Monday, August 6, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Where defence officers are looked down upon

Apropos the arrests of a retired Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) and others, these are but scraps of useless information about expendable assets of the real fixers who are carrying on their nefarious business even as we read this. These scraps are thrown by the MoD and Air HQ from time to time as red herring, especially after the Tehelka expose. The AVM has been a useful tool for his masters, he has served them well but never been really admitted into the inner circle where only very senior fighter pilots, politicos, some professional seminarists, diplomats and bureaucrats operate in full view of those who care to look.

A visit to the cocktails and seminar circuit would be an eye-opener, as would be a visit to the many watering holes in Delhi for defence officers, where serving honest officers are looked down upon with disdain and scorn by even the waiters who are more accustomed to the 500 rupees speed money that changes hands "to insure promptness".

For the record, the AVM was the right hand man of the brother-in-law of Win Chadha in the 1980s. The brother-in-law was the AOC-in-C and was the Secretary to the Chiefs of Staff Committee when Bofors hit the fan. He was also Joint Secretary (Military) in the Cabinet Secretariat. So what are we talking about here?



Akal Takht roofs

I note from a report (July 28) concerning the leaking of roofs at Akal Takht that various "Babas" have been organising its renovation. Perhaps we as a community should ask ourselves who these Babas are. Are they really the the kind of people we want to have organising repairs to the most precious monuments of our heritage?

Sometimes I get the impression that the recent work at the Golden Temple complex has done much more harm than good. Conserving ancient monuments require great skill and expertise. It seems that some of the people engaged in work on Akal Takht since 1984 may not have had this skill and expertise.


Of VCs & politics

Apropos the article "Of VCs & politics" (July 26), the malaise in our higher education, like in every other field of human endeavour, has tickled from the top.

Since the ongoing political interference in our higher education has embedded in our corrupt system rather deeply, I, after 33 years of college teaching, am least optimistic about its revival to its past glory. In fact, over the years, I too have become a rotten part of this rotten system, where I keep trying to please my non-academician bosses/acquaintances to elicit one or the other personal benefit.

Perhaps many do not know that a teacher, only because of being a teacher, is not entitled to a government house in Chandigarh above type ten. While bureaucratic babus, with much smaller pay packets than college teachers are entitled to higher types of houses. Obviously they themselves are the law-makers!

Leave aside VCs, even principals of colleges are appointed on considerations other than academic. And in this regard ad hocism is one thing that suits all administrations the most. For then it is easier for the authorities to twist their noses, as per their personal whims, rather easily. Take for example the local College of Art. It has been without a regular Principal since 1989. A non-academician headed this so-called professional institution for almost five long years.

The example of the doctor who recently operated upon our Prime Minister and who earlier was a total reject here sufficiently points towards the complete failure of our education system that forces the brilliant ones to leave the country and serve the aliens.

In a country where VCs propagate in favour of the growing corrupt practices of private tuitions instead of bringing remedies that could eradicate the malaise, one can be nothing but a pessimist!

BALVINDER, Chandigarh

VC's appointment: Over the past one decade or so, VCs have been appointed on considerations other than merit, be it sycophancy, nepotism, caste or creed. Even retired bureaucrats, Army Generals and briefless lawyers have been appointed VCs.

During his tenure as Minister of Education, Mr M.C. Chagla, continued to maintain that we had made a serious mistake by making education a state subject. Evidently he ascribed our educators lack of ambition to its being controlled by small men in the state capitals and state universities.


For and against PAU role

This refers to the letters of Capt Harjinder Singh Gill and Dr (Mrs) Suneeta Dhir. The editorial "Politics at PAU" against political interference in the working of the universities was well-thought of and based on principles.

It is common knowledge that efforts for enforcement of the rule of law are always opposed and resented by work-shirkers. Capt Harjinder Singh Gill, who claims to be a representative of the farming community, seems to be either ignorant about the mandate and working of PAU and the historical role played by it in ushering in the Green Revolution or is knowingly tarnishing the image of the institution because of the reasons best known to him.

We have been associated with this great institution for long as members of the Punjab Kisan Club which has been established and nurtured by the university. As a result of our continuous interaction with scientists, we have not only been able to modernise our own farming techniques but also help other farmers in doing so. We have found the PAU faculty and authorities at all levels always willing to help farmers. The efforts of the new Vice-Chancellor, Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, to enforce discipline and punctuality need support from all sections of society. Does the writer want to convey that punctuality and discipline should not be enforced? Similarly, all right-thinking persons will always agree that unnecessary political interference is not in the interest of smooth functioning of educational and research institutions.

PAU's major mandate is to generate new technology through continued research efforts and the university is fulfilling this obligation and cannot be blamed for any downfall in this respect. PAU technologies for the production of foodgrains, fruits, vegetables, pulses, sugarcane, etc have the potential to increase the produce many times, but it is the absence of proper marketing infrastructure that is responsible for the poor plight of farmers.




Biased film review

This refers to “Yaadein lacks magical touch of Subhash Ghai” (July 29). We were genuinely disgusted to read such an extreme, cruel and wrong film review in a reputed paper like The Tribune.

How can you say that the story lacks grip and music fails to make an impression? Why did you not dare write the same about movies like “Tum Bin and Aks”?

Many other movies are far more hopeless than "Yaadein". But instead of criticising them, you praise them. Is this not in bad taste?

Why did you impose your bias upon people? Why did you hurt people by such rude and pricking language about someone they love?

The hatred with which you have written about the movie so early shows how low you can go because of some own prejudice or benefit.

ROHIT, MOHIT & SUNDEEP, Class XI. St Xaviers' High School, Chandigarh

PMT & IMA chief

This refers to the report “PMT racket: IMA chief seeks CBI probe”. My demand and allegations brought to my notice pertained to the PMT conducted by the CBSE though we do not have any written complaint against such a racket. It has nothing to do with the PMT conducted by Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, as we have no complaint against the PMT conducted by it.

DR. O.P. SINGH KANDE, President, IMA, PunjabTop

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