Saturday, February 15, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



What’s wrong with Western culture?

MUCH is being said now a days against Western culture in general and Valentine’s Day in particular. I believe most of the criticism is based on the way the teenagers behave on this particular day in India. In a country where eve-teasing is common round the year, this day is definitely a boon for eve-teasers as well as novice lovers. I appreciate the concerns of Mr Malhotra (Feb 9) in this context. However, instead of showing the people the right way to celebrate the day, he preferred to find faults with Western culture.

It is not uncommon to find people in India having similar views about Western culture. In fact, whenever we find skimpily dressed females or people indulging in a sort of private relationship at public places, we start blaming Western culture right away. I wonder how many of those who speak so much against Western culture have actually experienced it, and how we Indians can think that the West is so ignorant that it has to learn the true meaning of love from us.

I might be wrong to write about the whole West, but in this part of Canada, people start celebrating the Valentine’s Day right from childhood. At school teachers try to inculcate a feeling of love and affection amongst kids, irrespective of the gender. Messages such as “I love you” and “You are my Valentine” are not only exchanged amongst students, but between students and the teachers as well. And they do it just by exchanging tiny hand-made cards without benefiting the big business houses at all. What kids learn out of it should be quite clear. For them it is the day to express their feeling of love to anyone — no matter it is a friend, brother, sister, or even a teacher.


People of this part of the world are well aware of the fact that love is not a commodity. I have not seen anyone trying to present a flower to a girl just to watch if she accepts it or not. Females are considered as strong as males and enjoy equal respect. One cannot think of staring at a girl working even at places such as a pub or a beer store against her will. No one cares about the skimpy dress of a lady that passes by — just forget about a stare, a remark or a wink.

Being financially independent and physically secure, they do not need to follow the concept of pati-parmeshwar. She is independent to take all decisions of her life, may it be before marriage or after. It is this independence that apparently has contributed much to the cultural difference between the East and the West. In general, people of this region marry for love and live for love. They stop living together when there is no love. On the contrary, for we Indians, love between husband and wife is something that is not very important. Many people start loving after their marriage and this love lasts a couple of months only. Still they would not separated and spend their whole life for the cause of their children or society — does not matter how often hey pick up fight per week. Which culture is better is anyone’s guess.

Did not St. Valentine do a great job by arranging marriages of couples that used to meet otherwise or were forced to meet? Indians should rather appreciate his act as this act of him is more in tune with Indian culture than the Western. The only thing that needs to be done is to teach our teenagers the true meaning of love and good behaviour towards the fair sex. They can definitely learn something about it from the West.


Baby show

The baby show organised by The Tribune on February 9 in Chandigarh’s Leisure Valley was a flop. Asking 20 persons to nominate the baby of their choice when they could not even see the face of the children they were going to judge was a fatal mistake. Had there been three judges, they would have at least seen the children properly. Even small kids were asked to nominate the baby of their choice. No wonder, many parents left the stage in frustration. A quality paper like The Tribune should have been more careful in undertaking this exercise. The fiasco inconvenienced the kids, their parents and the spectators.

S.M. MEHTA, IAS (retd), Chandigarh

Basant Utsav

This is with reference to the photo “Bright faces of innocence” and the news item “Basant Utsav ends”. I congratulate The Tribune group and the Environment Society of India for awakening the citizens about our cultural heritage. But it makes no sense to hold such a show for four days. This year the number of kites sold by a stall was more than 600.

This year the Basant baby show was very much impressive. But there was little support and participation by the Chandigarh Administration. The Government of India should declare this event a national festival so that it could be on a par with the Lahore Basant.

RAJAN ARORA, Chandigarh.

Air India plane bombing

THE confession of Inderjit Singh Reyat involved in the bombing of the Air India plane in 1985, has sent a shock wave in the Sikh community worldwide. No Sikh can condone the killing of innocent people and justify in any account. It is a blatant act of terrorism and we strongly condemn it. A terrorist has no religion. Sikhism propagates universal brotherhood and believes in the sanctity of human life. It is absolutely contrary to the tenets of the faith. Tragedy of this magnitude is deplorable and our hearts go to the families of the victims as we pray for them.

Many in the community over the years have formed this opinion that Indian intelligence has also played a dubious role in this sordid affair and fomenting violence elsewhere to malign Sikhs. We are quite concerned that this news can create a wrong impression that Sikhs believe in violence and make them a target for hate crimes. In the aftermath of the tragedy of September 11, many Sikhs became the target of hate crimes in the West because of our turban and beard.”

Dr RAJWANT SINGH, Washington



Made in heaven

I refer to the letter “Of love and arranged marriages” by Vandana Arora of Sonepat. I fully agree with her view that in the sacred relationship of marriage what actually matters is mutual cooperation and understanding that both partners share, not the terms and conditions.

I don’t deny the fact that “instant love” is very much in vogue in India also, but I think it is just an instant “attraction” and simply an attraction cannot be the root of an ever-lasting relationship. Vandana seems to think that marriage is the fruit of love, but I say love is the fruit of marriage. Some pray to marry the one whom they love but isn’t it a more humble prayer that we love the one we marry? I am not against love marriages and in favour of arranged marriages because I know the universal truth that “marriages are made in heaven”.


Ex-servicemen’s health

Step-motherly treatment has been given to Nawanshehr ex-servicemen while introducing the ECHS (Ex-servicemen’s contributory health scheme) by the central government . When the other districts of Punjab have been covered, why has Nawanshehr been neglected.

Er A.K. JOSHI, Nawanshehr

Gayatri mantra

Apropos of “Gayatri mantra” by Dr S.S. Bhatti’s (Feb. 6), his comments on the Arya Samaj and Swami Vivekananda are called for and should have been avoided. They have spoiled an otherwise brilliant piece of scholarship.


PCO charges

An MTNL advertisement has stated that all PCOs must charge Re 1 for a local call and properly display the rates. The PCO holders charge Rs 2 for a local call in Chandigarh. They also demand service charges of Rs 2 for making a telephone call with the 95 number facility. BSNL should clarify if this is proper.

M.L. GARG, Chandigarh

Start Literary Tribune

I appreciate the efforts you are making to make The Tribune more “reader-friendly”. The efforts will bear fruit, I am sure. The new-look op-ed and edit pages are noteworthy.

I have a suggestion: please consider introducing a four-page Literary Tribune in the tabloid format for mid-week reading. This can have more book reviews as well as some literary articles which, for understandable reasons, cannot find place in the paper.

I.M. SONI, Chandigarh


This was found written inside a bus:

“Aiash vaaste — mastery

Paise kamunan Layee — doctory

Mufat dee ladayee layee — conductory.”

K.J.S. Ahluwalia, Amritsar

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