Saturday, April 7, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Military leadership

Military leadership is personal, fragile and difficult. It is personal because it deals with personal relationship between the leader and the led. It is fragile because it is exercised in difficult conditions and often has to drive the followers to the extreme limits of their physical and mental endurance and has the potential for failing if it is not robust enough. It is difficult because it requires competence of a very high order, dedication, sacrifice, integrity and the capacity to endure all that one expects the followers to endure. A good leader must always stand by his followers.

When mistrust or doubt arises between the leader and the followers, military leadership becomes a very slender thread. Relationship between the men and the junior leadership has proved itself on a number of occasions. The problem seems to be with the senior leadership vis-a-vis the junior leaders and the rank and file. Senior leaders, in their anxiety to do well in the ever-increasing professional competitive scenario, tend to ignore the problems and toe the line. Senior officers do not stand up to the politicians or the bureaucrats in the interest of the service and servicemen. They hide behind the veil of discipline and speak out only after retirement.

Senior retired officers are showing a sense of shock at the present degradation of moral values. They forget that it is they, who are responsible for this rot because during their tenures they failed to look after the interest of the service and its personnel. The top rungs should have the courage to stand up to the politicians and the bureaucrats where military matters and the welfare of the men are concerned.


In a country where even a small rag-tag group can bring the Government to its knees, the mighty forces seem to be of no consequence even where the interest of the nation is being compromised. Senior officers are tempted into being “good boys” by the lure of lucrative post-retirement avenues. One shudders to think what might happen if the malice trickles further down.


Sehajdhari Sikh

According to press reports, Sehajdharis will not be allowed to vote in the SGPC elections. We are not informed about the fate of Sikhs who are clean shaven, or trim their beards and cut part of their hair. Some Sikhs are seen drinking alcohol, eating meat, eating zarda, and smoking. They have not taken Amrit, nor do they recite Panj Banis daily, share food with others and all that.

We understand that Sehajdhari means a Hindu who believes in the Bani of the Gurus as edited in Shri Guru Granth Sahib. If it is so, he should be given the right to vote in the SGPC elections because when the Bani of Hindu Saints is included in Shri Guru Granth Sahib and all Sikhs believe in that Bani, such clean shaven persons should not be excluded from the definition of a Sikh. The definition of a Sikh should apply to those who believe in the Bani as contained in Shri Guru Granth Sahib and whosoever declares as such should be recognised as a Sikh. If we try to limit the definition on the basis of the fundamentals of Sikhism, we shall have very few left who can be called Sikhs. We should try to expand the limits so that the number of Sikhs could be increased, because Shri Guru Arjan Devji, when He was compiling Shri Guru Granth Sahib, was visualising a common religion. Sikh intellectuals must make a thorough study of these matters and compile a definition of a ‘Sikh’ which should be acceptable to all.


Law and order

The Indian government needs to tighten up its law and order machinery. It has failed to maintain the law and order in the country.

Recently, religious groups stockpiled modern weapons like AK-47 automatic rifles and bombs in places of worship. They not only used these weapons from mosques, but also initiated a riot by killing an officer of the rank of ADM. Nothing has been done to disarm these groups. The government cannot withdraw from its responsibility to maintain law and order because minorities are involved. If this trend is not checked, the whole country will go up in flames. If the government does not show that it is not afraid of any groups when it comes to maintaining law and order, other groups may be left with no choice but to defend themselves.

SHANTHA NAIDU, Novi, (Michigan)

Changing the system

Mr M.V. Kamath in his article “Take a hard look at the system” (The Tribune March 26) has made a suggestion to adopt the presidential system of government. Many experienced administrators like Mr B.K. Nehru, Mr Dharma Vira and some others, have also advocated this system.

In England democracy was evolved over the centuries, there being the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, and so on. But in India adult franchise was introduced all of a sudden when the masses were illiterate, backward, superstitious, and ignorant. The result is therefore anyone to see.

The question is how to change the system. Given the character of politicians, who are concerned more with immediate gains than any long-term benefits any solution of the problem seems a herculean task. But an effort will have to be made if we want a stable political system.


SIMI’s view of India

The chief of the Students Islamic Movement of India, Mr Shahid Badr Falahi, said recently in an interview that SIMI was an organisation working to build a society on Islamic principles. He refused to comment on the Taliban’s destruction of statues, and called for a debate on idol worship.

He did not express his own views on idol worship. But he acknowledged that SIMI wanted to build an Islamic India. Anyone familiar with the history of Islam knows that idol worship has no place in an Islamic society. The statements of Mr Falahi are a clear indicator that organisations like SIMI do not see a place for idol worship in India. This goes against the secular nature of India where every religion has a place provided it respects other faiths.


Inordinate delay

The Government of Himachal Pradesh set up a polytechnic in my village some years ago. About two kanals of my land was taken for this purpose with the verbal assurance of the SDM and the tehsildar of Amb (Una) that in lieu of this land, I would be given an equivalent piece of government land in the immediate neighbourhood of the institute. The authorities also submitted a proposal to the Deputy Commissioner of Una, in this regard. The operation was expected to be accomplished in a matter of days.

However, for some inexplicable reason, the proposal has lingered on for more than five years now. At this rate, I wonder whether the proposal will be given practical shape within my life time.


School pensioners

More than three years ago, the benefits of the Fourth Pay Commission’s recommendations were given to the employees of aided schools of Punjab. But thousands of pensioners of these schools are still waiting for this benefit. The silence of the Punjab Government on this issue has disappointed the pensioners who are in the last lap of their journey of life.

T. D. BHARDWAJ, PhagwaraTop

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