Monday, April 3, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



History losing its appeal

HISTORY, once a favourite subject among the arts group students in schools and colleges, has lost its appeal over the years. This is not a healthy development and calls for corrective steps. To create more awareness and interest in history, it is imperative that the significance, relevance and inspirational value of the subject to the process of nation-building be duly understood and appreciated at a high level of decision-making for implementation.

History, to be purposeful, has to be fair, balanced and authentic even if it may appear unpalatable to some at times. We have to pick up courage in both hands to squarely face the rights and the wrongs of our past instead of adopting a politically motivated policy towards history as we have been doing all along in this country.

Let us learn to make use of what has happened in the ancient, medieval and comparatively recent phases of Indian history to draw appropriate lessons in order not to repeat the grievous blunders that led to our enslavement, exploitation, oppression, humiliation and poverty.

  The types of controversies doing the rounds these days regarding the apex body of historical research in the country project a poor image of history as a subject in public mind, and discourage students from offering it as part of their course of study.


Waste of funds?

This refers to the article by K.F. Rustamji on the Kargil inquiry. The inquiries in independent India have been a series of tragedies and so is the Kargil inquiry. A fear phobia has been created as if war with Pakistan is imminent. Those in India and Pakistan who are votaries of equipping the armed forces to the teeth live in their own imaginary castles. It is undeniable that Pakistan is unable to match the superiority of India in a conventional war and, at the same time India will not be able to fight a prolonged war, our leaders’ claims notwithstanding.

Even if by chance we defeat Pakistan and cause its breakup as some loud-mouths suggest, we will be faced with a chain reaction all over the subcontinent. The whole gamut of relations with Pakistan deserves dispassionate thinking.


Deterrent for Pakistan

The views of Mr S.P. Malhotra regarding permanent deterrence against any Pakistan attack on India appeared in The Tribune on February 18, but the authorities concerned are silent on the subject. No doubt the construction of a tunnel connecting the Chenab and the Ravi for the diversion of the Chenab water into the Ravi is an expensive project, but not costlier than the Kargil operation and other similar previous wars.

Electricity fencing on the Pakistan border was considered an unviable project at the planning stage, but now it has become a necessity. Similar action on other rivers — the Jhelum and the Sindh — would not only be a big deterrent if commissioned but also give a big boost to our irrigation projects by utilising surplus water. The nature of the dispute would change from Kashmir to a water problem. The construction of the Thein Dam on the Ravi in Gurdaspur district when commissioned would give a free hand to India for the use of the Ravi water.


Desecrating religious places

There is no doubt that, as mentioned in the editorial “Yet another sacrilege” (March 28), India remains committed to protecting the sanctity of holy places of all faiths.

Terrorists entrenched themselves in a mosque at Doodipura village, near Handwara township in North Kashmir and fiercely fired at the Rashtriya Rifles personnel, killing a Major and a jawan. They spurned the advice of clerics to surrender and caused much damage to the mosque. Was it not the desecration of the holy shrine?

The mosque is a place where the devout participate in divine service, cleanse their souls of the stains of sins and get celestial bliss. Are such holy places meant for being used as hideouts and firing places by terrorists, spilling innocent blood?


Facilities for devotees

Mata Mansa Devi Temple in Haryana needs no introduction. There are two roads leading to the temple. One is the new Mansa Devi Road, which people use while coming from Panchkula, and the other is the one that begins from the Dhillon theatre side.

Lakh of devotees visit the temple from different parts of the country to make their obeisance throughout the year, especially on the eve of the Navratra mela held twice a year. At the time of the Navratras most people come to the temple walking.

If some genuine facilities are provided by the Haryana government, people will feel relaxed. I feel roadside benches should be installed to help the people to relax. Some water tanks must also be installed to help people quench their thirst in summer, and footpaths on both sides of the road should be constructed to reduce the rush on the road. Trees should be planted on a large scale on roadsides to make this area more beautiful and pollution-free.

It would be appropriate if a refreshment shop is opened at the mela grounds dividing the roads near the temple selling eatables at subsidised rates. This will help people to escape from falling a prey to the shopkeepers who charge at will.



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