Monday, June 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



The elite and military

The current crisis in Fiji is symptomatic of the general indifference among Indians everywhere to the defence forces. The defence forces in Fiji are mainly comprised of ethnic Fijians, and that is why the disgruntled Fijians have the upper hand with the help of the gun if they lose in the battle of the ballot. If Indians had joined the forces. Such a crisis would not have occurred, as a balance would be there.

In Africa, they say jokingly in hockey, "Don't fear if a corner is conceded to the Indian team, for they will put a shop around it". I would like to clarify here that I am not criticising the tendency for commerce, but only stating that a balance is required and for this we have to examine our cultural moorings.

Even in our country, defence analysts have decried the tendency among the elite to restrict their emotional outpourings to only wars and offering of compensation. One has to go beyond this and encourage bright children from the elite section also to endeavour for joining the uniformed forces. 


The officers cadre in police services is attractive for the elite. It would be pertinent to state here that in the USA motivation for the forces is induced institutionally by the office of the President itself through genuine warmth. Motivation can never be purely financial, though finance is important. The spirit has also to be fed.

At a recent get-together of retired "faujis", one gentleman remarked: “At Lahore, five lakh young men took the oath for revenge with regard to Kashmir. In India, even five young men did not respond.”

Life is a curious mix of contradictions. The balance in any culture lies in giving each area its due importance and respect. We must understand this concept.

We must endeavour to become a powerful nation both economically and militarily. The world respects power. China has consciously become a power and the world listens to it.


Primary concern

Please refer to your recent editorial “Primary concern” . You have attempted to paint a rosy picture about the venture of the Haryana government to hand over primary education to village panchayats. To you the only grey area seems to be the “petty rivalries existing in several villages” whereas there are more ills than wills.

There are many questions crying for suitable answers. First of all, the mode of handing over will matter. If hire and fire of teachers is assigned to panchayats, it would be a disaster. In case the curriculum is allowed to vary from school to school, it would again be disastrous. If admissions and examinations in primary schools are controlled by panchayats, the “petty rivalries” would rule the roost. If disciplinary powers are vested in panchayats, the primary school teachers are likely to take more interest in village politics than teaching work.

Coming to the panchayat side, we cannot shut our eyes to the brutal fact that 33 per cent of our sarpanches and panches are in veils and their powers are normally exercised by their male relatives. The threat of de facto sarpanches to the authority of de juro sarpanches is an alarming problem in Haryana. What would we expect from inside the veils or from extra jurisdictional power centres in panchayats? We have not been able to remove male dominance of petticot panchayats and this factor would further aggravate the tottering plight of primary education.

The position of elected government and elected panchayats is not similar. There is an army of bureaucrats and other secretarial staff, including experts to help politicians to run the government. There is no secretarial assistance with panchayats to help them run the primary schools. An illiterate politician can transact the government business with the help of the educated flock attached to him or her. But how would the illiterate sarpanches and panches transact the school-running business in the absence of expert advice? And if the expert force now working in the education department is placed at the disposal of panchayats, then why do we go for a futile exercise because the education department is already there to look after primary schools? if the present caretakers of primary education are inefficient they cannot become Tenzing when attached to panchayats. Also, the State government cannot fire all existing administrative staff and let panchayats hire afresh. Such an attempt may prove a social upheaval of sorts.

Universities and colleges are already bedevilled by politics and handing over of primary schools to panchayats would leave the tiny-tots in the murky waters of village politics without knowing how to swim out.

Your editorial suggests that it would be a good idea if certain social organisations come forward to extend a helping hand in whatever way they can. To me it seems that involvement of social organisations in the business of running primary education would be a tacit trap leading to privatisation of primary education. The poor have already been left behind in the storm of privatisation in the arena of higher education. The same impact would bubble up if primary education is made private.

Khanpur-Kalan (Sonepat)

Unfair to students

We are pained to read the editorial "Students go berserk" which appeared in The Tribune of June 2. Over the years The Tribune has served the people of the region dispassionately and with a great responsibility. The paper should have ascertained full facts about the looting of liquor shops.

Not one liquor shop but three liquor thekas at Boileauganj, Mashobra and Kasumpati were looted. In fact, there is a deep conspiracy to defame the law and order machinery and the university. There are agents' provocateur who have been at work. Further, to defame the students' community alone is unjustified, the shopkeepers first beat up the students. This fact has been completely ignored by the paper.

The university, in fact, over a year and half has made significant strides to restore its academic rhythm. It was the elections that have from time to time caused violence, and there is yet to emerge any all-India and even regional consensus on students union elections. Not even the different sections of the students are unanimous on the issue. For academic decay, a part of the blame will have to be shared by the media, which have been giving disproportionate significance to politically motivated statements of all sorts.


Welcome feature

The news feature, "Of life sublime" along with "Spiritual nuggets" adds another bright feather to The Tribune's colourful cap.

The feature in question is exceedingly welcome as it helps meet a felt need of countless readers of The Tribune.

After all, man does not live by bread alone. He needs food as much for his mind and soul as for his body.

Ambota (Una)

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