Tuesday, October 24, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Kargil relief: difficult questions

THE patriotic fervour shown by our countrymen during the Kargil crisis was unparalleled. It was attributable to the remarkable role played by the media, especially TV, in bringing out the supreme sacrifices our soldiers had made. Its role in prompting the people to make generous donations for the rehabilitation of the disabled and the war widows was no less significant.

It is, however, unfortunate that the administration has not been able to handle the huge amount collected through donations with transparency. There has been a number of reports that the money had been misused, embezzled and diverted to other funds. An amount of Rs 200 crore from this donated money has been diverted to the Prime Minister’s Fund, but no clarification on this has been given by the government.

A large number of our disabled soldiers and dependants of the martyrs of the previous operations are running from pillar to post for rehabilitation. The homage to the martyrs is not to lay wreaths on their mortal remains but to give a respectable living to their wives and children.




Pension woes

THIS refers to the news in The Tribune (Oct 11) under the heading “Pensioners sore with Punjab government.” The Punjab government should immediately accept at least those demands which the Centre has already conceded.

One such demand that at least 50 per cent pension of the minimum of the revised grade of the post held at the time of retirement deserves special attention. I gave in writing during the interview with the Pay Commission that a seniormost retired Chief Engineer was getting less pension than the newly retired SDOs due to unrealistic and faulty fixation formula. Only partial correction has been done.

Even now practically all the Chief Engineers who retired before 1.1.96, the date of revision of pay scales, are getting less pensions than the new S.E.s (Superintending Engineers) who retired after 1.1.96. This is unjustified that seniors in rank and service should be given less pension than juniors.

After all, this revision of pay scales is to compensate for inflation and the price rise and certainly not because those retiring after 1.1.96 are better qualified and more efficient.

The Haryana and Himachal governments have adopted it. Why is the Punjab government lagging behind?




Senior citizens

A number of benefits/concessions such as a higher exemption limit in income tax, concession in railway fare, no registration fee for getting telephone connection and old age allowance are allowed to senior citizens at the age of 65 years. The Punjab government, too, grants old age allowance.

Keeping in view all the aforesaid factors, the 4th Punjab Pay Commission, which submitted its report pertaining to pensioners to the state government on February 20, 1998, recommended the benefit of old age allowance for the pensioners at the age of 65 and 75 years at the first and second stage, respectively. At present, this benefit is allowed to them at the age of 70 and 80 years.

However, the Badal administration is delaying the implementation, and pensioners are deeply sore over the indifferent attitude of the state government towards them.



P. D. Shastri

I have had the proud privilege of being a student of Prof P.D. Shastri at Government College for Men at Chandigarh in the mid-sixties.

Apart from being an angelic soul, he was a master of his subject. He was particularly good at teaching Shakespeare and knew more than half of his plays by rote. While teaching Shakespeare’s plays Professor Shastri used to get into the heart and soul of the dramatics personae and often appeared to be living their roles. He was extremely catholic, self-effacing and contented in life.

As one of his favourite students, my heart goes out in deep sympathy for the members of his family.



Intellectual Giant:
I had known Shastriji since the day in 1966 when my daughter joined Government College, Sector 11, as a lecturer. That very day he was stage secretary of the function of the college held in Tagore Theatre and I heard him recite Persianised Urdu verses.

He was a colossus of an intellectual, a vedic scholar, an exponent of Upanishads, a prolific and versatile writer of articles replete with knowledge, conviction, argument and expression. Hardly a fortnight passed when we did not see an article, letter or book-review by him.

Above all, he was a humanist par excellence. Whoever came in contact with him, saw in him a vision of rishis of yore with simple living and high thinking.

The readers of The Tribune will miss a great writer. His death has created an intellectual void hard to be filled.



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