Tuesday, March 13, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Senseless vandalism in Afghanistan

The Taliban seem to have conveniently glossed over the fact that the Buddhist relics, now the object of their fury, are representative specimens of what is known as the Gandhara school in the history of sculpture. These have inspired generations of the lovers of art the world over, and have offered spiritual sustenance to millions who look upon Sakyamuni as a living reality. The artistic and human values that these mute figures embody, have shaped life and culture in a major part of Asia over a period of two millennia.

The Taliban, through their senseless vandalism, are going to create a history of their own choice ó a history bereft of this rich cultural heritage, which, to say the least, amounts to the worst type of medievalism, and which is totally incompatible with the spirit of the present age.

Maybe, what they do is only a ploy to blackmail the global community into according them political recognition. However, they are best advised to dress down their religious fanaticism to qualify themselves for a suitable place in the comity of nations.

virendra gosain,


Destroying creativity

Talibanís Islamic fundamentalists are expected to destroy 6,000 statues all over Afghanistan. This orgy of destruction has all the trappings of a pseudo-religious mentality consumed by hatred. This fanatic act in the name of religion is horrifying in nature and pathetic in character. Such acts reveal humans as more bestial and savage than the ape-men of the remote past.

Essentially, this kind of violence is symbolic of a deep-rooted aggressive insanity. It is not that the Taliban are destroying the art, they are systematically uprooting the values of peace, culture, and creativity. They seem to have no idea that the statues are not just objects of reverence, they are basically manifestations of how human potential, the quality of self-realisation, can be attained. They have yet to see the fact that religion is a matter of understanding and not that of underestimating the creative exhibition of human hope and aspiration.

satya vedant,

Time to think

The world is rightly outraged at the Taliban assault on the historical memory and pluralistic identity of Afghanistan through vandalisation of a heritage of universal value. This moment of horror should also become a moment to reflect.

The United States of America promoted not only the Taliban but also many similar fascist forces all over the world and yet it openly professes to be the defender of democracy and civilisation.

Internally, we have to reflect on our present government. The Prime Minister had recently justified the demolition of Babri Masjid as a Ďmanifestation of national sentimentí. It is no coincidence that the Taliban today are using similar language to describe their vandalisation of the historical heritage of Afghanistan.

It is ironical that the Vishwa Hindu Prishad (VHP) has reacted to the vandalisation in Afghanistan with a new threat of vandalisation in India.

The VHP has threatened Ďa plan of action to be implemented in Ajmerí which can be read as a threat to harm a historical site representing the rich composite and pluralistic culture of India.

In what way are the thoughts, logic, language and methods of the Sangh Parivar different from those of the Taliban? How can we fight Talibanisation of Afghanistan without unmasking and defeating the Talibanisation (i.e., Saffronisation) of India?


Sri Lankan example

The ambush which claimed the life of a Colonel, injured a Brigadier and claimed the lives of some jawans indicates that the militants are enjoying freedom of movement due to the unilateral ceasefire and are retaining the initiative to strike at will at a place and time of their choice. Our government has unnecessarily tied one arm of our security forces behind their backs. I hope we donít repeat the IPKF fiasco.

We need to take a cue from the Sri Lankan government who, despite being far less powerful, having a more resolute and powerful adversary, and having suffered a tactical set-back, bounced back and forced the LTTE to seek a ceasefire.

What we need is a decisive victory against the militants. Their local support will automatically be diluted. We also might consider active interference along the LoC to ensure that infiltration is reduced and Pakistan is also made to bleed militarily and financially.

sumandeep kapoor,

Entry tax

The HP government has allowed nagar panchayats and municipalities to put up barriers on national and state highways to collect toll from all who enter the towns. The government may thus collect a few lakhs or crores but the loss will be manifold. The number of tourists visiting the staff will come down. This will also lead to urbanisation. People who are living in the villages will pay the entry fee every time they want to visit the town. They may prefer to shift to the town instead of paying the fee for their daily visits.

The only solution is to remove these barriers.

sudarshan kumar
(In response to Internet edition)

Tribal students

The Middle Standard results declared recently by the H.P. Board of School Education reveal that students of schools in the Bharmour tribal sub-division have cut a sorry figure in the examination. Of the 28 students of Government Middle School, none could get through. Similarly, of the 35 students of Government High School, Chobhiya, only one has passed. In most of the other schools in Bharmour sub-division, the pass percentage ranges from 15 to 30 against the overall pass percentage of 69.28.

In a society where illiteracy prevails, parents do not pay due attention to the education of their children. They feel contented if the children go to the school regularly. Being themselves uneducated, they are unable to make out if the students are being taught properly. In these circumstances, the responsibility of the teachers increases. But the reality is that the government has not posted the full strength of teachers in these schools. In some schools, the parents have to arrange teachers.

Where there are teachers, they do not attend to their duties regularly. The result is mass failure of students in the annual examinations.

The people of Bharmour sub-division are not satisfied with the performance of the Education Department. A detailed enquiry into the factors responsible for mass failure of students will reveal startling facts. The least the department can do is to take time-bound steps to strengthen the staff position in these schools and make the teachers accountable for bad results.



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