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Pradeep Singh

Pradeep Singh

Pradeep Singh

What gravitates you towards history, especially of Dehradun?

I have had the good fortune to have learned research methodology under gifted historians at JNU such as Romila Thapar, Bipin Chandra, Harbans Mukhia , S Gopal and others. This naturally predisposed me to look at my city, Dehradun, from the eyes of a student of history. Doon has fascinated writers and historians on a sustained basis.

Your family has a deep connection with Dehradun. Please tell us a bit about it.

Our family has had a presence in the Doon Valley for over three hundred years. My ancestors arrived here around the same time as the arrival of Guru Ram Rai (1646-1687) in Doon. Many of them also helped in the building of the Darbar of Guru Ram Rai though in a very modest way. They were zamindars based in villages like Badripur, Majri and Dudhli where they promoted cultivation of sugarcane and basmati rice.

What is your take on the way Doon Valley has evolved over a period of time, especially the debate about the Govt. pushing for ‘Smart City’?

From one perspective Dehradun is already a smart city. It has one of the finest human capital concentrated in iconic institutions like ONGC, IMA, FRI, RIMC , the Survey of India, the IAS Academy. And add to this the presence of leading schools such as the Doon School, Welhams, Woodstock, St George’s, St Joseph’s and others that make Dehradun the envy of all. The problem lies in poor governance and the lack of accountability in civic spheres which has not allowed leveraging the full potential of the unique blend of a salubrious climate and an enabling and empowering education ecosystem.

The river system of Doon has suffered due to the rapid increase in population and development. How can we protect it?

In real terms we have lost respect for the several rivers that have blessed the district for ages and allowed their desecration and destruction. Lack of vision and poor enforcement of civic laws have taken the rivers to the brink of extinction. It is now or never if we are to take corrective steps; and this will need courage and determination from all stakeholders.Technique and best practices are available for regeneration of dying rivers and streams, we need to gear up to take up the challenge and do the right thing.

Please share with our young readers some fun historic facts about Doon which you found during your research and compilation of ‘Sals of the Valley’.

Dehradun was once under consideration to be the capital of India when the issue came up of shifting the capital of British India from Calcutta to a new location. Ultimately New Delhi was selected and Lutyens Delhi project started in early 1900s .

Interestingly Doon’s famous canals, now sadly gone, were not only to provide water to the city and suburbs, but were also pilot projects for it’s architect to learn the dynamics of water flow to enable him to finalise the optimum gradient for long distance canals. The engineer Captain P T Cautley went on to build the famous Ganga Canal from Near Roorkee to Kanpur.

Ruskin Bond recently appreciated your book. How did that happen?

Ruskin Bond is not only an iconic writer but a source of inspiration for others to emulate . I first saw him in 1967 taking a walk on Mussoorie ‘s Mall Road and I was fascinated by the famous writer. Then in 2011 when I published my first book “The Suswa Saga ” , I eagerly sent him a copy. To my surprise Ruskin wrote me a most inspiring letter in his beautiful hand appreciating my efforts. He was kind enough again in late 2017 to read my second book” Sals of the Valley” and convey his pleasure. It means a lot to me to have his good opinion.

About the Interviewee:

 Pradeep Singh was born in 1957 at Mulberry Manor, Dehra Dun. He went to schools in Mussoorie and Dehra Dun. He was a UGC Scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, where he studied history. For a period, Pradeep worked as a farmer and horticulturist before joining a global energy corporate where he worked for over three decades, following which he turned his attention to research and writing on a full time basis.
Pradeep's prose displays his affinity to nature and to his beloved Dehra Dun Valley, where his family has resided for over three hundred years. This connection allows Pradeep to provide readers with a unique insight into the region. A passionate traveller, Pradeep currently works out of Dehra Dun and Delhi.
This is Pradeep Singh's second book.