|Thursday, March 9, 2000,
with the real Clinton
REFORMS IN HARYANA-I
decorated Army regiment
March 9, 1925.
IT is official now. President Bill Clinton is going to Pakistan. That announcement ends a long spell of suspense but is hardly unexpected. After all, it was obvious from day one that the President of the most powerful nation on earth was using the "to-go-or-not-to-go" option as a bargaining chip to extract undisclosed concessions instead of utilising it as a means to discipline the regional "bully". Under the circumstances, India's protests were predisposed not to cut much ice. All that has happened is that the duration of the trip has been pared to the bare minimum. Nor has there been any effect of the pleadings of the wife of the deposed Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif. That the visit will be seen as a certificate of legitimacy to the usurper General does not seem to matter to the visiting President. In any case, the USA has a long history of being more comfortable with dictators than duly elected leaders despite the recent pro-democracy tilt. President Clinton avowedly does not want to isolate and humiliate the Chief Executive of Pakistan. Perhaps he is right also, but only to a certain extent. Whether or not Mr Clinton wants to sup with the usurper is his business. What matters from the Indian point of view is the signal it will send to the world. It would come to mean that the USA is willing to condone all that Pakistan did in Kargil (after all, General Musharraf was the architect of the misadventure). Washington has already given Islamabad a clean chit about not being involved in the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane. There has been a major escalation in border tension and a sharp increase in the number of attacks by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists ever since the visit of Mr Clinton to this part of Asia was announced.
The details of the
concessions that General Musharraf has agreed to make to
sweeten Mr Clinton's visit are not in the public domain.
But the changes that he has ostensibly made as a
consequence are cosmetic at best. The old mischief,
whether it is in the shape of fomenting trouble in India
through the ISI, or sending counterfeit notes or giving a
hero's welcome to those freed in exchange for plane
hostages, goes on regardless. Rather, there is a real
danger that the General might even press Mr Clinton to
rake up the Kashmir issue. This is where India has to be
on guard. In fact, the USA has nearly unsheathed its
sword by seeking to link India's permanent membership of
the United Nations Security Council to the UN resolution
on Kashmir. The statement is not only ill-timed but also
highly provocative. It should galvanise India into going
proactive on the Kashmir as well as non-proliferation
issues instead of being defensive. While many former US
diplomats who specialise in Indo-Pakistan relations have
started arriving in Delhi on the eve of the presidential
visit, the capability of the Indian side to forcefully
counter the challenge is, unfortunately, doubtful. There
has to be an all-party consensus on what India's stand is
going to be. South Block should be clear about its
objectives, goals and targets. It should resist the
temptation of bending over backwards and accommodating US
business interests if Washington is not prepared to mend
its ways and treat Delhi with the respect and
consideration that it deserves. We have pointed out
repeatedly that the USA understands only the language of
business. It will be worth reminding our policymakers
that it is still not too late to learn a lesson from
communist China. It must be said to the credit of the
Chinese leadership that it knows how to deal with the
American policymakers without compromising its basic
business and other related interests. One wishes one
could say the same thing about our own leaders. India is
currently the target of international terrorism and
religious extremism. If at all the USA is serious about
forging closer economic and technological links with it,
it should stand by the victimised democracy instead of
appeasing the aggressive dictatorship, which is actively
involved in everything from nuclear weaponisation to
POLICY differences on a few fundamental issues always lurked behind the seeming solidity of the Left Front in West Bengal. But never has a clash of interest ignited a public show of anger as has the CPI pulling out its two Ministers from the Jyoti Basu-led government. The party will, however, remain in the front, meaning that its protest is symbolic for the present and not meant to weaken the nearly 25-year-old alliance. For an outsider not initiated in the intricacies of Marxist politics, the dispute will sound like the CPI overblowing a minor fracas. A party MP is retiring from the Rajya Sabha and it seeks his renomination. The CPM says it is impossible since the left front can ensure the success of only four contestants this time in view of the reduced strength in the Assembly. The bigger left party wants to renominate its three retiring MPs, leaving the fourth to either the Forward Bloc or the RSP. So the CPI finds itself left out. Its rage is not so much because of the brusque rejection of its request but stems from the personality and stature of the stranded MP. He is Mr Gurudas Dasgupta, a hard working and articulate member, who often causes acute embarrassment to the establishment. To the extent that the Upper House will sorely miss him, the CPIs frustration will evoke widespread sympathy. Last-minute attempts to woo back the party to rejoin the government is unlikely to bear fruit. The CPI does not normally change its stand and any backtracking will be seen as a surrender to the CPM and in a highly polarised state, that will be a signal for further diminution of its base. It has only six MLAs in the 280-strong House and the CPM 150. This is the second time that Mr Dasguptas nomination has sparked a conflict. Six years ago, the CPI itself toyed with the idea of denying him ticket, preferring a senior leader, Mr A.B. Bardhan. But the party cadre virtually revolted, ensuring the continuation of the member in the Rajya Sabha. In earlier times, other parties like the Congress would have come to his rescue considering the need for his presence in the House. But those days are gone and even a man like Mr Dasgupta is treated as a partyman and not as an effective representative of the whole state.
Both Communist parties
have learnt to coexist uneasily in West Bengal and Kerala
despite pursuing different policies elsewhere. The most
glaring is the conflicting attitude to the RJD in Bihar.
The CPM is a partner of the pre-poll alliance with the
Laloo Prasad Yadav-led party. The CPI fought against this
combination together with the CPML. It attended the
all-party meeting on Tuesday convened by the Chief
Minister, which was boycotted by all opposition groups.
In Punjab the CPI has fought the Assembly election on the
basis of a loose understanding with the Congress. In
Tamil Nadu the two had tied up with different Dravidian
groups before finding themselves with Ms
Jayalalithas AIADMK now. In Andhra Pradesh, where
the Communist parties had a strong presence not long ago,
anti-Congressism has driven them to align with the Telugu
Desam Party first under Mr N.T.Rama Rao and later under
Mr Chandra Babu Naidu. They are now out of the TDP
alliance in protest against the latter joining hands with
the BJP. Historically, CPI has pursued a hazy objective
of bringing left and democratic parties together and it
is this that led the party to firmly align itself with
the Congress in 1971 and feel extremely suffocated during
the emergency. The CPM, on the other hand, has pinned its
hopes on a posture of equidistance from both the Congress
and the BJP and nurturing regional formations. Until now
West Bengal was untouched by the turbulence of this
ideological differences. It is ironic that Mr Gurudas
Dasgupta should have carried the impact to his home
THERE are those who believe that there is nothing much to celebrate on International Women's Day. There are those who make full use of the opportunity for making pointless speeches, producing boring plays and organising equally boring seminars and symposiums for whipping up hysteria against "male domination". But for a vast majority of Indians, both women and men, March 8 is just like any other day for no one has told them about the celebration of a day which is supposed to symbolically announce the emergence of the new woman. This year's celebration is more special because it is meant to announce the arrival of the woman of the new millennium who does not recognise the rules and laws, made and fine-tuned by a society for long dominated by men, which ordain her to walk two steps behind her man. But where is the new woman who is expected to fashion a gender-friendly society? Where is the millennium woman who has the courage of conviction to make the State throw out laws which deny her her rightful share in family property and discriminate against her in the matter of obtaining the custody of children in the event of divorce? She should also raise her voice against laws which allows a ruthless defence attorney to turn her into an object of ridicule if she dares to file a formal complaint with the police of having been raped or molested by strangers, or by a colleague at workplace or by someone in the family. However, to be fair India is among the few countries which recognised the need to abolish gender insensitive policies and practices. The custom of sati was abolished before independence. And free India introduced a number of gender specific constitutional and legal reforms.
But there is a vital
difference between enacting a law and actually
implementing it. The dowry system is still as much a
curse as it was when there was no law against it. The
enactment of a legislation against female infanticide has
failed to put the fear of God or of law among those who
still treat the birth of a girl as some form of divine
curse. In most cases the law enforcers get their cut for
allowing medical practitioners to perform the revolting
act of killing the girl-child in the womb. It is evident
that the State would have to crack the whip, and crack it
really hard, for stricter enforcement of gender-specific
laws. It should also evolve a proactive policy for
somehow putting an end to the countless forms of what can
be called "closet crimes" being committed
against women by sections of people, both men and women,
lettered and unlettered in the name of protecting family
honour or social customs or both. But the din which is
created in Parliament by male members, cutting across
party lines, whenever the subject of granting 33 per cent
seats in the country's legislatures to women crops up
does provide a clue that victory in the battle for gender
equality on domestic, political, social and religious
fronts is not going to be offered on a platter. It is
evident that the millennium woman would have to learn to
carry her own cross and wage her own battles. All she has
to do is to make wise use of the mind-boggling
innovations in the field of technology for ushering in
the overdue gender revolution. The challenge before her
is not to press for reservation of seats in legislatures
but make men bite the dust even in unreserved seats. But
who is going to play the role of the millennium woman?
She can be any one, but certainly not Rabri Devi. She is
an embarrassing role model for those who know her real
worth in Bihar politics.
SECTOR REFORMS IN HARYANA-I
THE Indian National Lok Dal under the leadership of Mr O.P. Chautala has come to power in Haryana on its own. Though Mr Chautala had severe misgivings about the ongoing restructuring of Haryanas power sector, he did make distribution reforms as part of the INLD manifesto underlining the need for reforms. Now that he is in office with a majority on his own, efforts may commence towards reactivating the reform agenda and get it back on its feet. This, therefore, is the opportune time to take stock of the direction in which reforms were proceeding and the strong obsessions and prejudices that have been built around the words Restructuring, unbund-ling and privatisation leading to its derailment for a few months.
Power sector reforms commenced in Haryana in July, 1997, with the passing of the Haryana Electricity Reforms Act and it adopted the standard Structural format leading to the abolition of the States Electricity Board and its replacement by GENCO, TRANSCO and two DISCOs in August, 1998. Simultaneously, the Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission was also established. Everything went by the book till around the middle of 1999 when the reform process got embroiled in the political turmoil and then ground to a halt with the exit of Mr Bansi Lal and entry of Mr Chautala as Chief Minister.
The genesis of a structural bias to power sector reforms in India goes back to an USAID-sponsored study on The role of planning in Indias restructured power sector and the report submitted by US Consultants in mid-1996 recommending a structural approach. The report suggested the creation of Independent organisations with unbundled functions replacing the State Electricity Boards (SEBs). These organisations would then be turned into privately owned firms which would provide much of the growth of the power sector since the quest for profit will motivate their activities, and they will have a greater commercial orientation than most government-owned organisations. As for achieving end-use efficiency, this will be through a trickle down process, which may take several years to come through.
This report spawned a management model-centred approach which was endorsed by the Union Ministry of Power in late 1996. Since then management modules have become the mantra and the yardstick for appraising SEB reforms and the bread and butter of international consultants working in this area. The extent of financial and technical assistance by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and multi-lateral agencies for the reform process also depends upon the rigidity with which these modules are being adopted and implemented. The cardinal elements of a structural approach around which management models have been built are: dismantling and unbundling of SEBs to form several companies centred around regions or functions such as generation, transmission and distribution; the unbundled organisations being turned into privately owned firms whose commercial orientation, driven by quest for profit, will bring about efficiency; fixing of tariff on a cost-plus basis and its continuous upward revision every year and elimination of all subsidies to the farming and other sectors. In short, it was prescribed that the massive inefficiencies of SEBs will be removed through physical restructuring, and these entities made viable and profitable by a free-wheeling market mechanism. This precisely was the route the reforms in Haryana took leading to a public and political backlash that had halted the process on its track.
What has happened to Haryanas electricity reforms is not without reasons. It needs to be realised that the power sector has four broad stakeholders three positives and one negative. The positive ones are the majority end-use consumers meaning the public, the government consisting of political and administrative decision-makers and the utility employees. The negative stakeholders are the vested interests from among these three groups who are opposed to any reform in any form. Unfortunately, these vested interests, though in minority, carry a lot of clout because of their capacity to obfuscate, bully and bluff. With the positive stakeholders confused about the objectives of the reform and its benefits in the short-and-long-term, it is a field day for the negative stakeholders to spread doubts about the very need for reforms.
The perception of power sector reforms among the positive stakeholders today is one of breaking down institutions, spending huge amounts of money to reduce jobs, clamouring for a continuous tariff hike and the elimination of subsidy without any visible, tangible or perceivable near-term benefits. The World Bank experts who prepared the Haryana reform document themselves concede this lucidly, the reform process will not lead to immediate results; efficiency improvements will come when the investment measures are implemented; reduction in losses and improvement in the quality of supply will come when the physical system is rehabilitated and the distribution business is restructured and privatised. In short, the reformers contention is that the end-use consumer should patiently wait for efficiency to trickle down through the structural layers, and in the meantime pay heavily for the inadequate and low quality power being supplied, or give up the subsidy being enjoyed, whichever may be the case.
But, unfortunately, top-down and trickle down methods cannot work in the socio-economic milieu of a state like Haryana. It is more so with relation to the supply of electric power because this is a commodity constantly required in adequate quantity and good quality even to pursue basic economic activity. The industrialist, if he is to pay higher tariff, would demand copious, uninterrupted and high quality power supply here and now. The agriculturist, if he were to forgo his subsidies and pay a reasonable price, would insist on getting power when he wants, where he wants and in the manner he wants it. These end-use consumers are not willing to go on paying a high tariff and give up benefits while waiting indefinitely for things to improve and efficiency to trickle down. Any reform process that does not satisfy this basic requirement of the end-users will not be perceived in a positive manner, no matter what kind of sophisticated restructuring that are taking place.
Even the reformers concede that the market-driven reform measures with an excessive emphasis on the tariff increase and subsidy elimination that are being implemented now may not enjoy a positive perception in the public mind. To quote from the same Haryana reform document, End-users and other stakeholders will be ready to accept the reforms and the consequences provided that they perceive real prospects for an improved situation. But this is not happening and may not happen as long as structural dismantling continue to lead the reform process with end-use efficiency remaining only as an embellishment. Even the Electricity Regulatory Commissions set up to moderate the reform implementation with a bias towards the end-user are being perceived more as tariff commissions.
As long as public perception is not in favour of reforms in its present form, there can hardly be sufficient political will to implement the same since politicians are but creatures of public opinion. Haryana is a typical example where an ongoing reform process got bogged down due largely to a negative public perception and the resultant weakening of political will. In none of the states power sector reforms have had a smooth sailing the latest instance being Uttar Pradesh, where the reformers have at best won a pyrrhic victory and a temporary reprieve.
That the reform experts were very much aware of the hurdles facing the implementation of reforms in its present form is evident from this passage in the Project Appraisal Document of the Haryana Power Sector Restructuring and Development Programme issued in December, 1997: The implementation of the reform programme will face strong opposition. It will impinge on large and powerful vested interests. The reform measures will change the framework under which staff and government officials have been operating: fears about employment generate opposition to change. The political opposition and vested interest groups have used and will continue to use measures like privatisation of distribution and tariff adjustments as points of contention.
Despite these apprehensions expressed at the initial stages of reforms itself, no worthwhile strategy was evolved to overcome the hurdles and make it palatable to the positive stakeholders which would have effectively checkmated the numerically smaller negative stakeholders. Instead, structural reforms were pushed using the lure of soft funding and grants from the World Bank and multi-lateral agencies which the free spending, fund starved states could not resist.
(To be concluded)
(The writer, an
infrastructure consultant, has the experience of working
with the HSEB. He was also a member of the High-Powered
Committee on Agricultural Policies and Programmes set up
by the Government of India in 1990).
plan behind Gujarat decision
I AM at a loss to understand why the RSS has suddenly decided to create a serious situation in which the continuance of the Vajpayee government may become uncertain. Suddenly, the Gujarat government decides that government servants can join RSS shakhas. It was followed by UP and now even Himachal Pradesh has announced such a move. It is obvious that there is a pattern of a thought-out strategy of working quietly to a particular agenda.
A step like permitting government servants to attend RSS shakhas was too serious a departure for the BJP to expect the other NDA partners to accept it quietly. Already Mr Karunanidhi and Mr Chandrababu Naidu have gone public opposing with a strong salvo. Mr George Fernandes and Mr Sharad Yadav, who broke the United Front government in 1979 on a somewhat similar issue, could not look the other way. So the Samata Party has come out against participation by government employees in the activities of any organisation like the RSS.
Even the Prime Minister publicly chided the Sangh Parivar at a public function when he cautioned that those who pursue emotive issue should set for themselves a point beyond which they should not cross or exceed to prevent the country from plunging into fresh turmoil. A serious warning indeed, but I have little hope that this will be listened to. Even though the Prime Minister has announced that there is no move to amend the rules, there has been no consequential withdrawal of the controversial circulars by the state governments. This conflicting stand between the Centre and the state governments shows ominous portents.
It appears to me that the RSS has somehow come to the conclusion that the continuance of the NDA under the Vajpayee experiment may weaken its long-term agenda. It may even be entertaining the rash thought of sudden elections, in the hope that the BJP may, on its own or with its close supporters, get the majority. I doubt it. But it is possible that the Sangh Parivar may be contemplating this risky course sans the leadership of Mr Vajpayee, tempted by the sad state of the opposition parties their lack of ideology and cohesion and mutual mudslinging.
Rule 5 of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, which mandates that no government servant shall be associated with any political party or any organisation which takes part in politics, nor shall he take part in or subscribe in aid of or assist in any other manner any political movement or activity, will squarely cover the case of government servants attending RSS shakhas because this would be an activity connected with a political movement.
As a matter of fact, the Ministry of Home Affairs has been so keen to immunise government servants from political activities that in one of its circulars, issued as far back as 1949, it has explained that though occasional attendance of government servants at a meeting organised by a political party, which is a public meeting and not a restricted meeting, may not be construed as participation in a political movement. Frequent or regular attendance by a government servant at a meeting of any particular political party is bound to create an impression that he is a sympathiser of the aims and objectives of such a party, and that conduct may be construed as assisting the political movement.
The Ministry of Home Affairs by its circular of November 30, 1966, specifically clarified that the government had always held the activities of the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh and the Jamaat-e-Islami to be of such a nature that participation in them by government servants would attract Rule 5, and that any government servant who was a member of or was otherwise associated with the aforesaid organisations or with their activities was liable to disciplinary action. In view of that, to single out the RSS for a preferential treatment would be discriminatory. Is Mr Advani willing to review also the ban imposed on the Jamaat.
I feel that this trial balloon of removing the ban on the attendance at RSS shakhas has a deeper plan.
When some time back the BJP suggested a constitutional commission, one of its high-profile spokespersons openly said that the BJP did want a debate on whether socialism and secularism should be retained in the Preamble and whether the minorities rights to run their own educational institutions did not need to be curtailed.
That was when the BJP was dreaming of forming a government by itself. But now that it is burdened in the NDA, RSS bosses have decided on a diversionary tactics. The BJP knows fully well that the Constitution Review Commission would never buy its obscurantist shibboleths. It is also aware that it cannot get any such amendments because it lacks a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Its only purpose would be to use the presence of the Constitution Review Commission as a sounding board to find a way to indulge in all these contentious issues and programmes and at the same time to apparently absolve itself of not violating the common agenda.
This opportunity the RSS will now try to use to project its fundamentalist divisive programme before the public in the garb of presentation before the Constitution Review Commission. That is why the BJP has persisted with constituting the Commission notwithstanding the opposition to it from various sources, including the President.
Of course, the Constitution Review Commission per se may not be objected to, as it is needed to deal with matters like the National Judicial Commission or the change in anti-defection law. But it must guard itself against being used as a whipping boy by the BJP. This the commission can do by announcing at its first sitting immediately that there would be no consideration by the commission of the proposal for change in the Preamble or the guarantee of minority rights or the change in the Fundamental Rights already given to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Backward Classes, and no consideration for abrogation of Article 370.
If such an immediate declaration is made by the commission and if the BJP still persists with going to town with its divisive proposals, it will expose its nefarious intentions, making it easier for sane forces of society to resist it powerfully.
decorated Army regiment
TRUE to its regimental motto Nische kar apni jeet karon with determination, Ill fetch triumph the Sikh Regiment, the highest decorated regiment of the Indian Army, with an eventful 154-year-old saga of deeds of unparalleled chivalry and heroism, is all set to celebrate its 10th reunion at its Ramgarh Regimental Centre from March 9 to 11. This will be the first historical moment of the new millennium for officers and men, both retired and serving, and their families to cherish their great heritage and remember with pride the great deeds of bravery, relive some pleasant memories and brood over some lighter moments of the past.
It is this regiment whose 22 valiant men of the 4th Battalion in 1897, as a testimony to the Khalsa tradition of unmatched chivalry and selfless devotion to duty, defended the Saragarhi post, just a little mud-brick blockhouse on the knife-edge of the Sammana range for visual communication between Forts Lockhart and Gulistan, against some 7,000 Orakzai tribals for six and a half hours before being perished to a man. The British Parliament at the time gave a unanimous ovation to the fallen Sikh heroes of this battle, still acknowledged as one of the most famous battles of the world. Even to this date, this battle forms a part of the school curriculum in France. On September 12 every year, the regiment celebrates the Regimental Battle Honour Day.
The Kargil operations last year saw the regiment adding to its laurels. The operations on Tiger Hill were perhaps the most crucial as the hill dominated the Leh-Srinagar highway and control over it was a tectical imperative for India. In action on this hill, 8 Sikh was charged to the task of capturing the western spur which was the sustenance route for the enemy atop. Maj Ravinder Singh with Lieut Sehrawat with four JCOs and 52 men, defying the direct heavy fire of the enemy, unflinchingly crawled forward, inch by inch, and captured the spur at a price of 35 brave lives. This is the pride a Sikh soldier has by wearing the regimental colours.The regiment has been in the vanguard in all the wars and operations of the Indian Army after Independence.
Individually, too, Sikhs are far ahead of others. Naik Nand Singh, who won the Victoria Cross during the Burma campaign in World War II, during the J& K operations in 1947 with his small detachment charged a large group of Pakistani tribesmen lying in wait to ambush 1 Sikh. His daring assault saved the battalion but the brave soldier laid down his life. For this gallantry act, he was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, posthumously, making him the highest decorated soldier among all the armies of the Commonwealth countries.
The standard of the regiment, decorated with a scroll enshrining 73 Battle Honours and 14 Theatre Honours, may not have a parallel in the defence annals elsewhere.
History goes back to August 1,1846, when the Regiment of Ferozepore and the Regiment of Ludhiana were raised as two Sikh battalions by Captain G. Tibbs and Lieut-Col P. Gordon. The Bengal Military Police Battalion nicknamed Rattrays Sikhs and raised in Lahore in 1856, provided the third root lineage of the regiment. In 1856, when the East India Companys armies were passed to the British Government, these battalions were rechristened as the 14th Ferozepore Sikhs, the 15th Ludhiana Sikhs and the 45th Rattrays Sikhs.
All the three battalions served in the second Afghan war. The 14th Ferozepore Sikhs made a large number of sacrifices to win the Battle Honour of Ali Masjid. The 15th Ludhiana, as a part of the South Afghanistan Field Force, made an unprecedented march of 400 miles through most hostile terrain to occupy Kandahar and won the Battle Honour of Kandahar 1880. The 45th Rattrays Sikhs fought the battle of Ali Masjid and later fought in Charasiah and was instrumental in gaining occupation of the Afghan capital.
The Ludhiana Sikhs, as a part of the Suakin Expedition, sent for the subjection of Sudan Dervishes in 1885, faced heavy attack at Tofrek, as it tenaciously fought back and by its gallantry and remarkable discipline saved the column from complete destruction. Battle Honour Tofrek is the illustrious memento from this action.
This was matched by Ferozepore Sikhs in 1895 when 88 men with some state troops kept up a defence at Chitral fort for 45 days against a strong siege. In 1887, two more the 35th Sikhs and the 36th Sikhs were added to the legion which later became the 10th and the 4th Battalions in the 1922 amalgamations.
The 20th century brought another addition to the regiment fold when a new battalion the 47th Sikh was raised by Lieut-Col P.G. Walker in April,1901, which in the amalgamation became the 5th Battalion.
In World War-I, Ist Sikh went to Suez Canal and fought in the second battle of Krithia and thence moved to six months of continuous fighting on Gallipoli. The 2nd and the 5th, brigaded together, formed the first Indian troops in France and for their gallantry at Neuve Chapelle, the 5th was singled out for special praise in the House of Commons.
In World War-II, the regiment again proved its heritage. In the pre-Independence period, it had won 10 Victoria Crosses, 196 IOMs, nine Military Crosses, 35 DSOs, 195 IDSMs besides 860 other gallantry awards.
Soon after Independence, 1 Sikh were airlifted to Srinagar to stop the onslaught of the Pakistan Army which had ravaged many parts of Jammu and Kashmir in October, 1947. The Sikhs not only saved Srinagar but also Uri, Baramula and Tithwal and earned them the title of Saviours of Kashmir.
The next action came in 1948 when during the Hyderabad Police Action, a battalion of the regiment broke the back of the Razakars.
During the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962, the Indian Army caught unawares and unprepared, saw the Sikhs continuing to fight with undiminished courage and boldness. Subedar Joginder Singh, Sepoy Kewal Singh and Lieut Yog Raj Palta emerged as heroes and were conferred the countrys highest gallantry awards.
The 1965 war against Pakistan saw the daredevilry of the Sikhs in the battles of Raja and Barki. In Raja, Lieut Col N.N. Khanna volunteered to capture the post in spite of heavy odds and a failed earlier attempt. In him the regiment won a posthumous Maha Vir Chakra as the post was captured. In the western sector, the Saragarhi Sikh Battalion proved its mettle when it captured the Pakistan town of Barki, solely through bold Infantry action without the support of the armour.
In the 1971 war the East Pakistan towns of Khulna, Chaugacha, Durinda, Makapur and Siramani were the scenes of the battle victories of the Sikhs. In the western sector, in the battle of Chhamb, 27 men of the regiment laid down their lives. This platoon of 5 Sikh, under Subedar Gurdial Singh, withstood three well-coordinate enemy attacks with tanks and earned a crucial time of 30 hours.
In peacetime too, the regiment has acquainted itself very well. Operation Meghdoot, Operation Pawan, Operation Bajrang and Operation Rakshak bear ample testimony to the tenacity and endurance of the Sikh soldier in all adverse situations.
It is not only battlefields but also playfields where the men and officers have won laurels for the country. Sikhs and hockey are synonymous. The regiment boasts of greats like three-times Olympian Colonel Haripal Kaushik, Colonel Balbir Singh, Brig HJS Chimni and Hony Lieutenant Hardial Singh. To continue nurturing of hockey talent, the regiment has set up at Mamum Cantonment, near Pathankot, under the watchful eyes of Col Haripal Kaushik, a hockey nodal centre.
Sub Kaur Singh (boxing), Naib Sub Bakshish Singh (boxing) and Col JC Joshi (mountaineering) are all Arjuna awardees from the regiment. In athletics, the regiments stalwarts include Olympian Sohan Singh, Sub Balkar Singh, Sub Mohinder Singh and Col G.J. Singh. In all the regiment has sent at least 40 men and officers to various international meets, including Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics besides other events.
The Ramgarh Regimental
Centre, busy with young recruits, has a regimental war
memorial to enshrine the age old tradition of unflagging
courage, undaunted valour and unfaltering devotion to
duty in the face of the death. Various roads and the
companies have been named after the regimental heroes
which not only familiarise the newcomer with the gallant
Sikh soldiers and their deeds but as well inculcate in
the young recruits a sense of pride and respect to
THE Burma Government is making itself famous by new methods of repression. The proposed Expulsion of Offenders Bill is its latest move in this direction. The Bill is designed to expel from Burma all such non-Burmans as have been sentenced by a criminal court for some offence or have been called upon to furnish security under the security sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
This is obviously bound to affect a large number of political workers, who, like similar workers in India, were harassed during the past few years by prosecutions under the Penal Code or by proceedings under the Cr. P.C.
Now when the atmosphere
is officially stated to be clearer, to deport from a
Province, which is still a part of India, Indians who
have for a long time adopted it as their own, is nothing
short of deliberate fishing for acute political
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