Wednesday, May 2, 2001, Chandigarh, India



Time for tough decisions

IT is a matter of deep concern, shock, and disbelief that Bangladesh Rifles, assisted by the Army, treacherously captured 16 of our Border Security Force men, tortured them and killed them in cold blood. These are not situations that develop in isolation or in a fit of anger. These are clandestinely planned and nurtured over a period and ruthlessly executed in collusion with hostile elements, in this case the Pakistan secret service, ISI. It is yet again a monumental failure of our intelligence network as also slackness on the part of the BSF. It seems they just walked into the trap laid for them.

Such incidents, if allowed to go unchecked without punitive action on our part, will deal a severe blow to this country. They will sap our energy, will and pride, and degrade us irretrievably in the eyes of the world. Time has come for us to wake up and ensure that all those who dare to violate our borders, create disturbances or harm our people are hounded out and taught a lesson.

We must also bear in mind the reality that Pakistan will, for a long time to come, do its best to destabilise this country. We are paying a heavy price for problems haphazardly tackled, shelved and accumulated over the years. 


Tough decisions — in the fields of education, population control and disciplined living, style and model of governance, economic policies and diplomacy — await India. Can we rise to the occasion and march ahead without losing our resoluteness, wisdom and nerve? It seems difficult, but should not be impossible for a 5000-year-old civilisation that has successfully encountered countless challenges and upheavals, and has survived.

Wg Cdr S. C. KAPOOR, Noida

Contesting multiple seats

In a democratic set-up elections are held to elect the people’s representatives to Parliament, State Assemblies, Gram Panchayats, Nagar Panchayats etc. Some candidates file their nomination papers from more than one constituency. This is done mainly for two reasons. One is to cover the risk of being defeated in one constituency. The other reason is to exhibit one’s popularity by winning more than one seat.

A person elected from more than one constituency can retain only one seat and has to resign the other. This forces an unwanted fresh election for the seat thus vacated.

This is an unwanted burden on the national exchequer and a joke on the electorate. The Election Commission should amend the electoral rules to allow a candidate to contest from only one constituency.

IQBAL SINGH, Bijhari (Hamirpur)

Penitent sinner

History is replete with examples of persons who rid themselves of vices and served humanity excellently thereafter.

The utterances of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal at Baba Bakala seem to reveal a penitent, remorseful and contrite heart. It would be worthwhile to provide him with an opportunity to improve and sublimate himself and become a true patriot and above all a good human being. His transformation from a criminal to a curate, will set an appropriate example for other persons of his ilk.

So, let Zaffarwal be permitted to join the mainstream by giving him a chance to meet the families of the victims of his madness during the dark days of Punjab and seek their forgiveness, earnesty and in public.

The jurists, judges and the Government can devise a wholesome strategy in this regard, ensuring punishment if he goes astray at a subsequent stage.

Meanwhile, the prosecution can be held in abeyance, if deemed proper.


Defence service pension

Defence service pension based on the prevalent pay structure is anomalous. In the country’s security set-up, the sepoy is a front runner. He is recruited when he is 17 to 21 years of age and is compulsorily retired after a service of 15 to 21 years. At this stage, his pension is fixed at Rs 1275 p.m., which is a pittance for his service in extremely difficult conditions. The rule for determining the pension for defence services i.e. 50 per cent of the basic pay including other essentials like rank pay etc is common to all ranks. Sepoys, Naiks, Havildars, and Naib Subedars are the ranks that do not get their full pension on the score that they do not complete 33 years of colour service. This stipulation should not hold good for these ranks because soldiers in these ranks are not allowed to serve beyond a specified period which is far short of 33 years. They cannot be expected to complete the qualifying service when they are made to retire much before putting in full service for full pension.

There are certain infirmities in the pension structure of officers also. Those who retired before 1.1.96 have been given pension based on the minimum pay of that rank and the period they had served in that rank prior to that date is ignored. Even while fixing the pay, the rank service of the serving officer is not counted.

The Central Government must remove these anomalies in pay and pension structures of the defence forces.

Col KULDIP SINGH GREWAL (retd), Patiala

Fatal accidents

As a regular reader of, I am aghast at the number of traffic fatalities on Indian roads. According to your report, Chandigarh is right on top in this regard. What is frustrating is the lack of public outrage and anger at these tragedies. This was hardly the case when I left India some 20 years ago. So what has changed?

Certainly, there is more traffic, heterogeneous traffic which slows everyone down, and gets on people’s nerves. However, the devil is not merely in numbers. There is more traffic per square km in New York City than in Chandigarh. Yet, fatal accidents are very rare. And the traffic moves faster. The answer is simple: people follow the rules. Yielding the right-of-way, waiting for a few seconds, slowing down here and there, and even coming to a complete stop at blind intersections, not only save lives but get you to your destination faster. Such is the power of rules. Yet these must be observed collectively.

Let there be laws that make rash driving a criminal act. But in a system so hopelessly compromised, will the people ever get the kind of legislation and enforcement that will prevent such tragedies? Those wielding power should note that killer buses do not discriminate on the basis of political power. Let the police do its job — your loved ones are counting on it.

VIJAY S. BAJWA, Morganville (USA)

Dispute over astrology

The dispute over the appropriateness of studying astrology in the universities can be resolved if the disputants agree to widen their perspectives slightly, without compromising their intellectual integrity.

The important question is not whether astrology is a science. Its claims to truth have neither been finally settled nor comprehensively challenged yet. The correct approach would be to look at it as a discourse that has a specific history in which ideologies are implicated. In fact, it ought to be studied as an inter-disciplinary subject — as a convergence of the philosophical, archaeological-historical, discursive and non-modern, non-western scientific effort.

Sometimes the orthoxy of science is no less vicious than the orthoxy of priestly faith. The academic world must shun both these orthodoxies. We should remember that the scientific community has frequently scorned and stifled innovation, particularly when the prevailing paradigms are challenged.

RAJESH K. SHARMA, Hoshiarpur

B.Ed course

Punjab’s Minister for Higher Education, Master Mohan Lal, has stated that there is no move to close B.Ed colleges in the state for five years. The point has further been clarified by Mr Amarjit Singh, Special Secretary, Higher Education, and Mr Gulzar Singh, DPI Colleges.

B.Ed is a professional course like the M.B.B.S. and B.D.S. and the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) is the only authority that can take a decision in this regard. This body is the supreme authority to decide whether the course is to be discontinued. It is not the function of a particular minister to continue or discontinue the course.

The universities of Punjab should be directed to start the process of holding the entrance test for the new academic session.

V. K. KOHLI, Ambala CityTop

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