them in new country India. With new migration since 2002 from Pakistan, many families have made Ahmedabad their home. They have enrolled their children/ grand children in schools. Here along with English Gujarati and Hindi are in course.

The lessons of Hindi /Gujarati Pathshala classes have become prized possession and golden treasure for these families. This early Gujarati Hindi learning became bridge between new school teachers and their children. They helped their children in learning new languages and helping in adjusting with new school environment. These ladies are proud that with their old knowledge they supported their children in shining in academic performance and become doctors, engineers, C.A. and other professionals. They are proud that the education level of newly migrants in India is at par with earlier established families. They have made no compromise on education due to efforts of Diwan Chunilal. More than three generations have benefited with his efforts. They all are extremely grateful to great legend, visionary and social reformer, who had value of education and foresight for future political environment of migration to India.

As a result of the efforts of Diwan Chanilal for education, culture and social empowerment some 60 years ago, thousands of people from Thar have joined different professions including medical, engineering, law, education, banking and business and government jobs. The legacy continues with Tharparkar residents residing in more than 70 plus countries of world. Salute to Great Scholar and Visionary, who still lives in hearts of loved ones around the globe including India.

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Source: World Hindu News

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