Tuesday, January 9, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Learning from history

This is with reference to the article "History: When the past talks to the present" by Prof. V.N. Datta published on December 31, 2000. As far as we the people of India are concerned, we can learn much from our own history. We became slaves in our own country and it is on record that a few people had been invading us and had been conquering us.

We can learn from our history that united we stand and divided we fall. But in spite of this learning from history, we had a partition worst in history when lakhs of people were killed and crores were forced to migrate to unknown places.

We may note that since 1947 we have had many communal riots in which thousands of people have been killed and property worth crores of rupees destroyed by us with our own hands. We can note that because of Partition we have always been fighting those who were once part of India. There have been three direct wars and a proxy war is on. Thousands of people from both sides have been killed.

We all know that rajas, maharajas and monarchs are nowhere today and even imperialists have been ousted from this country. Yet the people who come to power are not better than those monarchs and they are functioning on the same pattern. 


Problems of the people are still the same. They are poor, illiterate, unemployed, underhoused, wearing rags, underfed and ill-treated. Most of the people are being exploited just because they are poor and in spite of the assurances given in the Constitution.

We are just running the administration without doing anything for the people of this country. If we do not learn from history, the people of India shall start another war of independence from these people who have occupied the scene without having any merit.

Merit should be the sole consideration for elections and selections. Only then shall we be in a position to better the condition of the people. This is the lesson from the history of this subcontinent.


India’s LCA

This is in response to your editorial 'Flights of fancy' (Jan 6). The tone of the article was rather negative, and it belittled the achievement of Indian's military and defence technologists.

Only the USA, Russia and France have the capability to build fighters of the class of LCA. Britain decided to scrap a similar project, and decided to pitch in with BAE (UK), MBB and Downier (Germany), Aeritalia (Italy), and CASA (Spain) to build Eurofighter in 17 years at a cost about $15 billion. It took 10 years to build and seven years to induct. It was a modification of F-17 and F/A-18. Thus, the basic design was available. The other fighter of the same class is Sweden's JAS Gripen 39 built by SAAB. It took $500 million just to adapt and integrate the engine with the avionics. The total cost was $2 billion, and time 15 years. However, Sweden had a starting point in their Viggens fighter. They were not starting from scratch. Israel, also started developing a similar plane codenamed Levi, which was later abandoned after an expense of $2 billion. The technology was later sold clandestinely to China which used it for F-10, which was unveiled recently, and is yet to be inducted.

Chine's earlier plane, f-7, was modified MIG-21. This leaves Japan, the only other country with significant technological capability to design something as complex as a multi-role, fly-by-wire, fighter plane. Mitsubishi, Japan, recently built F-2 which is a modification of F-6 (a 1970s era plane).

No plane of this class can be built for Rs 560 crore. It has reportedly cost Rs 25 billion (about $500 million). It has taken 17 years so far, and usually it takes six to seven years after flight for the planes to be inducted. Here we must note a few things: One, India did not have even the basic infrastructure for fighter plane design, leave aside a fifth-generation, multi-role, fly-by-wire, fighter plane. Two, two to three years were lost because the plan was not given a go-ahead in the early nineties because of the tight economic situation. Three, sanctions added another year or two to the delay. If we subtract this period, then it comes to 12 years for the development of the first prototype, which is not so bad and the cost so far has been half a billion dollars — not bad at all.

A country of India's potential should at least be able to design a fifth generation fighter plane with minimal outside assistance, not to mention a nuclear submarine, an ICBM, an aircraft carrier and submarine-launched cruise missile. Russia does not have the resources to satisfy our demands for hi-tech military equipment for too long, while the West cannot be depended upon to provide us with cutting-edge weaponry as we do have a clash of interests with them.

All those military analysts who argue that the LCA will head straight to the museum lack reasonable foresight. Even if the LCA is not inducted, the infrastructure developed and the experience gained can be used to develop LCA-II, which should take less time and would be better.

India is designing a fighter plane for the first time. We cannot get everything right the very first time. Nobody in the world did. But let us keep working till we get it right: Build LCA-II, LCA-III, etc. till we have a machine the IAF is happy with. It will not necessarily take another 15 years to build LCA-II after LCA-I.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Let us not discourage our scientists by belittling their achievements. Let us give them their due.

Berkeley, CA (USA)

Gibran’s love

This refers to 'Diversities: Delhi Letter' by Humra Qureshi (December 31) wherein she has made a mention of the celebrated Lebanese poet Gibran and the woman he was said to be in love with.

The bond that brought together these two Labenese writers living in different parts of the world was one of the very rarest kind. Love affairs that begin with correspondence and then develop along normal lines, or love affairs that begin in a normal way and later are confined to correspondence are not rare. But Gibran and Mary Ziadah knew each other only on the basis of their works and the letters which they exchanged. Through this correspondence which lasted more than 20 years, they achieved an intimacy and understanding which was broken only by Gibran's death at the age of 48.

Gibran's relationship with Mary Ziadah cannot be listed in any conventional category as it included spiritual and platonic elements.

Mary Ziadh, a beautiful and intelligent woman, was for Gibran the embodiment of the greatness of the East. Despite the several thousand miles that separated them they were close to each other and herein lies the beauty of their relationship.




Khanna judgement — personal views

WE would like to point out to our readers that the views expressed by Mr Rajinder Sachar, a former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, in his article “Khanna judgement: crippling blow to settled law” published on this page on January 6, were his personal views and do not represent the position of The Tribune. 

Mr Sachar was counsel for the Government of Punjab before the High Court as well as the Supreme Court of India in the V.K. Khanna case.— EditorTop

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