Thursday, May 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Our socialism, secularism & democracy

Our distorted concepts of socialism, secularism & democracy have all failed us miserably. Thankfully, remnants of socialism are now being dismantled painfully by disinvestment & privatisation but only after having sapped our economy dry over the last half a century.

India has always been respectful to all religions & never objected to even large scale conversions as nowhere else in the world. Secularism is inherent in our culture. But of late a new type of political secularism has been vitiating our society on communal lines. Can we be allowed the luxury of living as ordinary but equal Indians — following the same laws of the land? No minorities, no backwards, no most backwards, no OBC, no reservations, no special personal laws which are not relevant at this point of time. Only economic conditions, instead of caste, should be the governing parameter for state assistance & priorities, if any. But our politics has been surviving just on divide & rule policy. Communal cleavages are deftly crafted by periodic violence, one place of worship versus another issue, reservations etc. For our traditional secularism to survive, the vote-bank secularism must be banned forthwith.

Our democracy is crazy, to say the least. Parliament, the symbol of our democracy is not allowed to function on one pretext or the other that includes loss of six days lost recently on Rule 184/193 while the country burnt. Our elected representatives are, however, united in pocketing their allowances even for the days the proceedings are stalled.


The people are getting poorer & poorer but our elected representatives from municipalities upwards are getting richer & richer. There is no accountability, excepting once in five years but by then one can make enough. Perhaps, we have to find some alternative form of governance which will be more transparent, more responsive & could assure minimum basic needs with some viable social security for the people instead of our elected representatives periodically hiking their emoluments & pensions.

Air Cmde RAGHUBIR SINGH (retd), Pune

Bridging the divide

I thank Firoz Bakht Ahmed for his article “Bridging the Hindu-Muslim divide" (April 21). However, I may be permitted to add a few words to correct some of the half-truths.

Iqbal, no doubt, wrote in praise of Lord Ram. He also wrote “Tarana-e-Hindi” (Sare jahan se achha...). But later he recanted. He wrote “Tarana-e-Milli” in which he sang the song of pan-Islamism and said that the Muslims had a right to rule over the entire world. He said: “Khanjar halal ka hai quomi nishan hamara”.In Shikva he praised the marauders who invaded India through Khyber Pass. He praised them for slaughtering the masses of kafirs (read Hindus). In the same poem, he praised Mahmood of Ghazni for breaking the idols of Somnath. He called non-Muslims as an unmannerly, uncultured lot. He denounced the concept of nation-state and described it as something fatal to the nationhood of Islam. These are only some of the instances.

I have not come across any Hindu who had even an impolite word for Maulana Azad. But how a particular section of the Muslims behaved with him, we all know.

Sir Syed is on record as saying that the Hindus and the Muslims were not only two separate nations, but were two warring nations and it was necessary that the one must conquer the other. (See “History and Culture of the Indian People”; Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, Bombay, page 309, vol X, para II). It was he who had sown in the seeds of what ultimately led to the partition of the country.


Air Marshal Sekhon

In the services, there is something called “officer like qualities”. It is the officer-like-qualities aspect of Air marshal Sekhon that had come under a cloud. An officer in the services is expected to display an exemplary character and integrity in the discharge of his/her area of official responsibilities.

It is reasonable to assume that an officer who can seek personal favours is also very likely to dole out those to others. This trait of an officer is unacceptable. Such an officer can neither be fair nor firm in the discharge of his/her official duties. Such a conduct of an officer adversely affects morale of those under his/her command.

AMRIK S. GILL, Patiala

Air Force mishaps

It is a routine these days to order a court of enquiry and invariably blame either the “man or the machine” involved in the accident. Unfortunately, the root cause is never attended to. As per my personal experience of over 30 years in the armed forces I am of firm opinion that the neglect of technical men will always make the organisation to pay through its nose.

Even today the ground engineers who maintain and certify air worthiness are getting much lower pay as compared to the flying bounty of pilots. Invariably most of the engineers are far more qualified and experienced than pilots.

We will continue to face the small till the generalists rule the specialist. Hence, it’s high time that the specialist be graded at least equivalent if not higher. Otherwise, we should be prepared to face the music and keep losing valuable machines and lives.

Lt Col B.K. SODHI, Chandigarh

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