Tuesday, February 6, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Beauty contests

This refers to the piece “Targeting beauty contests” by Amit Dhillon (Tribune, Jan 29).

I am totally opposed to the mindset of Hindu fundamentalists. If they were to have their way, it will not be long before they preach revival of the barbarous custom of Sati. We opposed strongly the attempts of Khalistani terrorists to dictate a dress code for girls in Panjab University. We also opposed Mrs Sushma Swaraj when during her first short period of ministership at the Centre, she asked woman officers of her department not to come to office in salwars.

Be that as it may, I am for beauty but against beauty contests. I am not for banning beauty contests but I am for a strong campaign by women’s organisations against them. My reasons are:

1. These encourage a wrong tendency among young girls to devote their time, money and talent to the task of how to win beauty contests and forget their duty to become good and useful citizens, having equal rights with men.

2. The logic of the beauty contests is to encourage a tendency to use “beauty” for purposes for which it should not be used.

3. The number of world beauty contests India has been winning should make any Indian wonder if God has suddenly become generous to our country in the distribution of beauty. Maybe, it is not the gift of God but of some multinationals being showered on India with some ulterior motive.


I too am not for preserving the “relics or values of a bygone age”. However, I am not for replacing our good and still relevant values by values of the consumerist culture. Just one example: when I was a college/university student, topics most discussed in free periods were: “how we can help in winning our country’s freedom, how we can help our poor even today”, “how it can be ensured that free India has a just society,” etc. These days the topics discussed are: “whose parents have how many cars”; “who will hook which boy or girl, as the case may be”, etc.

Beauty contests are a part of this type of culture and should be discouraged. Let young girls of today aspire to follow in the footsteps of Aruna Asaf Ali who was a great freedom fighter, who after independence remained as self-sacrificing as before and who was one of the most beautiful women of India. Her beauty was natural. Every freedom-loving young man loved her as if she was his own sister and felt proud of her.

Let young girls of today hear a couplet of late Majaz, a well-known Urdu poet, and try to follow his advice; “Tere chehre pe yeh anchal bahut hi khoob hai lekin; Too is anchal se ik parcham bana leti to achha tha”.


Always caught napping

Every time a disaster strikes, our Government is caught napping. Our disaster management is neither effective nor does it have a human face. Cabinet meetings are held, schemes are announced, funds are mobilised and patriotic sentiments are roused. Rescue operations are undertaken with a lot of fanfare with TV and newspaper publicity.

But soon everyone loses interest. Funds used, or misused, are exhausted, while the sufferings of the people remain unmitigated. The Government finds other issues to pay attention to. This is what happened to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, Uphaar cinema and Dabwali fires, the Kargil conflict, Orissa cyclone, Latur, Osmanabad and Chamoli earthquakes and innumerable train accidents.

One only hopes that the fate of the survivors of the Gujarat earthquake will be better.


Cess on readers

The Tribune should collect an earthquake “Cess” of Re 1 per copy from its readers. To begin with, it should be done for one month, after which period the situation can be reviewed. The readers of The Tribune are a sensitive lot and I am sure they will willingly make this contribution with a sense of pride.

Rora (Palampur)



Netaji’s death

On Jan 30, 2001, The Tribune published a report “Row over Netaji’s death ends?” But the row has not ended. A commission of inquiry under Justice Mukerji has been inquiring into the alleged disappearance of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. I am a member of this commission. Many people have deposed and their evidence has been recorded. Now the commission has asked the Government of India for some files and also the D.N.A. test report, but the Secretary of Home Affairs, Government of India, is not giving the files. As and when the relevant files are given to the commission, hopefully the row will end.


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