Thursday, January 18, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Where were you, Mr Bal Thackeray?

Where were you Mr Bal Thackeray when the auction, held on 11-01-2001, of the assets belonging to Dawood Ibrahim, a declared dreaded terrorist and an underworld don, failed as there was no taker for the property put for auction? The message the failed auction process give is that the people, how powerful and strong they may be, are so afraid of the dreaded underworld don that nobody dared to bid for the prime property in a city like Mumbai. The don is a declared proclaimed offender and presently staying somewhere outside the country.

You, Mr Bal Thackeray, as I understand, also invest and deal in lucrative businesses like films and real estate. And it was very much expected of you to come forward to invest in a deal as challenging as it was. Setting aside the profit apart, your participation in the bid, surely, could have boosted the much-needed public morale and more especially it must have enhanced your brave image of a “Tiger”. You are considered to be the messiah of Hindus and an advocate for Indianisation of the Indian Muslims.

Burning of the effigy of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, by your Seniks while protesting the recent ceasefire in J&K and digging of pitches to protest the Indo-Pak Cricket Tournament seem to be merely a political drama in the wake of silence shown by you at the time of auction.


Your usual communal outburst, in your own weekly Samna, to show an extraordinary patriotism, looks to be an empty propaganda for self-esteem in view of your silence in the present episode.


No bonanza

The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited’s New Year bonanza for its subscribers, on closer scrutiny, is not really a bonanza, owing to the corresponding hike in telephone rental ranging from Rs 30 to Rs 70. This scheme would burden those users who do not actually need the service but would end up coughing up more as rentals.

The BSNL, apart from losing an estimated Rs 150 crores in real terms annually, would be guilty of putting users like me also at a loss. It is indeed a sad commentary on the calibre of the policy makers in the telecom behemoth, who should increased rentals to those needing the service and spare those not needing it. But what else could be expected of the Union Communications Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, known for his ineptitude and a tendency to distribute largesse at public expense, like appointment of more than one lakh supporters from Bihar in the Indian Railways (as Union Railway Minister) and free telephones to the Telecom employees, ostensibly to bring around the agitated employees to accept the corporatisation of the DoT.

Therefore, before its implementation, the scheme needs to be reviewed to ensure that ordinary users are not burdened.


Varsities in Punjab & Haryana

This is with reference to the article by Dr Amrik Singh (Jan 1). It is a fact that the purpose for which the Universities had been given autonomy could not be established in the field of research. On the other hand these units of administration had been converted into States within States and this fact could be worked out from the muddles committed in cases of appointments, promotions and adjustment of unwanted people.

All these unwanted burdens had been placed on the shoulders of the student-community with fees and other charges. The Universities should get autonomy only in field of Academic affairs and the administration in other fields should go back to the State Governments.

The teaching staff posted in the Universities should be liable to transfers in colleges and vice versa.

All examinations upto graduation should be conducted by School Boards so established and the Universities should be left to conduct research work and carry on higher education.

Appointments in Universities should be made on the recommendations of the Public Service Commissions and this work should be taken away from the Selection Committees so constituted in the Universities.

All ad hoc appointments in Universities should be banned because all such appointments are made on the recommendations of the political heads.


Is beauty skin-deep?

This is in reference to a very interesting write-up by Mr Amar Dhillon (Jan. 5) under the title of ‘Beauty Is Just Skin-Deep — So Creams Sell’. It is an impressive and ingenious account of our craze for fair skin as mark of beauty, and how the ‘fairness industry’ exploits this psyche to promote their products. The sketch is both well researched and witty.

Here, I wish to share a few thoughts with the readers. All the creams, lotions and potions that promise to make us fairer, only bleach or de-tan the skin. Since we, in this country, tend to tan easily, those products certainly do some work by taking away the tan — but only to a certain extent. But, the really dark-skinned may not notice any change or improvement, whatsoever.

Then, skin is one of the many ingredients of beauty — the others being, a firm and well-shaped torso, and to use a bit poetic language — eyes like a doe, lips like rose-buds, ears like coral shells, a neck like a swan and a voice like a nightingale. Proportion, structure, carriage, bearing are all very important. Celopatra, the epitome of feminine beauty, was, for instance, not particularly fair — but, she was the bewitching type; an enchantress in voice, movements, manners, mood and conversation. Not every woman who has ruled the celluloid world, or has stolen a march in the world of beauty pageant, was fair-skinned.

So, women of swarthy complexion need not despair nor suffer from low esteem. They have a bright future, provided they possess the lithe attributes, or they cultivate and acquire them.


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