He was a hero in steadfast, purity of purpose and service. He kindled our hearts in friendship. Yash Pal Das was the embodiment of simplicity, affability, generosity and humility. Commitment was his religion; his integrity was unimpeachable; his credibility was an open book; his professionalism was quality to the core. Cool, calm and patience were his ornaments. He was a gentleman par excellence.
I knew him in the early 1970s, through his father PDG H K Das. Yash was drawn to Rotary very quickly and I developed affection for him. And yet, when he stood for the district governorship, his election was nullified by my RI board, when I was RI president because of the violation of some provisions by the district. But he was not disqualified and in the re-election, he won almost unanimously. Despite this episode, Yash and his wife Manju, became close to Usha and me.
To strike a lighter note, Yash had gained weight during his RI directorship, but later he shed more weight than he had gained. I asked him how he did it and his response was, “I cut out fried food, sugar and alcoholic drinks.” I knew he loved all three, but when it was needed, he did show the determination.
The challenge of building schools up in the Uttarakhand hills, following the flash floods, stands as an epitome of Yash’s leadership. The Rotary Cancer Hospital in Ambala is another example of his commitment. The fight against tuberculosis shows his sense of responsibility. His role in making India polio-free speaks of his passion.
As I share these emotions, today, Sep 23, is Yash’s birthday. It is the equinox — where day and night are equal. It reflects Yash’s character, total balance — as equal inside as outside. im. He was The complete man who made goodness attractive.
The writer is a past RI president.