Friday, May 12, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Terrorism and justice system

This has reference to Mr K.T.S. Tulsi’s article, “Terrorism and justice system” (May 4). When terrorism first appeared in Nagaland in the early fifties, there was no question of prosecuting terrorists in a court of law. At that time the only option was the Army, partly because of the intensity of the attacks and also because the courts and the police apparatus were in an undeveloped state.

When terrorism came to Punjab, attempts to get judicial decisions ended in failure. A large number of magistrates and judges were threatened and a few were actually killed. It is one of the greatest weaknesses of our land that no agency is prepared to think about what changes should be made in criminal trials to protect witnesses, lawyers and judges.

We have failed to say before the world that in practical terms we cannot deal with war or proxy war by judicial methods. Our hypocrisy has gone too far to be convincing. Why is it that we want to pretend that we are perfect; it is only our police force that is so bad. They are to blame. In fact, we did not change all this because we wanted to give the Army and the police a free hand to put down terrorism.

  Now that we can see light at the end of the tunnel and we are sure that terrorism in Punjab has ended, we can go the human rights way. We must move towards a change when the dark night of terrorism is over and the sun of peace appears on the horizon. We can only make the police behave. We can ask the judiciary to take those police officers to task who take the law into their own hands. We can now begin to think of an alternative method.

What will that be? The right of the police or its hold on crime cannot be disturbed but it must be monitored, guided and certainly controlled. This brings the judiciary back to the picture. In fact, cooperation between the police and the judiciary is the first essential, and we lack an institution to secure it.


The nurse — always there for you

Today is International Nurses’ Day celebrated throughout the world to mark the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale. She was born in Italy. Rightly called “The Lady with the Lamp”, she took the nursing profession to great heights and made it a powerful vocation for the service of humanity.

Nursing requires hard work to acquire special skills which vary according to the requirements of various specialities of medicine. It is obvious that these skills would cover antenatal, neonatal and postnatal problems of mothers and their children on the one end of the spectrum. Organ transplant, heart surgery, lung surgery, neuro-surgery, orthopaedics, dermatology, VD and a plethora of other specialities call for specialised nursing skills, extending to community health care and occupational health services, which touch the other end of the spectrum.

Nursing, indeed, is a key component in the delivery of health services. It is, in fact, concerned with each period of the life cycle from conception to death. Nurses have a special responsibility to give an unhurried, sympathetic and helpful consideration to the child, the old and mentally sick in particular. Psychiatric nursing requires the role of both a therapist and a friend for effective and efficient care, keeping in mind the concept of “each individual having intrinsic worth and dignity”.

It needs to be understood that practice is the absolute primary function of the nursing profession. It simply means direct care of the patients and does not necessarily include administration and teaching. The latter are secondary functions which are, of course, required for good patient care. No wonder, a holistic approach has to be worked out to meet the growing challenges of the proliferating medical specialisations in the ever-expanding frontiers of scientific knowledge and modern technology.

No doubt, there is a lot to celebrate the great work done in the past in the field of nursing, but the discipline needs bolder initiatives so that the nursing sisters may perform their multi-faceted role with determination, dedication, commitment and imagination. Such a mental make-up acquired by the nurse through professional education and training will help her to approximate to this year’s theme, “The Nurse — always there for you”, chosen by the International Council of Nurses to celebrate the birthday of Florence Nightingale.


Neglecting ex-servicemen

“During a war, God and the soldier are worshipped. When the war is over, God is forgotten and the soldier slighted”.

Never since Independence has this been more apparent than today. The welfare of the ex-serviceman has been totally neglected in our country. The two most recent glaring examples are the non-existence of any medical cover for him, and the non-payment of his revised pension dues.

It is ironic that whereas all Central Government servants continue to enjoy full medical cover even after retirement, the ex-serviceman is not entitled to any medical cover, even in military hospitals, as his right, but only as an obligation and favour, and that too provided there is a spare bed available for him.

Again, based on the Fifth Pay Commission’s recommendations, whereas all Central Government servants have already received their revised pension dues, there are lakhs of cases of ex-servicemen whose pensions have not still been revised, although many of them have since died.

If one expected that after Kargil, the shortage of officers, which then stood at 12,500, would be drastically reduced due to patriotic zeal to join the Army, ironically today that shortage has risen to 15,000. One of the major reasons for this is that today the soldier leaves the Army with a feeling of great dispondency and uncertainty due to these vital elements missing in his retired life, leaving him to fend for himself when he hangs up his uniform.

Brig N.B. GRANT (retd)

Punjabi language

Dr Amrik Singh in his article “Punjabi not getting its due at university” (April 24) has arrived at this conclusion on the basis of denial of fellowships to certain persons long ago. I differ with him. In fact, Punjabi University, Patiala, has done a lot for the development of the Punjabi language.

The university has published more than 1800 titles in Punjabi covering Punjabi literature, culture, folk songs, Punjab’s history, Sikh studies, art, religion and music. The largest treasure of books in Punjabi has emanated from Punjabi University.

It has organised a number of seminars and conferences on the campus attended by national and international celebrities. The university recently established the Institute of Punjabi Language and Sikh Studies in Los Angeles (USA).


Exploiting sea water

Necessity is the mother of inventions. Necessity has arisen in the form of drought. Invention should follow to combat the scarcity of water.

Here is an idea wanting to be exploited — filteration and transporting of the sea water, available in abundance, to the areas where it is most needed. Filteration and making the sea water fit for drinking should be no problem. Transporting it to far-flung places may pose a problem, but surely not unsurmountable. If oil can be carried through the pipelines over thousands of miles why not water?

Having floated the idea, I hand over the field to the experts to put their heads together to check the feasibility of the proposal and take it as a challenge, nay as a mission, to provide water to the thirsty men and animals, for all times to come.

Wg Cdr C.L. SEHGAL (retd)

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