Friday, January 21, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



This business of secrecy

THIS refers to Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article, “This business of secrecy: Kargil report demands discussion”, January 14. The writer has rightly stressed on making the Subrahmanyam Committee report public. There is desperate need to overhaul our working system and stick to a positive rule of conduct, where preparatory work may better be done in private, but to get the best final results public opinion should be made full partner.

The public has full right to see the actual picture of the efficiency and credibility of the government. They need answers to all the nine questions of the writer. The way the present government is concealing the facts from the citizens, it looks rather a comic than a political institution. What concerns all must be known to all, so that there is prevention of sedition and disorder and people’s concrete belief in laws and institutions.


  A democratic government is a government which functions for the people and by the people transparently. There is no place for hide and seek between the government and the people in a democracy. We cannot call such a government as a well-constituted government when the elected politicians are allowed to do whatever they please,without control.

The way the present government functions in its own mysterious ways reminds me of the definition of democracy given by Benito: “Democracy is the kingless regime infested by many kings who are sometimes more exclusive and tyrannical than, one, if he be a tyrant”.


THE RIGHT TO KNOW: The nine questions raised by the writer warrant the government’s attention. The government must come out publicly to divulge the truth. The nation honoured those officers and jawans who fought gallantly in the Kargil sector. Martyrs have been given state honours and their families were compensated adequately. It was the appropriate and appreciable policy of the ruling government. At the same time the nation would like the intelligence and other agencies which failed in their duty to be brought to book for their lapses.

The public has the right to know whatever the truth. Moreover, we must learn from our past mistakes. Let the government make the Subrahmanyam Committee report public barring any operational plans discussed, suggested.

Bathinda Cantt

VAJPAYEE GOVT IS RIGHT: The writer has given many arguments in favour of open discussion on the Kargil report. However, many strong points can be raised against open discussion in the interest of the security of the nation.

Firstly, India is a very soft state and it would continue to be so for times to come — for how long only God knows. The Vajpayee government is certainly not responsible for it. This is so due to the wrong policies and perceptions of the Congress and other governments of the past.

Secondly, we have a large number of political parties and politicians many of whom are irresponsible and unreliable. They can do anything for their narrow political gains. Therefore, it would not be proper to compare India with matured democracies of the West, more so as none of them is a soft state.

And lastly, we have an elected government in power, and it would be quite reasonable to allow it to use its wisdom to tackle the problem. Needless to say that the members of the government would be accountable at the time of next elections. Therefore, “Wise-after-the-event” politicians and intellectuals should have the patience and not create problems for the government.


A great poet of sorrow

In his brilliant article, “Three writers who moulded many minds” (January 2), Mr V.N. Datta has rightly observed that Ghalib was “essentially a great poet of sorrow”, but he was not “pessimistic” as mentioned by him.

Throughout his life, Ghalib remained in distress. In view of his pathetic plight, he said: Zindagee apnee jab is shakl sey guzaree Ghalib/Ham bhee kya yaad karein gey ke Khuda rakhtey they.

He claimed his descent from Afrasiyasb, a brave king of Turan. In a Persian verse, he mentioned that when military spirit departed from the family, he took to writing poetry and converted the arrows of his grandfather into pens (Shud-teer-e-shikasta-e-nayaakaan qalmam).

He was just five years old when his father died. After four years, his uncle, who looked after him, also expired. His wife gave birth to seven children, but none of them survived after the age of 15 months. He adopted the son of his wife’s sister, but he also died in the prime of life.

His pension was stopped. He filed a suit, and in the hope of getting it, went on taking loans and, thus, got deeply in debt. Some creditors filed a suit for the recovery of their money.

Yet the peerless poet was also a vigorous literary critic, a lively conversationalist and a distinguished writer, and declared with genuine pride:

Aaj mujh sa nahin zamaaney mein

(There is no other eloquent poet enjoying the felicity of phrase like me).

He cheerfully faced trouble after trouble and said:

Ranj sey khoogar hua insaan to mit jaata hai ranj
Mushkalein itnee pareen mujh par ke aasaan ho ga’een.

(“Khoogar” means accustomed.)

Ghalib had a keen sense of self-respect and dignity. He spurned the post of a Persian teacher in Delhi College, simply because the secretary of the British government did not come forward to receive him on the day of interview.

Even after 130 years of his death, poetry lovers all over the world read his verses, which touch almost every aspect of human life, with zeal and gusto, and give vent to their feelings through his couplets having aptness to the occasion.


Small hydel projects

This refers to the write-up “Small hydel projects” (January 17) and the deliberations at the seminar on the subject held on January 18. While pleading the case for setting up “small hydel projects”, the writer has argued “that a small hydel project has a short gestation period and is also cost-effective!

In fact, the experience of four mini-hydel projects set up by the PSEB on Punjab’s canals is contrary to this perception. Mr N.S. Vasant rightly put forth his viewpoint at the seminar. I wish the Punjab government listens to his sane advice.

Unless the problems which are faced in the construction and operation of “small hydel projects” on Punjab’s irrigation canal system are resolved, PEDA should not try to push through the concept based on completely different situations. The available financial resources should be judiciously spent to cater to the future needs of power in the state.

Ex-Engineer-in-Chief, PSEB



An unkind cut

THE Tribune deserves to be thanked for its editorial “Cut in interest rate” in its issue of January 17, and in describing the government’s decision as an explosion of “another stink-bomb”, which has hit the middle class, particularly the senior citizens, the hardest.

Industrialists and traders have expressed unqualified happiness at the government action. This in itself is a clear pointer that what the government has done is to “rob Paul, to pay Peter”.

Hundreds of thousands of senior citizens, especially non-pensioners, have been made the main victim of this ominous decision. While regular pensioners gain with the release of easy D.A. instalments, those who are not thus favoured have to suffer regular cuts now in the paltry resources for their sustenance.

The government was very liberal in opening widely its purse-strings while revising the pay-scales of its crores of employees — high and low. With the type of performance and governance that we are witnessing, it can be said that hefty scales of pay were sanctioned for all the inefficiency and ineptitude of the government services.

Be that as it may. The onslaught made by the cut in the interest rate on small savings leads one to think that our democracy is a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.

The advocates of globalisation are pointing out that in advanced countries, the real interest rate is 3 percentage points higher than the inflation rate, and so in India the actual interest rate should not be more than 7 per cent! By all means let this be done here also provided all the social security measures, old age pension, etc, that are available to the citizens elsewhere are also given to the corresponding category of the people in India without any discrimination. Appeasing the rich is a policy that all governments in India have of late been following. We are only helpless onlookers most of the time. The economically weak sections’ lot is that of suffering silently. The only difference that we find today is that some institutions — in their benevolence — are there that think we have to espouse their cause to the extent possible.


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