Dinanath Malhotra was awarded a gold medal for his MA from Punjab University in Lahore in 1944. But the partition of the sub-continent into India and Pakistan in 1947 prevented him from receiving the medallion until now.
Mr Malhotra is the owner of the popular Indian publishing house, Hind Pocket Books, in Delhi.
“In those days topper in MA was awarded a gold medal and I won it in the year 1944,” Mr Malhotra told the BBC. “These medals were made in England so at the convocation we were given dummy medals and we had to wait for the original gold medal to be awarded later.”
But the wait in Mr Malhotra’s case got a bit longer – 68 years to be precise.
India was partitioned in 1947 and Lahore became part of Pakistan. Mr Malhotra shifted to India and forgot about the medal.
A few years ago, he casually mentioned it in a meeting of the Indian Publishers Union with a senior official in the Human Resources Development Ministry. The official pursued the matter with the vice-chancellor of Punjab University and it was agreed that the medal would be awarded to Mr Malhotra in Lahore…
Mr Malhotra was all set to travel to Lahore when Mumbai came under attack from extremists in November 2008 and the trip was cancelled.
The medal was finally awarded at the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi on Friday. Mr Malhotra is happy that he has his medal but he also feels he missed an opportunity to visit Lahore, the city of his youth.
“I keep remembering the life at Lahore. People had great love for each other and we used to hug each other whenever we met,” he said.
“This is great. I had never dreamed that I could get this medal back. This is a great honour, not only for me but for the academic circle both in India and Pakistan.”
Bravo! The greatest sadness is the history of partition that has denied opportunities for a normal communal life in the subcontinent.