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Jamshedpur: The changing hues of Jamsetji’s dream

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Jamshedpur, March 2: It seems only a few yesterdays back that I walked between my parents, each holding a hand of mine and going around the city celebrating Founder’s Day. Of course, our exciting sight (and sound) evening round was evenly distributed between the Sonari Aerodrome where breathtaking fireworks were organized and to the Tata Steel Works (that time TISCO Ltd) main gate where departmental exhibits depicting township, departmental functioning and other assortment of scale models vied for attention of visitors. A momentous occasion comes to mind a year before I had set foot into the hallowed doorway of Loyola High School. Yes, I remember that moment as distinctly as if it had happened only yesterday. That day on March 3, my mother had not accompanied dad and me. In those days, the Founder’s Day displays were set up inside the main gate across quite a large area.

I was, as usual, going around the display counters with an enthusiasm of a four-year old. Then dad guided me to a spot where a crowd had gathered. I ‘eased’ myself to the front of the gathering where I saw a lanky, simply but well dressed man in a bush shirt and cream-coloured trousers, asking a few people in front of a model helicopter some questions which I did not hear.

The helicopter, whose propellers were made with four spades, drew me closer to the model of this flying bird. Suddenly I found myself standing close to the helicopter and some people gently trying to pull me away. One of them of course, was my dad. But the lanky gentleman asked them to leave me alone. Instead, he picked me up in his arms and very gently, almost playfully, asked me what the thing I was watching was. I told him and he, like a child, seemed so happy at my ‘knowledge.’

Still in his arms, he asked someone ever so politely to demonstrate the helicopter as he himself moved back and joined the eager crowd. One person got inside the cockpit and the helicopter started moving around in a circle for quite some time with the propellers going full speed, before it came to a halt at its destined stand. There was a large round of applause. The man carrying me applauded excitedly. Later, with a pat on my cheek he set me down and moved on with a battery of persons following him. My dad seemed very happy as we moved towards home. Later, at home, I heard him telling mom excitedly, “Today will be remembered by Khokon when he grows up. JRD Tata took him in his arms and talked to him.”

It was a few years later that what had happened that March 3 almost 67 Springs back would remain imprinted in my pages of fond memories as long as I live to celebrate the remaining Founder’s Days of my life.

Years have rolled on since then but Jamshedpur has continued to grow as an architect’s dream city. This is one place in my own world that continues to turn beautiful and graceful without ageing. A township with the works in the centre and a well planned city of multi-hued cultures, Jamshedpur is the ultimate of my concept of mini India. In a letter to his son Dorabji Tata, Jamsetji had expressed his desire of a well planned township with wide roads and shady trees, every alternate one of them being the quick growing variety, ample place for gardens and lawns, play grounds and children’s parks, temples for Hindus, mosques for Muslims, churches for Christians and other prayer places for people of other religions. Though the Father of Modern Indian industry and as India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had observed of him, a ‘One Man Planning Commission’ did not live to see his dreams flower, Jamshedpur continues to remain and flourish as the pride of an architect’s concept and visualization. , Well planned roads, shady avenues, all conceivable forms of public utilities, round-the-clock cleanliness, mark the city as the epitome of an industrial culture where a satisfied society is of utmost concern and that is exactly what Jamsetji Tata had envisioned. We, the citizens of Jamshedpur with our enviable facilities, constitute a generation of the Founder’s well nurtured visions.

I took time off one recent winter evening and stood before the imposing statue of Jamsetji wondering how to thank him for the joys of living in this city of mine. He seemed to look down on me at that almost deserted place in Jubilee Park. I whispered, “Thank you old chap for the city of your visions. Love you!” I think I observed a smile from up there where he stood majestically.

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