Why women should not rule by proxy

IN her article “Women Sarpanches as rubber stamps” (Sunday Oped, Nov 23), Ms Kiran Bedi has raised a pertinent point regarding empowerment of women at the grassroots. Why only Sarpanches, there is a rubber stamp Chief Minister too in our democracy. This corroborates the often raised issue that apart from having purely majority support to occupy a public office, a person must also have enough qualification, experience and training.

Women’s participation in the decision-making process of the country will not be complete unless they are able to run the offices they are elected to by themselves and not by proxy. The women elected to panchayats could be made aware of their impending authority and responsibility by education and suitable training. Subsequently, their working could be appropriately monitored by some higher authority.

Lt-Col Bhagwant Singh (retd), SAS Nagar

Regulating education

This has reference to Professor B.S. Ghuman’s article “Needed a regulatory commission for higher education” (Perspective, Nov 23). More than 100 years back, Madan Mohan Malviya said “Our system of education is purposeless, baseless and unprincipled”. Even after independence, many committees and commissions were set up by different governments but we have not been able to find out any foolproof system of education. According to Professor Harold J. Laski, “Democracy has no fear from its enemies as it has from the ignorance of its friends”.


Professor Ghuman has rightly made out a case for a regulatory commission for higher education. Private sector participation in higher education seems unavoidable. However, its increasing investment with an eye on making profits has far-reaching implications. Consequently, its degree of participation will have to be within the parameters decided by the state.

I endorse the writer’s view that in the light of the growing participation of private sector in higher education and scope for unethical practices, an educational regulatory commission is necessary on the pattern of those set up in insurance, telecom and power sectors. The regulatory commission should determine the fee structure and quality of education as also the qualifications of the faculty.

Vijay Sheel Jain, Ludhiana

There is no short cut to slimming 

"Slimming" by Mr Amar Chandel (Spectrum, Nov 23) was very educative and informative. Our carelessness about our body brings disastrous results. By nature human beings are slaves to their tastes which fill the stomachs up to brim. Then we love to enjoy the comforts of air-conditioners. We always avoid walking even for short distances since vehicles are abundantly available.

Urbanisation and rising economic standards have added to our sedentary habits. We consume rich foods dumping kilos of calories in our bodies, which, if not burned with strenuous exercise, gets converted into fat leading disfigurement of the body. Undue increase in body weight brings misery giving rise to many a problem and ailments. Then we seek cure in the so-called health clubs which claim to reduce the body weights drastically in kilos in days which is full of illusion.

If we want to keep the weight of the body under control, we must take balanced diet. Regular exercise is key to good health and fine tuning of the body. There is no short cut to slimming, without jeopardising metabolism if we resort to consuming drugs and bhasms.

Follow the natural lifestyle, eat less and simple and do lot of physical exercise mixed with yoga and sports under natural conditions.

Karnail Singh, Ranjit Sagar Dam

Potter’s success

Apropos of Chetna Banerjee’s article “Whither children’s writing in post-Potter India?” (Spectrum), I do not agree with her view that “children of India might not be smitten by Harry Potter at all if they never read Indian books”. Being a book lover, I have read many of the child fictions, many of which are written by Indian authors and I am sorry to say that none of them is as interesting as Potter’s books or those by Charles Dickens, Enid Blyton or Jules Verne.

I don’t blame the Indian authors saying that they can’t write good stories. Many of them including R.K. Narayan, Satyajit Ray and many more have written excellent books but others are still unaware of the mood of the new generation and the type of fiction they want.

The authors generally ask, What is it in the Potter books that makes children round the globe go potty? What is something special about the books written by Rowling that she is now richer than the Queen of England? The answer is, Harry is quite an unusual boy, a boy who is never eager about his birthday coming near, nor is he happy to go back home. You always have sympathy for him as he is an orphan, and then you appreciate him because he is immensely brave.

You appreciate Rowling for her brain because she has created a hipnotic character. So if any Indian Harri Puttar wants to overshadow Harry Potter, all they have to do is find out what the children of today’s world want to read and I definitely think that if they do so we will probably have an Indian Rowling too!

Shriya Gautam, Solan

Some honesty this!

Apropos of Mr Jaspal Bhatti’s Ulta-Pulta column (Spectrum, Nov 23), though bribery is the mother of corruption, it is indeed a hassle-free method of getting a job done with nearly 100 per cent guarantee. Strangely, the bribe takers in general do not cheat. One finds a rare phenomenon of honesty in dishonesty.

In bribery, as in the case or mercy, the giver and the taker both are blessed. As things stand today, bribing one’s way through appears to be an easier option.

Wg-Cdr C.L. Sehgal (retd), Jalandhar

Easy way to earn

This has reference to Mr Khushwant Singh’s article “Astrological falsehoods” (Windows, Sept 20, 2003). It is agreed that some of the predictions may be correct coincidently but it is not true in all cases every time. Making predictions has become a business, an easy way to make money.

Anju Anand, Chambaghat (Solan)

Why blame all men?

This has reference to Ms Meenu’s letter “Towards an egalitarian society” (Perspective, Nov 16). We agree with her that the perceptions of society must change towards the girl child who should have equal rights in every field of life like a boy. But Ms Meenu’s use of words like “men will have to be brought down from the high pedestal” are uncharitable. The rules of society should be amended with the changing times not through confrontation but through consensus and goodwill on both sides.

The societal ills that Ms Meenu had referred to such as eve-teasing, rape and sexual abuses are equally condemned by men. The writer should not blame all men for these ills. Moreover, there is no guarantee of women’s emancipation in the absence of “male-dominated patriarchal societies”, particularly when we see women targeting women in many fields of life.

We should also probe why the crimes targeting women are taking place in big cities where women have achieved a lot of success in breaking the shackles of the “male-dominated society” and achieved equality in every field of life with men? The answer lies in educating society and promoting effective co-operation between men and women to isolate and punish the criminal elements in society.

Janmeet Singh, Research Fellow, GND University, Amritsar

Fine music tradition

The article “A fine music tradition in ruins” (Windows, Nov 15) is interesting and informative. It throws light on unknown musical traditions of the erstwhile Kapurthala state.

Holding of heritage festivals, spending lakhs of rupees from the state exchequer and illmunating one or two buildings is praiseworthy. But its purpose will be defeated if steps are not taken to maintain old heritage buildings, which is now government property, on a regular basis. They are losing their past glory day by day because of official neglect.

M.P.S. Randhawa, Dhapai (Kapurthala)

Unrecognised poets

Reference Mr Khushwant Singh’s column “This above all” (Windows, Nov 15). Having drawn inspiration from Mr Singh, I venture to introduce another unknown writer from my village, Channankher in Abohar. His name, the late Prem Aboharvi was a ghazal writer. In addition to ghazals, he has composed songs which remain unsung and unrecognised. For instance, feel the pain mirrored in his Urdu couplet yourself: “Dil apana pathar hai, Yeh pathar hee se tootegaa/Nahak is ko kaat rahe ho jang lagi talwaron se” (My “heart” is stone. Only “stone” can break it. You are unnecessarily wasting your efforts to cut it with rusty swords). It is a pity that Prem Aboharvi could not get recognition during his life time.

Lt-Col Onkar Chopra (retd), AboharTop

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