Monday, September 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Varsity, college elections can set the standards

What once was thought to be an accurate democratic way of choosing a governing body, elections of late have acquired an undesirable demeanour. Instead of being a pious process of obtaining a faithful vote of the majority, these have been reduced to a simple number game. And thus the players, with a view to grabbing power/pelf rather than acquiring a weighty responsibility of governing, play it with the same “everything-is-fair” spirit that one associates with love and war. No wonder today we have a majority of our leaders, in every sphere, who do not command even a wee bit of public respect; rather they are often laughed at.

But it certainly is not a laughing matter. When President Kalam returned a recent Ordinance that remained mum on the declaration of the candidates’ educational qualifications, among the three areas of information as specified by the court, he must not be a happy person. For he very well knew his limitations of doing nothing in this regard. Yet, by doing so he ably recorded his dissent. Perhaps because ignoring of an electoral candidate’s education, among other things, is indigestible for every right-thinking person.

But then who is going to change this rot?

The only people who could initiate a change in this regard seem to be academicians alone. Sadly enough our academicians, instead of paving new and just ways to cleanse the existing rot in our so-called democratic election process, have been following the dirty steps that some of our disreputable, selfish and power/pelf hungry political leaders/parties have laid. In fact these elections are held with the shameless support of these very political parties.


The recent turmoil in Panjab University and colleges in Chandigarh that hampered normal study for many days in nothing but an open result of such elections that are held both at the student and teacher levels.

With our politicians, both at the state and national level, caring two hoots for any academic excellence amongst its base breed, it becomes imperative for the academia to initiate, during elections to student councils and teachers bodies, an electoral process at their individual institutions that brings to the fore only serious and brilliant students/teachers and rejects, resolutely, undisciplined “gunda” element of every hue.

It is only then that one can hope for some change in the overall electoral process in our country also.

BALVINDER, Chandigarh

CM-VC relationship

Amrik Singh in his article, Universities and the State — consequences of patron-client relationship (Sept 9) has raised many valid and solid questions about the patron-client relationship in the universities.

Why this apparent change? Why does a V.C. remains at the beck and call of a C.M.? He invariably waits outside the CM’s office to meet him. In the past a C.M. would send a senior office hand to receive a V.C. to escort him to his office.

Now when a C.M. appoints his favourite to the post of V.C., he automatically becomes the patron and the university, on account of the V.C., a client. Let someone survey the universities to find out the authenticity of this fact. New appointments, transfers, promotions and admissions to various courses are done at the behest of a C.M.

The universities will decline further if a procedure is not evolved to appoint a talented, dedicated and honest person as a V.C. — a V.C. who acts independently and does not wait for a telephonic call from the other authority.

R.N. PAL, Hisar

US adventurism

Apropos of your editorial Bush isolated in Iraq (September, 17), last year, after the catastrophic destruction of the WTC, almost the whole world united in President Bush’s ‘relentless war on terrorism’, as it had raised the hopes that at last the evil forces of terrorism would be weeded out from the civilised world. But soon it became clear that the US action was more of an adventurism rooted in whims, obsessions and misconceptions than a serious attempt towards a peaceful civilised existence.

Today it is not Iraq that poses a grave danger but it is America’s current leader who is becoming a menace to international, especially Asian, peace and stability. Defying the international opinion and legality, the US bombings killed nearly 4,000 innocent Afghan civilians in its exploded attempt to punish the culprit of the WTC attacks.

Such a serious lack of commitment and strategy, now added with shift in the target i.e. from Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussain, has only exposed the bullish nature of the lone super power. Mr Bush has perhaps overlooked the gates of hell that may open for the world if the USA pursues its anti-Iraq policy to its extreme. Salman Rushdie has cautioned that “the result may well be a United Islamic force that was Osama bin Laden’s dream.” Does President Bush realise that it was Pakistan that created the monstrous Taliban; or it was Sudan and Yamen that helped to facilitate Al-Qaida’s operations; or the Islamic fundamentalists have their bases in capitals like Singapore and London? Should they all be bombarded and destroyed?

It is time the USA learnt to display a sense of regard to UN resolutions and laws. It should realise that its war against Al-Qaida failed because of a lack of commitment, righteousness and an effective war strategy in Afghanistan. As Salman Rushdie asks in unambiguous words,” Many observers of the region will be wondering how long Pakistani-backed terrorism will be winked at by America...” The USA by encouraging Pakistan and its criminal support to terrorists has only allowed the forces of terrorism to regroup and strengthen themselves. The world should be prepared for attacks more brutal and destructive than that of the WTC, if we fail to adopt a uniform and judicious international approach and strategy against the menace of terrorism.



In his middle article Salt, saffron and Suzette (Sept 9), Mr I.M. Soni has mentioned some superstitions. Many people cherish faith in the practices and notions founded on superstitions contained in apocryphal legends.

The then Congress President, Mr Sita Ram Kesri, visited the Golden Temple, Amritsar, in December 1996. Instead of performing a clock-wise circumambulation like other devotees, he did it anti-clockwise because of a fictitious belief that whosoever made opposite “parikarmaan” enjoyed good fortune. However, Mr Kesri remained in limbo for a long time before his death.

Some superstitious people are afraid of No. 13 and consider walking under a ladder unlucky. According to some such people, while falling of a black lizard on a person portends a bad event to occur, that of a white one is a good omen. Sneezing before embarking upon an undertaking not considered good. If a cat crosses someone’s path, it is apprehended that something unfortunate would happen.

When Akbar rode his snow-white spanker called “Noor Baiza” to proceed on a campaign against Gujarat, the animal, all of a sudden, sat on the ground. While some of those present there considered it a bad omen, Raja Bhagwan Das remarked that it was an indication of the Emperor’s victory, which was, even otherwise, a foregone conclusion. Flying of flocks of vultures, kites and crows over an army going to a battlefield was also considered a sign of victory.

It is said that the presence of a thorn of “seh” (porcupine) and a flower of “kaner” (oleander) in a house causes a quarrel among the members of the family living there. Poet Zauq said:

“Jis key sabab laraai ho voh aadmi nahin.

Kaanta hai ghar mein seh ka ya gul kaner ka.”


Soiled currency

A bank issuing soiled currency notes is unthinkable. But this is what is actually happening. A sealed bundle of notes of Rs 100 denomination delivered to a customer invariably contains six or seven notes, which are badly soiled, partly torn or even in two pieces, and with big holes in the watermark areas, etc. It leads to arguments and counter-arguments. At last, the cashier/accountant willy-nilly agrees to change the bundle.

Since the replaced one too contains similar type of notes, the only alternative left with the helpless depositor is to rip open the packet and get the unacceptable notes exchanged somehow. As such, a lot of inconvenience is caused to the account holders.

Banks would do well to withhold such currency and dispose them of as per instructions issued by the Reserve Bank of India from time to time.

B.S. SAINI, Hoshiarpur

Soil erosion

Apropos the editorial Who cares for earth (Sept 6), in India we worship the earth, but we do not hesitate to destroy the top soil, making it unfit for growing trees. It is all due to unbalanced and unsustainable development.

There are projects under construction to link villages by road under the Prime Minister’s Gramin Sarak Yojna. But no afforestation is being done with the result that a lot of erosion occurs due to heavy rains.

RIKHI DASS THAKUR, Palbhu, (Hamirpur)

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