Past Events

Colonel Pyara Lal Memorial Lecture

Colonel Pyara Lal is a venerated icon among military scholar professionals.

Born at Lahore in 1916, he did his law from Oxford University. During World War II he was commissioned into the Maratha LI in 1943. Because of his qualifications and flair for analytical writing he was used as the army PRO in WWII (Burma Theatre), With Allied Occupation Forces in Japan, the 1947-48 J&K operations and the Hyderabad operations. This expertise was also used in the 62, 65 and 71 wars.  From 1950 he was posted as DAMS in the MS Branch and also looked after the USI as its honorary Secy. In 1957 he was appointed as the Secretary. This was four years after it moved into the Kashmir House in New Delhi, and he continued to nurture for three decades, till 1987 both while in and later out of uniform.

The post-independence period was very taxing for the USI as institutional support greatly reduced. Col Pyara Lal still managed to keep the institute running, growing, and in good health especially through starting correspondence courses for promotion exams.

From the establishment of the NDC in 1960 till 1972, Col Pyara Lal was also the GSO 1 at the NDC besides being the Director USI. In the history of the NDC he was their longest serving staff member. His task was to locate and get eminent speakers for the NDC Lectures.  Col Pyara Lal has described this period as among his most intellectually satisfying and stated that, I quote “I was like a Hollywood Scout in those early days [of the NDC] but instead of looking for beautiful women I was looking for eminent people to talk to the students” unquote. I am glad to say that the bond that Col Pyara Lal established between the USI and the NDC still continues in some form. Including me we are three ex SDS’s of the NDC at the USI.

Every year we have had members of Col Pyara Lal’s family attending the Lecture. This year his 95-year-old brother Mr Sardari Lal Agrawal has not been able to attend because of the technicalities of a webex. I do hope his nephew Dr Ajay Lal Director Critical Care at Max Hospitals has been able to join or has helped him to join.

Perhaps, Col Pyara Lal would have carried on longer had he not died in harness. It was his sheer dedication and perseverance that pulled the Institution through its most difficult days. We honour him through our library which bears his name and this event today. Indeed, this event was conducted till last year as a Lecture and in the Covid environment this 24th event is being conducted as a Webinar in an apt homage to the memory of this visionary.