Wednesday, October 25, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Idea behind Indian democracy

MR GURBHAGAT SINGH’S article, ("Rethinking Indian democracy: obsolescence of majority-minority paradigm”, Oct 10) seems to create the impression that minorities in India are not getting their due under the existing Constitution.

In my opinion, our present Constitution already safeguards the cultural, linguistic, religious and other rights of any section of the population who might be said to constitute a “minority” from the numerical and not communal point of view in order to prevent the democratic machine from being used as an engine of oppression by the numerical majority.

Where one community is in overwhelming majority or not, there is no doubt a temptation for members of that community to exalt their religion and their way of life above others. This is, however, fraught with danger, for history in India and elsewhere teaches that minorities make a contribution out of proportion to their numbers to national life and culture.

India, under the Constitution, is a secular state i.e. a state which observes an attitude of neutrality and impartiality towards all religions. Dr S. Radhakrishnan stated that preferential status to any one religion would be a violation of the basic principles of democracy and contrary to the best interests of religion and government.

It goes without saying that the democratic basis of the Constitution would be lost if the minorities were not given adequate protection to preserve the religious beliefs, institutions of education and culture.

k. m. vashisht



Law-suit madness

A sort of “law-suit madness” seems fast afflicting the Indian people, as if bitten by some curious bug. As a sad but inevitable result, the law courts are virtually flooded with cases — a sizeable number of which are just frivolous.

Under the circumstances, an accused in a case must get an opportunity to be heard before being condemned to a long-drawn-out regular trial.

Preliminary screening before admitting a case for regular trial seems imperative in the larger interests of the people and courts. Indisputably, many frivolous cases would not be able to withstand “judicial screening” and thus simply fall through in the process.

The proposed screening, if adopted, would be doubly-blessing (i) it would bless the hapless victims of manipulative/frivolous litigation by saving them from much avoidable hardship/harassment. (ii) it would lessen the burden of courts considerably and thus bless the over-burdened “temples of justice” also.

To my mind, the dangerous malady can be allowed to grow unnoticed and unchecked only at our general peril. Let the powers that be pause and ponder!

tara chand
Ambota (Una)



Veerappan drama

THE nation has been witnessing a bizarre drama ever since the Kannada thespian, Dr Rajkumar, was spirited away into the Satyamangalam forest by forest brigand Veerappan. Days have passed into weeks and months and yet there is no word when the veteran actor would be set free.

The blame for the entire episode rests with the governments of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

The fundamental question is: where will the two state authorities stop to just get Dr Rajkumar released?

An anguished President of India gave vent to his feelings in his Independence Day message thus: “Criminals are being glamourised by the media and are treated as if they are the new heroes of our society. It is time civil society and the lawful government asserted their authority and primacy over the dare-devil heroes of crime and banditry.”

sudhir mahajan



Scheme for Varanasi

IN a paper, Mr Jagmohan, the Union Minister for Urban Development, has rightly pointed out that half of sewage in Varanasi flows into the Ganga. And the clogged city stinks. Can Varanasi be saved?

The holiest of the holy rivers is still receiving a vast quantity of untreated sewers. Of the city’s 350 million litres per day of sewer, only 180 million litres per day gets rudimentary treatment. About half of its 500 tonnes per day of solid waste is not taken care of. About 40 per cent of Varanasi’s 15 million population now lives in its 146 slums.

Sewer treatment plants must be set up in a big way through the functioning of the Municipal Corporation of Varanasi. The half burnt bodies should not be allowed to float in the Ganga.

The city of Varanasi cries for a paved sewerage system, cleanliness of ghats-cum-roads and also temple sites. This role has to be effectively undertaken by the administration of the Varanasi Municipal Corporation.

Mr Jagmohan’s development and rejuvenation plan for Varanasi is commendable. Action should be taken by the Ministry of Urban Development with promptness and efficiency.

gopal bhargava


Hindutva & minorities

The proponents of Hindutva seem to think that the country’s problems are due only to the minorities not accepting the philosophy.

Sadly, they are not fair. India is a pluralistic society where people of different faiths have been enriching its culture and customs for centuries. They are part and parcel of the Indian way of life and they do not need prompting by the RSS.

The country’s problems can be traced to the deep divisions on caste lines and lack of unity among different rulers. Thus invaders came in succession and conquered the country. The last one to conquer the country was Britain, a nation of small islands.

If the country is to remain strong and powerful, the thing to do is to cleanse the society of all forms of discrimination — social, economic and gender — and not harp on a particular philosophy.

Sooner it is realised, the better it will be for the country.



Disowning only Rao

THIS has reference to your editorial “Disowning only Rao” (The Tribune, Oct 14).

What has surprised me is the attitude of the Congress leaders who supported and smiled at the manipulation with which the former Prime Minister managed to keep his minority government alive for full five years.

These leaders who then swore by Mr Rao have displayed only disgrace by deserting him now. The court has kept the law of the land above any individual and strengthened the dictum, “Be you so high, the law is above you”.

The Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, has closed her eyes to the plight of the former Prime Minister whose crime was to save the Congress government from sudden death. The attitude of the Congress party in the whole matter smacks of hypocrisy and cynicism.

Jalari-Hamirpur (HP)


Air crash

AIR crashes in the IAF have become a rule rather than exception. The latest in the series is a mid-air collision of two MiGs involving the loss of both the aircraft and the tragic death of one of the pilots on October 16. This shows flagrant disregard of flying discipline and the laid down drills. At this rate not many aircraft will be left with us. What really is amiss with the IAF? And how do we propose to overcome it?

The people need to be told the full facts. Bland explanations from the top brass playing down the high incidence of mishaps to the IAF planes and routine courts of inquiry absolving one and all of blame will not carry conviction in a matter impinging on national security. We cannot hold the non-availability of the Advanced Jet Trainer responsible for all the crashes in the IAF.



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