Monday, November 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Celebrate Divali with candles of love, peace & harmony

Headlines like “Ban on crackers” on the eve of Divali can be seen in every newspaper. Will it serve the purpose or affect the sale of fire crackers?

Every year people spend millions of rupees to show off their wealth on this occasion. We must realise that the use of fireworks, crackers during this festival of lights causes enormous air and noise pollution and may cause serious respiratory ailments in the very young and old persons, besides affecting chronic asthma patients.

There is a need to create awareness among the masses instead of passing such formal orders every year. Let us illuminate this Divali with candles of love, peace and harmony.


The rusk factor

In his middle “The rusk factor” (Oct 22), Rajbir Deswal has mentioned that the late Deputy Prime Minister, Devi Lal, alighted from a train at Ambala and ate roasted corn-cobs.

A 19th century poet of Lucknow, Shaikh Imam Bakhsh Naasikh ate not only one or two maize-cobs, but gorged a heap of the same. After doing a hard physical exercise, he invariably ate a “besani paraatha” (fried bread with condiments and gram-flour).


Even in the royal kitchen of the last Mughal King, Bahadur Shah Zafar, “besani rotis” were baked. Once he sent such a bread to Mirza Ghalib, who acknowledged its receipt with the verse: ‘Na khaatey gehoon nikaltey na khuld sey baahir/Jo khaatey Hazrat-e-Aadam ye besani roti” (Adam would not have been expelled from paradise, if he had eaten a “besani roti instead of a wheaten loaf).

If a great person, who can pamper himself/herself with costly delicacies, eats cobs, groundnuts etc, that does not reflect his/her simplicity.

Poet Pt Mela Ram Wafa ate cooked turnips crushed into a soft mass with keen relish. A Punjab minister (probably Ch Shihab-ud-din) before partition, liked “holaan” (roasted gram-pods) even though those blackened the hands, lips and sometimes, even the clothes. I am reminded of Allama Iqbal’s pleasantries about him. His complexion was jet black. One day, seeing him dressed in black, the Allama said, “Chaudhry Sahib is stark naked today”. On another occasion, when he wore snow-white clothes, the poet quipped, “Chaudhry Sahib looks like a he-buffalo in a cotton-field”.

It is said that Maharaja Ranjit Singh specially ate the bers cut and thrown from the tree by parrots.

Emperor Jahangir had great fondness for wine. He often declared that he had bestowed sovereignty on his queen, Noorjahan, and needed nothing more than a quart of wine and a pound of meat.

Ghalib had great fondness for mangoes, particularly for those of Bengal. He said: “Hamah gar meva-e-firdaus ba-khaanat baashad/Ghalib aan amba-e-Bangaalah faraamosh ma-baad” (Even if all the paradisiacal fruits are on your dining mat, yet Ghalib, do not forget the mangoes of Bengal).

Allama Iqbal had also great liking for mangoes. Even during his long serious illness when complete abstention from this fruit ought to have been observed, he got his physician’s permission to eat one mango a day. The cause of his illness was said to be eating of cold ‘sivayyaan” (vermicelli) with curd.


Saluting the jawans

Today's night is the night of lights and each candle in itself reflects the light of sacrifice of the jawans who fought bravely for the country and lost their lives in the Kargil war in 1999.

Their children, wives, parents and families must be missing them on this festival but the lights you see in every house, the crackers you hear echoing every street and the smiles you see on every face are due to the sacrifices of someone’s son, someone’s father, someone’s husband. We all are proud of Him.

So let’s salute our Kargil jawans with full honour on this festival of lights called Divali.


HP power projects

Gopal Singh’s letter “Hydro-power development in Himachal” (Oct. 23) is not based on facts. He has used part/wrong facts to draw wrong conclusions about the hydro-power policy of the government. A glaring example of this is that he states that Dhamwari Sunda HEP in Shimla district is a project of the HPSEB. In fact, it is a private sector project.

Mr Gopal Singh has tried to give the impression that the electricity board has been given unattractive projects for implementation by quoting part facts and without knowing the full background of the projects. He has, for example, tried to quote the Larji Project, which was never taken up in the private sector. Its construction had been languishing since 1987 due to lack of funds. Adequate budget provisions were made only from the year 1998-99. Since then construction work has been proceeding on a war-footing. The cost per unit in this case will be around Rs 2.50, which is highly competitive.

The private sector had failed to execute the Uhl Stage-III project. It was only in 1999 that after terminating the MoU with the private party, the updating of this project was done by raising the capacity from 70 MW to 100 MW. Its cost per unit will also be less than Rs 2.50 per unit and its annual revenue will be Rs 100 crore, which makes this project very attractive.

In case of the Kashang Project the per unit cost will be about Rs 2 only. Thus the conclusion of Mr Gopal Singh that the generation cost of the state sector projects will be around 100 per cent higher than the private sector projects is highly misleading and far from truth.


Crumbling heritage

The editorial “Crumbling heritage” (Oct. 21) was apt and timely. No doubt monuments and sites and works of art and craftsmanship are all material creations subject to deterioration, and to that extent the loss is tolerable. Unfortunately, however, much of the decay is caused either as a result of activities intended (wrongly) to improve the living conditions or the so called “renovation” and “modernisation”.

When I did research work for Ph.D. dissertation on wall-paintings during 1968-1973, I had located 193 edifices having extant remains of mural paintings, out of which 153 were in Punjab, 38 in Haryana and two in Chandigarh. Within a span of nearly 30 years half of these have perished due to various reasons, mostly by white-washing or marblising the walls and by fixing electric wires haphazardly.


DA freeze

More than two crore employees and pensioners of the central and state governments across the country are up in arms against the Union Government’s move either to freeze the DA at the existing level of 49 per cent of the basic pay/pension or adopt graded neutralization of price-rise @ 75 per cent and 50 per cent. The move is highly deplorable, harsh and unjust. It will adversely affect the monthly budget of the low-paid staff. They will oppose it tooth & nail.


Driving licence at 16

By the age of 16 years a student normally crosses Class 10 and thus his or her need to be mobile increases tremendously, especially to attend tuition classes at odd hours, making it a strong case for issuing of a driving licence at the age of 16 years, instead of 18 as at present.

Wg. Cdr. C.L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar


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