Saturday, April 21, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Bangladesh incursion

It is a measure of the incompetence of the Union Government, that Bangladesh Rifles could coolly occupy Indian territory and two days later we were still debating whether the incursion had taken place or not.

Not long ago, the then Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, and Army spokespersons were at loggerheads about a Kargil peak being still under Pakistani occupation.

The act of Bangladesh Rifles should have invited a swift and extremely damaging punitive strike by the harsh might of the Indian forces to send an unmistakable message that Indian territory is not up for grabs. But such an act would be beyond the capabilities of this bumbling government.


Return of Zaffarwal

As far as the Khalistan movement is concerned, it might have been mooted in Pakistan and some self-styled leaders might have chosen this path. But the Sikh community at no stage demanded Khalistan. The Sikhs adopted India as their homeland in 1947 and they spread all over the country and established themselves as one of the most prosperous communities.

Whether Zaffarwal was arrested or he surrendered to the police, makes no difference. The law should take its course. We all know that evidence fades out with the passage of time. But those who return to the mainstream with a clean heart should be accepted, provided they establish their sincerity. So far the FIRs against Zaffarwal have not been cancelled and therefore, we should not blame the government. However, the Akalis should come forward and explain whether they took help from Zaffarwal in some Assembly election. Time has come when the state should investigate and locate the forces that led to the declaration of Khalistan in 1986.



India and Iran

Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee’s visit to Iran symbolises India’s efforts to engage major Islamic nations in her foreign policy. Earlier, India tried to avoid healthy diplomatic relations with countries which supported Pakistan, particularly over the issue of Kashmir.

Now, shaking off past prejudices, India is following a pragmatic approach vis-a-vis the changed West Asian scenario. Now India’s relations with the Gulf may not remain limited just to the purchase of oil and petro-dollars remitted by the Indian labour there.

The rise of fanaticism in Afghanistan and Pakistan is as much a matter of concern for the secular Muslim states of Algeria and Turkey and deeply religious Saudi Arabia and Iran as it is for India and Russia. Iran is also reaching out to Russia for conventional arms against the growing menace of terrorist elements. India already has a treaty with Russia to tackle trans-border terrorism.

Hence cooperation with Iran in this area will be a triangular defence link between India, Iran and Russia. Good politico-economic relations between India and Iran will have a long-term impact on stamping out cross-border terrorism.



Chamba’s Chowgan

During my recent visit to Chamba after about five years, I was pained to see that the Chowgan, once known for its greenery and grandeur, had been encroached upon by greedy shopkeepers, stall-holders and vendors. The district administration as well as the local Municipal Council are watching meekly and silently as vegetable and fruit vendors play havoc with this green belt.

The people of Chamba must protest against the destruction of this famous landmark.

R.K. SONI, Jalandhar

Desperate situation

In the first phase of panchayat elections in Bihar, 17 persons have died and many more have been injured. There have been instances of arson and looting of ballot boxes from polling booths. What we are witnessing in Bihar and some other places today is ‘demon-cracy’ and not democracy.

There is something awfully wrong with the system. We have to come to grips with harsh realities, and muster the will and wisdom to initiate far-reaching changes in the administrative and constitutional set-up, at the same time preserving the basic democratic content of our polity. No purpose will be served by being mealy-mouthed in our responses, or resorting to patch-work solutions. This is the time for action, not for mere reflection. Desperate situations call for drastic remedies.

S.C. KAPOOR, Noida

Unfair comment

There can be no denying the fact that the Director of Higher Education (DHE), Haryana, has made sincere efforts to expedite the release of the arrears of teachers. But one cannot overlook the unsavoury remarks that she has made about the teaching community.

The DHE is reported to have said: “Our only expectation from the teachers is to deliver the goods in classrooms. If we are watching their interest, they too, must take care of the students, their primary and only concern.” She seems to imply that a teacher’s seriousness and concern in the classroom is dependent on his getting his salary or arrears in time. It is not fair to make such a sweeping statement about the entire teaching community.

It is a well-established fact that of all the segments of our social strata, the teacher is still the most tolerant and dedicated individual. He has always been and will remain sincere to the cause of education and student welfare against all odds.


Yash Pal Chair

A statue of the late Yash Pal (1903-76) stands in a school at Bhumpal, reminding one of this revolutionary and author. Yash Pal’s “Jhoota Sach” put him on the national literary map and won him the “Padma Bhushan”. During his eventful life, he wrote more than 50 books.

It is a matter of pride for lovers of Yash Pal literature that whenever a VIP, including the Governor and the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, happen to pass by, they stop at the statue to pay respects to the great writer.

The Chief Minister, Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal, who himself is a lover of Yash Pal literature should establish a Yash Pal Chair in Himachal Pradesh University. The university will, in fact, be honouring itself by establishing a chair in the name of Yash Pal.


Unruly MPs

Since the start of the budget session, both Houses of Parliament are being held to ransom on one pretext or the other. The MPs go to the House, mark their presence and after some shouting and jostling in disregard to the warnings of the presiding officer, cause adjournments. Thus lakhs of rupees go down the drain every day.

The people are disgusted and feel cheated by the politicians because of their unbecoming and irresponsible behaviour. Anger against these “netas”, and rather the “system”, is brewing which is a danger signal for democracy.

Will the MPs listen and stop holding up the business of the House and debate and discuss meaningfully issues such as the Budget, the Lok Pal Bill, the Women’s Reservation Bill and take some solid measures to curb corruption.

J.K. MAGO, Panchkula

Free gifts

Manufacturers of several articles of daily use like soaps, blades, shaving cream and tooth paste are offering certain free gifts with their products to make these attractive to the customers. But these companies have been offering such incentives in selected cities. This is an illogical way of treating the customers in small towns. Recently, there were advertisements in newspapers offering a gift to the buyers of a certain product in Chandigarh. This will make customers in small towns feel neglected. This may tell upon the popularity of the product in small towns. The companies should think it over and give equal treatment to all their customers whether they are in big cities or in small towns.



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