Monday, July 10, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Patriotism and affluent classes

WAR is cruel, abhorrent, despicable. War brings death, destruction and disaster. Yet we see that war has been a continuous phenomenon throughout history. India is no exception.

It is an irony that nations fight wars for peace, prosperity and integrity. Only those nations survive where each national is involved. Those who depend upon a small segment of society and mercenaries to fight their battles disappear from the scene, sooner or later.

In India, we inherited an army created by the British at the time of Independence. The British had created the native Army with a dual purpose of ruling the country and ensuring the loyalty to the ruler. Nationalism and patriotism were to be kept away. Therefore, the British restricted the recruitment to the rural peasantry — the illiterate or semi-literate, hardy, needy and simple people ignorant of politics. Urban and educated classes were discouraged from joining the Army.

But the British were clever enough to create a top-level officer cadre for commanding the troops. The King’s commission came in 1921. It is interesting to note that officers came from the nobility, the bureaucracy, the land-owning classes and military families. They provided a top class leadership and were helpful in the creation of a very professional and motivated army. The trend continued till Independence.


Independence, however, brought no change in the above policy except that officer intake was brought down to the lower middle class. In the process, army service became unpopular. Today no youth from the so-called affluent classes comes forward to join the armed forces. So much so that even sons of army officers avoid the defence services. They only join as the last resort. The government has done nothing to popularise the military service, notwithstanding the huge shortage of officers. Presumably, politicians and bureaucrats are afraid of efficient and popular defence forces who may at some stage take over the reigns of the country. A truly motivated national army is not in the interest of the present-day rulers.

Similarly, at the rank and file level, the political leadership has ensured the intake from the rural classes as a means of livelihood only. I should not hesitate to say that these days few people join the services for the love of the country. It is a pity that a great democratic country like India has an army paid by the exchequer to safeguard the country’s integrity so that urban people enjoy life in other fields. Can the country continue with such a policy for long where big businessmen and political families think it below their dignity to join the defence forces?

Every national emergency brings some temporary euphoria to the force. Political leaders, being fond of talking and sloganeering, make very high-sounding statements. Some of them lead processions, make human chains and burn effigies of enemy leaders. Their patriotism is restricted to this kind of tamasha.

The ruling class has ensured a clear division of society. Fighting for the cause of the nation has been restricted to the poor, unemployed rural youth with officers coming from the lower middle class. The rich and the mighty cannot shed blood for protecting the country’s borders. They can hire the poor for this purpose. What kind of patriotism have we been talking about?

Brig K. S. KANG (retd)

Insult to Army uniform

I have read Col Pritam Bhullar’s editorial page article, “Why this insult to uniform?”, published on July 5.

The writer has unfairly indicted the Army in the words, “Surprisingly, the Army has never complained about this degradation of their uniform. Had these private guards worn police uniform, they would have been charged for impersonation and put behind bars. But it is only the Army that has become so weak-kneed that any transgression into their domain is accepted without a demur.

“The wearing of Army uniform by the private guards of various organisations all over the country has become a common practice because the Army authorities have never objected to it. Ironically, this point has never been raised by senior Army officers at civil and military liaison conferences which are held every year at all the command headquarters.”

Since I was the prime mover for issuing a wider circular to take cognizance of wrongful wearing of Army uniform by some private guards I would like to straighten out facts for the information of the readers.

Firstly, it was at the instance of the Station Commander, Jalandhar Cantt, only that the issue was initially taken up. He had pointed out to me in a demi-official letter in April, 2000, that certain security guards working in a Jalandhar restaurant were misusing Army uniforms. I, accordingly, not only directed the SSP, Jalandhar, to take legal action against the recalcitrant agency but also advised all SSPs within my zone to curb this malpractice. It was after initial fact-finding that the private security guards at one restaurant were found masquerading in Army uniform.

Ironically enough, the restaurant in question was jointly owned by the son of a former Brigadier. Accordingly, a case was registered against the offenders under Sections 171 and 140, IPC. While the pat on the back of my cutting edge SSP is welcome, the observations against the Army authorities are uncalled for and painfully at variance with the facts in the instant case.

Inspector-General of Police (zonal)

Kargil-II is avoidable

According to press reports, 2500 Pakistani trained terrorists are waiting on the Pak side of LoC to cross over to India. Our policy makers should realise that the defensive policy of India in merely defeating the Pak army in three wars has not deterred Pakistan from its terrorist activities in Kashmir and that they need to design some proactive policy also. There could be no such policy better than paralysing the Pakistani canals by constructing a tunnel in Himachal Pradesh for diverting the water of the Chenab into the Ravi, even if it means violation of the Indus Water Treaty of 1960. This does not mean any bloodshed or the crossing of LoC.

Home Minister Advani is holding consultations with other countries for acquiring knowhow for controlling terrorism but I wonder, if any proposal for the above mentioned tunnel, is on his agenda. None of these countries would be able to suggest the tunnel for the simple reason that they are neither familiar with the geography of the Indo-Pak rivers, nor the Indus Water Treaty, which allocates water to them.

If India wants to avoid Kargil-II, it should spread awareness about the potential threat which this tunnel can pose to Pakistani canals. It is only then that the Pakistani masses can force their military rulers to make up their choice between Kargil-II and losing waters of the Chenab.

If Pakistan had been India and vice-versa, this tunnel would have been in position long ago.


Autonomy issue

A lot of heat has been unduly generated over the passage of the autonomy resolution by the J&K Assembly. Some positive measures have to be taken to bring back the state to normalcy, as much blood has already been shed during the past 53 years. In fact, serious efforts need to be made to give more executive and financial powers to all the states to have a real federal structure in the country.

At present the states are nothing more than glorified municipalities. For example, the Centre can curtail the executive and financial powers of a state under article 19 and can suspend them under Article 359 during an emergency. It can also suspend or dismiss a state government under Article 356. It can issue instructions to a state on administrative matters under Articles 256 and 257.

The Centre can make laws on State Subjects under Article 249. Central grants to the states are subject to the approval of the Finance Commission, whereas discretionary grants are given on the recommendations of the Planning Commission.

All these and many other lacunae in the Constitution are against the spirit of the federal structure of the country.


Dangers from cell phones

This has reference to the report on mobile phone radiation hazards and the WHO recommendations published on July 6.

It is shocking that multinationals do not educate their clients about the hazards of using mobile phones and take little interest in the development of protective devices. Interestingly enough, such devices are very cheap and effective. A researcher based at Mohali has developed a device tested by a prestigious international laboratory. This device can protect the individual from the radiation hazards more than 97 per cent.

The cost of the device, if produced in bulk, is very nominal. It is surprising that multinationals are not even interested in selling or incorporating such devices in their mobile phones.

Public opinion needs to be created to prevent the exploitation of the people using such telephones. These companies are not ready to spend a penny on protecting their clients’ health.


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