Thursday, March 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



PV Narasimha Rao’s acquittal

The Delhi High Court has rightly overturned Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao’s conviction.

If handling challenges of far-reaching and disastrous consequences is leadership, history will judge PV as India’s greatest Prime Minister thus far. When he took over in 1991, bankruptcy knocked on our doors. When he stepped down, after completing a full five years term, Indian economy had reached its highest ever growth rate of 8 per cent, from around 3.5 per cent to which it is unfortunately sliding back.

It was Rajiv Gandhi’s decision taken years earlier to permit shilanyas (PV was not consulted!) that gave some legitimacy to the Ayodhya madness. Later, V.P. Singh as PM despite claiming to “manage contradictions”, mishandled L.K. Advani’s “Rath Yatra”, that raked up communal hatred and bleeds India’s body-politic even now. PV’s handling of the subsequent Murli Manohar Joshi’s Rath Yatra, to hoist India’s national flag in Srinagar was remarkable. Skilfully, PV’s government gave him all help to reach him to some place in Jammu, but citing bad weather, persuaded him to fly from there to Srinagar, in a government helicopter, abandoning his followers there! In the fortress that the venue in Srinagar had become, the Indian national flag that Mr Joshi carried, did not even unfurl as he tugged at it! He had to unfurl a flag provided by the Army!

PV is wrongly blamed for the demolition of Babri Masjid because he was the PM then. In reality, Mr Kalyan Singh as U.P.’s Chief Minister, had assured both the PV government and the Supreme Court days earlier that the UP government would protect the masjid at all costs, only to betray both!


PV is a rare beacon of values. A statesman, scholar, tall intellectual, voracious reader and author, he believes what is good for India is good for him. He has given virtually his all (including large tracts of his ancestral land) in contrast to the worsening “grab as grab can” culture. He is not a party hopper and has been with the Indian National Congress, through thick and thin all the six decades and more of his public life. He has demonstrated that one not belonging to the Nehru Indira dynasty can not only rule, but also rule better.

At ease in a dozen languages, he detests linguistic chauvinism. He cancelled India’s nuclear bomb testing rather than opting for false bravado, and averted heightening tensions between India and Pakistan.

His press conference in Singapore, chaired by the Lee Kawn Yew, where he dealt with wide-ranging issues and the courteous but clear manner in which he humbled the Pakistan High Commissioner, reflect his sparkling brilliance. I wish Doordarshan or Star telecast it again. A treat to watch and learn from.

N. NARASIMHAN, Bangalore

Sekhon’s exit

I, as a citizen of Sovereign Democratic Republic of India, wish to know the following:

(a) How did the letter, written by Air Marshal Manjit Singh Sekhon, AOC-in-C, Southern Command, IAF, addressed to the Chief Minister of Punjab, perhaps forwarded to the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister or the Chief of Air Staff by the addressee reach the media after a lapse of five months?

(b) If the officer had faulted, why was the normal procedure to do away with his services not followed?

(c) Was the public humiliation of an upright officer, who had put in about four decades of meritorious service with numerous awards and decorations, a service requirement?

(d) By which rule of the Air Force Act, the media has been authorised to try officers of the IAF.

(e) What action is the government contemplating to put an end to the shabby treatment of men in uniform by politicians?

Wg Cdr S. S. Randhawa (retd), Chandigarh

Political virus

I was surprised to read the editorial “Political virus in defence” (March 16). With a single stroke of his pen, the agile and alert Air Marshal M.S. Sekhon has spoiled his splendid service career, a career that would have in the due course taken him to that destination without approaching any politician. He is one of the outstanding skiers whom the nation could be proud of.

I know a few cases where political interference compelled the deserving high ranking officers to resign. At least three Chiefs of Naval Staff were showered the top slot due to political patronising. One was in the sixties, second in the seventies and third in the nineties. So is the case with Army Generals. General Sinha was overlooked for the post of Chief of Army Staff due to political reasons. Lt Gen B.M. Kaul had the blessing of the then Defence Minister to over-ride his senior Commanders during the Chinese aggression. A long list of Generals is there who had resigned due to political reasons. General Thimmaya had threatened to resign if the then Defence Minister did not stop political interference in military matters.

I pity Air Marshal Sekhon, who did an irreparable damage to his image and integrity. Mir Taaqi Mir wrote:

Voh log tu ne ek hi shokhi mein kho diye

Paida kiye thhe charakh ne jo khaack chhaan kar.

Multan Singh Parihar & Rajinder Rana, Jalari (Hamirpur)

The mystery remains

On behalf of all the science students appearing in exams, I thank The Tribune for carrying the article “The mystery remains” by P. Lal (March 6). Instead of meddling into the complicated task of experiments in the practical exams just follow the writer’s formula and you are sure to come out with flying colours. Picking up a slip randomly after chanting a “mantra” with eyes closed is a novel idea for those who are not sure of their answers. Please let the students know some similar tricks and “mantras” to pass theory papers too. After all, divine powers too have to prove their efficacy to the world of science.


Bhai Vir Singh

The front portion of Bhai Vir Singh’s house in Amritsar is being used as a store house for construction material and as an open urinal. The name of the Lawrence Road was changed to Bhai Vir Singh Marg, yet the Municipal Corporation patronises the old name. There is no “Chair” for Bhai Vir Singh’s studies in the local Guru Nanak Dev University. No function is organised on Bhai Sahib’s birthday or death anniversary.

K.J.S. AHLUWALIA, Amritsar

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