Saturday, May 24, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Khap panchayats have no place in a democracy

I read with interest the views of Mr Pradeep Kasani and Mr Dharam Pal S. Mor on the role and relevance of khap panchayats in present times (May 9). Undoubtedly, these outfits are vestiges of primordial society characterised by a culture of autocracy, authoritarianism and male chauvinism. They operate as per the whims and fancies of a caucus of self-righteous custodians of a community’s morality and mores.

Their pristine, whimsical and undemocratic mentality is still present as reflected in their pronouncements of “landmark judgements” like enjoining upon erring married couples to live as brothers and sisters with the wife tying the Rakhi to her husband to untie the nuptial knot. On top of all this, such verdicts are arrived at with total unanimity with a vicarious pleasure. And no government agency dare intervene in their functioning.

Clearly, khap panchayats have no place in a democratic set-up. They are not only undemocratic in constitution, character and content but dominated by elements with a rabidly feudal mindset.The progressive concepts of liberty, rights, freedom and gender equality are alien to them. Their self-arrogated quasi-judicial remedies to cure the ills of their community in modern times are akin to treating AIDS and SARS cases with medieval prescriptions.


Yet, these tribal caste conglomerates continue to survive, nay call the shots, in our so-called democratic polity. This is because we are still in the throes of democracy. The spirit of democratic culture is yet to premeate the people in their outlook and behaviour.

As regards their future, going by their present socio-political efficacy, they are not going to die in near future though “pitted against the inexorable march of history”.Till then, people have no alternative but to bow before them. And yes, Mr Kasni, they might not be exclusive to “the agrarian Haryana” or Jat cultivators. But surely, in Haryana, it is the Jats who have resurrected them.


Alone in the crowd

Unlike other newspapers and the electronic media, The Tribune’s stand on some issues clearly shows its maturity. For example, when most newspapers and the electronic media had relentlessly given coverage to the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Congress and the BJP about allegations of large-scale violence during the panchayat elections in West Bengal, The Tribune refrained from doing so.

The results of the panchayat elections in West Bengal are on expected lines. There are 1.25 crore State Kisan Sabha members of the CPI(M) who had fought against the vested interests in rural West Bengal. The State Kisan Sabha leaders are very popular. Whereas the Congress and the TMC have no kisans or agriculture organisations in the state. Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee admitted that his party’s failure to put up candidates in the elections was due to the absence of organisational network, virtually nailing the lies of the TMC and the Congress that their candidates were prevented from contesting the elections. In the pre-1977 era, under the Congress rule, no panchayat election has ever been held in West Bengal for obvious reasons.

For the benefit of the people at large, newspapers should highlight the achievements made by West Bengal in panchayati raj. The three-tier system has been acclaimed worldwide for having strengthened grassroots democracy in the state. It has made significant strides in literacy, food, health, roads and other sectors.

Subhas Ray, Incharge, CPI(M) Parliamentary Office, New Delhi

What is Moharrum

Moharrum is a period (two months and eight days) of mourning of Shia Muslims throughout the world. It marks the anniversary of martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain (Peace be upon Him) the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, and 72 of his staunch supporters (which included a six month old infant and an eighty years old man) in the plains of Karbala (Iraq) on the banks of the Euphrates. Deprived of water and food in the scorching heat of the desert for days together by the forces of tyrannical yezid, each supporter of Imam Hussain showed exemplary courage and valour before being martyred by a huge army of yezid. It was a battle imposed on Imam Hussain for not paying allegiance to Yezid, a man known for treachery and wickedness.

Not only this, after the battle in Karbala, the young children and ladies of Imam Hussain’s family were subjected to extreme physical and mental torture and kept in inhuman conditions, for months together, to suffer untold misery. They were taken in the streets of Kufa and Syria in utter disregard and disrespect shown to Prophet’s family. It was the greatest tragedy that was ever to occur in this world, it is believed.

The observance during this period include taking out processions, breast beating and even inflicting personal wounds to express extreme grief for the tragedy that befell Imam Hussain and his followers. It marks the supreme sacrifice of Imam Hussain and his family, friends and followers born with unparalleled fortitude in order to save Islam.

Mohd ANEES HAIDER, President, Hussainy Association, Chandigarh

Offer of help

I was greatly moved to read the report that a woman died of starvation (The Tribune, May 19). I am anxious to know about the condition of her daughter. I would like to meet the deceased’s family and offer monetary help of Rs 500 every month.

K.L. JAITLEY, Fauzal, Kulu (HP)

Model exam pattern

Every year examinees resent “out of syllabi” questions. Recently, in Panjab University’s MA (Political Science) examination, some questions were set in a language that could hardly be understood by most examinees. Ironically, the university has permitted writing scripts (in MA exam) in Hindi and Punjabi, besides English. But the problm is that question papers are set only in English.

For years, the teachers and the students have been appealing to the university authorities to provide questions in Hindi and Punjabi versions too, but in vain. Such a system exists in degree classes for social science subjects.

The Board of Studies of different disciplines and the Senate should take steps to remove all snags in the examination mode. Let the PU come out with a model examination pattern for itself and for other regional universities to follow.



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