On Lalit Divas, resurgent Maithils keep alive the memory of Late Lalit Narayan Mishra

  • Published in Nation

New Delhi: It was one of the momentous occasions for Maithils scattered throughout India and the world when they took part in Lalit Divas which was organized on February 02 in Delhi By Mithilalok Foundation to commemorate the Birth Anniversary of late Lalit Narayan Mishra -- veteran Congress leader, former Railway Minister and Mithila’s established statesman. 

Amidst the presence of a large number of the audience at Dr Rajendra Prasad Park, West Vinod Nagar, Delhi,  Lalit Divas was inaugurated by eminent guests of honour comprising Dr Gangesh Gunjan and Dr Shefalika Verma, recipients of prestigious Sahitya Academy Award for Maithil, Lalit Babu’s grandson Rahul Mishra, Vijay Chandra Jha, Ashok Jha and  Dr Birbal Jha, Foundation’s MD. 

The event went on full swing after Dr Birbal Jha felicitated guests of honour with traditional Paag and dupatta.


Earlier, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, while accepting the Foundation’s invitation and wishing the Lalit Divas all success, lauded this commemoration. However, owing to his prior commitment, Dr Singh was not able to attend the Lalit Divas. “I take this opportunity to pay my homage to late Shri Lalit Narayan Mishra and wish the “Lalit Divas” function all success …  I regret my ability to attend the meeting, ” Dr Singh conveyed. In his message to Dr Birbal Jha, Chairman of Mithilalok, Dr Singh shared his close relationship with Lalit Babu when the latter was the Minister of Foreign Trade. “I worked very closely with Mishra ji when he was Minister of Foreign Trade and I was Economic Advisor in that Ministry,” Dr Singh wrote.

In his beautifully-worded message to Dr Birbal Jha, former Prime Minister and globally renowned economist said, “Shri Mishra was truly a dynamic personality deeply committed to the ideals of the Congress Party.”

While speaking on the occasion and appreciating the Foundation for organizing Lalit Divas in Delhi, Gangesh Gunjan, former director, public broadcasting AIR and an acclaimed name in Hindi and Maithili literature, called Maithils to follow the tradition of politics which late Lalit Babu pioneered for the development of the region. “Untimely death of Lalitji had not only shaken the family of the bereaved but it was an individual loss to people like me from which we are still to recover,” said Gunjan.

Recollecting her relationship with Lalit Babu’s daughter, Shefalika Verma, who is also popularly called as Mahadevi Verma of Maithili, talked about Lalit Babu’s pivotal role and constant lobbying for introducing Maithili among other literatures in Sahitya Academy. Presence of grandson, Rahul Mishra, on the Lalit Divas, further added an emotive ambience for Maithils, who even after more than four decade’s his death, are yearning for a leader as capable as Lalit Babu.

The audience was also regaled by engrossing dance performance by Mrs Sangeeta Gupta, music teacher of British Lingua

To mark the day and make it memorable, distinguished Maithils from their fields of expertise were conferred with Lalit Samman (Lalit Award) – the-first-of-its-kind award conceptualized and planned by the Foundation. Flanked by eminent persons on the stage, Dr Birbal Jha bestowed Lalit Samman on about fifty distinguished persons from social services, media, industry and other field of their expertise. Prominent among them who received this covetous award were Vijay Chandra Jha (for socio-cultural progress in Mithila), Prof. Pankaj Mishra (academics & education), Deepak Jha(for entrepreneurship), Dr. Prakash Jha (film & theatre), Vikas Jha (singing & acting), Rajeev Jha (CA), Ajay Anurag (institution and education, Kamlesh Mishra( leadership & student union) and a host of dedicated journalists/reporters/editors from print, electronic and digital media.

Lalit Babu’s contribution in Mithila’s transformation as a vibrant belt was immense. His role to provide seamless connectivity in Mithila belt through expansion of rail lines during his tenure as the 14th Railway Minister is even today reminisced about.

Besides giving a push to infrastructure development in the region which created jobs and employment, LN Mishra played a key role in preserving and augmenting Mithila culture. Credit goes to Lalit Babu for institutionalizing Mithila Painting; he turned an amateur artistic expression into a full-fledged and professionally feted art. It was his encouragement then that led numerous artists especially women to use the sketch of painting on canvas. Before him, nobody has ever imagined that mud wall paintings could take the shape of an institutionalized painting. Today, a large number of artists numbering in thousands and equipped with painting skills is directly or indirectly employed in Mithila Painting which, thanks to Mishra, is now a small scale industry in the belt.

Dr Birbal Jha, in his concluding speech, narrated his aim to organize Lalit Divas and Lali Samman. While heartily appreciating all those who attended the day, Dr Jha said, “ Lalit Babu was a leader of exceptional capability and credit goes to him for taking Mithila into national discourse. Whether it is connecting the region through Railway lines or catapulting uncared and unknown Mithila Painting into global map, Lalit Babu did commendable work.” Dr Jha also shared with the audience that his Foundation will bring out a commemorative work on late Lalit Narayan Mishra.

Started last year as a registered trust, Mithilalok Foundation has been working with certain objectives of positively impacting socio-economic changes in Mithila. The Foundation’s flagship programmes like Paag Bachau Abhiyan (Save the Paag Campaign) are dedicated to promote, preserve and propagate Mithila culture and Maithils’ identity. Response has been overwhelming so far thanks to the participation by a large number of Maithils and people from the region. Set up by Dr Birbal Jha for advancing the larger cause of Mithila region, the Foundation took a resolution to mark Lalit Babu’s Birth Anniversary as Lalit Divas. Dr Jha is also the founder and MD of British Lingua, a globally renowned pioneering institute in English communication skills.