Monday, January 17, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Hijacking incident: unanswered queries

THIS refers to Mr Hari Jaisingh’s piece, "Thank God, but questions remain" (The Tribune, January 1) in which the writer has very significantly mentioned that "the Vajpayee government has come out of one of its worst crises but not without paying a heavy price."

Agreeing with this, I would like to add that the price has been paid at the cost of the nation’s honour and security. Whatever the government and our politicians (who are probably less trained in international diplomacy) may claim or say, the truth is that our "great" nation has surrendered (as it did when it sought the release of Rubaiya Sayeed) before a handful of clever hijackers directly and indirectly before the three dreaded released militants, one of whom is simply a brutal murderer who uses primitive ways of slaughtering his victims. One can easily imagine how much labour and sincere efforts might have gone into arresting these terrorists. All in vain.

  The question is: why does the government not act like Israel or the USA which act "ruthlessly whenever faced with a terrorism-related problem involving its citizens?" Why are terrorists, after their arrest, kept in jail for years together without any speedy trial? Had these three released hardcore militants been suitably punished during the period of their stay in jails, perhaps the IC 814 plane would not have been hijacked at all, and the nation might not have suffered this terrible and unwarranted humiliation.

In fact, it is ironical and amazing for every Indian that the BJP-led government (which always claims to make India a great "nuclear power") was left with no option but to surrender straightaway before the Pakistani hijackers and the Taliban regime which took a lot of time in deciding that they were (though ostentatiously) against the hijackers. Let the government know the fact that the Taliban regime acted not for the sake of India but out of an urgent political desire to salvage its own international image.

(Prof) B. L. CHAKOO

Unconfirmed reports

Now that the hijackers have finally been identified and Pakistan’s role nailed, it would be useful to have a small debrief on the minute-by-minute research by our electronic media on the subject and fed to the millions of viewers.

Here I refer to NDTV’s two pronouncements on the forenoon of December 25 that the hijackers could be Sikhs; no other Indian channel made this "revelation" of targeting a whole community for this crime. On a reference to NDTV, where I lodged a protest along with that of a retired Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court that according to the guidelines of the Press Council of India, crime is not to be identified with a community. I was informed that new stories around the world reported that the hijackers could be Sikhs (even CNN and the BBC) but NDTV said the report was unconfirmed.

The question arises: should such unconfirmed reports based on assessments of foreign channels, particularly the BBC and CNN which are well known for their anti-Indian stance, be fed to us Indians with a deleterious effect? According to media reports, The Washington Times has already apologised to the Sikh community for this misleading information on its front page and mentions this as upsetting.

Our Ambassador in the USA, Mr Naresh Chandra, according to a report in a national daily, specifically stated that it was diabolical to point a finger at Sikh terrorist ... and the media should not swallow everything that is dished out...." All this has also been pointed out by me to the NDTV with a request for making amends on their channel. But there has been "no response"! This is most unfortunate as NDTV proclaims by a self-audit that, inter alia, they are "first, fast and accurate and fiercely independent".

New Delhi

Towards a better system

This is with reference to Ms Meenakshi Mehta’s article, "C.B.S.E. to adopt grades", published in Education Tribune, January 11. It is definitely a change for the better and will in the long run relieve the young minds of much of the stress and pressure of examinations and marks. "To draw out the best in the child and to develop it" is the aim of education, and when a child has to work under the stress of examination and marks coupled with the pressure of expectations of the parents/teachers and his own self also, he is unable to do his best. Moreover, on the basis of one-time three-hour performance, to label a child as a "failure" sounds very inhuman and cruel.

In the present set-up, in Class X a student has to study at length all the subjects like science, English, mathematics, Hindi and social science irrespective of his own aptitude and interest. In this way, a literary-minded student has to get good marks in science also in order to get admission to a good school or college whereas examples abound when the people who were poor at maths & science did very well and made their mark in the field of poetry and other forms of literature.

The new system will definitely prove to be encouraging for students. When he will not be under any pressure of getting more and more marks in all the subjects, he will be free to give sufficient time to the subjects of his interest. Instead of being "a jack of all trades, he would be a master of one".

I am sure the colleges will also follow in the footsteps of schools by changing their system of admissions, etc.


Security environment

It is simply a triumph of the security environment in Britain which enables even the Prime Minister’s wife to travel as a commoner by rail. The fact that she had to pay a penalty for travelling without ticket speaks volumes about the efficiency of their system and procedures (The Tribune, Jan 13).

While we have adopted the British system of parliamentary democracy, our system and procedures often get derailed in actual implementation to suit the whims of politicians/officials or due to sheer negligence, for which the nation has to pay a heavy price.

Discipline, honesty, efficiency and punctuality are virtues which must flow from the top to give our democratic structure, systems and procedures a meaningful impetus.


Bus fare concession

The Union Territory Administration has allowed a 50 per cent concession in local bus fare to senior citizens and children below 12 years of age residing in Chandigarh. The facility has, however, been denied to the residents of Mohali and Panchkula, which, as a matter of fact, are Chandigarh’s satellites, though under a separate administration. The residents of these townships commute daily in thousands to Chandigarh as also the people from Chandigarh travel to these townships. Among them are children studying in various educational institutions.

The Chandigarh Administration is requested to grant the concession to the senior citizens and children in Panchkula and Mohali too.


Zirakpur’s woes

Much has been said through the columns of Chandigarh Tribune about the poor state of affairs at Zirakpur and the surrounding villages but in vain. Now Zirakpur has been given the status of Nagar Panchayat.

Anyhow, one thing that now goes to its credit is that sometimes sweepers are seen with big brooms in their hands on the broken roads of the villages!

Bartana is a small village near Zirakpur. Its link road is full of potholes and it has become slushy after the recent rain. It is very difficult for scooterists and pedestrians to use the road with their limbs and body intact.

Some four-five months back the Deputy Commissioner of Patiala had assured a delegation that the road would be repaired immediately. Even the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Kanwaljit Singh, has given an assurance to this effect. However, so far nothing has been done.

When will the powers that be keep quiet and get the work done?

Bartana (Zirakpur)


For quality democracy

"Looking beyond the culture of survival" by Dr Jay Dubashi (Jan 2) was a thought-provoking article. Yes, we can definitely correct the ills in our system as the quality of democracy depends upon the quality of the system.

Unfortunately, the Indian democratic system is quantitative, and not qualitative. For a qualitative system/leadership, a multiple voting system, as opposed to our current single franchise one, is needed, wherein a citizen is entitled to a certain number of votes (varying according to his age, education, experience in service/profession, travel, distinction, etc) which he can cast in favour of various candidates.

Thus such a qualitative system will give us an educated, honest and accountable leadership which will lead to good governance.


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