Monday, April 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Reviewing the Constitution: just one cheer for the commission

Poonam I. Kaushish has given just one cheer to the Constitution Review Commission. That too, grudgingly (April 9). Even if all the recommendations reportedly made by the commission are accepted and implemented, Laloo Yadav will still be able to rule Bihar via his spouse and Vajpayee will still find it more useful to shake hands with Jayalalitha rather than try her on charges of corruption.

The President and the Prime Minister will fail to punish or remove from office corrupt CMs if the numbers favour the latter. Bankrupt states will continue to support the ministers who do not pay their water and electricity bills and fail to file their income tax returns. In spite of the efforts put in by Justice Venkatachaliah, elections to legislatures will remain out of the reach of an average middle-class tax-paying citizen. Above all, elections to the professedly secular Houses will continue to be conducted and contested on a communal basis.

Why at all set up a commission to review a secular Constitution should recommend the recognition of Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism as separate and independent religions passes the comprehension of an average Indian. Perhaps, because an average Indian claims nothing more than common sense. Poonam is shocked that the question of a uniform civil code was not even raised! But stating the essential unity of all mankind is a taboo in this land.

L.R. SHARMA, Solan


Schools in border areas

This refers to the report on teachers in the border belt (April 10). Problem in the border belt are really too grim to be described in words. Absenteeism and using hired teachers is just one very basic problem. Of late, the presence of the Army in schools has proved to be a major problem. One can imagine the state of affairs in a five-room school in which three rooms are occupied by the Army.

Lack of adequate transport facilities is another reason for late arrival of teachers in some schools. Poverty and harvesting season may be responsible for insignificant attendance of students. Parents are also unwilling to send children to such schools where all rooms are occupied by the Army. Consequently, the students and teachers have to stay outdoors in the summer heat.

Those teachers who are found running their own private schools should be suspended immediately while in other cases stringent measures should be taken only after taking into account factors like the presence of the Army, transport facilities and infrastructure. Frequent departmental checks can also ensure the attendance of teachers in border area schools.




A separate religion

The Constitution, Review Commission has correctly recommended the deletion of Explanation II to Article 25. It will certainly clarify to the world that Sikhism is an independent and separate religion and is no longer a branch or offshoot of Hinduism. The SGPC, the Punjab Government, the National Minorities Commission, Sikh scholars and others have uniformly asked for its deletion.

During his visit to Amritsar last year in connection with a seminar on review of the Constitution at Guru Nanak Dev University, the Sikhs convinced the Chairman of the Commission, Mr Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, about the futility of the Explanation. He promised that the commission would certainly recommend for its deletion. The recommendation shows that the promise has been well kept.

The commission has also recommended rewording of Article 25(2)(b) providing for state legislation, inter-alia, for throwing open of Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religious institutions of public character to all classes and sections of these religions. It is submitted that the names of the specific religions need not be mentioned in the provision; it should simply provide for throwing open of religious institutions of public character to all classes and sections of the respective religion.

This way the clause will be uniformly applicable, wherever required, to all the public religious institutions belonging to all communities. Keeping in view the political realities at the moment, one cannot expect any quick action to amend the Constitution, but let us hope that it will be done sooner than later.

Only then the Sikh community will be successful in ensuring constitutional recognition about the distinct & independent identity of its religion.

Dr KASHMIR SINGH, Professor of Law, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

Going to school

School goers in New Delhi and elsewhere have to travel several kilometres to reach their destination. In Canada it is imperative for all students to go to the school in their vicinity. Parents should buy their children bicycles, as in China, and encourage their kids to pedal their way to school.


Of killings & apologies

Not very long ago Ms Sonia Gandhi came to Punjab to seek votes for her party. She had then apologised for the 1984 riots. Now Prabhakaran has apologised for the Rajiv Gandhi killing and admitted it was a tragic incident. If Ms Sonia Gandhi is ready to forgive Prabhakaran, and withdraw cases against the other members of the conspiracy, Sikhs can think of forgiving those responsible for the 84 riots. If she is hesitant, she should never again talk anything about the 84 riots again.


Filthy Ludhiana

I recently visited my old city. With all the education centres and fancy clubs, Ludhiana remains the filthiest city of Punjab. What are the MC commissioners and their staff doing to clean up the main streets and roads of the inner city?


Practical exams

There are umpteen instances wherein students score cent per cent or 99 per cent marks in practical tests but fare poorly, even fail, in theory papers. In such cases the practical examiners must be taken to task.

SUBHASH C.Sharma, Rewari

Train to Goa

Tourists from Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal and Haryana, intending to visit Goa, feel discouraged to undertake the trip, anticipating two or three train changes along with their children and luggage, up to Hazrat Nizamu din from where a direct train to Goa starts.

Jehlum Express running between Jammu Tawi and Poona may be extended up to Vasco-da-Gama by discontinuing 2779/2780 Goa Express. Timings of the extended train should be so adjusted that it should run on the timings of Goa Express from Nizamu-din.


Exam dates clash

HP University will hold the entrance examination for B.Ed on May 26, 2002. The HP Board of School Education has already postponed the date of the entrance examination for JBT from May 12 to May 26. Is it possible to avoid the clash of dates?


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