AJIT PAL                                                   


                       Affectionately called Pal Da' by his young friends

 

Dr. Ajit Pal (1930 – 2007) was born in Rangoon. He lived and died, constantly struggling and thinking of bringing about greater equality and social justice. He always identified with the common man and strove to lead a common man’s life. In the process he let go many opportunities and stuck to a life of abnegation and moderation.

 

His initial schooling was with a French couple who ran a small private school in Rangoon. His family shifted to Dhaka after the fall of Rangoon during the Second World War. He received his secondary education in Dhaka, at St. Gregory’s School. After the partition of India, as his family moved over to Calcutta, he joined Calcutta University and received his Masters in Applied Psychology. He was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship which he declined in favour of the Manpower scholarship which was given to him by the government of India. He was also elected the president of the Calcutta University Students’ Union. He initially joined the Indian Educational Service which he eventually left for postgraduate teaching. He joined Delhi University in 1962 and taught Clinical Psychology at the Department of Psychology till 1992. He was one of the first teachers to have started the struggle for the running one grade which has now been partially implemented as merit-promotion at the university level. He took a very keen interest in students’ cultural and social activities. He was a mentor to many fledgling students’ movements on the campus in the Seventies. As a Clinical Psychologist, he constantly gave counseling to innumerable students and patients. His door was always open to anybody interested in discussing personal, social or philosophical issues. He declined to extend his extension after retirement in 1992, as he thought, it would impede the inclusion of younger teachers who had put in so many years of studies to get teaching jobs. He continued to unfailingly provide honorary psychological service from his residence at Vaishali, Pitampura to anybody in need. He also took a keen interest in environmental issues. He not only planted many trees in the neighbourhood, he also took care to save the existing trees. Till his last, he stood up whenever there were unjust occurrences in the neighbourhood – be it somebody felling a tree or somebody trying to illegally occupy public land. He met Dr. Sheila Dixit in November 2006 to seek her help in saving the neighbouhood trees. It was his ardent wish to develop his neighbouhood on an ecological model similar to the Green Canopy Project being undertaken at the Chief Minister’s residence.