Thursday, September 14, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Height of sycophancy

THE Tribune of August 31 carried a photo of some Congress supporters shouting slogans while holding on to the posters of the party president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, and her daughter, apparently issued by Mr Subhash Gupta, additional spokesman of the Indian Youth Congress, to celebrate the birth of a son to Priyanka in New Delhi.

A poster read: “Sonia Gandhi bani hai naani aur ham baney hain maama” (Sonia Gandhi has become maternal grandmother and we have become maternal uncles.)

Before Partition, Nawab Sir Omar Hayat Khan Tiwana of Punjab, who was a cringing flatterer of the British Raj, took pride in being called “maama” of the “sarkaar”. Now some Congress supporters have described themselves as “maamas” of Priyanka’s son to ingratiate themselves with Mrs Sonia Gandhi. Is not it the height of sycophancy?

Last year, when Mrs Sonia Gandhi put in her papers as Congress president on the issue of her foreign origin raised by some party leaders, the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee put up a hoarding on the roundabout near the AICC office (Photo published in The Tribune of May 24, 1999). The lines below her picture read: “Sonia nahin ye aandhi hai/ ye doosri Indira Gandhi hai.”


Apparently, the person who constructed this doggerel, used the ludicrous simile of “aandhi” (dust storm) because it rhymed with Gandhi, forgetting in his zeal to display sycophantish behaviour that it was derogatory and not honorific. In Punjab, a fast-paced brawling boisterous woman is satirically called “haneri” — “aandhi”.

In 1998, AICC president Sitaram Kesri projected Mrs Sonia Gandhi as the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate. Former plain-spoken Union Finance Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, however, quipped that it was not a beauty contest that the Prime Minister would have to be selected first when there were so many able leaders within the party to hold that post.

More than two decades ago, then AICC president D.K. Barooah indulged in cringing flattery when he said: “Indira is India”. The remark earned him the sobriquet of Mrs Indira Gandhi’s “Durbaari Maskharah” (court jester).


Indian problems & the West

This refers to Mr M.S.N. Menon’s article “West has no answer to our problems” (The Tribune, August 25). The setup of democracy that we have in India has very few virtues and many vices. There have been unstable governments in recent years in our country. This has led to repeated elections after a gap of one year or two. Thus putting a huge financial burden on this poor and developing country.

Political groups having very little difference in ideology to the existing ones are coming up with mushrooming growth. A small group of people — with a vague ideology and limited following — floats a political organisation.

Coalition governments, as such, have come to stay in this country — more out of compulsion than choice. The Election Commission must go through the points of ideology of a political party before registering it. If a political party fails to secure a minimum of 5 per cent the seats in a state legislature or Parliament, it should be derecognised and its registration withdrawn forthwith. Participation in the political process for forming a government is not a plaything.

The democratic setup has given us caste-and-class-based reservations in admissions to educational institutions and jobs. These are continuing even after attaining Independence over half a century ago. Instead of rooting out the caste system, these reservations have the opposite effect. To undo this adverse effect, caste-and-tribe-based reservations need to be abolished.

Reservations ought to be based on economic backwardness. At present, these have acquired menacing proportions — proving counter-productive — widening the caste void. Instead of giving twists and turns to the policy of reservations and drawing political mileage in the polls, well-meaning political leaders ought to put their heads together and devise a policy on reservations suitable for the nation.

Bijhari (Hamirpur)

Teaching days at universities

This has reference to the article in The Tribune dated 27.8.2000 under the heading “State of higher education-V”. It has been stated that “none of the universities in the region — in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh — or any of the colleges affiliated to these universities come anywhere near following the 180-teaching days. In certain cases, it is as low as 55 to 60 teaching days in an academic year.”

In this regard it is stated that the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala, was declared a Deemed University in December, 1985, under Section 3 of the UGC Act. This institute has been following UGC guidelines in terms of the minimum of 180 teaching days for the last two years. After the receipt of the guidelines issued by the UGC in 1998, the institute changed its academic calendar and provided the minimum of 180 teaching days (90 teaching days per semester).

In order to implement the guidelines issued by the UGC in letter and in spirit, the institute, which was following the Punjab Government pattern of observing holidays, reduced its holidays from 26 to 16. Similarly, the summer and winter vacations were also curtailed to six weeks and two weeks, respectively, so as to provide 180 actual days for teaching. Even the examinations days provided in the academic calendar are exclusive of the teaching days.

Registrar, Thapar Institute of
Engineering & Technology


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