Monday, October 16, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



The 1965 war: neglecting military studies

IN his illuminating article, “Row over the 1965 war”, Lieut-Gen Harwant Singh has given a blow-by-blow account of the 1965 war, and highlighted significantly our limited resources and the use of old weapons combined with incompetence of our commanders during the second phase of the war, and the depletion of the advantages gained earlier (The Tribune, October 5. A number of important issues have also been raised which need elaboration.

Military and defence studies have been neglected for long in the country. The Historical Division in the Ministry of Defence has ceased to exist. Similar is the fate of the Historical Division in the Ministry of External Affairs. O Lord, forgive our rulers, for they know not what they do. The statesmen who do not foresee the unforseeable mortgage the future of their country. At an individual level in the form of memoirs, which are reconstructions in retrospect on the basis of personal experiences their is some creditable achievement but really not enough to provide comprehensive accounts of the wars foisted on us since 1947.

Accounts of war tend to suffer from certain inherent weaknesses. Nobody was perhaps so conscious of this limitation than the Duke of Wilington who had faced Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo. The Duke acknowledged that he could not give a fiercely objective account of the battle as he was deeply involved — he was engaged in a life-and-death struggle, and was not aware of what his troops were doing around hi. He did not know his ally Prussian General Marshall Blucher’s strategy and the movement of his troops. The Duke added that he concentrated on guessing what the enemy was doing across the hills.

Despite such difficulties in the writing of military history, it is necessary that complete war records and connected documents with the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of External Affairs be made available to researchers. No government makes its records public as it never wants to tell the truth. The Nehru papers and the Krishna Menon correspondence preserved in the Nehru Museum and Library are not open for researchers despite the fact that both these honourable persons were staunch democrats who believed firmly in the freedom of thought and expression. The Brooke-Handerson report still remains a government secret.

I have no reasons to believe that the Cabinet records of the Government of India are transferred to national archives as per the rules. I doubt whether the Cabinet decisions are recorded like those of the British Cabinet which are of immense historical value. Sadly enough, the whole picture is grim, dismal and frustrating. Unless strong public opinion asserts itself, there is no remedy to eliminate such evils which vitiate our academic life and adversely affect the health of the nation.

New Delhi


Nationalism & English

Mr K.K. Khullar seems to be much prejudiced against the English language vis-a-vis education in India as one can realise after going through his article, “State of education in India: where has the country gone wrong?” (The Tribune, October 6).

It is true that India had given high priority to education in the ancient times. That is why India was accorded the status of world “guru”. It would not be an exaggeration to say that India is still retaining the potential to be regarded as a world “guru”. U.S.-based renowned orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Ranawat, who has conducted the operation on Prime Minister Vajpayee’s knee, is an Indian. Indians have excelled all over the world in every walk of life and are contributing their might for the welfare and prosperity of the country of their stay.

Of course, education in India suffered a setback during the long British regime. But it is at once unwise to blame the English language for the rot. The cause of the rot that set in our education system was English rule.

There were inadequate number of schools and colleges in India. Our English rulers never bothered to start an adequate number of educational institutions in proportion to our increasing population. English-knowing Indians think as well as their brethren speaking regional languages. There is no such thing as to “think in English and think in Hindi”. I do not agree with the author’s remarks: “The English language, which was forced down the throats of the Indians, still hangs around their patriotic necks as an albatross”.

We are an independent nation. Patriotism is the innermost feeling that is felt in the heart and flows through the veins with blood. The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was no less patriotic, though he received his education at a British university in the English language. Can anybody doubt or question his patriotism because he did not read or write Hindi?

Those who are proficient in English are not the enemies of Hindi or other regional languages. The anti-English agitation launched by Hindi zealots in the sixties had political overtones.

In his recent visit to this country, the Russian President, Mr Vladimir Putin, addressed the Indian parliament in the Russian language. His speech had to be translated into English. What did Mr Putin or anybody (who is somebody!) gain by his speech in Russian? Isn’t it narrow nationalism to judge anyone’s patriotism on the basis of the language he or she speaks?

English has acquired the status of an international language by becoming the link language. We cannot afford to ignore English for our future generations in a world making quick strides in science and technology.

Bijhari (Hamirpur)

Problems of the police

It is heartening to learn from reliable sources that the Central Government has agreed to release the requisite funds for the modernisation of the police force in Himachal Pradesh. There is no denying the fact that the modernisation of the police is overdue.

It is presumed that the authorities have already determined priority areas for action and that strengthening the sensitive police stations falls in the top priority areas. Adequately trained personnel and sophisticated weaponry apart, there is an urgent need to ensure quick mobility of the said force to effectively cope with the challenge posed by the murky situation marked by increasing turbulence.

Gagret police station (Una district), incredibly enough, is functioning at present without a motor vehicle, its sensitive location notwithstanding. The lacuna, to my mind, needs to be removed forthwith in the larger public interest.

Ambota (Una)

Prime Minister’s surgery

There was an extensive coverage of the Prime Minister’s knee surgery in the media, giving details of the surgery, the surgeon, the hospital and the post-operative management, including physiotherapy. What was not covered was the anaesthesia management, probably because of the ignorance of the media people about its importance for the whole procedure.

The skill of the surgeon is important as far as the outcome of the operation is concerned, but the skill of the anaesthesiologist is important as far as the overall safety of the patient (the Prime Minister here) is concerned.

The people of the country need to know about the anaesthesia management and the anaesthesiologist. Why regional anaesthesia was preferred over general anaesthesia should also be known to the people.


SC and JMM Bribery Case

While fully endorsing the views contained in the editorial “A long way to go” (Oct. 3), I would like to add that the ruling of the Supreme Court providing immunity to the JMM MPs who had “sold” their votes was highly controversial.

Out of five judges, two had ruled in favour of immunity under Article 105 of the Constitution and two, including Justice J.S. Anand (now the Chief Justice), were against it. In the latter’s view “Article 105 does not protect corruption and that the purpose of immunity is to protect the MP, not for his sake, but to preserve legislative independence. And that taking bribe is no part of the legislative process, neither is it a legislative act”. This is the correct view and should have prevailed.

The fifth judge (Justice G.N. Ray) who titled the balance in favour of immunity to the bribe-takers had argued that “in order to ensure effective functioning of parliamentary democracy, there was a felt need that an MP will have absolute freedom in expressing his views in the deliberations made on the floor of Parliament... he must enjoy full freedom in casting his vote”.

But he failed to follow his own judicial wisdom. Had he carefully applied his mind on the issue (of taking bribe) before him, he would have come to the conclusion that an MP who takes bribe to cast his vote in favour of the bribe giver no longer retains his independence to act with “full freedom in casting his vote” and would have certainly supported the viewpoint of Mr Justice J.S. Anand and his colleague. And then the ruling of the apex court would have been against immunity to bribe-taking MPs.

Right thinking people, who expected the Chief Justice to suo motu get the controversial ruling reviewed by a larger Bench of the Supreme Court, were thoroughly disappointed when this did not happen.




Politics in tragedy

The death of Bibi Jagir Kaur’s daughter, now being investigated by the CBI, has unfortunately made interested people indulge in dirty politics.

The Bibi’s opponents have every right to criticise her in general in normal times. But when misfortune strikes a political opponent, it would be graceful not to try to settle political scores with the bereaved.

Some had even found fault with the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for attending the cremation of the Bibi’s daughter. This is a clear case of hitting below the belt.


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
120 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |