From The Territorial Army To Tibet Sri Lanka, Kedar Fonia, Dr. Arun Kuksal Remembered This


There are some personalities who do the work they do while living in this world, they are remembered even after they leave the world. Kedar Singh Ponia, a politician and officer, was a rich man of such an invaluable personality. Kedar Singh Fonia, who left his indelible memories and many books in his legacy, was remembered in this way by author, journalist and social worker Dr. Arun Kuksal by writing a post on Facebook.

Pauri: My life has been a struggle. It’s not that I lacked anything to start my life’s journey. But there was always a lack of guidance and communication tools. That’s why I had to wander myself to find a way to move forward in this struggling way of life…. I must have been overconfident. That’s why quitting my job, turning down good opportunities to collect money, became a habit in my life. But I didn’t lose everything by doing this. I have also gained a lot from this type of lifestyle…. What I got in life is not important. For me it was important what I did for the society.

Scholar, policy maker, administrator, entrepreneur and politician Kedar Singh Ponia ji outlines his life-essence through the above lines in his autobiography book ‘Baldte Pahad Aur Badalte Jeevan’. I think even his near and dear ones have the same opinion about him. The equivalence of the individual’s thinking about himself and the world’s thinking about him is the condition of a life ideal. In this sense, the multi-faceted personality of Phonia ji has been successful in creating a distinct public identity.

The thing happened during the February 1969 assembly elections. In the markets of Joshimath, we children used to shout ‘Jittega Bhai Jitega, Kedar Sing Phunya Jittega’ throughout the day. In the greed that many teens can flaunt election bills. We would also keep an eye on the silent Lamchus we get from the election campaigners. The people of the opposing camp also used to give us dalka (ran) for saying ‘Funya Jeetega’. By the way, the badges of all the candidates would have been stuffed in our pockets. We would hear from elders that ‘Funya’ who came from Delhi after leaving a big job would win. But Fonia ji lost his first election.

What do we mean to children by their victories and defeats? As before, watching the foreigners who had come to his newly built ‘Hotel Neelkanth’ from the street was included in our daily routine. We do not have the courage to go close because if foreigners ask in English, what will we answer? That’s why it was our compulsion to take the luxury of shining hotels and white foreigners from a distance. It was true that we had seen ‘Hotel’ for the first time – had heard that till now ‘Dharamsala’ and ‘Room for passengers’ were in our knowledge.

Later, came to know about him and his scholarship from the book ‘Uttarakhand – Garhwal Himalayas’ by Phoenician ji (1977). This is probably the first systematic book about Garhwal from the point of view of tourism. In the year 1991, while being the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Government of Uttar Pradesh, he came into the discussion by giving a new idea of ​​perennial pilgrimage in Uttarakhand. It is also important that all the forms of the 2.77 hectare land acquired by the then UP government for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya were signed by the UP government as Tourism and Culture Minister Kedar Singh Fonia ji (dated 20 October 1992). ) was issued. Then he became famous in the country and the world.

As a politician, he was often at the center of political speculation when the state of Uttarakhand was formed, but political opportunities always avoided him. He proved his talent in other areas of life as well. But each time the top achievements kept coming to him. Why would this have happened? To find out, let’s follow along with him from the beginning of his life’s journey.

The Raja of Chandpur Garhi had sent a person from the Kunwar caste of Kansuwa to Tibet as his representative, whom the Garhwalis called by the name ‘Fundiya’. After some time this ‘Phundiya’ got influenced by the profit of trade and settled in Gamsali village, whose descendants are today ‘Phonia’.’

Gamsali is a village in the Niti valley of the Garhwal Himalayas (altitude 10000 feet above sea level). The people here live in Gamsali from April to September and in Chinka village from October to March. (Though now this practice has reduced a lot.) Before the Indo-China war (1962), Gamsali village was a major center of trade from Garhwal to western Tibet. It is here that Kedar Singh Phonia ji, son of Madho Singh – Krishna Devi, was born on 27 May 1930 in Gamsali.

After studying till class 4 in the primary school of the village, Kedar was educated from 5 to 7 in Joshimath. 14-year-old Kedar, who reached Pauri from Gamsali village in June 1944, after 9 days of continuous walking for further studies with family acquaintance Vidyadutt ji, did not return home for a whole year. In 1948 from Mesmore High School, Pauri, tenth (first class) and D.A. After doing Inter (1st class) from V, Dehradun in 1951, he obtained B.Sc in 1953 and MA in the subject ‘History of Ancient India and Indian Philosophy’ from Allahabad University in 1955.

Soon after doing MA from Allahabad in 1955, Fonia ji came to Delhi in search of a job. In April 1956, after his selection as an information assistant in the Department of Tourism, Government of India, his first appointment was made at the Tourism Information Office in Banaras. Deep knowledge in Buddhism and philosophy came in his use. Recognizing his versatility in just two years, the Tourism Department shifted him from Banaras to the Indian Embassy office in Colombo (Sri Lanka) in 1958. Assistant Director from Colombo in 1962, He shifted to Delhi on the post of tourism. In 1962, during the Indo-China war, due to the stoppage of tourism activities in the whole country, like other government officials, Phoenicia was also made a soldier of the country’s ‘Territorial Army’. After normalizing the conditions in the country, he started discharging his previous government responsibilities. In the year 1963, he took 4 months unpaid leave and worked as founder manager in private company ‘Nepal Travel Agency’, Kathmandu.

Giving a new dimension to tourism development in the country, the Tourism Development Corporation of India (ITDC) was formed in 1965. Fonia ji has been appointed as the Founder Manager, Northern Zone of ITDC. His efficiency paid off and he was selected for the 8-month International Tourism Diploma, Prague (Czechoslovakia) in the year 1966. As a diploma trainee in Prague, Czechoslovakia, he had the opportunity to travel to Geneva, Frankfurt, Paris and London to study.

After coming back from Prague (Czechoslovakia), he was recognized among the major tourism policy makers of the country. In March 1967, when he came to his home in Chinka, the urge to build a hotel in Joshimath started. The experiences and knowledge gained from the country and the world inspired him to create a new path of entrepreneurship in his native environment. Moving forward in this direction, from the year 1968, Hotel ‘Neelkanth’ started operating successfully in Joshimath. As a local entrepreneur off-job, he became closer to his mountain life. The thought repeatedly flashed in Ponia ji’s mind that why is the life of the people of our Uttarakhand so difficult to have more natural beauty than Europe? The lack of foresight in the political policies of the overall development of the region was the main reason he understood for this. enough, With this formula, the course of his life changed. The mind of the young – cheerful Ponia ji saw a new dream. And the time to make that dream come true was also right in front.

Mid-term assembly elections were declared in Uttar Pradesh in January-February 1969. Fonia ji felt that he could achieve the best of life by contributing to politics. Close friends encouraged him and he entered the field of politics to contest the election as an independent MLA candidate. The cunning path of politics, keeping the person in greed and delusion, seems simple, but the art of conquering his arduousness is only with a few rare ones. He was far from the art of political maneuvering. So Phoenia ji lost the election. Now he started putting all the attention in the hotel business. See the irony, the destruction of Belakuchi in June 1970 and the break-up of Gaunatal in June 1971 devastated the entire life and life of the frontier. Due to the stagnation of travel-tourism, his hotel business became sluggish. Apart from this, from 1969 to 1971, he was surrounded by many other life-threatening calamities, but he did not break, he acted courageously.

Fonia ji took steps towards getting a job again. Talent, skill and experience supported him. He became Divisional Manager (Tourism) in the newly formed Hill Development Corporation, UP in August, 1971 and General Manager in 1973. During this, he did commendable work in the field of tourism, industry and marketing in Uttarakhand. Package tours, winter resorts and sports venues in Uttarakhand, Auli rope construction, Woodwool factory, Tilwara resin and turpentine factory in Rishikesh, Flash door, Kotdwar, Tourist rest house, River rafting, Connecting Chamoli district’s electricity system to the national grid etc. He had a leading role in the works.

In 1976, the Uttar Pradesh government divided the Hill Development Corporation into two parts and made Garhwal Development Corporation and Kumaun Development Corporation. Fonia ji was deeply hurt by this government decision. Subsequent experiences prove that this was an impractical and fatal decision in view of the overall development of entire Uttarakhand. Fonia ji also suffered that in the year 1974, leaving the post of Director of Tourism Department, Government of India, he wanted to implement many development work-plans in Uttarakhand through Hill Development Corporation. While giving his services as General Manager in Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam, Fonia ji moved to Delhi in 1979 as Chief Marketing Manager in Indian Commercial Corporation. In 1982, he became the General Manager of the Commercial Corporation of India and retired in 1988. After that, in 1989, he started working in Sita World Travels as a ‘Tour Leader’.

Fonia ji re-entered politics from BJP in the year 1991. In the same year, he became the MLA of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly and the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Uttar Pradesh. Government happened. After this, he won consecutive assembly elections in 1993 and 1996. He was the Minister of Tourism and Industry in the interim government of the newly formed state. He lost the 2002 election, but in 2007 he was re-elected as an MLA. In the 2012 elections, he lost the MLA election as an independent candidate.

The various phases of the above biography journey of Kedar Singh Phonia ji indicate the multifaceted mood of his personality and creativity. It is certain that every time in life, he has been a companion of awareness to do better than before. This awareness kept him moving in many directions throughout his life. He had left the tendency to walk on the bound roads in his childhood. That’s why the 14-year-old boy Kedar was not afraid of unknown paths, being subdued by the urge to study further – tired just kept walking for 9 days. Even the charm of a prosperous ancestral business did not deter his interest in further studies.

Let’s talk about his business trip to Tibet, after which he decided to leave his ancestral business and go on the path of higher studies.

After passing high school the idea was to study further. But hesitation came in the way of telling his father. The situation was that 2 years ago when they were studying in class 8, they got married. So he also took care of family responsibilities. Forced to obey his father’s orders, he joined a family business trip to Tibet in June 1948. Giving an interesting description of this journey, Phoenia ji writes that “The first stop of the trek towards Tibet from Gamshali (height 10000 feet above sea level) is 8 km. Far away is Kala Jabar (12000 ft above sea level). From Kala Jabar to Chorhoti ka Dhura (altitude 17500 ft above sea level) via Badahoti (12500 ft above sea level) 12 km and from Badahati to Tunjen La 4 km. Is. The trade routes of the frontier region in India are addressed as ‘Darre’ and in Tibet as ‘La’.

Niti is 24 km from Tunjen La located on the border line of India and Tibet. is far. It is the gateway from Niti to Tibet. The first Mandi towards West Tibet from Niti is Dafa. Here lived a local administrator named Dafa Jong. In the Gartok Mandi beyond Dafa in western Tibet, Indian traders also kept some of their cattle in Tibet, looked after by their Tibetan business friends. This property of Indians was called ‘Korba’. Then the Chinese rule had not spread in Tibet, but it was beginning to be heard. (In 1956 the Indo-Tibetan trade had completely stopped.) After Dafa we reached Gartok, Chojo and Bongba Mandi. Tremendous difficulties of travel, Fear of Khampa bandits, Thousands of sheep, Hundreds of chawar cows, Fifty horses and mules, Fear of attack by wild animals, Plateau climate of Tibet, Snow-covered roads,

Barley, rice, wheat, sugar, nuts, jaggery, kismis and salt, wool, ghee, butter, chhurbi (dried cheese) etc. from Tibet returned to their village in September 1948, bartering from Gamsali. (It is known that due to lack of road at that time, sea salt could not come to the hilly areas of Uttarakhand, so most of the salt coming out of the rocky mines of Tibet was used in Uttarakhand. Till 1962, Niti and Mana (Chamoli Garhwal) , Nelang (Uttarkashi) and Gunji and Milam (Pithoragarh) were mainly based on salt and wool coming from Tibet.

In the hearts and minds of Ponia ji, the said visit to Tibet introduced him to many lessons and questions. In particular, he has mentioned in his autobiography the mutual economic-cultural ancestral relations of Indo-Tibet and their sensitivity. A conversation with his Tibetan friend Karma is a hallmark of this. In June 1948, during his business trip to Tibet, he met Karma, the son of a wealthy businessman Angdu, at Dafa Mandi. He had a sudden meeting with the same Karma friend after 17 years in Malari in 1965. By then the Garhwal-Tibet trade had been closed. Due to the suzerainty of China in Tibet, hundreds of people fled and came under the shelter of India.

Ponia ji writes that “A person told his name as Karma. It was the same Karma whose Dafa Mandi house in 1948 I spent a few days at my merchant camp. China launched its first attack on wealthy people and religious leaders. Karma told through an interpreter that his wealthy father Angdu Rabtug was arrested by Chinese soldiers and taken to Beijing. He told the District Magistrate that out of about 900 sheep that came with him, 300 sheep and 15 Chanwar cows are animals of ‘Korba’ of Madho Singh Phonia (my father), the rest his own. I remember old thing. Through the interpreter I introduced myself to Karma. Hearing this, Karma got tears in her eyes. Shake hands and introduce friendship. I gave a message to Karma with the help of interpreters that if he wanted to stay in Chinka, I would be able to help him stay. Karma’s reply was that now he is a refugee and is under the shelter of the Government of India. Wherever the Government of India sends, it would be appropriate to go there. The Indian government had sent all these refugees to Mysore. After this, I could never meet Karma, nor did I get any news of him.

Like the above anecdote, this book covers the centuries-old common cultural heritage of Tibet and its associated Indian territories – Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh – dependency, migration of Buddhism from India to Tibet, Kailash Mansarovar Yatra in Indo-Tibetan relations. etc. is interestingly mentioned. Geographically, Kailash and Mansarovar are in Tibet, but from the cultural-religious point of view, integral parts of Indian life are felt there. Before 1956, Indians did not need a visa-passport to visit Kailash Mansarovar. Presently the established route for Mansarovar Yatra is Delhi – Dharchula Lipulekh (693 km). In the year 2012, Phonia ji gave to the Government of India 3 alternative routes of Mansarovar Yatra from Uttarakhand, namely Delhi – Barahati (585 km), Delhi – Nitipas (590 km) and Delhi – Manapas (528 km.). ) was prepared and presented a detailed action plan. In this proposal, he has told that the shortest route from Delhi to Kailash Mansarovar is from Mana (Badrinath). He suggested to the Prime Minister that if Tibet trade from Mana and Niti valley is connected by road then it will have positive effects all over the world.

Probably, Kedar Singh Fonia is one of the senior politicians of the present era in Uttarakhand who has written an autobiography. Along with this, his 3 books (Uttarakhand or Uttaranchal, Brief History of Uttaranchal State Formation and Twelve Years of Uttarakhand from Uttaranchal) have been published in the center of the political scene of Uttarakhand. It is interesting, inventive and relevant. In these, there are tales of failures, tug-of-war and short-sightedness of the present governance system. There are tales of how Uttarakhand’s politics and politicians bow down before their party and government in Delhi. The mathematics of the relationship between a person and his caste in politics can be understood in this. What is the irony that the caste with which a person does not care much in his normal routine, But he influences the most on his life achievements, especially political opportunities. Ponia ji is also seen expressing a sense of sympathy towards his opponents and those who harm him, but he expresses his annoyance.

Ponia ji’s political life has been full of ups and downs. The sudden disappearance of opportunities from time to time to become Chief Minister or Minister has been surprising to him. But every time the original religious satiating instincts in them elevates them from these troubles. It is a strange coincidence that apart from the politically influential posts, his personality is not scattered and appears to be more polished. Because basically they are scholars, policy makers and masters of entrepreneurial qualities. He was not even remotely related to political maneuvering and diplomacy. In politics, the image of ‘Fonya Na Kuch Bonya, Na Kuch Kanya’ has always followed his personality. The reason for this is that there was no mutual complementarity between the different dimensions of their personality. That’s why a different kind of solitude has been present around them all the time.

Many of the best books written by Phoenia ji reveal his creativity. His books have been appreciated in the academic world. ‘Uttarakhand Garhwal Himalaya’, ‘Religious and Tourist Places of Uttarakhand’ (Rahul Sankrityayan Award), ‘Valley of Flowers’, ‘Traveller’s Guide to Uttarakhand’, ‘Uttarakhand or Uttaranchal’, ‘Brief History of Uttaranchal State Formation’ from ‘Uttaranchal’ His important books are ‘Twelve Years of Uttarakhand’ etc.

Through the autobiography of Ponia ji, many popular personalities such as Bala Singh Pal, Madho Singh Ponia, Nayan Singh Ponia, Mangal Singh Pal, Inder Singh Pal, Kalun Chonden, Angdu Rabtug, Karma Rabtug, Balkrishna Bhatt, Jayanti Prasad Dimri, Puran Singh Mehta , Pratap Singh Pushpan, Surendra Singh Pangti, Vaidyaraj Shrikrishna Kimothi, Bachiram Arya, politician Bhaktadarshan etc. Inspirational episodes tell the vitality and honesty of the people of the mountain.

In fact, the life journey of Kedar Singh Fonia ji has been like that of a scholar. In which the constant sense of continuous study and dedication towards his work has always been present in him. His field of work has been wide and varied in the country – the world. During his long working hours abroad and study trips to many countries such as Sri Lanka, Maldives, Kuwait, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Afghanistan, Vietnam, South Africa, Mauritius, Bhutan, France, Switzerland, etc., the mountains of Uttarakhand are at the center of his reflection. And there are only mountain dwellers. In this sense, his autobiography is also an autobiography of development in the marginal areas of Uttarakhand.

Today his departure from this world is very sad. Salute to the virtuous soul. Dr. Arun Kuksal

Who is Dr. Arun Kuksal: Dr. Arun Kuksal is a writer, journalist, trainer, wanderer and senior social scientist. At present, he is appointed as Lokpal in Pauri for the redressal and monitoring of complaints related to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme ie ‘MNREGA’ of the Government of India.

Born on October 8, 1959 in Chami village (Aswalsun) of Garhwal in Uttarakhand, Dr. Arun Kuksal has served in various departments in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. PhD in Economics Dr. Kuksal is deeply versed in the social, economic, educational, cultural and literary issues of the Himalayan society. He has been active in writing regularly for the past several years in magazines and social media. He has published 7 books on entrepreneurship development, travel, literature and cultural subjects.

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