Annual stock-taking

In the armed forces canteens, popularly known as CSD canteens, the last two days of the month are generally reserved for monthly “stock taking”. On these two days, all the canteens shut their doors to the customers. All the available stocks are physically verified by a commissioned officer, with the help of a team of juniors.
This procedure tells us if we are short of any goods listed in the stock register. Any shortfalls are, then, investigated so that remedial actions are taken in time. After all, running such a canteen is a business and requires skilful operations. The acronym CSD stands for Canteen Stores Department. Let us all adapt this process for ourselves.
Today is the last day of this year. Our lives are far more important than the CSD stocks. So, it is logical and imperative that we all take a look at the past 364 days of the year and evaluate ourselves. An honest and dispassionate analysis will tell us how good or bad was our performance ( karma ). If our karmas ( actions ) were honest, courageous, right and truthful, we can expect good “karma phal” ( result of our actions ). Our faults, or deficient actions, will tell us to be more cautious and mend our ways, wherever and whenever required.
Let us look at the performance of this column in the last 364 days. I have been writing Jammu Jottings for well over one year now. I have been receiving readers’ reactions on a regular basis, each week and to each Jotting.
The love and respect I received from my readers is beyond any stretch of my imagination. Some readers said they have returned to reading the newspapers seriously ; others said they now await the arrival of Sundays to grab the newspaper as the first activity of the morning. They straight away go to the editorial page that carries the column, they exult !
Readers have personally spoken to the editor to convey their appreciation for the column, which, to say the least, is very satisfying and encouraging for all of us at this newspaper. For me, it is a soul-stirring experience to receive such adulation.
Dr Arvinder Amn , retired additional secretary of Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art Culture and Languages wrote to the editor, on 3 September : I am a reader of Daily Excelsior since four decades and Sunday Magazine remained my top priority always, but now Jammu Jottings by Sqn Ldr Anil Sehgal takes the lead and Sunday Magazine is replaced to number two !
Please allow me to use the cliche and say that such great praise also brings great responsibility upon my shoulders ; and my pen. I am a soldier and I assure you, my dear readers, I will never betray the trust you have reposed in me. That is a promise. You will continue reading uncoated truth in my Jottings, as seen and perceived by me, without any fear or favour.
This brings me to figure out what exactly has made the column so readable and enchanting to the Jammuites ? A few of the contributory factors, as widely resonated through the articulations of my readers, could be these.
One, I write about the issues that most of the Dogras are deeply concerned about. Two, readers greatly appreciate that I write fearlessly and without any refrain. Three, my direct and analytical approach makes the issues easy to grasp. Four, readers like my diction, and language. I try to use simple words, which readers appreciate. You could add to the list.
Some of the readers have written that the Dogras awaited the arrival of someone on the scene to write about issues concerning them ; someone who understands the Dogras’ culture, language and psyche. They have been waiting to read truthful and analytical articulations about the civic, political, social, and cultural issues of importance.
The Dogras wanted to read about scenes behind the events and learn about their heritage. They also wished to be acquainted with the real heroes of Dograland who have since been forgotten. In short, they needed some writer with a straight and strong backbone who could call a spade a spade. It seems, their search has finally been fructified in the form of Jammu Jottings, if you permit me a bit of self assessment and indulgence.
Justice Tirath Singh Thakur, the former chief justice of India, says : Every article written by Anil Sehgal about our city of temples, our teachers and about events long forgotten has been savoured by me with the nostalgia that they inevitably evoke.”
Professor Lalit Magotra, president Dogri Sanstha opines, ” You are doing a great job by writing on topics, which are interesting and also add to the knowledge.”
I would like you to meet Kanwar Baldev Singh, a proud Dogra living in Akhnoor. Having worked in Germany and the United States, he has widened the horizon of his vision and outlook to life. At 75, he is an activist fighting against several social evils like the rampant corruption in Jammu and Kashmir. This concerned Dogra, therefore, is a known face in the courts at Jammu.
Baldev Singh, is a regular reader and admirer of this column. On Sunday, 23 July, he read my column titled “Jammu must reclaim her lost glory”, and was so enthused that he got 25 photocopies of the column and distributed these to his friends in Akhnoor ! Now, this is a practice, he follows each week.
He found my mobile number from the office of Daily Excelsior and, the same night, called me up to say how supercharged he was ! “I am so proud of you, Sir. I am especially moved by the last two paragraphs of your writing, today, ” he exclaimed amongst other utterings. He wanted to meet me in person. We eventually met in the premises of the courts at Jammu.
My friend Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed, advocate, tells me that this former soldier from the Indian Navy is a diehard supporter of communal harmony.
“Every year, he holds an Iftaar gathering of friends from all communities at Akhnoor, during the holy month of Ramzan. He invites a good number of his Muslim friends from Jammu too. I regularly participate in this well- intentioned exercise aimed at uniting the communities”, informs Sheikh Shakeel, himself a well known social activist who speaks impeccable Dogri.
There are several other readers too who are equally charged with Dogra pride after reading the articulations in the column every week. Leading the list is the nonagenarian Major General Goverdhan Singh Jamwal, the former military secretary to the President of India and a Dogra icon we all are proud of. He reads the column every week and invariably reacts through a message or a phone call. I seek your indulgence as I take the liberty of quoting a few of his messages put together.
” In you we have found the Dogra Kalhan. You must write Dogra history.
“Thanks for wake up calls to the Dogras to revive their forgotten glory. Absolutely apt and at the right time.
“I enjoyed every word, it was a music to my ears and looked as if I am doing my second visit to these very areas ( you described ) after 80 years. That’s it. You have done what was in my mind. Excellent . We will pick upon this. I will include this in my talk also today.
“Thank you for your excellent Articles. They are master pieces ; so thorough, so detailed, perfect. Every Dogra will be proud of your contributions”.
My dear friends of the Dograland, God has been very kind to me and my elders have given me enough wisdom to understand that such admiration is just another form of blessings. These are the words that inspire me to better myself.
A good number of readers have intermittently advised me to put these Jottings together in the form of a book ; and so has my editor Neeraj Rohmetra. I bow to this sincere piece of advice. A selection from these Jottings has presently been published as a book that carries the title of this column. This book is scheduled to be released in Jammu shortly.
Today is the last day of the year 2023. Tomorrow’s sun will shine in the regime of another year mankind has decided to call the year 2024. You all will be busy celebrating the last day in your own way, wishing your near and dear ones. Each amongst us follows different traditions, customs and modes. As they say, to each, his own.
When I was giving finishing touches to my book on Jananpith Award winner, Urdu poet Ali Sardar Jafri, I interacted with many of his contemporaries and admirers. I met his dear friend, another Jnanpith Award winner, renowned Urdu writer Qurratulain Hyder. She recalled : so much was the impact of Sardar Jafri, on me and my friends, that for the new year, we used to greet each other quoting this quatrain of his :
Yeh kisne phone pe di saal-e-nau ki tahniyat mujhko ,
Tamanna raks karti hai, takhayyul gungunata hai //
Masarrat ke jawan mallah kashti le ke nikle hain ,
Ghamon ke na-khudaon ka safina dagmagata hai /
Qurratulain Hyder translated it for me thus :
(Who has said Happy New Year to me on the phone ?
My wishes are dancing and imagination hums with joy /
The youthful oarsmen of joy have come out with their barge,
Rocking the ship of the captains of grief // )
That is the way great writers exchange the New Year greetings ! Happy New Year, my dear readers !