Tuesday, October 9, 2001,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
M A I L B A G

US gameplan: India’s priorities don’t fit in

The attack on J&K Assembly and the overreaction on false alarm of hijacking are linked events. India is now in a state of shock after the Assembly attack and has become panicky, extra-cautious and over-reactive. This is really a dangerous situation, which may land India into self-created troubles as has happened at the prospects of elimination of terrorists pledge by the USA after the September 11 attack.

Expecting terrorists operating in J&K at the verge of extinction in the new situation it went out of its own sovereign commitments and offered all assistance, including military aircraft landing facilities, for attacks on the Laden/Taliban terrorist nexus without caring for the consequences.

India must remember that the USA has no permanent friends but permanent interests. It has nothing to do with universal human values; it has its own set aims and objectives and does not care for others beyond that. India lies neither in the ambit of US friends nor in the periphery of permanent US interests; hence India’s priorities do not fit in their scheme of things. India must not go out of its way to side with US at the cost of its own permanent interests.



 

The nearly mute reaction at Musharraf’s recent speech asking India to “lay-off” in the hope that India should not trouble Pakistan when it is already in thick soup is really ludicrous. A wise person always strikes the iron when it is hot. India is now in the best of the situation to strike.

Once Laden is captured and the Taliban are replaced, Pakistan will be the blue-eyed boy of the USA and more dangerous for India as its terrorist activities will continue unabated. Even the USA will then side with Pakistan and pressure India in meeting the demands of Pakistanis. India is not in a position to bear pressures as it has no permanent friends left to help out in this West- dominated world.

Col (Dr) D. S. GREWAL, Ludhiana

Umar Khayyam

In his write-up “Lesson in English”, Mr W.L. Gordon has remarked under the sub-head “Often mispronounced”: “Omar Khayyam (the famed Persian poet). Pronounce his last name as kie-yam with accent on the second syllable”.

The correct spelling of the first name of the poet is Umar and not Omar. Of course, Khayyam should be pronounced as kie-yaam. Khayyaam means a tent-maker.

Khayyam was not only a distinguished poet, but also a great mathematician. He wrote “Rubaaiyyaat” (quatrains) only. Since wine finds a menti-on in almost every quatrain, he is generally regarded as a toper. Even a champagne has been named after him. In portraits he is shown with a flagon and a goblet in his hands.

Actually, he was a strait-laced teetotaller. The wine, referred to in his verses, purported to be the wine of divine love and mystic knowledge and not any spirituous liquor. “I want to quaff such wine copiously so that his aroma should come from my grave and intoxicate the seekers of spiritual truth when they visit it”, he declared.

Khayyam had a keen sense of honour and dignity. Once the ruler of Neshapur asked him to teach his children at the royal dwelling and offered him several thousand rupees for this purpose. The poet frankly told the potentate to send his children to the mosque where he taught those of poor people. The monarch considered it below his diginity. Khayyam spurned the hefty offer and said:

Jaanam ba-fidaaey aan ke oo aihl bavad.

Sar dar qadmash agar neham saihl bavad.

Khaahi ke ba-daani ba-yaqeen dozzakh cheest.

Dozzakh ba-jahaan sohbat-e-na aihl bavad.

(I sacrifice my life for a talented person and willingly place my head at his feet. Do you want to know definitely what is hell in the world? It is the company of a fool).

Bhagwan Singh, Qadian

Poor diplomacy

After the suicidal attacks, the USA took long to plan strategies to be executed. Not even a single American has said a word against the US government for the delay tactics. This shows the depth of decency, democracy and nationhood.

On the other hand, look at us. The Foreign Minister took no time in announcing all kinds of support to the USA against the terrorists, when it was not even thought of by the taker. We have been exposed as being very poor in diplomacy and crafty politics. After about three weeks, the Prime Minister denied having made any offer to the USA.

The need of the hour was that we should have paid all our attention on safeguarding our sensitive installations and activate the intelligence agencies, which normal fail us. Instead, we thought it fit to ban SIMI as if we had already crushed all kinds of terrorism from our land. This decision was certainly taken on communal considerations, which is potentially dangerous. The two dozen parties in the coalition have kept mum on this issue just to keep their ministerial seats safe.

Major NARINDER SINGH JALLO (retd), KapurthalaTop

 

 

Railway accidents

The recent levy on railway passengers, ostensibly for ensuring safe railway travel is unjustified. Safety can be ensured by enforcing strictly rules which have been evolved since 1853 when the Railway transport started in India. It seems that there are about 50 rules to be followed before a mainline train starts: all evolved over decades with only one aim: passenger safety. Even a small railway functionary like a bridge inspector can stop the entire system if he opines that any bridge is unsafe. There are many other safety measures. Neglect in following them is the main cause of railway accidents.

Renewal of worn out tracks, rolling stock and strengthening or rebuilding of old bridges is long overdue. The recent bridge collapse disaster in Kerala is a red signal to the authorities. If the present neglect continues, similar accidents will take place all over India.

The constraint for improvements is not funds but lack of will on the part of politicians and railway employees.

Unfortunately, the Railways have become a milch-cow for many politicians, bureaucrats and railway employees. Its facilities are used as free transit camps for political followers and political parties shamelessly vie with each other in encouraging their followers to travel without tickets for attending mass rallies.

In some parts of the country, ticketless travel has become a fundamental right, and a lax railway administration tolerates it.

The top railway brass panders to the whims of politicians and is busy enjoying its saloons, foreign tours and other perquisites. Officers down the line take the line of least resistance. Fleecing of fare paying passengers and businessmen who use freight services, by railway staff results in a huge loss of revenue.

Mafia gangs have a free run of many goods yards and a number of railway platforms have become housing colonies.

No wonder. The Railways have no resources and travel has become a hazard, in spite of enormous managerial and employee capabilities which can give India a world class railway system. A change can come only when the public clamours and compels the political and railway authorities to give to the country once again a good and honest system evolved over nearly a century and a half.

M. R. PAI, Mumbai

Bias in admissions

Apropos the news item "Bias in admissions alleged" (Sept 29), it is a matter of great concern for employees residing in villages. The SGPC authorities rejected their wards for admission to the MBBS and BDS courses merely because their parents are in government service. They have instead obliged the near and dear ones of those with political approach.

K. S. MARHANA, Marhana (Tarn Taran)

Killing time for KBC

The observations by Mr K.L. Noatay are noteworthy and timely. Amitabh Bachchan perhaps does not realise the fact by calling 10 contestants for an episode he not only greatly disappoints the remaining contestants, but is also personally responsible for "befooling" millions of people by presenting a simple question and leaving them with mere four telephone numbers to dial in this so vast a country.

Principal GURDEV SINGH, Patiala

Medical colleges

Today even if one has cleared all PMT tests, one is still not sure of admission in any medical college. Parents are forced to pay hefty donations. Admission on merit has become a dream of the past. Sometimes it takes the whole period of medical educational (five years) to pay off debts. Securing a government job as a doctor is not even guaranteed after that.

KUSUM SHARMA, JindTop

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