Monday, December 18, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



US vs Indian electoral system

EXIT polls had accurately predicted a photo finish in the US Presidential election, but nobody could have predicted that it would be “Florida-finish”.

Florida voters may have failed to punch a proper hole in the ballot papers, but they have certainly succeeded, albeit unknowingly, in punching a big hole in the US electoral system.

It is only when you come across a worse thing elsewhere that your own possession, deemed bad by you, starts looking good enough.

In comparison the Indian electoral system for sure would appear far better in many respects. Three cheers for our Election Commission and the two men behind it — Mr T.N. Seshan, the previous CEC and Mr M.S. Gill, the present one.

So far so good, but please remember, there is always room for improvement.

Wg Cdr C.L. Sehgal (retd)


Ordinary people

If democracy is about ordinary people, why no one seems to be talking about them in Punjab today?

Economically, I don’t remember we had such a bad spell and our traditional way of life been under such threat. Employment avenues are shrinking day by day. Healthcare is in such a shambles that ordinary people find it increasingly difficult to afford it. But all I read in newspapers are about politics and politicians. Life is bad as it is without having to hear about their black deeds. There are people among us who are still selflessly working day and night without expecting fame or economic rewards. Please highlight their work more. Even a sweeper who does his duty honestly is a person who deserves to be written about rather than an IAS officer who doesn’t.

Tejinder Brar
St Louis, USA

ICAR row

Apropos your editorial “Attack on Farm Science” (Nov 29) I would submit that it is one sided.

If no irregularities have been committed by the earlier Head of ICAR, then he can clear his position during the CBI enquiry.

The Union Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister, has taken a right decision, at the right time. They all deserve congratulations for this bold step. Any delay in it might have adverse effect on the already deteriorating scientific atmosphere in ICAR. Rules and regulations were ignored and arbitrary decisions were taken. Financial irregularities by those persons who occupy high positions of power is a matter of great concern for the public, specially when World Bank Money taken on loan is being used for research purposes.

Some scientists who got undue favour are shocked at this development. However, the scientists actively engaged in research work have felt relieved at this decision. Many prime institutes have abstained from passing any resolutions. It is for the CBI to find the truth. Till then, let us wait.

Suresh Kumar

We are into a new country!

The article, “Teaching bawdy verses in the name of modernity” (Education Tribune, Dec 12), reminded me of an interesting incident that happened after about a fortnight of my marriage, some 25 years ago, when we moved to Chandigarh where I had been teaching art in a local degree college. At that time my wife, who then was a fresh college graduate, was not working. On the very first day when I returned home from my college I found my wife sobbing inconsolably. It happened after she saw, for the first time, a small set of encyclopedia of world art, which contains a number of nudes in it, the sight of which made her jittery.

However, soon she learnt not only to live with it but also made art-teaching her career. No wonder my two daughters, who grew up browsing through all my books, including those containing nudes, since their childhood, never showed any prudish attitude towards such so-called ‘bawdy’ pictures.

It is simply silly to assume that while explaining any piece of literature/art, which has sensual overtunes, a teacher, and that too at the varsity/college level, would ‘blush’ and be in an embarrassed situation.

I strongly refute the writer’s statement that “one can’t teach such subjects openly to the middle class boys and girls, in their teens, unless one taints and impairs their minds with vulgar and filthy stuff”.

Perhaps it is this middle-class prudish and puritan mentality that is at the back of the writer, who seems to be gratifying himself by being both indulgent, by reproducing portions of titillating text out of context, and pretentious by posing as an idealist.



‘Faint light in the tunnel’

The olive branch held out by Prime Minister Vajpayee to the separatists in Kashmir in the form of a unilateral ceasefire declaration during the holy month of Ramadan has been widely welcomed by all right thinking people. Let us earnestly hope that the Pakistan government will react favourably after the usual initial scepticism.

As you have pointed out in your lucid analysis ‘Faint light in the tunnel’ (Dec 10) the problem faced by the Indian government is that there are one too many of the militant groups, a few reportedly suing for peace and others vehemently wanting to traverse the jehadic route with increasing ferocity (Example: Lashkar-e-Toiba). There are also a few other non-militant groups clamouring for attention. You have also drawn attention to the cryptic statement of Lord Avebury:” There are vested interests in the Valley who are determined to keep the conflict going”. What can the government do under such bedevilling circumstances?

I am reminded of the travails of a former chairman of the public sector behemoth,: The Heavy Engineering Corporation, who lamented that he had to deal with fourteen different labour unions with the result no one issue could ever be resolved. Another former chairman, from the Bangalore-based HMT, said in a public meeting some years ago that two of his General Managers from their unit in Kerala, facing a similar situation, suffered heart attacks.

Unusual problems require unusual solutions. The moral is that the management of the nuts and bolts of the Kashmir issue should be left to the younger elements in the government with sound and stout hearts and not the ageing politicians who are dealing with the presently.

Kangayam R. Rangaswamy
Durham (USA)

GMCH rejoinder

It was distressing to read Dr Rajwanshi’s letter "Postgraduation at GMCH" (Dec 8) regarding Postgraduate courses at GMCH.

The writer is ill-informed and it would have been better to discuss with the undersigned before giving it to the press. The college has been granted permanent recognition by the Medical Council of India way back in 1998. It has not only adequate staff and facilities for the Undergraduates but for Postgraduates also. Dr Rajwanshi is not aware of the fact that only a few months back a regular team from MCI visited the college and recommended starting of Postgraduate courses in 4 specialities. This state of the art medical college has been producing first rate graduates right from its inception as exemplified by the fact that several of its graduates have got admitted to Postgraduate courses in prestigious institutes like PGI, AIIMS and other colleges.

I wonder what made Dr Rajwanshi think that the college has inadequate staff, equipment and facilities. Such misinformation need to be discouraged in the interests of public, students and ultimately patient care. The facts must be verified from the concerned authorities.

(Prof) S. B. S Mann
Director Principal,

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