English should be taught from Class I

The Punjab Government’s decision to start formal teaching of English from Class III will not help lakhs of students. The justification that the students are to be “orally acquainted” with English up to Class III — a few common words taught at the teacher's sweet will and leisure — is lame.

The logic behind the delayed introduction of the language seems absurd. English is to be taught, but in such a manner that it is not learnt. How else can one explain this senseless demand for delaying the teaching of English, that too, for the less privileged students of government schools? Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir have now introduced English from the very initial stage in government schools Let education be there to empower, not to incapacitate. Culture is not a matter of being constrained, but getting liberated into it.

Dr Yubee Gill, GND University, Amritsar


Maintenance of hospitals

The Haryana Government has taken the right step in transferring the maintenance of health buildings from PWD to Health Department (Oct 29). If hospital buildings, plants, machinery and medical equipment are properly maintained on preventive maintenance principles, the turnover of patients will increase by 20 per cent without extra investment. A mobile workshop should also be attached to each district hospital to cover villages.

However, all this would require specially trained staff. Haryana should revive Hospital Engineering training programmes of the AICTE which were being run at PGI, Rohtak. The engineering college at Murthal can start PG programme in Medical Architecture, the first ever in India.

The first national seminar on hospital engineering being organised by the Institute of Hospital Engineering (IHE) at PGI, Chandigarh, on November 4, 2003, will discuss these aspects. The model of hospital engineering being developed at PGI should be extended at state level by having a directorate of Hospital Engineering under the Ministry of Health. The IHE offers honorary services. The DHS in surrounding states could depute delegates for this seminar with spot registration.

DR J. C. MEHTA, National President, IHE, Chandigarh

Tread with caution

Apropos of Mr H.K. Dua’s front-page editorial “Ferrying peace” (Oct 24), Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s initiative, per se, is well-conceived, far-sighted and mutually beneficial. Once implemented, it has the potential to restore regional security, peace and harmony.

There is, however, a Catch-22 situation. We are not dealing with elected leaders of the people in Pakistan. The present rulers could never stomach the idea of living in peace with us. They always preferred strained relations so as to justify their frequent military takeovers. Kashmir provided them a convenient raison d'etre. Consequently, our repeated offers to normalise relations always got swept under the carpet unceremoniously. Whether they make an exception this time is anybody’s guess.

In our negotiations with Pakistan, we should be doubly careful in moving forward this well-intentioned and momentous peace initiative. For this, we must work very hard to mobilise a powerful public opinion and strong international support through greater people-to-people contact across the divide.

Brig GOVIND SINGH KHIMTA (retd), Shimla


The measures announced by India will definitely go beyond the concept of confidence building and prove to the world at large that India has always worked for peace and mutual understanding through non-violent means. It is, of course, a painful fact of our contemporary history that every initiative of peace and cordial relations has been torpedoed by the Pakistani military rulers and forced us to divert our economic resources to strengthen our defence and retaliatory capability.

If this time India wants that our efforts in this direction should neither be misunderstood nor derailed by the ISI or its supported terrorist organisations, we should not lower our guard against terrorists. Being ruthless with terrorists will make Pakistan realise that our offer of peace is in no way out of any compulsion, but is a sincere desire of achieving peaceful progress and prosperity for the people of this continent.



I agree with Mr H.K. Dua that benefits of peaceful co-existence far outweigh the consequences of attempts to settle issues through the bullet. The dividends in terms of fast pace of development to alleviate illiteracy and poverty of teeming millions, efficient healthcare services and other basic amenities (like roads and drinking water supply) would have changed the landscape of both the countries, had the huge funds spent on enhancing the military might been diverted for the above mentioned purposes.

The inherent hurdles outlined in the editorial can be traced to diehards, in both the countries. This puts an obligation on both the countries to watch out their activities and suppress the negative forces allowing peace another chance.


Wrong caption

This has reference to your Special Supplement on Chandigarh (Oct 7). There is an error in the photo caption on Page 7. The persons in the photograph are Architect Pierre Jeanneret and Mr P.L. Varma, the then Chief Engineer, Chandigarh Capital Project and not as mentioned.

Major-Gen S. Varma (retd), Chandigarh


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