Wednesday, January 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Let the middle class take the lead

The report “Dhumal again blames it on Congress” (December 21) made interesting reading. It makes clear that “there is no alternative but to raise fresh loans to repay the previous ones.” Most of the power houses and transmission lines of the State stand mortgaged; the Electricity Board, the Transport Corporation, the Agro-Industries Corporation and the Milk Federation are in the red, agricultural and animal breeding farms are being closed down; the universities and all the state departments are starved of funds. Bankruptcy, if not already there, is not very far off.

And yet there was a time when the departments and the treasuries were overflowing with funds and a failure to utilise allotments invited punishment. Then the politicians, ever hungry for power and funds, started making tall claims of Himachal’s potential of economic viability and the power and vote-obsessed centre granted statehood. Those in the Assembly rejoiced, the people suffered and people’s vows have been increasing since then.

What is the way out? That the State assemblies and the cabinets will not address the problem is clear and has been admitted. They will stop or withhold the salaries and pensions (never done to assemblies or the secretariat) or inflict heavier public debts on the State, and having had a good time, will pass the problem on to the next Assembly. The Central Government, instead of dissolving the defaulting assemblies, has started the practice of purchasing loyalties by providing occasional grants.

Much like a sovereign rewarding his faithful minors during the middle ages. So it is left to the educated and perhaps disillusioned middle class to take the lead and ask the politicians to accept and discharge responsibilities or to get out and pave the way for President’s rule till the economy is back on the rails. Else, all development will come to a stop. There is already no money for education, agriculture, animal husbandry or health. The governments are fast losing their welfare character and are becoming white elephants administering law and order, that too, not very effectively.

Was it for this that we won freedom? Let Virbhadra and Dhumal answer.

L. R. SHARMA, Solan


Mohammad Iqbal

Bhagwan Singh has rightly observed that Dr Mohammad Iqbal was the greatest poet after Ghalib, notwithstanding the fact that he was “an ebullient propagator of Pan-Islamism”. A product of an age that was economically unstable, politically unsettled, intellectually restive and the one devoid of the power of faith, he emerged as a genius among Urdu poets.

The impact of Western thought on Iqbal is traceable directly to his study of Western philosophy and literateurs. He was in touch with minds like McTaggart and Henri Begson, whose theory of creative evolution had a discernible influence on him. In Germany, he was exposed to the philosophy of Wilhelan Dilthey, who had rejected Descarts and Carl Jaspers, besides Martin Heideggar. He had studied Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Goethe, Schiller, Fischte, and Nietzsche. In England, Bertrand Russel’s philosophical works, too, had a deep influence on him.

His stay in Europe coincided with the deep crisis, which had struck the Islamic world, which was in the throes of physical disintegration. Iqbal’s sensitive mind felt that a philosophy based on man’s capacity to forge ahead constantly, despite setbacks and shortcoming, could alone effectively build up the strength required to counter the European thrust and exploitation. No wonder, poems such as Shikwah (1909), Shama-o-Shair, Jawab-e-Shikwah (1912), Khizr-e-Rah and Tuloo-e-Islam (1921-22) flow from that realisation.

These anti-British and anti-West feelings crystalised in Iqbal’s earlier poems, such as Taranah-e-Hindi and Naya Shivala. In the former, he says that “Though the cycle of Time has been inimical to us for centuries/Religion does not teach mutual bitterness/We are all Indians and India is our motherland”. In the latter, he says that “for me, every particle of the dust of my motherland is a deity”.

Nevertheless, Iqbal’s long stay in Europe was responsible for a diversion from nationalism. He now grew sceptical about the genuineness of the concept of nationalism, which, to him, was at the root of all the evils of the modern world.

First Pan-Islamism and later humanism seemed to promise an alternative. By the time, the World War I broke out, the first phase of his poetry identified with national awakening had come to a close. Now, Pan-Islamism, which negatived nationalism, beckoned to him. This transition from the nationalist to the Pan-Islamic phase underlined a major contradiction, for it conceived of humanity in terms of creed and religion. Later, his emphasis was on the building of ‘Khudi’ or self-realisation — a consciousness of the powers that lie within man to subdue base and baneful elements in order to forge ahead. He now came to believe in the progress of humanity. He wrote: “Urooj-e-adam-e-khaki se anjum saihme jate hain/Ke yeh toota hua tara mah-e-kamil na ban jae” (The stars are put to fright by the rise of man on earth/Lest this meteor turn into a full moon).

Time and change are the two most important aspects of Iqbal’s concept of reality, and, as a thinker, he visualises infinite possibilities of growth and advancement in an otherwise apparently gloomy situation that surrounded the nation and the Muslim community. Thus, in Iqbal’s art, there is an evolutionary movement, a definite and continuous growth, where the poetic experience responds adequately to the thought substance. It is this uniqueness of his poetic experience and the universality of his vision that make Iqbal the greatest of all poets that Urdu produced, next only to Ghalib.


Saving higher education

Every time the teachers of privately managed colleges adopt the path of agitation to protest against the apathetic attitude of the government towards their genuine demands, they invite public wrath and criticism. Teachers are labelled as shirkers who thrive on tuitions and do not hesitate to jeopardise the career of their students for their gains. It is alleged that they take only 2 to 3 periods a week and hardly do any teaching even in those periods. I wonder why such allegations are hurled upon the teachers only during strike days and there is any gain of truth in these charges why do people prefer to send their wards to these colleges. I would like to enlist a few facts about the hopeless teachers who always find himself between the devil and the deep sea whenever he resorts to agitation:

Teachers strike work when all other options have been exhausted. They do not agitate on flimsy pretexts but for their genuine, long pending demands which have been accepted by the government a number of times without being actually implemented. College teachers take four periods everyday for six days in a week. Their winter break and a major portion of the summer break is devoted to marking papers, attending refresher courses, seminars, conferences and updating their knowledge otherwise. In addition, a number of days are given to cultural activities, functions, admission procedure and examinations.

Seventyfive per cent of the total burden of higher education is borne by privately managed colleges. A great number of doctors, engineers, software experts and other professionals who are excelling themselves in India and various advanced countries are the product of these colleges only. This is proof enough of the commitment and dutifulness of the teachers in these colleges.

The commonest grouse against the teachers is that they agitate for pay-hikes, though they get salaries as high as Rs 25,000. The fact is that a very small percentage of these teachers get this amount but 30 per cent of this returned to the government as income tax. Does the nation builder not have a right to dignified life while people in other lines are making money like evading tax without any qualms of conscience?

It is a pity that the best brains of the country are forced to leave their labs and classrooms to fight in not for their rights alone but to safeguard the interest of the students too. For if the government succeeds in its draconian designs, fee hikes will make higher education a luxury for the common man. Parents must join hands with teachers in their struggle to save higher education.


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |