Monday, November 20, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



The charm of Chandigarh

DURING my long association of almost 40 years with the Indian Navy, I had great craze to see the composite culture of Chandigarh, often called the city of dignity and destiny. But the railway route to my home-town in Hamirpur was away from the course that could have passed through the charm of the capital of Punjab and Haryana.

However, when I am in the evening of my life, my naughty nephew, Rajinder Rana, practically kidnapped me from my house in his car and carried to his kothi in Chandigarh, to my long-desired destination.

What I saw during my short stay there surprised me. The city is full of wonders with everyone so disciplined in his day-to-day life. The people of all shades of life from all corners of the country live and look for a fabulous future. The roads that run through the various sectors are splendidly shaped and have glitter and grace making everyone proud of the man who designed this beautiful city.

The traffic police is seen on all corners to control the moving cars with the occupants with body belts to protect them from serious injuries should any mishap take place.


What charmed me most is the composite culture of this great city to which people from various states have made a mini India. The contributions made by the people of the soldiers’ state of Himachal settled here are marvellous in many ways. They have given to this town the best of engineers, lawyers, property dealers, doctors and journalists.

At Panchkula, I met an old colleague of mine, Mr M.S. Kanwar, a retired Naval Captain, whose complaint was that most of the Army officers were unaware of the rank of Naval Captain whose status is of full Colonel in the Army. There are two common cases I found. One was that most of the people preferred Nepali boys as their domestic servants, and they appeared to be smarter than their masters. Secondly, the people prefer The Tribune as their dearest daily.

Away from the hills of Himachal for three days, I prepared myself for the return journey but my nephew urged me to spend some more days with him to see the rest of the city. I was about to surrender to his wish when suddenly I was reminded of an Urdu verse written by a great 19th century poet, Zauq. The poet’s friends in the Deccan area asked him to come there as his verses would receive great appreciation from the people. The poet had replied:

In dino garcheh Deccan mein hai badi qadre sukhan,

Kaon jaaye Zauq par Dilli ki galiyan chhor kar

The villages are better than the crowded cities. Through Chandigarh is full of facilities, the climate in the villages is better. My nephew saw me off at the bus stand with a heavy heart and himself drove to the queen of hills, Shimla, to enjoy the cold climate. Let us salute the man who designed this great disciplined city, carrying charm and cheerfulness on the face of the people living there.

Jalari-Hamirpur (HP)


Freedom of Information Bill

The Freedom of Information Bill 2000 was introduced in Parliament on July 24. However, it could not be pushed through due to lack of resolute will to do so.

It is essential that government policies and programmes are made transparent and the people are able to exercise their right to information. Accountability on the part of those who matter may be obligatory so that people may ask and seek clarifications on certain matters.

The Bill should contain a clause that there would be an independent forum to file an appeal against refusal of certain information. It should also define certain penalties to be imposed, where the information is withheld without cogent, convincing and lawful reasons.

New Delhi


The dead count

THE American drama entitled “Who nit” now drawing packed houses all over the globe has generated a lot of side humour. Perhaps, more humorous is the Senate election in Missouri in the same country where a dead man was declared elected! In this context, readers of The Tribune might find the following poem of great contemporary relevance. It was penned by no less a person than President Jimmy Carter, 1976-1980:

Dead Voter

As a legislator in my state

I drew up my first law to say

that citizens could never vote again

after they had passed away.

My fellow members faced the troubling issue

bravely, locked in hard debate whether,

after someone’s death had come,

three years should be adequate

to let the family, recollecting him

determine how a loved one may

have cast a vote if he had only lived

to see the later voting day.

My own neighbours warned me I had gone

too far in changing what we’d always done.

I lost the next campaign, and failed to carry

a single precinct with a cemetery.

(Always a Reckoning and other poems by President Jimmy Carter).

S.A.S. Nagar

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