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    ~ Mark Twain

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    Dinkar’s Poem motivated me in my Days of Struggle: Vikas Vaibhav

    Vikas Vaibhav, an IPS officer of 2003 batch and former senior SP of Patna, who barely needs any elaborate introduction because of his unprecedented work on history and heritage speaks with Rohit Kumar of ‘Express Today’ to discuss his passion and love for heritage and how it has taken shape since his childhood. Here is the excerpt from the interview.

    Rohit Kumar: The very first question that I would like to ask you Sir is that you have graduated from India’s one of the prestigious Science institutions i.e. IIT Kanpur and meanwhile you developed an amazing interest in history and a great love for India’s greatest heritage. So, I wish to know that what were the forces that pulled you towards history and heritage even after being academically associated with Science? The purpose of asking this question is that though there may be few other people having similar interest in Science as well as history but one thing you will have to admit that this similar passionate interest in Science as well as history is a ‘Rare Combination’. So, how would you like to explain this what I call ‘Rare Combination’?

    Vikas Vaibhav: Somehow it may be rare but it was not so rare for me because when I was in School I used to score in both Science as well as history. I was one of those students in my School who used to get best marks in both Science as well as history. So, after 10th I wanted to continue in both streams but unfortunately in this education system you couldn’t do that. So, science was taken as a main subject and history remained as a passion which was beyond the syllabus. So, both continued together. So, after a point of time when I was quite settled in my job, even when I was in IIT, my field of interest was quite discrete which I enjoyed. Science was like a course and to get a job or what I have to do but history was like a past-time in which one enjoyed and one could delve deep into something mysterious.

    Rohit Kumar: Okay. So, I read in one of your Facebook posts that your quest with history started in the summer of 1998, when you were completely free for 3 months and had the opportunity to do whatever you wished to do and it’s only then you decided to explore India’s greatest and rich heritage, in detail. But, you know, when I checked your LinkedIn profile, it says a completely different story. Because, in my opinion your school education has not been uniform at one place, as your LinkedIn profile says. It seems that you were destined to travel and explore from your very childhood. So, do you think that this quest for history which you say developed in 1998, was the ‘Mature Expansion’ of the quest which was lying since childhood?

    Vikas Vaibhav: Quite right. Actually, there was a feeling in mind, like I told you that I did my 10th in 1995, so that was a time when subject history ended. But, gradually it was there in my mind, so till 1997-98, I couldn’t find time, when I went to IIT the first year passed away but once after that I had the time then I could do anything, I felt I should get some history books from the library and now I should devote sometime for my passion. So, that is how I said my quest started, before that it was like a subject till tenth. Next 2-3 years I was almost without history but now I had time, I wanted to continue it, so it started since then. So, apart from my regular education and regular courses whatever time I used to get, I used to devote it for studying history or for visiting some sites around my areas.

    Rohit Kumar: How many ‘Silent Pages’ you have already explored till now and how many ‘Silent Pages’ you have planned to explore in near future?

    Vikas Vaibhav: It’s just like a part of life. Whenever I go, I visit them for a short time. I generally enquire from the people about some sites which are lying around. I haven’t counted, maybe I should count as such but I must have visited more than two hundred sites all over the country. Not just in the country, even if I am on some foreign destinations, even there I would like to ask people about some sites which are lying neglected which have some historical importance. So, even in Korea or some other country I go or I have been to, I have tried to locate some sites with some Indian connection.

    Rohit Kumar: Some particular example?

    Vikas Vaibhav: Like in Korea when I was in Seoul I was looking for Buddhist sites, sites associated with Buddhism. I could come across some sites which were of 6 th century A.D, 7th Century A.D. Buddhists Stupas around Korea with some Indian connection to that.

    Rohit Kumar: You say that, the first book that you read after your quest with history started was, ‘The Light of Asia’. What impact this book left on your quest with history or how did it deepen your interest in other words?

    Vikas Vaibhav: See, ‘The Light of Asia’ is about Buddha. So, Buddha’s personality is so magnificent and is so attractive that when you talk about him you feel like a person who is not very different from you because he is facing the same dilemmas that you are facing and when you see that these dilemmas were faced by a person over 500 years ago then you see that history is so real. What it happened then is almost the same story with the human beings even today. So, Buddha had found some answers but many answers still remain. So, when you study history more, you gradually realize that human beings had been questioning so many things and we are still questioning. So, that whole journey has been wonderful.

    Rohit Kumar: Sir, you also say that heritage consciousness in India is low, more particularly in our State Bihar. So, what reasons do you see behind such a low heritage consciousness?

    Vikas Vaibhav: See, even reasons to that could be historic. Generally, people in India more bother about food, education for children and so many things, like they are more materialistic or they are too spiritual to think about the materialistic aspects. So, they both are on extremes. The middle-path is still to be found out. There are certain people who are too materialistic so they do not have time for heritage or there certain people who are too spiritual so they don’t bother about heritage. So, generally India is a very deeply religious society, so anything which is attached to the religion is respected, regarded and protected but anything which gets disassociated with religion is normally forgotten. So, something which had a very high point of time in the past but is lying neglected because that is not associated with religion today or that site may have been forgotten.

    Rohit Kumar: Do you see any hope from the present youth generation in terms of developing heritage consciousness and preserving our historical identities and values?

    Vikas Vaibhav: Certainly. Because, youth are the main stakeholder in this whole exercise because unless the youth can understand the importance of heritage and history they would not be able to even take India forward into the next century. So, the way India is going to be in the next millennium would depend on India’s youth and only the youth who have solid foundation and understanding of India’s deep cultural heritage would be able to take it forward. So, the only hope is from the youth because the other people have already done whatever they could have done. But, India in the new millennium depends on what the youth of India thinks fit.

    Rohit Kumar: Sir, you have made the famous Rohtasgarh Fort accessible for the general public which had once become a safe-harbour for dacoits and Naxals of the area. Tell me Sir, what were the challenges involved in the process.

    Vikas Vaibhav: It was very challenging. Because at that point of time people normally even mentioning Rohtasgarh Fort would make one tremble of fear, so was the case with even the police forces. So, the first aspect was physical aspect. Being there, going there and exploring the place, finding different routes to reach those place because it was like an ascending climb. That was one part. The next part was to defend the local people. So, that was done over the period of time like in a year or so in which we could actually go and talk to people and try to explain that what the benefit of tourism in their areas is and how they could contribute to it. Actually, it was a mixed way and a holistic approach in which it worked by the locals associated with the police and we could get success.

    Rohit Kumar: Sir, policing is a very stressful job. How do you manage to explore the ‘Silent Pages’ and continue with your passion even after being associated with such a stressful life?

    Vikas Vaibhav: See, basically policing is indeed a stressful life but you would also appreciate that in policing you have to travel a lot in the fields. So, the time when you are not doing the normal policing, there could be time to do some other activities and even at the time when you are doing normal policing, suppose you are going to visit a crime-scene, on return you may come across some site which is just lying on the roadside, you have two options, either you go to the site or go to your home. You spend ten minutes and click some pictures that remain with you. That is how I could travel so extensively. Finding time when you are passionate about something, you will always find the time.

    Rohit Kumar: And, now I would like to ask you on record about your books, upcoming books and your plan of writing books and this is on record.

    Vikas Vaibhav: I have been writing a blog since 2013. I have planned to come out with my book in a year or so like I am targeting 2018 for publishing my first book. I propose to give it the same name i.e. ‘Silent Pages’ with different themes. So, I am not very sure because I have already written a lot but I have to compile it and make it in a kind of concise form. So, I am working on it.

    Rohit Kumar: Sir, my last question will be in Hindi because this is related to Dinkar Ji. सर, मैंने कहीं पढ़ा, शायद आपके फेसबुक पोस्ट अथवा ब्लॉग पे ही पढ़ा कि दिनकर जी का आपके व्यक्तित्व पे बहुत प्रभाव पड़ा है, आपके जीवन में बहुत प्रभाव पड़ा है और जब आप छात्र जीवन में थे तो अपने रूम (कमरा) में भी उनकी कुछ-कुछ कवितायें लिखकर रखा करते थे. तो उनके जीवन का आपके व्यक्तित्व पे क्या प्रभाव पड़ा है चूँकि वो हिंदी साहित्य के विद्यार्थी होने के साथ-साथ इतिहास के भी विद्यार्थी थे. उन्होंने अपना स्नातक भी इतिहास में ही किया था. तो उनके बारे में बताएं की उनके जीवन का आपके व्यक्तित्व पर क्या प्रभाव पडा है?

    Vikas Vaibhav: मेरे साथ जो और एक अजीब सी बात है वह यह कि दिनकर जी का जो गाँव है और मेरा जो गाँव है दोनों पड़ोसी गाँव है और लगभग उनका जो घर है, जो हवाई दुरी होगी वो मेरे घर से दो-तीन किलोमीटर से ज्यादा नही होगी. कहीं न कहीं मैं उनसे बड़ा जुड़ा हुआ महसूस करता हूँ. ख़ास कर के मेरी जो रूचि है उसमे दिनकर जी जब-जब विद्यार्थी जीवन में कठिनाई का सामना पड़ा या संघर्ष करना पड़ा तो उनकी कविताओं ने बहुत प्रेरणा दी है और जब कभी भी मन टूट जाता था तो उन कविताओं की पंक्ति को दुहराने से पूरा मन फिर से बन जाता था. दिनकर जी का जो एक ओज और आत्मविश्वास वाली कवितायें रहीं बचपन में प्रेरित करती रहीं. बाद में और भी पढने का मौका मिला. एक बड़ी बात को साधारण भाषा में कह जाना सबके बस की बात नही है. दिनकर जी इतनी साधारण भाषा में इतनी बड़ी बात कह जाते थे जो कि पाठक के मन में एक बहुत बड़ी छाप छोडती है. वह बहुत ही चिन्तनशील आदमी थे और इतिहास और संस्कृति में भी उनकी गहरी रूचि थी.

    Rohit Kumar: कोई एक विशेष पंक्ति जिसे आप याद करते हों उन दिनों से?

    Vikas Vaibhav: उसमे जैसे एक कविता है उनकी ‘आशा का दीपक’. उसमे है कि ‘थककर बैठ गए क्या भाई मंजिल दूर नही है’. इस तरह की कविता है. उसमे एक लाइन है कि, ‘और अधिक ले जांच, और अधिक ले जांच देवता इतना क्रूर नही है, थककर बैठ गए क्या भाई मंजिल दूर नही है’. मतलब उसमे आदमी जो है हारता जा रहा है उसको अंतिम में दिनकर कहते हैं कि एक बार और जांच लो, देवता इतना क्रूर नही है, इतनी जो मेहनत किये हो, वो जो पंक्ति है बड़ा प्रोत्साहित करती थी कि, ‘और अधिक ले जांच देवता इतना क्रूर नही है, थककर बैठ गए क्या भाई मंजिल दूर नही है’|

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    Rohit Kumar

    ROHIT KUMAR is a Law Graduate. He has extensively worked on 'RTI Act' and other such 'Rights legislation'. He has filed more than 200 RTI applications in different departments of the governments till date. He uses 'RTI' as a tool to fight corruption. The leading Indian English daily 'The New Indian Express' has covered a story on his constant and courageous fights against corruption titled "Taking on the System with Information as His Weapon". He regularly blogs for several other 'Media Platforms' on different sociopolitical and legal issues. He has formerly interned in MKSS; a grassroots organisation founded by Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey, NCPRI and with celebrated Public interest lawyer Prashant Bhushan in the Supreme Court of India. He is also an editorial board member of the 'Express Today'.
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    • Hardik Pandya

      Awesome Interview….Read in a single breath.