Saturday, July 20, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Involve farmers in storage of foodgrains

This refers to the story “Huge stocks of foodgrains rot in nation’s food bowl”. It is very distressing to note that on the one hand about one-third of the population is starving and on the other, foodgrains are rotting for want of appropriate care.

To produce each grain, a farmer is supposed to toil for about six months, apart from the capital inputs and use of scarce natural resources like water and electricity. Each and every grain produced needs to be taken care of so that it can be used to satisfy someone’s hunger. We must formulate appropriate short and long-term policies in this regard.

Farmers can be involved in the food storage chain. The storage of foodgrains at the farmer’s level can be encouraged by passing over the storage cost to them. The minimum support price (MSP) fixed for the procurement season, should be enhanced step-by-step up to the close of the year. The total increase may be in the range of 12 to 15 per cent of the MSP. This will encourage the farmers to invest in the storage infrastructure and ease the burden on the procurement agencies. I am sure this measure will definitely succeed in saving the precious foodgrains from going waste.

To start with, it can be implemented for wheat but later on paddy can also be brought into its fold.

Dr R.P. SINGH, PAU, Ludhiana


Dr Kalam’s feats

This refers to Mr Simranjeet S. Mann’s statement that his party will vote against Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam because he had used his genius for the destruction of mankind.

Dr Kalam has been indulging his zeal to convert technology and materials developed for military applications into appliances for healthcare as well as aids for the physically challenged like carbon composite calipers for polio patients, pace-makers and shunt for heart patients. He was also instrumental in the indigenous development of cochlear implants using electronics and IT to better the lives of deaf and mute children and those with sensory, neural and hearing impairment.

Dr Abdul Kalam who rose from delivering newspapers in Rameshwaram town to be a top-rung scientist with a spotless career. Everyone who knows Dr Kalam speaks of his impeccable honesty and ability to steer clear of controversies. Mr Mann must agree with what Dr Kalam quoted after successful Pokhran II tests: “Strength respects strength”.


First Defence Minister

The article “Remembering first Defence Minister” (July 11) by Tarlochan Singh describes the role of Baldev Singh positively. But little is mentioned about his blunders. Baldev Singh had limited academic background from Khalsa College compared to Nehru, Gandhi and Jinnah, who were lawyers educated in England.

During the crucial discussions in 1945-46, the British offered Baldev Singh the former territory of Maharaja Ranjit Singh as the homeland for the Sikhs. The British wanted the Sikh leaders to put a formal demand regarding this to them. Baldev Singh told Nehru about this offer from the British. Nehru immediately replied: “Are Sardarji aap kya chhota sa Punjab lenge, hum aap ko sara Hindustan denge. Aap ke hath mein hogi humari Defence”.

Baldev Singh was made the first Defence Minister for five years and was dropped in 1952. Nehru did not honour any promises he had made to him. He was taken for a ride by Nehru and the Congress.


‘Devdas’: a classic debased

Your film critic who reviewed Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Devdas” does not seem to have heard about a man called Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, on whose story the film is based, or one might say, whose classic work the film has debased. Many Sarat stories have been turned into films before but in all these the flavour of the original work has been retained. Here every effort has been made to cash in on the name, and at the same time twist and distort the characters beyond recognition.

It is not unusual for film-makers to fall back on the works of renowned writers. The theme of Tagore’s “Nouka Dubi” has been the basis of quite a few films under different titles and settings. The names of characters, the locales and the settings are different and apart from the underlying theme, these films bear little resemblance to the master’s original work. But in this case the names have been retained and the characters so distorted that they would make Sarat turn in his eternal sleep. Imagine if Sarat were alive today, how he would have reacted to the spectacle of his sensitive Devdas cavorting around in a drunken orgy on Chandramukhi’s “kotha”. You have to imagine a version of “The Merchant of Venice” in which Shylock walks away with his pound of flesh.

Not the entire pile of 50 crore that Bhansali claims to have put into this film can buy him the right to pervert the work of a writer of the eminence of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee and presume that he can get away with whatever excess he commits on the author. “Devdas” is the story of a sensitive youth who lacks courage and self-discipline and thus invites miseries on himself. To present “Devdas” as the story of an alcoholic lover amounts to literary blasphemy.

A film-maker can claim his right to shape his story as he likes and squander on it any amount of money that he wants. But let the likes of Sanjay Leela Bhansali spare authors like Sarat Chandra. Such outrage can seriously harm the literary heritage of the country.

Your film critic has remained indifferent to this perversion of a famous work of literary art. And if he has failed to notice this monstrous aspect of the film, then the paper deserves a better film critic.


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