Wednesday, August 16, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



How Army treats its heroes

THIS is with reference to Maj-Gen Kuldip Singh Bajwa’s write-up published in The Tribune on July 23.

I fully agree with General Bajwa that the Army is finding it difficult to attract suitable manpower into its ranks. Now the question is why it is so . There must be many reasons behind this, but one of them and most important is that no instant defence is provided to the families of those defence personnel who die while defending their country or die while in the performance of other bona fide military duties.

Should the authorities not take immediately action and grant adequate financial assistance and a suitable job to the families of such defence personnel? This should be done immediately, but this is not the situation today. My views are based on my personal experience.

My only son, Capt Davinder Pal Singh, Army No. DS-11930 F, died on 25.12.1999 in the operational area of Operation Vijay while in the performance of his bona fide military duty and his death has been attributed to the military duty as per the court of enquiry conducted by the Army authorities. He was cremated with full military honours on 27.12.1999 at Mohali.


A period of more than seven months has passed but neither the ex-gratia grant nor the special family pension has so far been granted to his widow. Neither has any job been offered to her though she is a first class BDS degree-holder and there are provisions for providing suitable jobs to such widows on compassionate grounds. Should the Army authorities not grant such relief to immediately to her ?

The Government of Punjab also notified that the families of all those defence personnel belonging to Punjab who die (i) in a specific Operational area (which includes the operational area of Op-Vijay) after 1.1.1999 while in the performance of military duty or due to certain reasons which included an accident will be granted the following benefits:

(i) A suitable job on compassionate grounds, (ii) Rs 2 lakh as ex-gratia grant, and (iii) A plot of land or Rs 5 lakh in lieu of that.

Since all the grounds notified by the Punjab Government are covered in the case of my son, we represented to the authorities concerned of Punjab for the grant of these benefits. But what to say of granting any of these reliefs, none of our representations has been responded to so far.

Is this justice? Is this the reward for which our young men sacrifice their lives in defence of their motherland?


“Lala” is “Pundit”

“Lala” is “Pundit” was the headline of news item carried in The Tribune several decades ago. “Lalaji” was the pet or nickname of Amar Nath, which in the course of time changed to “Lala”, it said. Otherwise, he belonged to a Brahmin family, and this stuck to him and this he liked.

He used to come to me in the early 1950s when I was a Superintendent in the Finance Department, Patiala & East Punjab States Union. He had some work, which I am unable to recall now. Ultimately, he became friendly.

His introduction to me recalled the unsavory incident of 1936 England tour. I was in the office of the Prime Minister, Patiala, in those days. We had a separate file which dealt with the matters conducted with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

For reasons of his own the India Captain, Maharaj Kumar of Vizyanagram, decided to change the batting order and sent L. Amar Nath as the eleventh man. It so happened that the 10th man, who took the first ball when Lala was on the crease was out and that was the end of game. Amar Nath lost his cool. When he returned to the pavilion, he threw his gloves and in rage uttered filthy, unprintable words. The matter was reported to the Maharaja and the Prime Minister and it was decided that Amar Nath should be sent back to India. He was debarred to play for India for many years.


Restructuring PSUs

The article “Disinvestment or distress sale: a case for restructuring PSUs” in The Tribune dated July 31 was very realistic and timely. On the one hand the PSUs are not being allowed to function independently with all sorts of strings attached. On the other, they are being blamed for all the accumulated ills having crept into the PSU system.

The present political-bureaucratic leadership ought to seriously ponder over this question: does all the blame lie on PSU employees only? Are they being provided competent leadership? Professor Dogra, the author of the article, has rightly pointed out that professionals from IITs and IIMs instead of IAS officers, should be made to head the PSUs.

The very basics are not being adhered to. The powers to punish the guilty and reward the good ones are just not there. All the transfers are politically motivated, having little concern with the experience, capability or capacity to perform.

The present set-up has been continuing for the last almost 30 years. Let us not play in the hands of multinationals or unscrupulous nationals who have vested interests. Let us at least give five years’ try by taking the following measures:

Allowing professionals to head and handle the PSUs. Allowing the PSU managements to rationalise the power tariff structure/product rates; allowing decentralisation of the powers to the levels these existed 15-20 years back; allowing a free hand at the level of executing agencies to take on the spot decisions. Of course, transparency has to exist with necessary checks and counter-checks.



Name two persons who can be called the “Unconquered Himalayas”.

Answer: Prabhakaran and Veerappan !



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