Saturday, January 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India 

National Capital Region--Delhi



Talk of war: time for retrospection

Much is being talked about nowadays about the likelihood of a war with Pakistan. The pros and the cons. Unfortunately, much of the discussion in the drawingrooms of cities like Delhi is nothing but another topic to vacillate over, before progressing to more important subjects like New Year revelry.

People in big cities are quite numbed into the realities of the prevalent crime, and the mafia — “Take what you want, but leave me alone” syndrome. Most are not bothered about what happens in far-flung Kashmir, or elsewhere, as long as their homes are secure. Even the attack on Parliament is taken in their stride: “Didn’t something similar happen at the Kapoors’ farmhouse last year?”. The insult to democracy is as nonchalant as a mugging in the New York of yore.

It is unfortunate that some such people advise the government on matters beyond their faculties’ limitations. Even think-tanks can comprise people with myopia but having greater social than other skills. The “I-am-subservient” brigade does not help matters, either.

Today is a time for retrospection, and a time to think of the nation’s image, and its future. If only the nation’s leaders had vision, India would be spared its misery.

Let’s go back a few years in history.

We made crucial mistakes in the Congress years — like releasing the 90,000 PoWs. If we had kept them for a few months, we could have asked Pakistan for the moon, and got it, but such was the charm of Z.A. Bhutto that Indira Gandhi could not resist.


Then, we added Sikkim to the Indian Union, which was a mistake — we got more of the Chinese border to ourselves, rather than via another country, which was under our control, in any case.

Much later, we meddled in Sri Lanka to boost the ego of a naive Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, who fell to the knavery of a Sri Lankan President, and lost precious lives of Indian soldiers.

At about the same time, we missed a historical opportunity, to initially gain control, and subsequently amalgamate into the Indian Union, the Maldives. If that was done, we would have had control over the complete northern Indian Ocean, and also controlled the complete eastern trade to/from Pakistan.

We have fought a proxy war for the last decade in Kashmir, and an informal one over Kargil. So why not formalise the whole thing. Does it take a threat to our Gandhi-topis to realise the gravity of the situation. If only these people had the foresight and guile of the Mahatma beneath the topi!

A war will not last more than 10-15 days, and this time frame is nothing in comparison to the last 12-odd years of insurgency in Kashmir and Punjab. Those fearful of the costs of war, and its futility, ought to be reminded that India has lost more soldiers in Sri Lanka and in the last 12 years in anti-insurgency, than it did in the wars with Pakistan.

This is also about the last time that we can have a non-nuclear war with Pakistan — their atomic weapon delivery systems are not in place; their claims of missile capability are suspect, and their own forces are demoralised after their government did a volte face on the Taliban-led Afghanistan. Moreover, their economy is a shambles; the people are wary of the government; the Americans have exhausted their need of Pakistan, and being jettisoned by them is not unlikely. Besides, we have the moral support of the rest of the world, who have condemned Pakistan’s encouragement of terrorists.

A swift and decisive action is not only required to achieve greater peace, but also to tell the world, Indian people and our demoralised defence services that India will not remain a punching bag forever — a dog that only barks but does not bite!

A. TYAGI, by e-mail


Fraud on telephone users

The telephone department has played a fraud on the telephone users in the name of providing local call facility up to a distance of 200 km.

The so-called local call facility has not been made available at local call charges but at a six times higher rate. While a local call is charged at the pulse rate of 180 seconds per unit call, the rate for the local call facility for a distance of 200 km has been fixed at 30 seconds per unit call. Simply put, if a local call of three minutes duration costs Rs 1, the local facility call of same duration will cost Rs 6.

Evidently, the tariff fixed for the local call facility is not justified and should, therefore, be suitably reduced.

WG CDR C. L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar



PGI functioning

This refers to the news item “PGIMR operation theatre closed”. It was disgusting to know that the institutions which are supposed to serve the poor and the needy are being used to operate the pets of faculty members. Not only in this case but in almost every department the rule “Boss is always right, even if he is wrong” applies.

Many surgeries are now delayed, some of them may be emergency surgeries, only because of the high-handedness of a top functionary of the institution. Can he imagine the condition of the suffering patients waiting for their turn and their attendants who have to look after them in these chilling conditions?

The person responsible for this must be made to pay for the total sterilisation of the operation theatre, besides requisite punishment for misusing his powers. Har shaakh pe ulloo baitha hai, anjam-e gulistan kya hoga?


Hafiz & Bukhara

In his write-up “About Kabul rouble, Lahore trouble”, Mr K. Rajbir Deswal has remarked that the famous Persian poet, Hafiz, held the memories of Samarkand and Bukhara (wrongly mentioned as Bukahra) so close to his heart that he could only barter away the nostalgia of these cities if his beloved would “hold his heart in her hands”.

The relevant extravagantly enthusiastic verse is: “Agar aan turk-e-Shirazi ba-dast aarad dil-e-ma ra/Ba-khaal-e-hinduash bakhsham Samarkand-o-Bukhara ra” (If that Shirazi beloved holds my heart in her hand, I shall give away Samarkand and Bukhara for her (face’s black mole).

Samarkand was the capital of Timur’s empire. Bukhara was also a part of his dominion. Hafiz was born in Shiraz and had nothing to do with the aforesaid cities. In fact, he had deep-seated love for Musalla and Ruknabad. Many rulers invited him. He said: “Namey dehand ijaazat mara ba sair-o-safar/ Naseem-e-khaak-e-Musalla o aab-e-Ruknabad” (The breeze of Musalla and the water of Ruknabad do not allow me to undertake journey to any other place).

Yet the poet did not give away these cities for the black mole of his beloved’s face. Apparently, he mentioned Samarkand and Bukhara because these were then famous cities and fitted well into the verse in accordance with its poetic measure and Bukhara also rhymed with “ma ra” of the first line.

When Timur conquered Shiraz, he summoned Hafiz and said, “I have laid waste a large number of cities so that Samarkand and Bukhara should flourish, but you have given them away for the black mole of your beloved’s face”.

“It is because of such prodigalities that I am now living in poverty and distress”, the poet quipped.


MFN status & Pak

The stubborn Pakistan that keeps escalating tension on the border, should not be denied “most favoured nation” status. Only the word “favoured” may be replaced with “foolish”.

S. P. BASSI, Nawanshahr

Mirage of Akali unity

Owing to a printing error, the name of Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, got misspelt in the editorial “Mirage of Akali unity” in the issue dated January 4. The error is regretted.Top

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