Saturday, February 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Damaging non-news about anti-polio drive

The Tribune carried a news item "Baby dies after anti-polio drops" (Jan. 21) on its page one while the denial "Death not due to polio drops: father" was published on page 10 and that too after the completion of the polio campaign.

I remember reading a similar news item in your newspaper during the pulse polio drive last year when two children died due to hepatitis during the polio drive, but the headline of the news item read: "Two children die after getting anti-polio drops".

Do you realise the extent of damage that your catchy but baseless news items might have inflicted on the pulse polio immunisation campaign? There are countless people who read headlines only. Do you realise how such news might have dissuaded people from giving polio drops to their children, thereby putting the entire community at risk of polio attack?

The government and international agencies have put in their best efforts and crores of rupees for this noble cause. Both news items were typical cases of "irresponsible journalism".


Telecom tariff

The reduction in telecom is not a windfall for subscribers, but a long overdue correction. The country has suffered from high tariff and low density of telecommunications because of the rigid structure, outdated technology and low degree of consumer awareness during the days of Department of Telecommunications. Even after liberalisation, less than 5,000 I.T.S. officers in the Telecom Department (with a few honourable exceptions) dictated the telecom policy to preserve their grip over the system at the cost of the subscriber and the country’s long-term interest. At the operational level, what a telecom official privately described, there was management by linemen.


With enlarged competition, fortunately those unpleasant days are over and the providers have to run after and please subscribers.

The emergence of many new technologies has now made it possible for a telecom revolution (witness China and some other South-East Asian countries) enabling the spread of telecommunications at affordable cost to every nook and corner of the country. Where ownership is not possible, there can be access to phones to all citizens.

When this development takes place fully, more than the urban centres, the rural economy, will get a tremendous fillip. The growth in rural purchasing power will in turn set off a vigorous revival of industries in urban areas. More important, many self-employment opportunities will be created all over the country, thus mitigating problem.

M. R. PAI, Mumbai

Of desireless heart

Apropos of his letter “Power of prayer” (Jan 12), Mr Narindra Khosla deserves my thanks for correcting two mistakes in my letter-”kishti” as “kashti” and “brought” as “wrought”. These were committed by the typist and I failed to see them even in my letter carried on December 20.

He has also quoted Ghalib’s verse” Gar tujh ko hai yaqeen-e-i jaabat doa na maang/Yani baghair yak dil-e-bemudd’a na maang (If you are sure of the acceptance of your prayer, do not pray to God for anything other than a desireless heart). In other words, when there is no desire, there will be no need to address a prayer to God.

While Ghalib wanted a desireless heart, his contemporary, Zauq, prayed to God for such a heart as remained cheerful even in distress. He supplicated: Dil dey to is mizaaj ka parvardigaar day/Jo ranj ki ghari bhi khushi mein guzaar day.

It is, however, difficult, nay impossible, to live without desires. Only some mystics may gain control over their desires. Ghalib was light-hearted and took the things as they came. Yet he had desires galore as is evident from his verse: Hazaaron khaahishein aisi ke har khaahish pe dam nikley/bahot nikley merey armaan lekin phir bhi kam nikley.

Ghalib was not a stickler for strict religious discipline. When asked about his religion by Col Browne, he very frankly called himself a half-Muslim on the ground that he took wine but avoided pork. The holy Quran promises paradise for pious people. But he considered it just a notion to please the heart — Ham ko ma’loom hai jannat ki haqeeqat lekin/Dil key khush rakhney ko Ghalib ye khayaal achchha hai.

He seldom observed fast and said “namaaz” even in the holy month of Ramazan. He declared that he was such a free-thinking, self-conceited person even in religious exercises that he would return from Ka’aba without paying obeisance if its door was not open — Bandagi mein bhi voh aazaad -o-khud been hain ke ham/ultey phir aaey dar-e-Ka’aba agar va na hua.

Yet despite his prayerlessness he was held in high esteem even by Sayyad Ghaus Ali Shah Qualandar of Silsila-e-Qaadriya. It is not surprising that such a “khaal mast” poet (happy despite poverty) wanted a desireless heart to avoid praying to God for anything.


Self-imposed corruption

In the present-day India the honest has become an object of ridicule and the dishonest and the manipulator have been put on a high pedestal. The former is considered a negative element synonymous with stagnant and outmoded attitude whereas the latter is praised for his positive attitude synonymous with “go-getter” and an update practical image. Our governing apparatus has been high-jacked by these dishonest carpet baggers and have reduced it to “the government of the corrupt, by the corrupt and for the corrupt”.

The bribe, which was considered ignoble and changed hands under the table, is now claimed and taken unabashedly over the table without any shame or fear under the misnomer of “speed money”. The bribes have now percolated from top executive/politician to the grassroots level of the babu. What was the bane of big projects/business transactions at the top has descended to mundane fields at the doorstep of the common man. No case file now move without “speed money”. It may be issue of ration card, renewal/issue of driving/arms licence, power/water connection, registration of sale/purchase/lease of property and even hiring of a house to a public office, speed money is a must.

You go to any public office, the babu-in-charge confronts you with that unmistakable hungry and angry look to communicate his intentions which, if you fail to understand, results in his feigning to be extremely busy followed by his curt order to come on some later date and this is repeated in the expectation that you realise your folly. As a natural aftermath of this degradation in our moral values and consequent all-pervasive corruption at the grass roots level, everyday life of citizens has become a living hell.

What are the remedies to stall further degradation? The only remedy is that the honest public should arise and launch a self-help campaign and collectively wage a war against the corrupt by exposing them and exhorting them to effect hiatus with venality and to bring about their resurrection through persuasion and moral education, failing which through force of public opinion and if necessary public interest litigation.

But above all we have to discipline ourselves and bring about a change in our society through personal example wherein the giver of bribe, in the garb of speed money, is also held guilty and seen with contempt. They are the real villains.

Brig W. S. CHOUDARY (retd), Panchkula

Indians in Malaysia

I would like to highlight how we Indians are treated outside our country. We Indians in Malaysia and Hongkong are called "manhkali kui" which in Chinese means black Indian ghost. If we want to open an account in a bank, the first question in the Chinese mind will be: how has this Indian got money? They will put all complications until we are exhausted like Moosadi Lal in the "Office Office" programme on SAB TV.

If we tell them that we are from India, they show us newspaper clippings of scandals done by our national leaders which implies that if our leaders are corrupt, so are we.

MEENU, Malaysia


Bhatti’s suitcase

With the release of his suitcase manifesto, Jaspal Bhatti has brought a puff of fresh air to an atmosphere of political stink. The courage he has shown in publicly denouncing the menance of corruption will be the better appreciated if we remember that the majority of the people condemn politicians as corrupt and criminals and yet do everything in their power to share a platform with them and praise them.

A millennium of slavery has turned us into a nation of "chamchas" and opportunists ever ready to sacrifice all principles.

L. R. SHARMA, Jalandhar

Telephone directory

Telephone users in Jalandhar have just received the new telephone directory. Unfortunately, the print used this time is too small to be easily readable.

Wg Cdr C. L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar

Ardas, not antim

Information of the bhog ceremony is often conveyed in different newspapers and cards with the words "Antim Ardas". Jathedar Manjit Singh at a recent bhog ceremony in Patiala clarified that the word "Antim" should not be written, only Bhog & Ardas. He asked: “Do you think the departed soul is remembered for the last time (antim) on such an occasion?”

A. S. SHAH, PatialaTop

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