Wednesday, August 2, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Army uniform: who will stem the rot?

IN response to my article, “Why this insult to uniform?” In The Tribune (July 5), an Army commander has given me to understand that point of wearing army uniform by private security guards was taken up by him at civil and military liaison conferences. Apart from this, he had approached the Chief Minister concerned personally on the misuse of military uniform. This was followed up by reporting a few cases to the civil administration. As a result, firm assurances, he says, were given to the Army that this wrong practice would be stopped.

Another welcome reaction to the article under discussion has come from Mr G.S. Aujla, Inspector-General of Police (Zonal), Jalandhar. That Mr Aujla was the prime mover for curbing this wrong practice, as it appears from his letter (The Tribune, July 10), needs to be appreciated. But his statement raises more questions than it answers.

The civil and military liaison conferences are held at command headquarters annually and are attended, among others, by the Chief Secretaries/Home Secretaries and Directors-General of Police of the states which fall within the territorial jurisdiction of a command.


The following questions flow from this issue: One, what action was taken on the minutes of the conferences held at Headquarters, Western Command (in this case), during the past few years? Two, what action was taken to stop the wrong use of the army uniform after a former Army Commander of this command brought this point to the notice of the Chief Minister? Three, Mr Aujla says that the misuse of the army uniform was brought to his notice by the ‘Station Commander, Jalandhar, in April, 2000. Isn’t it the duty of the police to stop such wrong practices on its own without anyone reporting on the subject?

It has become a common practice for the security guards of not only big hotels and restaurants in all cities to wear the Army uniform but the disease has also spread to most big shops selling goods like cloth and shoes. Chandigarh’s Sector 17 shopping centre gives an ample proof of this. Has the police to be informed by some Army authority that this offence is being committed right under its nose?

This practice involves a security risk because the security guards can misuse the uniforms when they want to pose as Armymen.

Since the Army has no powers to stop this shoddy practice, the police must put an end to it as part of its duty without waiting for anyone to report about it.

Despite Mr Aujla’s objection to what this writer has stated in his article of July 5 about the Army, he (this writer) would like to reiterate what he has stated therein for better effect in this context: “If the status of the Army has fallen and the military uniform has lost its shine and respect, the blame for this should squarely lie on the Army hierarchy”.

Admittedly, when all other organisations fail to fill the bill, it is the Army that is brought to the fore to uphold the integrity of the country. It has been proved beyond doubt repeatedly that the Army is the last resort in the hands of the government of overcome a difficult situation.

In order to live up to its well-earned reputation, the Army must ensure that its status does not fall and its uniform is respected and not degraded. To do this, the Army hierarchy must dig in its heels and stand firm on a right point to call a spade a spade without any hesitation.

In the instant case, if the wrong use of the uniform does not stop, the matter should be taken up by the Army Chief with the Defence Minister and later, if need be, with the Prime Minister.

Incidentally, the President of India, being the Supreme Commander, can also be apprised of certain cases by the Service Chiefs in the interest of the armed forces of country.


Overcoming life’s stresses

Apropos of Mr K. Rajbir Deswal’s article, “Why is life less stressful in India” (July 11), it is indeed gladdening to learn that The Tribune has published such a thought-provoking piece. No doubt, the Western way of life has all that is available in the name of comforts and luxuries, but, truly, Indians have a very high threshold of tolerance of pain and agony, and resultantly the level of achieved happiness or contentedness is comparable.

The writer has given beautiful instances of “street fights, gossip sessions, shave at a barber’s saloon” as occasions facilitating catharsis, a situation that not only gives pleasure but is purgative also so far as finding outlets to human emotions is concerned.

It goes without saying that beliefs, faiths and religions do afford a remedial platform to persons undergoing stress, and in a society where the believers outnumber their anti thesis, at least psychologically it is of much relief.

(Dr) A. K. VOHRA,
Professor & Head, Deptt of Psychiatry,
Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences

Centre & states: basic issue

In his article “Centre and the states: the malaise weakening India” (July 26), Dr Bhim S. Dahiya has rightly pinpointed where the shoe pinches. The basic question is not in terms of “State autonomy to be or not to be”. Rather it is the question of introspection.We are in the need of an approach oriented towards the factors which have brought us to this situation.

It is as sure as the day that “united we stand, disunited we fall”.

The example of the USSR should serve as a deterrent to those who clamour for more power for the states. It is high time we took cognizance of the changing political, social and economic scenario of our country. The remedies suggested by the writer with the potentiality of strengthening the centripetal forces are really the need of the hour.

The reservation, a double-edged weapon is to be handled very cautiously. In the euphoria of the welfare of the maximum, we have already compromised much with quality.

Now the reservation has become nearly a plaything in the hands of politicians. Instead of promoting any welfare concept, it is creating more imbalances in society.

I would like to add further that the enlightened and the elite who are free from any bias, instead of drawing themselves into the cocoons of passive thinking, must come out and take the reins of the country into their hands. The public, on its part, should also be more alert and, instead of choosing the less worse out of the worst candidates, should boycott the election if it does not find any candidate worth voting. The candidates who encourage communalism, casteism and regionalism, with an eye on their vote bank, must be voted out.

In fact, the voters are caught in a dilemma when there is no right candidate for them to vote for. We are facing a vacuum in leadership. The quoted lines,“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity”, are quite illustrative. Passion bridled by no ideology very often leads to fanaticism.


Indians in Pak jails

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India has directed the Ministries of Home and External Affairs to take the necessary action for the deportation of the foreign nationals, including Pakistanis, detained in Amritsar jail as their continued detention was violative of human rights (The Tribune, July 24).

Many innocent Indians, including defence personnel, have been languishing in Pakistani jails under harrowing conditions for years as has often been reported in the Press. It is a pity that we have not made enough efforts to secure their release. This is an abdication of the responsibility towards our citizens, and has caused untold anguish, suffering and uncertainty for the prisoners’ families in India.

We hope the NHRC of India has also approached its counterpart in Pakistan to direct the government there for the release of the Indian nationals lodged in Pakistani jails. The matter may have been taken up with the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan during her recent visit of India.

Wing Cdr S. C. KAPOOR (retd)

Amazing use of English

Can the readers of The Tribune imagine that a word in the English language can be used in a sentence as many as five times consecutively? Amazing! Isn’t it? Yes, of course. Now please read on.

I quote here two sentences which are based on two letters published in a popular weekly during the time when Pt Jawaharlal Nehru was our Prime Minister. The first sentence uses the word “and” five times consecutively as under.

In a certain issue of the weekly the headline on the front page appeared as “Nehru and Menon”. Referring to it, a reader wrote the following sentence in his letter addressed to the Editor:

“The space between ‘Nehru’ and ‘and’ and ‘and’ and Menon was very small.”

Not to be left behind, yet another reader used the word “that” five times. According to him, a certain student had wrongly used the word “that” in a sentence in his essay. Referring to the sentence, the reader quoted the teacher’s following remark in his letter addressed to the Editor:

“The teacher said that that “that” that that student wrote in the sixth line of his essay was wrong.”



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