Wednesday, April 11, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



The order of precedence

I have read carefully and cautiously the writeup by Mr Trilochan Singh Trewn, presumely a past Naval Officer; “The Order of Precedence” (The Tribune April 4). While I fully agree that the status of the Chief Justice of any high court of India stood much above the Military Commander of the subarea or the Commodore in charge Cochin/Bombay then known as Comchen and Combay, I dare to differ with the honourable writer who says that even the Collector of Kochi ranked above the Commodore in Charge and that too in 1953 when the WOP in regard to the Military officers had not been so badly brought down as of today. To support my view, I would like the readers to have a quick scrutiny on the status of service officers during the fifties.

In 1946, Shri C. Raja Gopal Chari became the Governor General of the interim Govt. while General K.M. Carriappa, the Commander in Chief and number two in the WOP. Sardar Baldev Singh became the Member Defence in the Viceroy’s Executive Council. After 1947, the control of the Defence Ministry went to the Defence Minister. The status of Defence Secretary then ranked below the PSOs (Lt. Generals). The strong lobby of the civil servants wanted a direct control of the MOD under them. Thus the service Chief would retain the higher status over the Defence Secretary but slid down to 11th position in the WOP. After Kashmir War 1947-48 the Chief of Staff were moved below the Judges of the Supreme Court with Major Generals below the Chief Secretary of the state. There was no change in the WOP of the Military officers between 1948 and 1955. It is an open fact that every war India won, the status of military officers went down.


After the 1971 Indo-Pak war the WOP in regard to the service officers went down drastically. The status of Brigadier/Commodore/Air Commodore having been left to the State Government to determine, led to some strange anomalies. While in Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Orissa, a Brigadier/Commodore/Air Commodore stood above the Dy. Commissioner/Distt. Collector, in Rajasthan, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland, a Brigadier is ranked below a Dy. Commissioner. In Rajasthan, a Brigadier with 25 years of service or more is ranked below an IAS officer with just 9 years of service. It was only on 25th March, 1955, that Pandit Nehru announced in Parliament the change in the designation of the C-IN-C to the Chief of Staff of their respective services. Some changes in the WOP of the defence officers were also brought in 1955 but not in 1953.

Since the IAS course started only in 1950 the seniormost IAS officers had just four years seniority by 1953. As regards the ICS officers, the course for the ICS had been discontinued well before the second world war and any ICS officer had almost more than 15 years seniority by 1953 only to occupy the chair of a Financial Commissioner and not of a Distt. Collector. Hence, the Collector of Kochi by any scale of status enjoyed by a Commodore in the WOP in 1953 could have never been ranked above the Commodore In Charge Kochi.

As regards the medals, only the Commodore In Charge had the medals having earned them during the second world war and not the young Lieutenant (ADC). All Naval Officers having joined the services in fifties were bare breast in 1953.

I would like to state that I too was serving on board warship in 1953 and had the opportunity to go through the WOP of the defence officers. It would be better for the retired officers to go to press only after they had facts and figures with them. Even my views on the subject are open to correction. All meeting of civil and military officers, including the commissioners, were chaired by the Commodore in charge, Cochin being a local station Commander and the senior most Naval Officer in the area. Perhaps Late Rear Admiral Satyendra Singh would have given a better picture of the WOP of those days.


Jalari-Hamirpur (HP)

Jyoti Basu’s package

Mr Jyoti Basu has been granted a whopping 50-lakh retirement package by the West Bengal Government at a time when the state’s finances and economy are collapsing. A fascist, anti-poor government could not have set a better example of taking care of the leadership at the expense of the poor.

Not only do the communists exploit the poor to enrich their leadership, but they do it boldly without any fear of the law or repercussions. They are exploiters who do not care for the law.



Compulsory Sanskrit

The Prime Minister’s statement that Sanskrit would be made compulsory in the university is unfortunate. There is no doubt that the Sanskrit language is a gateway to ancient literature and traditions of India. But one does not have to learn about Sanskrit to know about it. Mr Vajpayee has fairly conceded that even after having done BA in Sanskrit he cannot speak. How would an average student be any different? The works of Plato, Roman law and tales from Arabian nights are enjoyed by many of us even when we are ignorant in Greek, Roman and Arabic language. We have enjoyed them in translation. If Mr Vajpayee wishes to encourage the knowledge of glorious past and traditions of the country, he should concentrate on getting the various classics and text and philosophy translated in Hindi, Urdu and other regional languages of the country.

There are any number of philosophic books and literatures written in Persian by Indians, both Hindu and Muslim. They also need to be translated in Hindi or Urdu and any regional language. They are a common heritage to all of us. Mr Vajpayee, unfortunately by supporting the compulsory teaching of Sanskrit will only encourage the fundamentalists in the Education Department and the UGC to deny universal education to the poor of this country. Mr Vajpayee has unnecessarily made himself open to the charge of catering to the Brahamanical aristocracy, which is contrary to our Constitution committed to classless and casteless society.


Exporting wheat

The Government of India has decided to export in the current year five million tonnes of wheat at Rs 4150 per tonne (Rs 415 per quintal) to create storage space. The economic cost of procuring, carrying and storing one tonne of wheat is about Rs 8300. It is estimated that till March 31, about two million tonnes of wheat has been exported at this rate. So we have earned Rs 830 crore or incurred a loss of Rs 830 crore, considering the economic cost of wheat.

It is surprising that the country has chosen to bear this loss when more than 30 per cent of our population lives below the poverty line. If this wheat was sold to these 30 crore persons at the same rate, they would have got two meals a day. Where is the need for exporting wheat at such a low price when it can be sold within the country even at a little higher price because people are buying atta in the open market at Rs 700 to Rs 900 per quintal.

Similarly, the FCI, exported 123000 tonnes of rice at the rate of Rs 6750 per tonne or Rs 675 per quintal. Parmal rice is selling at Rs 1000 per quintal in the open market. The Government can easily sell this rice within the country even at Rs 800 a quintal instead of exporting it at Rs 675.

Apart from feeding hungry countrymen, it will also check the market price of these commodities. The Government needs to evolve a system of selling wheat and rice through designated shops without ration cards as the PDS has not proved helpful to needy persons.

M. L. MEHTA, Jalandhar

Scarce water

During the Majitha by-election, a major political party had announced that if voted to power (in the next Assembly elections) it would not allow a drop of water to flow to the adjoining states.

Sub-soil water is indeed scarce. It is being depleted every day, and it should be our first worry, not river water which is hardly scarce in Punjab. In any case, sharing natural resources is a national duty.

Since the issue of sub-soil water does not have much political significance, political parties tend to ignore it even if it is crucial for the public. The problem of fast depleting sub-soil water can assume dangerous proportions if not tackled immediately. We can ignore it only at our peril.

Wg Cdr C. L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar

Small corruption

Mr Prem Kumar deserves to be congratulated on his excellent exposition of “small corruption” in his article “Small corruption can be ugly and costly too” (Tribune, April 1). I share the general tone and tennor of the article, but have reservations on two points.

“Small corruption” generally speaking, helps speed up things and looks provocatively attractive and not “ugly”, as the writer suggests.

Getting a job done with the help of “speed money” has become cheaper than taking the cumbersome routine course. Thus “small corruption” does not seem costly either.

No doubt, “small corruption” has, over the years, spread its tentacles incredibly wide. The plight of the people, reeling under the all-pervasive menace of red tape is to be seen to be believed and appreciated.

The rule in the administration these days is: “Pay speed money and flourish, demur over the matter and be damned”.

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)

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