Numerous figures in
public and cultural life who brought laurels for the country and the
community worked in the Railways, sometimes in ordinary positions.
These employees dazzled the world in whatever field they dabbled. In
the category of such fascinating luminaries are Jim Corbett and
Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, the former synonymous with Indias
wildlife and the latter as the Father of modern Hindi literature
The eighth child of
a postmaster, James Edward Corbett, known to the world as Jim Corbett
was born on July 25, 1875 at Nainital. His mother, Mary Jane Corbett
married Christopher Corbett after the death of her first husband Mr.
Doyle. Christopher, however, died when Jim was just four. Supported
by his elder step-brother, Tom, Jim had his schooling at Philander
Smiths School at Nainital. It was here that he learned the use
of firearms, which were to be his lifelong company in jungles whether
in India or Kenya. Life for Jim was not all peaches and cream. The
poor financial condition at home compelled Jim to look for a job when
he was not even 17. He was much relieved when, in 1893, Bengal
Railway Company offered him a job of Fuel Inspector at a salary of Rs
100 per month. Due to his affable personality and hard work, Jim
attracted the notice of his superiors and was promoted as
Transhipment Inspector on a salary of Rs 150 per month. He was
posted at Mokamaghat in Bihar. Born and brought up in the woody
vesture of Nainital, Jim could never for a moment forsake the call of
the forests where he was more at home than anywhere else. The
Railways interestingly offered him ample opportunity for jungle
Corbett worked in the Railways for a considerable span of 20 years,
the longest spell of any regular service he had in his lifetime.
After leaving the Railways, he served in the First World War and led
the 70th Kumaon Labour Corps in France. He was promoted as Major in
1918. But Jim was all wrapped up in Kaladhungi and Nainital, which
were inseparable to him even in the wildest of his dreams. His
experience with the Railways is traceable even as remotely in the
books he authored. The popular among the eight books credited to him
are: Man-eaters of Kumaon, The Man-eating Leopards of Rudraprayag,
My India and Jungle Lore. Like most railway persons, Jim
was ever keen to take up new challenges, and at the age of nearly 65,
he ventured again into the army during Second World War and rose to
the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
At the age of 71,
Jim migrated to Kenya in 1946 where he died a bachelor on April
19,1955. Nine years before he left India, he had helped set up the
countrys first National Park near Nainital, which has been
appropriately named by the Government of India after the great
wildlife conservationist as Jim Corbett National Park.
His deep love for
wildlife and the tiger is evident from what he said. A tiger is
a large-hearted gentleman with boundless courage. When he is
exterminated, India will be poorer by the finest of her fauna.
But Jim was also a great humanist and helped hundreds of people in
distress. He once saved the life of an unknown person dying of
cholera at Mokamaghat station. He not only nursed the ailing man in
his own house for months but also helped him restart life by giving
him Rs 500, a big sum in the first decade of the 20th century.
If railwayman Jim
Corbett was a legend in his lifetime, his successor in the Central
Railway (then G.I.P. Railway) was no less so. He virtually steered
the course of Hindi language and literature to what we have today. He
was the maker of Maithilisharan Gupt, the erstwhile poet laureate of
India and the great nationalist, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi.
Dwivedi joined the
Railways at an early age in 1882 in Ajmer at a monthly salary of Rs
15. He soon left Ajmer for Nagpur, and subsequently took training in
Signalling in Mumbai. He was posted to different places on GIP
Railway and to Divisional Superintendents office at Jhansi. He
was promoted here as an head clerk.
during his railway service in Jhansi that Dwivedi earned wide fame as
a writer and litterateur. He took the Hindi world by storm when he
published his translations and the critical works including Sahitya
Sandarbh and Vichar Vimarsh. He wrote extensively on
Kalidas and Bharathari, and wrote Puratatwa Prasang and Vigyan
Varta. No other writer in Hindi then had so prolific and
authoritative a pen as Dwivedi. He was the Dr Johnson of
his time. And he rode to fame, toiling hard even after a day-long
grill of attending to arrivals and departures of trains.
protested against the prevalent anomaly in Hindi. The authors then
used Khariboli for writing in prose and Brijbhasha for
poetry. Condemning this strange phenomenon, Dwivedi said: To
speak in one language and write poetry in another is contrary to the
laws of nature. Domination of Brijbhasha in poetry now cannot
exist for a long time. Toiling relentlessly to resurrect Hindi
literature from anarchy, he lent it a definite direction and created
a new generation of Hindi writers.
along, Dwivedi harboured a wish to devote his whole time to
literature. Hence while working in Jhansi, when he found an
opportunity, he took retirement from railway service and plunged into
literary journalism and creative writing. This was around 1902.
Dwivedi joined a Hindi monthly, Saraswati in 1903. Editing the
journal with his rich background of classical and contemporary
literature and apocalyptic vision, he exalted the provincial journal
to great national stature. In it, he published the outstanding
writers of the time including Munshi Premchand. The country was in
the spate of freedom movement and Saraswati was not only
adored by the freedom stalwarts but also feared by the British
Born in Daulatpur
village of Rai Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh in 1864, Dwivedis
name was changed from Mahavir Sahai to Mahavir Prasad due to an error
committed by his school teacher. He had his primary schooling in the
village, and for his high school education, he moved to Rai Bareilly
and later to Unnao. He had no college education and for a large part
was a self-taught scholar. The scholar died in 1938.
Corbett and Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi are just two of the scores of
giants, the Railways have given to the world. There are others such
as sportsperson P.T. Usha, director Bimal Mitra (Sahib Bibi or
Gulam) and other illustrious persons associated with the film
world like Ramesh Bakshi (27 Down) Ram Lal (Ukhre Huye Log)
and many more exhaustively chronicled by Bipin Jain of Northern
Railway in his book Kahani Junction.
Jim Corbett and
Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi are just two of the scores of giants the
Railways gave to the world. The list includes sportspersons such as
PT Usha and other illustrious personalities from filmdom.