Saturday, May 13, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Need for “impersonal loyalty”

EMPHASISING the need for “impersonal loyalty” in politics and Parliament (May 1), K.K. Khullar maintains that “a critical analysis of the history of India reveals that this country developed the concept of personal loyalty at the expense of impersonal devotion more than any other nation”. Tracing the growth of “personal loyalty”, or rather the concept that “the king was more important than the institution of kingship” over the last two thousand years, the writer has convincingly denounced that we “ignored the vision of India and concentrated on its visionaries”, so much so that “we deified Gandhi, but buried Gandhiism”.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) believed that an age is like a heap of dry sticks waiting for a spark of fire to kindle it into blazes, and adds that the fire comes from the Great Man, the Hero, who, by virtue of his great qualities of head and heart, becomes the leader of his age, and leads it to its great destiny.

  However, in these “common languid times”, when men of great qualities of head and heart and “makers of thought and civilisation” are fast becoming a rare species, politicians of doubtful character and small vision, obtuse outlook, who are strait-laced and narrow-minded in their attitude and behaviour are engaged in pushing India “crumbling down into ever worse distress towards final ruin”.

Isn’t it ironic that in just half a century since Independence “the leaders of men, those great ones, the models, patrons and in a wide sense creators of whatsoever the general mass of men contrived to do or to attain”, are now a part of history, and in their place, we have such a mushrooming crop of leaders, who create and hanker after their vote banks, rather than enriching themselves by “getting some glimpses into the very marrow of the world’s history”? Indeed, the deliberate mythmaking immediately after Independence has created a climate in India where “political flattery is a virtue, absolute flattery is absolutely a virtue”.

In “Hero and Hero-Worship”, published in 1811, Carlyle says that “The Arabs, before Mohammad was born, were an obscure race, unknown to the world outside their desert..... They were scattered..... There was no bond of common faith among them”. Notwithstanding, the Prophet, “endowed with the vision of a seer”, infused a new life among his people, and “gave them a new faith and a new culture”.

Nearer home, Gandhiji, in the words of Arnold Toynbee, was not just an Indian phenomenon. He soared above all others, Nehru and Patel included. His involvement with India was incidental to his larger involvement with Truth. “All countries”, for Gandhi, “were India”. When we look at him in this perspective, we realise that it was his universality, the transcendent quality of his life and thought, that made Gandhi a man of the millennium and the Father of our nation.

Nevertheless, in contrast, the leadership today has become synonym of power and pelf. A new class of political hangers-on has come into existence, which thrives in the twilight world of crime and lawlessness. The result is a complete breakdown of moral fibre. “Politicians in India”, writes A.K. Verma, “consider political parties to be their political damsels, which could cater to their personal interests; there is no element of ideology, policy or programme involved in the making or unmaking of political parties”. Such political parties and such leaders are irrelevant to our democracy. Flattery and sycophancy, which are “the false coins” are the “current” legal tenders everywhere. No political leader seems to remember Jonathan Swift’s sober advice that “flattery’s the food of fools”. In this age, in these “languid times”, in the words of Adlai Stevenson, “flattery hurts no one, that is, if he doesn’t inhale”.

These are strange, volatile, fluid times. The Indian political scene is in a state of flux. Political leadership is tottering and groping in dark. Old shibboleths no longer carry any weight. There is chaos, no sustained leadership, no viable political parties.


Eligibility clause

The Punjab Government, Department of Medical and Education Research Notification dated 20.4.2000 restricting eligibility for test/admission to those residents of Punjab State having passed 10+1 and 10+2 examination as regular candidates from a recognised institution in the state of Punjab, is a complete departure from the policy formulated in 1999, allowing resident candidates of Punjab to appear in the entrance test.

Though the right to admission is not a constitutional right, students have a right for consideration, if they fulfil the conditions of eligibility. Entrance test is a mode of evaluation of merit. A change in the eligibility condition should always be public interest based.

Surprisingly, a sudden change in eligibility clause introduced by the Punjab Government for the current year is of insurmountable nature. It bars Mohali based Punjab Government employees’ wards with 10+1 and 10+2 examinations from Chandigarh. Besides, a sizeable number of students at Chandigarh hailing from the state of Punjab having passed 10+1 and 10+2 classes from this city are rendered ineligible.

Chandigarh, being the capital of Punjab and headquarters of Panjab University, is academically preferred over many institutions in the state of Punjab and Haryana for higher merit in different spheres of education. The spirit to pursue studies at Chandigarh in the above manner is frustrated by the approach of the Punjab Government in the matter of entrance test for admission to M.B.B.S. course.

Furthermore, the new eligibility clause does not give equal opportunity to all the residents of Punjab and is thus against public interest. It is unjust and unfair defeating altogether the object of the entrance test to evaluate the comparative merit of admission seekers. The sports quota has also been reduced from 2 per cent to 1per cent without any rhyme or reason.


Not retrenched

This is apropos of the news item entitled “Daily wager kills family, self’ (April 27). It is mentioned in the news item that Raj Kumar Jatav was working as a daily wage employee in a polytechnic in Vidisha and was retrenched a few months ago. It is implied that Raj Kumar Jatav committed suicide because of this retrenchment.

The fact is that Raj Kumar Jatav was working as a daily wage employee in Vidisha Polytechnic till the end. He was retrenched earlier on November 5, 1999, but was re-employed on December 10, and was in employment till his unfortunate suicide.


Raise Himachal Regiment

A huge meeting of the ex-servicemen, including the veterans of World War II, held under the presidentship of the Ist World War widow Lajwanti (94) pleaded passionately that Prof P.K. Dhumal, the soldier Chief Minister’s request for raising Himachal Regiment on the pattern of Punjab be accepted by the Central Government. The veterans also demanded an increase in state quota for the recruitment in the armed forces on the basis of recruitable male population and not on the total population. Col Ranvir Singh Parihar (retd) made a strong plea that in the absence of any other alternative employment opportunity due to topographical and tempestuous conditions of the state, Himachal Pradesh deserves reconsideration for the recruitment quota. The other source of livelihood for a Himachali is agriculture that entirely depends upon the timely rain. It does not let farmer earn the basic necessity of life, roared poet Jalarivi, an educationist. As a result the youths of the state are attracted to the armed forces mainly because of the military traditions held by the age old link of the generations of the people of Kangra, Hamirpur and Una where every house had sent a member to the World Wars I and II, told a retired and longest serving Naval Officer.

I appeal to the poet Prime Minister of India to listen to the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, whose father too was decorated in World War II, and raise a Himachal Regiment. He should also name a warship INS Hamirpur or INS Kangra. Let the link go on to keep the military traditions alive in each family of the state of soldiers.

Jalari-Hamirpur (HP)


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