Monday, February 14, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Is this women empowerment?

THE Obscenity Act and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act are openly flouted during the innumerable fairs held at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Be it the recent “Auto Expo” or the “Textile Fair”, scantily clad models/hostesses welcome the visitors of all ages who come from different parts of the country.

It is high time the government instructed the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) authorities to seriously embark upon a common decent dress code for girl volunteers/hostesses whose services are being hired by different pavilions at Pragati Maidan. After all, one does not visit such prestigious trade fairs to encounter characters from “Baywatch”!

Teenaged college girls are being lured by stall owners to make faster money by way of liberal doses of body exposure and in turn helping the pavilions to rope in more customers. All the visitors to such fairs bear mute testimony to this rampant display of body-hugging attires worn by the girl representatives at the Pragati Maidan stalls.

  It is the responsibility of the ITPO to maintain strict vigil on the stalls engaged in such immoral activities. They must be immediately debarred from participation. Clear-cut instructions should be issued to the participating organisations at the initial stage by the ITPO, which is a nodal agency for trade promotion and not for the promotion of fashion shows!

Ironically, on the one hand the government is keen on “women empowerment”, on the other, women are constantly being projected as ambassadors of titillation who endorse/sell all kinds of products and earn revenue for the ITPO throughout the year! What a grand commodification of the fair sex!

New Delhi

CRPF martyrs' widows

Policemen make the supreme sacrifice while defending the country from external threats, fighting the internal threat of disintegration, terrorists and extremist political elements. They protect the people from the depredation of ISI-sponsored criminals.

The much-maligned police force has always lived up to the motto, "Duty unto death".

The casualties suffered by the police forces are far more than the total fatalities suffered by the defence forces during the four wars against Pakistan, the Kargil operation and the IPKF action in Sri Lanka. Added to this dismal picture, anti-social elements are now targeting police families for attack.

Statistics of the killing of policemen by terrorists during the action in Punjab are staggering and bone-chilling. More than 100 policemen and officers lost their lives to save innocent people in the Tarn Taran area alone. The name of my son, Avtar Singh Chhetra, Dy. Commandant, CRPF, posted as SP (OPN), Tarn Taran, finds a mention in the list of the dead.

His name was at the top of the hit-list of terrorists. He laid down his life on 24-06-1989 in a grim battle with terrorists, in which five militants were also killed. His death caused a wave of shock among the people of the area, and the entire police force was jolted at his loss. He was rewarded (posthumously) with three President’s Police Medal for gallant acts of bravery and patriotism.

As a father I am proud of his supreme sacrifice for the nation but deeply hurt as to why our government does not give due recognition to the widows' of the CRPF martyrs for monetary benefits available to the defence forces. Even a small amount as the last pay sanctioned as LPA is practically not paid to the widows of CRPF martyrs. Against this disparity and discrimination, my widow daughter-in-law, Mrs Hardeep Kaur Chhetra, represented on 23-10-1999 to the President of India and the Prime Minister. She is stunned to receive the reply to her representation through the Welfare Department of the CRPF — that she was neither entitled to draw full DA with the last pay drawn by her husband in the old scale nor can the last pay be refixed in accordance with the new scale as per the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission.

What can the empowerment of women through the reservation of seats in legislatures do when society as a whole and the bureaucratic system do not change their mindset in favour of widows?

The discrimination against CRPF widows most end.


Is it equality before law?

The Central Government informed the High Court of Delhi that three former Prime Ministers (Rajiv Gandhi, Chandrashekhar and P.V. Narasimha Rao) owing Rs 13.57 crore to the government for using Indian Air Force aircraft for their personal purposes had to clear their dues by December 31, 1999.

The government submitted that the Congress had sought concession as it was difficult to clear the dues for the use of the aircraft by Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao. Chandrashekhar also expressed his inability to clear the dues.

How funny it is? If an ordinary citizen owes any money as loan repayment to the government and fails to do so, the law will step in and confiscate his property and prosecute him, which may lead to his imprisonment. Will it not apply to these big politicians?


Visa move

India has strongly reacted to an official British proposal of taking cash bonds of 10,000 for visits to the UK from short-term visitors saying that “we reserve the right to take reciprocal action”.

Your editorial “Bonded visitors” also raised some pertinent points. discrimination aside, do we know no limits to being ludicrous? I mean is the threat to reciprocate in equal measure just symbolic or are we actually delusioned enough to believe that someone from Britain will actually lose his marbles and wish to clandestinely settle in India!

This reminds me of the time when Britain derecognised our M S (post-graduate degree in surgery). In the most ridiculous of moves we derecognised their FRCS, a very prestigious and much sought after fellowships.

Let us be a little reasonable and mature, and try not to express ourselves in a knee-jerk manner. Let us not make fools of ourselves internationally. Besides, as you have so rightly introspected, we do have to accept a certain degree of the blame for their way of thinking as well, for the ways and means we adopt in order to settle in those greener pastures are not always above board. And they know how desperate and enamoured many Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are to hang on to the British land, by hook or by crook!



Quick dispensing of justice

Soon after my retirement from the Army, I got involved in a family property wrangle. Apart from the fairly common legal battle over the alleged WILL, adverse circumstances forced me to seek legal respite from the ensuing harassment. It, however, proved time-consuming, expensive and, in the long run, futile. But for the efforts of the Chandigarh Consumers’ Forum, I could not have got most of my money back, doled out for legal service which was never rendered.

What happened was contrary to the common belief — that one could never win a legal battle if one’s opponent was a lawyer. And in our case the situation was more complicated. There were no receipts witnesses.

The matter was settled with the intervention of the Chandigarh Consumers Forum. We got our Rs 11,000 back from the lawyer within three days. This is how justice should be dispensed, in as short a period as possible.

Lieut-Col J.B.S. CLAIRE (retd)



A senior police officer in Delhi has been found to possess assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

But weren’t his assets proportionate at least to his well-known sources of income?


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