118 years of Trust M A I L B A G THE TRIBUNE
Saturday, December 19, 1998
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Integrated Defence HQ

  ON my article “Integrated Defence HQ”, Lt-Gen Harwant Singh has commented that Gen Chaudhuri’s order to pull back behind the Beas is imaginary and attributed to baseless rumours.

Noted military historian Maj-Gen D.K. Palit, who was Director of Military Operations (DMO) in 1965, in the epilogue of his War in High Himalayas records: “The Corps Commander’s unnecessarily alarmist report put Chaudhuri in a panic. He rushed from Delhi to Harbaksh’s HQ in the Punjab and ordered him to pull behind the Beas —just the coup that Pakistan must have hoped for, but this time Harbaksh was adamant and refused to comply....” (Page 426).

Earlier, Chaudhuri had ignored intelligence reports about Pakistan raising its second armoured division, and suddenly decided, contrary to previous plans and overruling Harbaksh Singh’s protests, to relocate India’s only armoured division from the Jullunder area to Jammu sector in the north (Page 425).

Pakistani C-in-C, Lt-Gen Gul Hassan Khan, who was DMO in 1965, in his memoirs records the surprise and panic caused in the Indian high command about the sudden appearance of their armoured division, but quotes Lt-Gen B.M. Kaul (Untold Story) about Chaudhuri asking one of his senior commanders to take up an alternative position, several miles to the rear, which would have meant giving up some well-known and vital places and areas.

Palit also notes (Page 427) when Chaudhuri told Mr Shastri in the presence of L.P. Singh that the army was coming to the end of its ammunition holdings and could not sustain fighting much longer. He recommended acceptance of a ceasefire proposal being pressed by the UN whose demands Pakistan was prepared to accept. Actually, only about 20 per cent of our ammunition stocks had been used while Pakistan had expended close to 80 per cent.

The aspect of Chaudhuri treating the 1965 war as his personal affair was also written by Air Chief Marshal P.C. Lal, as mentioned in my article.

Earlier, in 1963 Chaudhuri had intended to mislead the government regarding India’s preparedness in the Kameng sector (NEFA), when Defence Minister Y.B. Chavan saw through the ploy and recalled Chaudhuri from the USA where he was on a visit, though Palit confesses in hindsight that the “deception of the government was essential in the interests of national security” because the Chinese may have planned a punitive offensive if the Indian army again adopted an aggressive posture.

The aim of my article was to highlight the consequences of personality-based command and significance of institutionalising the planning and execution process with a horizontal and vertical integration of defence HQ, which we can ignore at our peril in the nuclear context.


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HUDA’s unhelpful attitude

It is learnt that the residents of the Sector 31 labour colony, Chandigarh, who were to be rehabilitated to Mauli Jagran will get their allotment letters by the end of this month. This is very good news as well as a goodwill gesture on the part of the U.T. Administration. Seeing this, one feels good sense may prevail over HUDA to take similar steps to shift the slums of Sector 21, Panchkula, to an appropriate place.

The dwellers of jhuggis located in Sector 21, near Maheshpur village, are HUDA employees and forcibly occupying plots allotted to others. Since their dwellings don’t have toilets they defecate near roads or on vacant plots. A large number of cement conduits (in hundreds) dumped at the site proposed for a high school, just at the back of Shiv Mandir, are being used as toilets. The whole area is stinking.

The residents of Sector 21 are running in vain from pillar to post for help to get rid of this nuisance. A welfare association delegation met the HUDA authorities, but the latter expressed their inability to do anything in this regard, as “the matter was subjudice”. When the jhuggy union members requested HUDA to settle the issue outside the court, and they were ready to pay for their rehabilitation. They were told that the issue was politically sensitive.

Now where do the Sector 21 go?


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With a pinch of salt

MR O.P. Bhagat’s middle, “With a pinch of salt” (December 12) was readable. However, to fend off evil eye, Punjabi women wave chillies, not salt, over their children’s heads and throw into the fire.

Not only salt is the most important of seasonings, but it also has medicinal properties.

Salt finds a mention in some Urdu and Persian idioms and proverbs also. For instance, “Namak mirch lagaana” (To give relish, taunt, exaggerate, garble), “Namak ki maar parna” (Be cursed for ingratitude), “Har ke dar kaan-e-namak raft namak shud” (None can escape the influence of environment), etc.

An old sailor, who often tells his experiences, is called an old salt.

In Punjabi, the cloth having speckled appearance as a result of black and white threads woven together, is called “loon mirch” (Salt and pepper).

When Christ spoke of “the salt of the earth”, he referred to those blessed by God. Today, we use the phrase in speaking of those regarded as the finest.

In olden days, when a feudal lord dined with other people, a salt-cellar was kept in the middle as a sign of division between those above the salt, i.e., more honoured guests placed at the upper part, and those below the salt, who were less honoured, placed at the lower part of the table.

“Namak” or “loon” finds a mention in verses also. A Punjabi couplet: Har apney tey paraaey bhaavein chhirkya hai namak/Merey jigar dey zakham phir vee muskuraaey nein (Though every relative and stranger has rubbed salt into the wounds of my heart, yet these are healing).

With old age, poet Shaikh Mus‘hifi’s hair turned grey. His face became “piyaazi” (pink) and his neck’s colour like that of the powder of sun-dried mango parings. A vivacious poet, Sayyid Insha thus lampooned him: Safrah pe zaraafat key zara Shaikh ko dekho/Sar loon ka, munh piyaaz ka, amchoor kee gardan.



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