Saturday, April 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Gandhi on Banaras

APROPOS of 'Gandhiji's perception of Banaras' by Abu Abraham (March 15), the spate of violent demonstrations venting ire on what the self-appointed keepers of the nation's moral, cultural and spiritual conscience think ought not be, for what they deem is blasphemous, bemuses me no end. Besides Deepa Mehta's "Water", the latest in the series to court controversy, and the wrath of those who inherited free India as a legacy from the Mahatma is Hey! Ram by Kamal Hasaan. Those who have taken it upon themselves to protect the image and the honour of the Mahatma come nowhere near following even a single of his teachings. Yet they profess and pretend to be his followers.

Indeed, had this movie been made in the lifetime of the great man himself, he may have not bothered at all or may even have tried to see the other man's viewpoint without bias or malice. I fail to understand how those who give two hoots for the great saint, keep audaciously misusing his name as a means to advertise themselves for petty political gains.

  As the wise rightly counsel your true friend is he who points out your mistakes and drawbacks. Through the medium of such movie as have recently been courting endless violent protest we may get to see the "Picture of Dorian Gray" in ourselves and our society.

If we genuinely care for Gandhiji and other great patriots and national heroes, the better option would be to make a sincere endeavour to adopt their principles and values in our own lives.


Anti-Hindu: Abu Abraham has castigated the BJP and the Vishva Hindu Parishad, apart from describing Hindus as dirty and superstitious. And to support his views, he has quoted Gandhiji.

Broadly speaking, critics of Hindus and Hinduism fall in two categories. In one category are those whose objective is to introduce social and religious reforms. In the second category are persons whose sole objective is to denigrate Hindus and Hinduism Unlike followers of Islam and Christianity, Hindus in general respect reformers and tolerate self-criticism. Gandhiji falls in the first category of reformers, although he had many other faces also. Therefore, what he said about Banaras can be welcomed by the Hindus in general.

Abu Abraham, and for that matter Deepa Mehta, for whom he has great regard, certainly do not fall in the category of reformers. They both fall in the second category of hostile persons who have perverted views about Hinduism. They should be stopped from creating social tension and hatred.

As regards pollution of the Ganga, it would be unjust to blame the VHP and the "superstitious Hindus" for it. The State government and the municipal authorities are responsible for allowing the dirty drains to flow into the river.

I would advise Abu Abraham to stop spitting venom against the Hindus.


Sainiks and jawans

Apropos of Wg. Cdr. C.L. Sehgal's letter (March 17), apart from the misuse of the word "sainiks" (short from for "Shiv Sainiks"), there are other terms that convey erroneous meaning about the armed forces, and ought to be selectively used. "Jawan" is one of them. This term is routinely employed these days in the media for anyone ranging from armed forces combatants to the paramilitary personnel and from policemen to the homeguards. The police in Bihar is also known as "Bihar Military Police"! This is confusing and unfair to both the armed forces jawans and the policemen for whom good substituted like "constables", "cop" etc. can easily be used. "Police officer" and "Bobby" are other endearing terms for policemen.


Haryana power reforms

I have read Mr Surinder Kumar's comments on my articles on Haryana's power sector reforms appearing in The Tribune of March 9 and 10. He is evidently confused about the difference between the utility driven demand side management and energy efficiency measures. I am advocating the adoption of market driven energy efficiency mechanism being pursued in USA and Europe. The strategy I am advocating is to target the highly subsidised segments of agricultural and residential consumers who consume the most energy (in Haryana 61 per cent) while paying the least. Again it is here that most electricity (50 to 60 per cent) is wasted or stolen. Efficiency gains in these segments can be converted in to utility cash flow which in turn can make the SEBs financially healthy and viable. As for investment, a portion of the huge amount of money being spent by World Bank on reforms can be diverted towards this end.

Such a phenomenon does not obtain in USA or Europe and therefore drawing parallel is irreverent.


Bihar Drama

This refers to T.K. Rajeshwar's thought provoking article "Questionable role of Governor, beyond the Bihar drama" (March 16), it is a matter of shame that Mr V.C. Pandey, Governor of Bihar, had committed a blunder by ignoring the strong claim of Rabri Devi and inviting Nitish Kumar to form the government when he was not in a position to prove his majority.

Mr T.V. Rajeshwar has rightly observed that Mr Pandey may not be happy with Rabri Devi/Laloo Prasad Yadav for their role in perpetuating jungle raj. But since the people of Bihar had voted for Rabri Devi he should have accepted the verdict.


An act of shame

India is a country of great civilisation built by people like Chandragupta, Chanakya Buddha, Gandhi, Nehru, Bhagat Singh, Kartar Singh Sarabha, Aruna Asaf Ali and countless known and unknown patriots. But it is also a country of Jaichand and rajas and maharajas who allowed India to be enslaved. This was amply proved by the behaviour of our members of Parliament who fell over each other to shake hands with Mr Bill Clinton. It was an occasion of national shame and serious concern. Only the people can teach such leaders a lesson.



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