Dr Birbal Jha— A Material Research for Sociologists

Serpentine queues balancing themselves with bagful of books, hustle and bustle of publishing houses, authors and booklovers, crisscrossing from colourful halls to the hallmark of Bapu's animation, from literature art work to handiwork of food sellers and the charming scene of such literary heaven is now clocked off from Pragati Maidan as New Delhi World Book Fair 2020 efficiently embraced its end on January 12.

But, showering of literary words will be reverberating forever as sound energy of books and literature will steer society from retrogression to progression.

Among footfalls chanting Gandh-Gandhism with Book Fair's theme being "Gandhi: The Writers’ Writer", there was a designated spot, Seminar Hall, which was sparkling with wit and wisdom of Dr Birbal Jha, who accentuated the relevance of literary conglomeration and Indian literature uttering Mahatma Gandhi's famous maxim: "Let our lives be open books for all to study.”

The Seminar Hall at Book Fair was bulging with  distinguished audience, literati, authors and book-lovers. Dr Birbal Jha, as a chief guest, delivered  mesmerizing speech replete with emotion and empathy of many hues that graced the occasion of the book release and also detoxified people's mind clogged up with divisive political hoopla ( "Chhapak" of JNU and CAA-maraderie to name a few).

“Books are the weapons by which we can do away with the swirling fog of ignorance. What remains everlasting in this world is the presentation of our work and good deeds. Once we write something or something good is written about us is well recorded and documented in the form of a book or the like, it is handed down from generation to generation”, held Dr Jha on the occasion.

Dr Jha, one of the most sought-after faces for such sorts of cultural and academic functions across the nation as his "Birbal-Wani" (the very phrase given by his staunch followers as a token of reverence for his speeches), casts lingering and magical spell on the audience.

The personality of Dr Jha splits into many colours if one goes through the prism of perception. Author, educator, commentator, linguist, lyricist, columnist, cultural activist and social entrepreneur- all compacted make him a versatile genius.

Born in the backwaters of Bihar, Sijoul, a village falling in the district of Madhubani , Dr Jha has come a long way. From being at the receiving end of the penury, deprivation, scarcity to getting a big space in the New York Times, for his significant contribution to the marginalized section of the society, Dr. Jha is an inspiration for hundreds of thousands of people with humble background, but great aspirations. Dr Jha has put many momentous milestones in his journey of life, which could be a material research for sociologists.

Under his erudite stewardship, his social venture British Lingua has become a stepping-stone for aspiring youngsters who want to have a golden pot of their careers.

Dr Jha tried his best to ignite budding authors at the Book Fair and encouraged them with his baritone voice to put pain on your pen to ease the pains of people around.

Highlighting Gandhi's vision on culture, Dr Jha phrased out his considered view: for the long life of a culture, it has to remove rigidity and avoid parochialism.

Notably, Dr Jha's brainchild Mithilalok Foundation, a torch-bearer of cultural discourse has vociferously pitched the paag campaign. What is a crown in England is a paag in Mithila. It has been extended even to women who were once denied their rights of being honoured with a paag in a male-dominated society. Thanks to his incessant efforts, the Indian word paag entered English dictionaries.

Dr Jha is said to be a "Living Legend" for rookie writers in that as how an author goes beyond the comfort of two-dimensional pen-works to three-dimensional leg work for safeguarding his culture.

Dr Jha has played a pivotal role in the issuance of a postal stamp on paag by the Central government led by PM Narendra Modi.

He motivated the august gatherings at the Book Fair to read books voraciously and return "food for thought" to society generously.

Stepping out of his boundary of being an acclaimed social thinker and writer, authoring more than 30 valuable books, Dr Jha has been on his toes for a social cause around the clock.

This journalist has witnessed how Dr Birbal has provided free legal aid to the victim family fighting the Gurugram school tragedy that shook the nation's conscience in 2017. He launched a "Child Safety Campaign", the domino effect of which was felt across India.

For the cause of poor and needy, Dr Jha has graciously carved out his social persona that overshadows his entrepreneurial designation, which was acknowledged by the audience with rapturous applause when the anchor put up kaleidoscopic narratives of Dr Jha's career spanning from a content creator to crusader.

When there is talk in public domain whether Dr Jha should join the club of leaders to cleanse the political system of its ills, people from all walks of life hold him in high esteem with assertive opinion about him that "he convincingly dons the role "Dharma" of a scholar as well as firmly sits on a "Dharana" for social orientation in democratic values."

In the 28th edition of New Delhi World Book Fair (first inaugurated by former president VV Giri in 1972), Birbal-Wani is chronicled with his utterance in Sanskrit: विद्वत्वं च नृपत्वं च न एव तुल्ये कदाचन्। स्वदेशे पूज्यते राजा विद्वान् सर्वत्र पूज्यते- explained to the enlightened audience, “There cannot ever be a comparison between scholarship and rulership. A ruler is honoured in his territory only, whereas a scholar is revered everywhere, irrespective of geographical boundaries”.

(Author of this piece, Ramakant Chaudhary is a senior journalist and political analyst.)