Friday, February 25, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Crumbling edifice of tolerance

THIS has reference to Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article “Indian social milieu: crumbling edifice of tolerance” (The Tribune, February 18). In modern times, of course, making a feature film costs crores of rupees. It is sheer wastage of manpower, money, material and resources if the movie becomes controversial during the production stage.

Before beginning the production of a contentious film, like Deepa Mehta’s “Water”, its story must pass through rigorous checks of the Film Censor Board. The production should be allowed only when the story is cleared for the production of the film by this board. Finally, the Censor Board should check the film when it is ready for viewing.

Deepa Mehta’s film “Fire” too raised much hue and cry. While venturing into disputable themes for film making, the makers should not get so much allured by the monetary consideration. They ought to keep the country’s honour above all within the country and overseas. While making a film on a sensitive subject, they dare not play with the sentiments and emotions of the people. In a multilingual and multireligious country like India, contentious subjects can easily inflame communal tension, thus, endangering communal harmony and goodwill.

  The Indian Constitution guarantees the right of expression to its citizens. But the use of the expression should be made wisely. It must not cause disaffection or hurt the feelings of the people in any manner. Some expressions can debase or demean the sentiments of the people of a community beyond tolerance. This is intolerable.

Bijhari (Hamirpur)

National psyche: The article focuses pointed attention on Deepa Mehta’s controversial film “Water”, bemoaning that the country’s cherished edifice — the edifice of tolerance — seems tottering.

Well, I appreciate the writer’s concern about the growing incidence of intolerance in the country. Undoubtedly, a blot on the hoary Indian culture. However, I do not share the writer’s acute pessimism over the matter. To my mind, the twin values of liberalism and tolerance seem too deeply ingrained in the national psyche to be easily obliterated. No doubt, the magnificent edifice in question would outlast the crude antics by the “Neo-brokers of Indian culture”.

The obtaining murky situation on the country’s socio-political front may best be ascribed to woefully poor governance.

Ambota (Una)

Widows’ plight a reality: Widows are an unaccepted factor in most Indian households. An Indian widow works from dawn to dusk but is fed only on water and “grass”. Yesterday’s woman of the house is even molested in family circles.

Shabana Azmi, not just an actress but a social activist and an Indian from top to toe, is rightly playing a key role in the film. It is a good enough guarantee that Indian culture is all safe in the film.

The miserable plight of Indian widows drew the attention of even the British who passed the Hindu Widow’s Remarriage Act, 1865, which validated the marriage of widows. The script of “Water” has been cleared by the I&B Ministry twice. Those who made violent protests in Varanasi at the time of the film’s “mahurat” only ran riot with the Constitution.

The Constitution (Article 19) guarantees the freedom of speech and expression as a fundamental right. Is India fief of those who threaten to disallow the shooting of the film anywhere in the country? The sooner they are brought to the path of sanity, the better for the health of the nation.


Poster problem

Driving in Chandigarh is gradually getting dangerous because of the fast increasing rush of traffic and the illegal pasting of film posters, etc, on the roadside boards, indicating the location of sectors, offices and various institutions.

The posters/advertisement boards placed on the upper sides of the CTU buses also play havoc. While looking at these boards, drivers lose their balance and meet with an accident. These posters also cause great inconvenience to new visitors to an affected area.

The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh should take stern action against those found guilty, and arrange to provide a proper place for pasting such posters and advertisements on fixed rates.


Grace marks not a right

The news item “Give grace marks to students: PTA”, appearing in The Tribune of February 23, is not based on facts. In the first place, the grant of grace marks is discretionary; a failed candidate cannot claim it as his or her right.

Refusal to grant grace marks does not amount to any violation of the norms as has been alleged by the parents of certain candidates.

The regulations of Panjab University which are operative for the students of SSMD Ayurvedic College, Moga, clearly state that up to 1 per cent (not 15 per cent) of the maximum marks in the aggregate of theory, practicals and internal assessment may be awarded as grace marks in the failed subject. This concession has been permitted to all those candidates who could pass with the permissible grace marks.

Registrar, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences


“Water” controversy

This is with reference to the report “Review decision on ‘Water’: Governor”, published in your prestigious daily on 13-2-2000.

History is repeated once again for Deepa Mehta but with a difference. This time she and her unit members are involved in a controversy before the movie has been actually shot.

Her projects have always aroused the sentiments of Indians. Though she has highlighted the “truth”, the idea of her movies has never been fruitful. They are, in fact, “sick” which has provided more negative aspects than positive ones.

It is due to this negative impact that her films end up in controversies. However, if such is the feeling of the people at this stage, one can well imagine the the situation after the movie is completed and finally released.



Our leaders (netas) before Independence:
Dil diya hai, jaan bhi dengey,
Aiy watan tere liyey.
Our leaders now:
Dhan liya hai, jaan bhi lengey,
Aiy watan tere logon sey.

(Dr) R.K. PURI


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