Saturday, February 17, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Think of the Pandits

The article “Enough of Ceasefire in Kashmir” by Mr P.C. Dogra (Tribune, Feb 10), is thought-provoking and practical. But Mr Dogra did not cover two main points — the future of Kashmiri Pandits and the loyalty of Kashmiri Muslim leaders to Pakistan.

Ten years ago, the same Kashmiri leaders forced the migration of the Pandits from Kashmir. They have not uttered a single word to ask these hapless Kashmiris to return to their homeland. Now the same thing is happening with Kashmiri Sikhs. These fanatic leaders want Jammu and Kashmir only for the Muslims. Jammu and Ladakh regions of Jammu and Kashmir are not Muslim dominated. They are totally Hindu and Buddhist areas. So the claim of these Muslim leaders to merge Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan is a futile exercise.

The loyalty of the Kashmiri leaders to Pakistan is the other issue. If religion was a uniting force, then why did Bangladesh get separated from Pakistan and why have Iran and Iraq been fighting for decades? People forget that India is home to more Muslims than Pakistan.

In order that the people of India can face the growing challenge of MILLAT (extended Muslim brotherhood), the country has to resolve to fully secure its borders from infiltrators and wipe out foreign mercenaries from Jammu and Kashmir. In this regard, the Muslim leaders of India should not remain silent. Clean the state as it was done in Punjab. The final solution to the Kashmir problem may be to convert the LoC into an international border.

ASHOK SHARMA, Vancouver (Canada)


Fee on foreign visitors

Those of us who have benefited from exchange of information and knowledge about Indian monuments with foreign scholars and researchers, are shocked by the report that visitors to Archaeological Survey monuments, other than Indians, are charged entrance fees which range from $10 upwards, while Indian citizens pay five or 10 rupees. This rule seems to be almost like racial discrimination and is unworthy of the traditions of our country.

Let us not forget the researches of Western scholars like Cunningham and Carlyle, who toured our land in hot summers and bitter winters, to explore and identify monuments. Even in the imperial period there were pioneers who helped us to formulate the foundations of approaches still practised today. Some names come to mind: Smith, Codrington, Havell, W.G. Archer, Stella Kramrisch, Commaraswamy, John Irwin and Robert Skelton, and many more. In recent years, Walter Spink has devoted an entire lifetime to the study of Ajanta.

During the 50-year history of MARG Publications, I, as editor, depended on many Western scholars and researchers for contributions to India’s foremost journal of art. And even now, under the editorship of Dr Pal, former director of Los Angeles County Museum, the majority of contributions have come from Western scholars. These people have educated Western tourists who now flock to see the monuments for which they are being charged so heavily. Young tourists cannot afford these fees and are being turned away, sometimes rudely. When they realise that they will not be able to see the art they came to India to get more deeply aquainted with, there is a great deal of unhappiness and disappointment.

It therefore seems to me, as one scholar who has gained knowledge and appreciation of our culture from both Western and Eastern pioneers, that the fees imposed only on foreigners suggest invidious discrimination. I humbly suggest that the order given by the Archaeological Survey of India be withdrawn.


High buildings

The ban on high-rise buildings in Himachal Pradesh has gained added relevance after the Gujarat earthquake. Dalhousie falls in the earthquake-prone zone but construction has been going on, unmindful of the ban.

After the 1905 earthquake in Kangra, by-laws were framed not to let buildings exceed three storeys and kept within a specific height with a fixed ratio of built area to open space. These were forgotten, flouted and even mocked at as outdated. Now nature has shown their validity and importance.

The existing buildings which have gone beyond three storeys should be screened to make sure that these are modified to withstand earthquake shocks. These can prove not only coffin boxes for the residents but also death traps for the adjoining and downhill buildings in the hilly terrain. Let us hope that the authorities concerned take the warning seriously and initiate timely action.



A danger signal

According to reports, the scientists of the Punjab Agricultural University are of the opinion that the Gujarat earthquake has resulted in some temporary fluctuations in the water-table in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. This is a danger signal and should not be taken lightly.

Punjab and Haryana have vast tracts where the water table in the sweat water zones has been depleting for the last quarter of a century. The presence of a vast desaturated underground reservoir poses a serious threat to the ecology of this region. Even a minor earthquake can cause it to be connected with a reservoir of brackish water.

Such a disaster, if it happens, will be irreversible. The governments of Punjab and Haryana should take immediate steps to guard against such a danger. The easiest way to do so is to inject rain water into the ground after desilting it. At present all this water goes waste. That this is a practical proposition has been demonstrated by the Punjab Agricultural University by setting up an injecting station on Raipur Link Drain near Ludhiana.

S. P. MALHOTRA, Panchkula

Anti-smoking law

The Government’s decision to enforce an anti-tobacco law sounds exceptionally good but it is a utopian idea, and raises the question if it will be possible to curb this menace by passing an anti-smoking Bill. Such coercive law cannot inculcate a spirit of self-consciousness among the smokers. Moreover, some of the law-makers themselves are smokers.

Smoking is an evil which has gone deep in our society and it is not easy to eliminate it. It will be possible only by explaining the ill-effects of smoking to the people and helping them build their determination and will power to fight this habit.

Every smoker wants to give up this habit but cannot do so because his will power has deadened. If it is awakened, he will fight his way out of this evil.


SOCIAL EVILS: This refers to the report “78-year anti-liquor tradition” and your editorial “Anti-smoking Bill” (Feb 8).

The people of Dhapali village deserve sincere compliments for their successful campaign against the bottle but the passage of the anti-smoking Bill will not have much effect unless the people in general make it a point to rise against this public menace. The people of Dhapali may instil courage into those who suffer on account of the smoking by others in buses and other public places but are unable to stop the smokers.

The law may be there to watch the rights to the citizens but the citizens themselves will have to fight these social evils.


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |