Thursday, November 29, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Stray and abandoned animals in need of better shelter

The dirty, degrading and appalling conditions under which 700 stray and abandoned animals are crammed together in a congested mismanaged animal shelter near the Durgiana Temple, Amritsar, do no credit to the image of the local animal welfare organisations and sprawling gaushalas. They are herded on the ground where they stand on their own excreta emanating obnoxious odour.

They keep on their legs as they have hardly any place to sit and relax. There is insufficient roof to protect all of them in inclement months. The cold wave makes them stagger and the tiny calves shiver and die an unnatural death. There is usually paucity of fodder and clean drinking water. Only rain gives bath to these animals. They are grim-faced, uncontended and rummaging through heaps of mud and dung.

The reason behind all this cruel management is that there is no trust or NGO in control of this animal shelter. Only few helpless, unaccountable and uneducated persons are seen managing this ill-equipped and uncongenial shelter. This is a befitting institution where the local Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the management of two gaushalas can step in to set things in order. The SPCA and gaushalas have proper sheds to accommodate at least a few hundreds of these ill-fated animals.

They must feel the silent cry of agony of these animals who cannot speak and represent their cause.



Composite culture

The write-up by Tavleen Singh on “composite culture” (Nov. 24) took me down the memory lane to the city of Aligarh where I spent 15 years of my life (1951-1966).

My first primary school teacher was a Muslim lady to whom we affectionately called “Baa ji” (sister in Urdu). At this school, most kids used to be dropped and picked up by parents. She was such a kind lady that if ever a child’s parents were unable to turnup, Baa ji would personally walk the kid to his/her home.

During my high school days at Government Higher Secondary School, the student body and staff were a mix of Hindus, Muslims and Christians. My history teacher was Mr Naqvi, a great hockey player and in charge of the school’s hockey team. Mr Mohammed Aalam, our woodcraft teacher, was an excellent cricketer. I remember having asked him once as to how he can pray five times when he is at school all day. His reply was: “My dear, doing my duty is my ‘Ibaadat’ to Khudaa.”

Our day used to start with the morning prayer in Hindi: “Woh shakti humein do daya-nidhe...” All cultural events would begin with “Saraswati-Vandana”. Independence Day and Republic Day were a must for all to attend. I cannot recall a time when a Muslim teacher or a student ever objected to Saraswati-Vandana.

Divali, Dasehra and Eid were for all. Exchanging sweets on Eid and Divali between Hindus and Muslims was a part of life. More Hindus used to visit the “mazaars of peers” than Muslims.

And here we are now, where anything tied to Indian culture or Hinduism has become abhorrent for Indian Muslims due to the rise in fundamentalism. What makes me sad is that in those days Muslims were “Indians first” and now they are “Muslims first”.

ASHOK MALIK, by e-mail

Solar crematorium

I would like to make a suggestion. In our country the Hindus and the Sikhs cremate their dead. It is certainly a most hygienic and scientific way of disposing of the dead. However, there are many areas such as the desert and the semi-desert where the availability of wood even in meeting this pious duty leaves much to be desired. The situation becomes even more difficult during drought.

The dead deserve nothing but the best in their last journey. If it is possible for our scientists and solar engineers to design a solar crematorium, it would be real tribute to the dead. The sun, of course, is the ultimate source of power for the earth and each and every source of power, including wood, is derived from it. A solar crematorium will not only save trees but also help in reducing pollution. Since it is a highly sensitive issue connected with our religious sentiments, it would be best to get the views of saints and religious authorities so that not only is there no opposition, but a whole-hearted acceptance. In fact, if the Ministry of Non-Conventional Sources of Energy, with the vast scientific expertise in harnessing solar energy at its command, takes up the challenge, it would render a real service to t he nation.

S. C. GUPTA, Rohtak

VC’s agenda

Apropos of the article “Pathak for open evaluation system” by P.P.S. Gill, the various points raised by Dr K.N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor, regarding the “autonomous” colleges are worth contesting. The experience with Class 11 of the 10+2 system tell the true story: +1 being internal, most of the students are promoted to the +2 class under pressure from various quarters but fail to qualify the +2 class as is evident from the low pass percentage of various +2 boards. Some universities don’t have papers for the practical examination. As a result, different yardsticks are used by different examiners and hence the need for the entrance examinations for postgraduate classes.

Further, the students should be discouraged from seeking admissions to regular classes but they should be asked to opt for the profession of their choice at the earliest and should study through distance education. Hence, there is no need to have a two-shift system for education as these would increase the number of job seekers in the market.

Before any change is made on a large scale, the teachers at the grassroots level must be consulted, as many times the policy-makers are ignorant of the ground realities.

V. K. SHARMA, Shimla

Old age allowance

The Punjab Cabinet has decided to grant 5 and 10 per cent of the basic pension as old age allowance to all its pensioners who attain the age of 65 & 75 years respectively w.e.f 1.1.2001 in pursuance of the recommendation of the fourth pay commission.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, had announced the acceptance of this very demand at Fatehgarh Sahib on 25.4.2001 at a state-level convention of the Punjab government pensioners. Pensioners are feeling disappointed over the non-issue of the notification so far.

ML MEHTA, Jalandhar

Pension & aided colleges

I wish to remind PPS Gill that the pension-cum-gratuity scheme is to be implemented w.e.f. April 1, 1992, not w.e.f. April 26, 1999. It is to be paid to all retirees of the aided colleges through the treasury.

More than one petition are pending with the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal should not leave this important issue to his ministers who are simply indulging in political gimmicks, but should take personal interest in its implementation as the Bill for pension-cum-gratuity was moved by him on March 30, 1999, lest the onus for its non-implementation should lie wholly and squarely with him.

K. K. KHOSLA, Ludhiana

Diploma delayed

We, the students of Hartron Work Station,Punjabi Mohalla, Ambala cantt, appeared in the one-year diploma course in Computer Science for which the examination was conducted by the State Board of Technical Education, Haryana, in January, 1999. Till now the diploma certificate has not been issued to us.

On enquiry we are told that the certificates are awaited from the State Board of Technical Education, Chandigarh.



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