The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, January 23, 2000

Caught off-guard once again

APROPOS of K.V. Prasad’s article "Caught off-guard" (Jan 9), the hijacking incident shows that India today is not fully equipped to combat hijacking and terrorism. We had to ultimately bow down before the hijackers’ demands. The executive feels it is powerless and hesitates to take effective action for want of clear-cut directions from political bosses. More than anything else, India should devise a foolproof and sound strategy to tackle terrorism. After all, providing security to the common man is as important as it is providing it to politicians.



Every Indian would like to know as to why was the aircraft permitted to leave Amritsar? Were there any compelling reasons or was it an abject failure of co-ordination? This costly lapse has made us a laughing stock in the eyes of the whole world including the ones who appear to have master-minded this episode which caused so much of trauma and torture not only to the passengers and their relatives but to the entire nation. Here is what Pakistan High Commissioner to India has to say in a recent interview: "Could Pakistan have anticipated that India would bungle in Amritsar?"

  There is an urgent necessity for qualitatively enhancing our security. We must act now without waiting for another hijacking and prepare ourselves to meet the challenge of foreign sponsored terrorism in all forms on own steam on our soil.


Power of truth

Apropos of Taru Bahl’s write-up "Power of truth" (Jan 2), truth is the foremost vow to undertake. King Harishchandra realised god through Truth and Yudhishthira commanded infinite powers by dint of this virtue. Does the observance of truth meant only to speak the bare truth or it has other implications too? The scriptures and saints preach that along with speaking truth, it is also necessary to practise it. How beautifully the Gurbani illustrates this point: Truth is higher than everything else, but higher still is truthful living.

There is, however, much controversy of the question as to how to speak truth and how to act upon it. Our shastras verdict on this intricate question is: Speak truth, sweet and not bitter. Never speak untruth even if it is sweet. This is the eternal universal rule of speaking truth.

The basic principle is that the speech should be truthful, polite and useful. A speech which might be truthful but neither polite nor useful is not commendable. Such a speech may injure the feelings of others, and therefore, a speech should have all the three qualities.

A speech is truthful when it is free from fraud, deception, prevarication and hypocrisy. A polite speech is always mild, and free from arrogance, while a useful speech is that which is wholesome is effect and is spoken with a view to do good to others. Such a speech of three-fold quality purifies the tongue of the speaker and does good to and confers happiness on others. So, it is incumbent on man to use this sort of speech. It would count as an austerity of speech.

Krishna told Arjun in the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 17 as to what austerity of tongue is. He said: "To speak words that do not injure the feelings of others and are also polite and useful; to recite Vedas and shastras and repeat the name of God, are austerity of tongue. By this austerity the words of a man who practises it are endowed with supernatural powers to prove to be a fact, i.e. whatever he says happens without fail.

To speak truth in the manner explained above, to behave truthfully and to practise truth in everyday conduct purifies the inner faculties of man and by the purification of inner faculties he is nearer god.



At a time when scams, double standards, deceit, infidelity, corruption and instinctive lying is more the accepted norm than an exception, there are still wise men who feel that only truth will ultimately prevail and redeem us from the all encompassing rot — Truth denotes a basic self-respect for oneself and others. Lying negates that. A truthful person lives a bright life, whereas an untrue existence seeks covers, shade and concealment, thriving usually in the dark. Truth is evergreen, and ever new.

Truthfulness is a moral virtue which should be very carefully cultivated. "There is no religion higher than truth", goes the adage by Kabir, the great Hindi poet has said the same in the words "Sanch brauber tup nahin, jhoot brauber paad, ja ke hirdey saanch hai ta ke hirdey aap" Truthfulness is a cardinal virtue without which other virtues cannot subsist. A child is loved and adored and is called as an embodiment of God, because by an nature child is truthful, but we teach him to conceal and prevent truth.

A liar is never believed. He loses the confidence of his friends. Every one likes a person with whom he can repose confidence and thus depend on him, but we can never depend on a liar.

Liars think themselves as being very clever, when they succeed in deceiving others, but they do not realise what great harm they have done to themselves as the saying is "A wooden pot can be placed on the fire only once". We must always speak the truth, but if truth is bitter and may cause unnecessary offence to another, we had better remain silent unless it is our duty to speak it out. We should, however, on no account speak an untruth merely to please others. Even a "harmless lie" or "an innocent untruth is bad, half-truths are worst than falsehood.

Undue flattery is also a kind of falsehood which degrades man. All these forms of falsehood are bad. But the worst that which we invent for our own benefit to injure others or to gain an advantage for ourselves.

Truthful men are honoured everywhere. If scientists, philosophers, teachers and prophets had not divulged to the world at large the truths they had discovered, the world would not have made any progress at all. They proclaimed the truths from housetops and in several cases, they had to suffer for it, but they preferred suffering and even death to the withholding of the truths which they had seen and realised Socrates drank the cup of poison rather than retract his teachings. Jesus Christ himself suffered execution for the sake of truth.

S. Radhakrishanan has aptly put "The greatest fact in the story of man on earth is not his material achievements, the empire he has built and broken, but the growth of his soul from age to age in its search for truth and goodnesses.


Need for tolerance

The article "Need for tolerance" (December 26) by Taru Bahl made for interesting and inspiring reading. People who are tolerant live and let live. She rightly said also that too much tolerance is not a good thing. But what else are we doing in our country? Tolerating malpractices in our systems and exercising forbearance when things cross the limit.

People suffer but tolerate silently when merit is ignored. If somebody protests he is forced to pay for it.


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