The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, June 4, 2000

The tale of two Punjabs

SULTAN SHAHIN in the article "The two Punjabs A study in contract" (May 14) lambasted Pakistani Punjab. There is no contrast between India and Pakistan. We are only a little ahead of Pakistan in certain areas. None can boast that we are head and shoulders above our neighbour.

The writer holds that Indian Punjab with 58.5 per cent literacy "has recorded one of the highest literacy rates in India". However, it is a matter of shame that even in much smaller countries such as Sri Lanka, Maldives, Laos, Myanmar literacy was reported by the media in 1995 at 89.1, 92.00, 83.9 and 81.5 per cent as against India’s 52.11 per cent in the 1991 census.

According to the Institute of Psychological and Educational Research (IPER) India has child labourers, the highest in any Asian country 73 million. Pakistan accounts for eight million, Nepal 5.7 million, China 5 million, Bangladesh 2.8 million, Indonesia 2.4 million, Thailand 1.1 million and Sri Lanka 5 lakh. IPER statistics show India lagging behind other countries of the region with an infant mortality rate of 2 million among 25 million children born every year.

An estimated 30 per cent of all infants in the country are underweight and the situation has not changed since 1979. Around 60,000 children become blind every year due to Vitamin A deficiency while 43.8 per cent suffer from protein energy malnutrition. About 19 to 24 million children in the age group of 6-14 years remain illiterate, provision for free and compulsory education upto 14 years of age in the constitution (Article 45) notwithstanding. 40 per cent girls don’t attend a school.

A recent UNICEF study estimates the number of undernourished Indian children below five at over 75 million. India’s malnutrition rate of 6.3 per cent among such children is more than double the average for even sub-Saharan Africa. For every 1000 live births in India, 109 children die because of malnutrition. Why then cry for the children’s plight in Pakistan? Why not look to our own home?

  Crimes against women are rising by the day. Healthcare is non-existant. Over 104 million people are suffering from major diseases like malaria, Leprosy and TB. Fifty million deaths are caused by water-borne diseases in this country followed by filariasis (18 million), TB (12.7 million), gastroenteritis (9.2 million), goitre (8.8 million), leprosy (2.8 million), malaria (2.1 million) and AIDS (one million), according to the Voluntary Health Association of India sources.

The writer decries that in Pakistani women are married before they are 20. How about Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where mass child marriages (below 15) are held routinely? Man-woman ratio has dwindled from 946 in 1951 to 929 in 1991 (census figures). In 40 years literacy level has increased from 18.33 per cent (1951) to 52.11 in 1991 — an increase of less than one per cent per annum. 40 per cent people live below the poverty line, and another 20-25 per cent around the poverty line. Women are sold in Gurdaspur area of Indian Punjab. Wives are sold in Orissa. One hears of child prostitution in this country. India is the highest indebted country in the world. We have a flood here, a famine there in this country.



The writer provides us a curious look across the other side of the fence and some of us may find a consolation in the fact that pastures are not green over there.

It should not however come as a great cheering news for those of us who had our roots in Pakistan Punjab and migrated to Indian Punjab after Partition in 1947. Partition might have wiped out the physical contact between the people but the emotional link still survives. It is the anxiety about each other’s welfare that has resulted in the undertaking of a laborious exercise of compare and contrast’ by Sultan Shahin through this article — full of figures and dates’. We in Indian Punjab sincerely wish and pray that we could share our prosperity with our brothers and sisters in Pakistan Punjab.


Real love

This is with reference to Taru Bahl’s article "Romantic v/s real love" (May 14). Fairytale love stories often perpetrate the illusion that true love lasts forever.

Real love can bloom well and last forever in marriage only when each partner accepts the individuality of the other. Continual adjustment and mutual regard for each other is necessary to make marriage successful. True love does not always lead to a happy married life.

Honesty and openness are the very foundations of a loving relationship. Love brings about a complete revolution and transformation in us. There is no denying the fact that love turns illusions into reality. We become courageous when we commit ourselves to love. True love has the power to overcome all obstacles. More than anything else, real love is immortal.



True love is eternal, while romantic love is ephemeral. True love is the ability to adjust to changed circumstances and accept one’s partner in totality including all the negative points. It is true that we complete ourselves and others do not complete us. At the same time, happiness is within us and not without. When one is disgusted with one relationship and seeks another, one is bound to be disillusioned. We are born alone and we die alone. Even in a crowd one is alone. But being alone is nothing to be afraid about because many lovely hearts have won laurels. For love to be sustained, breathing space should be given to partners.



The entire article basically discusses one question: Is there anything in this world like real love? I firmly believe that it exists, deeply embedded in human hearts. True love also starts from romantic love. When men and women in the prime of their youth come to like somebody from the core of their hearts, then the real love is born. Love at first sight is real love. Every youth undergoes this experience. It is something quite natural and human to fall in love. I strongly believe that we fall in love only once. It is not possible to cultivate it twice. We may come across another more attractive and intelligent person and we may appreciate him or her but it is impossible to accept him or her as the perfect substitute for the original partner. But we can never have a perfect partner. We will have to accept him or her with all common human foibles.

Real love is a great force in human life. It can move mountains. It is selfless and pure. If there is real love between husband and wife, they can face the ups and downs of life bravely.

There has always been an undercurrent of sexual attraction between men and women. But in real love, it is not the crucial factor. Real love is much more than that. It is a constant awareness of someone whom we desire. It is a perennial and painful wait for someone who may never come back. When we are in true love, we forget ourselves. We remember just the other person without whom this world appears to be boring, barren and meaningless. To really love we need to control our egos. The sentiment of real love grows and matures only in an atmosphere of complete trust, innocence and mutual respect.

Real love is the original source of art, music and literature. William Shakespeare, John Keats, P.B. Shelley became great poets because they were in search of real love.


Sense of sharing

This refers to Taru Bahl’s article "Sharing". A spontaneous act of love (May 21, 2000). Sharing means transparency, honesty, faith, sacrificing and instantly impacts every situation and person. It implies recognising another’s needs and wants. When we teach children to share, it is not just about sharing the sweets and toys but about learning to be more considerate, caring and loving. A child who does not learn to share will grow up to be an aggressive, and greedy adult who finds it difficult to part with anything that is his. Sharing also means compromising and having a sense of sacrifice.



It’s true that sharing is a virtue that recognising another’s wants and needs. These days, however, it could affect your day to day life. Whatever you share with your colleagues, friends, relatives, they can take advantage of instead of keeping it to themselves. It causes hindrances in every human life progress, because by sharing way you tell each and everything about yourself and result is that other person take advantages of your weaknesses and you will be left behind.

Today’s environment teaches us that if you share something with somebody it will make your life hell. I wouldn’t say that sharing should be finished but if we go through the results then we realise it should be prohibited specially in adult section. Taru ji should give the consequences of sharing so that before sharing person should take precautions.


Clinton visit

This refers to the article "The Lingering Memory" by Manohar Malgonkar (April 30). It makes an enchanting reading, for it is racy and seems to be almost jumping from point to point, but in such a way that it becomes a harmonious whole. The vivid narration has been shot through with a streak of humour and this adds to its appeal. The description of the menu is almost delicious and the "baby parathas" and "baba naans" almost conjure up the said delicacies in front of our eyes, with hot and spicy steam almost wafting in front of our eyes.

The way the author has summed up how most of us will remember the charisma of the visiting president and how he himself will most probably relive its golden moments, both have been summed up in a commendable manner. Well, he has almost taken the words out of the mouth of the man in the street who reacted to his visit not as a professional critic or politician, but as an ordinary person fascinated with the visit of the most important man of the world.