It is hot when I arrive at Hissar. The traffic about the bus station is strangling every inch of space. The noise is maddening. In this madness, stalls and pushcarts have been setup along the roads. Vendors are shouting out their wares. Beggars are looking for generous souls. Touts are looking gullible tourists. Auto-rickshaws are blocking the entrance and exit to the bus station. I instantly begin to have a dislike for Hissar. There is nothing in Hissar that isn’t representative of many Indian towns, but at some point tolerance and acceptance break and you ask yourself, ‘Why are we living like this?’
I have a list of couple of places to see in Hissar but details are either sketchy or non-existent. I think I am going to spend only a few hours here and move on. There is the Gujri Mahal but someone tells me, ‘It’s an old building. There is nothing much there.’
I pick out another item from my researched notes. ‘Do you know about the Jain pillar?’ I ask a couple of guys. From their head turns and searching glances I can tell that they have no idea what I am talking about.
‘Jain khambha?’ I repeat.
‘Jingle tower? It’s far from here. You can take a rickshaw,’ one of them points out.
Jain pillar seems to be a elusive thing but there is nothing to lose in going after Jingle Tower. So I hire a cycle rickshaw for Rs. 20 to take me to this tower.
After many twists and turns through traffic, and after inhaling a good dose of bus exhausts, I arrive at the tower. One look and I can tell that this is not the Jain pillar I have been searching. Secondly, it is not Jingle Tower. I must have heard it all wrong. It is Jindal Tower.
The tower stands at a height of 90 meters. It has a central core with stairs and a lift. Three slanted supports, ladder like, give the tower its poetic upward movement. At the top is a circular enclosed platform. Submerged arc welding (SAW) has been used on this tower to give high quality welding. A decent park surrounds the tower. This park is a gift of industrialist O.P.Jindal to the people of Haryana.
There is a museum where I learn a lot about O.P. Jindal. Hailing from a small village near Hissar, he has contributed tremendously to the development and industrialization of Haryana. Today Jindal industries is world renowned. A USD 4 billion company, it is the world largest mint and does minting of European coins. Jindal Stainless Steel caters to 40% of India’s demand. Though he made many innovations in product and process, he never patented any of them. He said, ‘By getting patents I will only curb the country’s production and employment avenues. Why should I do that?’
He is also known for his social welfare. He founded hospitals and schools. His cared for his workers. The working floor was like an extended family. His motto in life has been,
Think big, live simply.
The fact that we have so many unemployed graduates is mainly because of lack of jobs, not lack of opportunities. India still lacks high-end and quality engineering technology and manufacturing capability. More people like O.P. Jindal is what India needs.
Entry to the tower is only after 4 pm. It is only 12 noon. I bump into a group of school children from here Fatehbad. I strike up a chat with the teachers and then the rowdy school kids. When they learn that I know no Punjabi, I become a victim of lewd jokes and leg-pulling. I take it all in good spirits.
‘Do you come out often on these trips?’ I ask one teacher.
‘This is a new scheme started this year. This is our first trip,’ he replies. ‘We have a compulsory trip every year.’
The security opens the tower. I join the school kids in queue. I am stopped by security.
‘He is with us. He has come all the way from Bangalore,’ rallies a teacher in my favour. I go up the lift to the high platform. The view of entire Hissar is superb. It’s a 360-degree view. There is not a single building nearby to block my view. Surprisingly there is a lot of green cover, so different from my initial impression of Hissar.
‘That is Hissar Agricultural University. It is the world’s second largest,’ he says pointing to open fields, neatly raked plots and scattered buildings. The campus covers a large area of Hissar. I am reminded of my visit to Dharwad in Karnataka.
‘Which is the world largest?’ I ask out of curiosity. The teacher tries to recollect and finally confesses that his memory has failed him.
There is a tall flag pole beyond the bus station. The India National Flag is flying in a strong breeze. Even from such a height, the flag does not look small.
‘That flag was installed by Navin Jindal,’ tells me another teacher. ‘There was a court case regarding that. Finally, it was ruled in his favour. Now any Indian citizen can fly the Indian flag so long as it is cared for correctly.’
I spend a few minutes chatting with the teachers over a cup of tea. The tea stall vendor joins us for a while. It appears that many school groups come to Jindal Tower.
‘You must be getting good business because of these school trips?’ someone asks.
‘Yes, but I can’t really say I am happy about it. Some months ago few older kids got unruly and destroyed some of my stuff. I had to refit the stall.’
‘This side the kids are not well-mannered. Beyond Fatehbad, they are okay,’ comments another teacher.
‘Where are you going next?’ I ask.
‘We are going to Agroha. There is temple there.’
‘Can you drop me at Agroha?’ I ask. I am less interested in the temple. There are archaeological ruins at Agroha. I am told are worth visiting.
We leave Jindal Tower at half past one. We pass the Jindal flag pole. I peek at the facade of Gujri Mahal. A teacher points out to a tractor training institute and then a dairy farm. Soon we are on the highway to Agroha, the kids making a raucous at the back, while at the front I share photos of Rajasthan with a 12-year old kid.