Homage to Dr. R.M. Pal – The Veteran Humanist
(17th July 1927 – 13th October 2015)
Indian Renaissance Institute is deeply grieved over the sad demise of Dr. R.M. Pal who expired at 6.15 pm Tuesday, the 13th October 2015 at Mumbai at the age of 88. He had suffered a heart attack about two weeks ago and thereafter he could not survive. He took his last breath in the presence of his wife Madhuri Pal, and two daughters, i.e., Sangeeta Mall and Ilina who were attending to him along with other family members.
Around the age of 19 years he had to leave his ancestral home in ‘East Bengal’, now ‘Bangla Desh’, at the time of Partition in 1947 and the violence, sufferings and devastation which he saw made him ‘atheist’. The Partition troubled him throughout his life and he never forgave those who were responsible for it. He came to Dehradun and had the rare privilege of staying with M.N. Roy and Ellen Roy at 13, Mohini Road, Dehradun during the last years of their lives. He, in his youth, imbibed the Radical Humanist philosophy direct from Roy and thereafter never deviated from it.
Dr. R.M. Pal was a dedicated radical humanist.
He came to Delhi and joined teaching profession in the Delhi University and retired as Principal of Rajdhani College. He devoted himself in propagating the philosophy of the ‘Radical Humanism’ by his writings and lectures. When publication of the Radical Humanist was brought to Delhi in 1970, as Tarkunde had shifted to Delhi, Dr. Pal proved to be of important help. He was member of the editorial board and regularly attended its monthly meetings. He became its Managing Editor in 1980 and later on also its Editor for several years. He was a Life Trustee of the Indian Renaissance Institute (IRI) founded by M.N. Roy in 1946. He helped the IRI in getting published a large number of books written by Roy.
He was founder member of three important organizations, i.e., the ‘Indian Radical Humanist Association’, – reconstituted in 1970; the ‘Citizens for Democracy’ – founded in April 1974 with Jayprakash Narayan as its President; and PUCL, set up during Emergency in October, 1975 as ‘PUCL & DR’ with Jayprakash Narayan as its President and V.M. Tarkunde as Working President.
Dr. R.M. Pal was a very active and vocal member of these organizations which have made important contributions towards developing people’s movements in the country – especially relating to issues of human rights, communal harmony and rights of minorities, dalits and other downtrodden, without involving in power politics. He was vehemently opposed to ‘communalism’ of any sort, and forcefully criticized the prevailing ‘casteism’ among the upper-caste Hindus. He has written extensively in this regard, especially on societal violations of human rights and has authored many books. He edited ‘PUCL Bulletin’ for several years (1984 to 2010).
It will be worthwhile to mention here that, in addition to ‘Independent India’ Roy had started a quarterly journal ‘Marxian Way’ in 1944 which name was later changed to ‘Humanist Way’ in 1949, as an ‘instrument of enquiry and learning’ and ‘really an open forum where competing stand points would come together without clashing’. Intellectual stalwarts like Philip Spratt, Laxman Shastri Joshi, K.M. Pannikkar, Andre Brissaud, Dwight Macdonald, G.D. Parikh, Jules Monnerot, Bertram D. Wolfe, Dkashina Ranjan Shastri, Ruth Fischer, Agehanand Bharati, Amlan Dutta, besides many others, contributed to this journal which had to be closed in the middle of 1952 due to financial reasons. However, the articles written in this journal are a rare treasure of ‘humanist thought’ and attempt to show a way to a richer and more meaningful future for mankind. Dr. R.M. Pal devoted himself to bring out a selection of the articles from this treasury of ‘humanist thought’ which were published under the name ‘Selections from THE MARXIAN WAY and THE HUMANIST WAY’ on behalf of the IRI. This publication is a very important contribution of Dr. R.M. Pal as the articles in it provide a deep insight into the intellectual history of the twentieth century. The IRI is indebted to Dr. Pal for this valuable labour.
Passing away of Dr. R.M. Pal has left a big void in the humanist movement. He will always remain an inspiration for all those who are struggling for liberation of the deprived and downtrodden. The IRI conveys its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.
[author image=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/_/focus/photos/public/AIbEiAIAAABECNPGmbauwYGJ_AEiC3ZjYXJkX3Bob3RvKihiZTk3NDJmYWE5NDA5MjU0ZjIzODVkYzIzMDc3ODE1MTc4MWZiMWZmMAFvlOphbF1ZTwVzlcYaf2q4eCckTA?sz=64″ ]N.D. Pancholi, Secretary, Indian Renaissance Institute and President, PUCL Delhi.[/author]