The sad demise of Shri Ajamil Matabadal on Monday last came as a shock to the Hindi world. It is difficult to think of operating in the Hindi domain without the physical presence of a stalwart like Ajamil Matabadal. He was indeed a strong pillar of Hindi. For several decades, he ceaselessly gave of himself selflessly to the cause and promotion of Hindi.
Born on 20th September 1945 at Morcellement St André in the north of the country, he had his primary education at Plaine des Papayes, and his secondary education at Northern College also at Plaine des Papayes. Ajamil Matabadal had a great passion for Hindi since the very beginning. Pandit Sudama Geerdharry Dubey Treasurer of Hindi Speaking Union and another torchbearer of Hindi and a fellow traveller for several decades, recalls that Ajamil Matabadal was but a young man of nineteen years only when in 1964 he came along with Pandit Dowlut Sharma to inspect end of year Examinations at the baithka of Barlow, in Rivière du Rempart where he (Geerdharry) too was a novice teacher, doing voluntary service in the promotion of Hindi.
At the Service of Hindi since His Early Years
Matabadalji joined the Government Service as a primary school teacher of Hindi in 1964 after completing his teacher’s course at the Teacher’s Training College Beau Bassin. He taught at several schools in the north: at Plaine des Papayes, Fond du Sac and Morcellement St André. Later he would become Deputy Head Teacher and Hindi supervisor for Zone 1 that included the primary schools of the North. While teaching, resolute in the pursuit of higher education he took a course by correspondence and obtained his B.A Degree. He also followed an Advanced Course in Education Administration and a Journalism/Editor Course run by the Commonwealth Journalist Association. He was member of the Hindi Staff Curriculum Steering Committee at the Ministry of Education in 1981, and member of the Council of the MIE from 1980 to 1981. He also advised the Ministry of Education as a panelist of the Hindi Curriculum Development Unit from 1985 to 1990 and was the Hindi Representative of the Richard Commission of Enquiry on Education in 1979.
But what distinguished Matabadal from other teachers was his extraordinary committed and remarkable dedication to the teaching of Hindi in his free time, in the evenings following his daily teaching routine schedule and during week-ends in baithkas and later on at Hindi Pracharini Sabha at Long Mountain, year after year. It is this determined pursuit of voluntary teaching of Hindi which made Ajamil Matabadal stand out from the crowd. It was his outstanding and enormous selfless contribution to the cause of Hindi that endeared him to one and all.
Voluntary Hindi Teacher
He served as a voluntary teacher at Hindi Pracharini Sabha for long decades. He served the prestigious institution, itself a beacon in the promotion of Hindi, as Secretary and would be its dynamic president for twenty-five years from 1987 till 2012. He supervised the day-to-day administration steadfastly, with an iron hand, and conduct of the examinations and other literary activities of the Hindi Pracharini Sabha judiciously and meticulously.
Ajamil Matabadal was also a founding member of the Hindi Speaking Union. Since its inception in 1993 when at the initiative of Sir Rabindranath Ghurburrun, Ajamil Matabadal and a band of dedicated Hindi lovers got together to move for its setting up. He was the President of the Hindi Speaking Union for several years. He was also a good trade unionist as member of the Government Hindi Teachers, Union from 1979 to 1982.
Later, when the World Hindi Secretariat was set up and became fully operative, he became its Officer-in-Change, when it was functioning as a unit of the Ministry of Education from 2001 to 2005. He was still serving as a member of its Governing Council, from 2007, when he passed.
Strong Administrative Sense
Besides his strong administrative sense, Ajamil Matabadal was also an excellent editor. He edited several books and journals for the Hindi Speaking Union and Hindi Pracharini Sabha, such as Suman, Pankaj since 1993 till date and also contributed hundreds of articles to other local and international journals. Among the books he has edited is the first handwritten magazine Durga brought out in 1925 which he reedited and published for the Hindi Pracharini Sabha. He brought out numerous anthologies of Hindi poems such as Kavya Pravesh ,Kavya Parichay “Dard Apna Apna. He has also translated ’The Establishment of Modern Standard Hindi in Mauritius’ by L.P Ramyead into an abridged Hindi version for students. As a journalist he distinguished himself as the Editor- in-Chief of the Hindi weekly Swadesh from 1983 to 1991.
Ajamil Matabadal attended several World Hindi Conferences. He formed part of the impressive large delegation of Hindi lovers, scholars, writers and journalists to the 10th World Hindi Conference in Bhopal, India in September 2015 which was led by Mrs. Leela Devi Dookun Luchoomun, Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research.
It was at this conference inaugurated by Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India that he was awarded the prestigious Vishwa Hindi Samman 2015 along with another Mauritian, Shri Gulshan Sooklall, Acting Secretary General of World Hindi Secretariat.
Love for Books
Above all, Ajamil Matabadal was a lover of books. His house swarmed with books documents and journals, not only in Hindi, but in English and French as well, covering a wide variety of topics which reflected his profound taste for reading and the pursuit of knowledge and literary interests.
Ajamil Matabadal has left behind his beloved and charming wife Vijaylakshmi whom he married in 1974 and with whom he had two daughters Madhvi and Archana. Both of tham have made a career in Hindi as Educators. His son Sandeep, a medical doctor, has recently specialized in anesthesia from UK.
Ajamil Matabadal was an affable and warm-hearted person who worked unfalteringly for the promotion and advancement of Hindi. He has trained and inculcated the love and passion for Hindi in thousands of students who lovingly called him Guruji. He received the OSK for his dedication to Hindi in 2002 from the government of Mauritius. He also received the ’Antarrastriya Bagheswari Samman’ in 2013 among others.
His demise leaves an irreplaceable void in the Hindi landscape and literary world of Mauritius.
Mauritius Times pays tribute to such a distinguished fighter of Hindi and offers its sincere condolences to the bereaved family.
* Published in print edition on 18 March 2016