Tuesday, September 26, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Defence: unanswered questions 

A RUSSIAN nuclear submarine recently went down the sea with no survivors. The Defence Minister and the naval chief of the country resigned, owning up the moral responsibility. Compare this with our own Kargil fiasco.

The Pakistan Army surprised the Indian nation and the Army by occupying our territory by complete stealth. About 500 lives had to be sacrificed to evict the enemy. No heads rolled. No General stood up to own the acts of omission and commission of his command. Everyone passed on the blame. The Generals and the Air Marshals cornered all the glory and decorations.

There are certain questions which come to my mind:

  • The Chief of Army Staff was visiting a foreign country even though intrusions had been known to him before he left the country. He had to rush back. Why did he leave the country?
  • The Army Commander, Northern Command, was on casual leave in Pune during the most crucial period of decision-making. Later on he gave the alibi that he went to have consultations with his predecessor. Where were his senior staff officers and field commanders? Did he have no faith in them? Could he not use the latest communication facilities to consult?
  • During peace time there are many ways through which a commander knows and has a feel of his command. Why did the GoC, 3 Infantry Division and 15 Corps, fail to know the actual activities of the Kargil Brigade? They must have visited him any number of times.
  • Every General must have known that the Kargil ammunition dump was within enemy artillery range. What did they do to ensure its safety? Why was it not shifted to a safe place? Some General should have paid for this great omission.
  • As many as 55 Mig-21s have crashed during the past three years. No Defence Minister and no Air Marshal has shown any concern by owning the responsibility. Why?

If the Generals and the Air Marshals have to gain the confidence of the rank and file, then they will have to be Thimayyas.

Brig K. S. KANG (retd)


Pleasing a bandit

It is most distressing that two Chief Ministers are bending over their backs to please a bandit, and are seriously negotiating with him political issues!

There seems to be considerable disinformation to mislead the public into thinking that the bandit has a huge popular base, represents regional pride, is a sort of Robinhood, whose compassion is not allowed to find proper expression owing to outdated laws and a cruel society.

In popular perception, the reality is different. The bandit can be described as the CEO of a big unincorporated enterprise of which several politicians, bureaucrats, policemen and forest guards are shareholders, getting a dividend from his rich body. How on earth can bulky sandalwood and elephant tusks be transported without cooperation and help of such silent beneficiaries?

The difficulties of terrain, etc, portrayed in making him appear unapproachable are bunkum. A journalist is able to reach him at will, but a mighty State cannot! He is known to visit several towns and cities freely while the authorities turn a Nelson’s eye, keeping in view the clout of the outlaw with those who wield the levers of power. Once, when caught some years ago, he conveniently managed to escape from jail.

The Robinhood comparison can be judged from the photo shown by a Kannada weekly, Taranga (which ran a well-documented series on him some time ago), of a tree on which he used to hang his victims, feet up and reportedly chop them to pieces part by part.

It is apparent that the huge amount spent so far on a special task force, etc, is really an attempt to see that he is allowed to remain free, lest if caught he should sing, and the names of his political and other beneficiaries become public knowledge.

Kudos to the courage of the father of the policeman who fell victim to the bandit. The law of the land, which is mocked at not only by the bandit but also ignored by elected representatives, has asserted itself over the law of the jungle. The Supreme Court has truly restored the majesty of the Constitution in a land where law-abiding citizens pay taxes to protect law-breakers and their cohorts.




Spy planes deal

India is interested in buying two Phalcon spy planes from Israel for $250 million, and the two sides are discussing the deal for several months now. But Israeli officials are afraid that the deal, as with China earlier, could come under attack from the USA.

Such a deal could also lead to Sino-Israeli tensions. Earlier, Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy denied any pressure from Washington against weapons sales to India, saying this kind of cooperation between “two stable and democratic countries should only be endorsed”.

Israeli Defence Ministry sources had also said that there was no official word from the USA on the Phalcon deal or on the planned sales of ground radar systems to India.

(Prof) Attar Chand



Doctors at nursing homes

I READ with concern a write-up on untrained paramedics in Haryana hospitals. I would like to point out that this malaise is not confined to Haryana hospitals. It is prevalent throughout India.

Mostly nursing homes employ fresh medical graduates to man wards, operation theatres and even the ICU. Most of these fresh doctors are GAMS/BAMS who are not properly trained in handling emergencies. They are preferred by hospital owners because they are paid less salaries.

In almost all hospitals serious emergencies are handled at night by these Ayurvedic graduates. These doctors don’t understand the gravity of the situation and are overconfident. Senior and junior consultants are usually consulted on the telephone only. On the expiry of a patient these junior doctors declare death, and helpless relatives have no option but to carry the body without any comfortable answer. This happened recently with the father of my friend in a reputed private hospital in Jalandhar who is himself a doctor.

This is too shocking to digest. I think some moral code of conduct should be evolved by doctors running these hospitals so that people don’t lose their near and dear ones without the satisfaction that they were treated by efficient hands and they died a natural death.



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