Monday, December 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Slums are not areas of darkness and despair

This refers to Ms Kiran Bedi’s write-up (Nov 30) regarding the type of environment that produces rapists. Her observations concerning slum dwellers like other urban elites are outdated. They perceive slums as areas of darkness and despair and slums are also considered as a cancerous growth of the city. Sociologists call such phenomenon as “culture of poverty.”

Kiran Bedi writes “Slums are today nurseries of delinquency, bad habits, violence, exploitation, illiteracy, unemployment, starvation for sex,.... and what not.” She believes that all rapists come from slums because of the social environment. But sociological studies within India and in other countries contradict this notion.

Gillan Tindel writes, Slum settlements, like all settlements, go through a maturing process. This is especially true of Bombay’s slums, where some residents have lived on a particular patch of pavement for 20, 30 and even 40 years. As slums persist, communities form, complete with neighbourhood associations, micro enterprises and codes of behaviour.”

The sense of community and industry within the slum belies grim physical conditions in which people live. Charles Correa argues that a slum dweller is “socially intact”, even though his physical conditions may be wreck. Perlman contends that a slum dweller is not marginal to society but integrated in it on terms detrimental to his interest. He is not socially marginal but rejected, not economically marginal but repressed. I have also done some research on slums of Amritsar and found that they don’t live in a “culture of poverty”.


Prof Else Oyen, Chairperson of Comparative Research Programme on Poverty, Norway, has made significant contributions in the field. She strongly feels that non-poor (planners, bureaucrats and politicians) have limited knowledge of the real world of the poor. The decision concerning poverty is frequently based on incomplete and misleading data. Physically the worlds of the poor and the non-poor are kept apart through differential land use and ghettoisation.

Socially the two worlds are apart through differential participation in the labour market, the economy and social and cultural institutions. Mentally the two worlds are apart through stereotyping and false images built by tradition and the media. Our decision-makers are increasingly becoming more distant from them. The education system, by which they are trained, alienates them from the masses and now a majority of them can barely speak the language of the people they plan for.

Irony of the situation is that slum dwellers are sufferers and victims of the present situation created by the existing socio-economic-political system but they are being blamed for the same which is beyond their control.

Rapists come from all walks of life. They are every where, from every religion, caste, class or race. It is erroneous to believe that the rapists are the product of the slum environment only.

Prof Ranvinder Singh Sandhu, G.N. D. University, Amritsar

Choudhry Shihab-ud-Din

In my letter “The rusk factor” (Nov 4) I had mentioned Choudhry Shihab-ud-Din as a minister before partition. According to Mr Prem Chand Mehta, he was the Speaker when Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan was the Premier of Punjab (Nov 26). Absolutely true. However, with all due respect for Mr Mehta, it is pointed out that Choudhry Shihab-ud-din remained Education Minister also for some time.

A septuagenarian friend, whose native village was situated near that of Choudhry, has confirmed this fact. Choudhry Shihab-ud-din visited Government High School, Zafarwal, in Narewal tehsil (Pakistan) where he studied up to class VIII, as the Education Minister, and liberally distributed “laddoos” among the students and promoted the Headmaster. My friend was then a student of class VII in that school. He built a new building for this school and also a mosque, named “Shihab Masjid” in his village, Rattal.

Choudhry Shihab-ud-din was an old friend of Allama Iqbal. Whenever he met the poet, he made humorous remarks about him because of his unusually great size and jet black complexion.

One day seeing him dressed in black in the bar room, the Allama said “Choudhry Sahib, aap bilkul nangey aa gaey” (you have come stark naked). On another occasion, when he wore a snow-white dress, the poet quipped in Punjabi, “O veikho kapaah vich katta” (see that he-buffalo in a cotton field). In an Iftaar party in his house, he asked for some water. Iqbal told a man to bring it in a big bucket.

He built a vast, magnificent house in Lahore and asked Iqbal to suggest a suitable name for it. “Name it Dev Mahal (Devil’s Palace)”, ejaculated the poet.

Once the scavengers of the Lahore Municipal Corporation went on strike. He called them for a dialogue. When he uttered in Punjabi “Bhaino tey bharaao” (sisters and brothers), the baby of a sweepress in the front row started weeping. She shouted, “Chup kar. Maama bahot maarey ga (keep quiet. Maternal uncle will thrash you). The people burst into guffaw.

Choudhry Shihab-ud-din was an outstanding advocate and most respected Speaker of the Punjab Assembly. In fact, he was a distinguished personality in the galaxy of the great men of his time.

Bhagwan Singh, Qadian

An efficient government!

Which is the most efficient government?

1. Which does not work for you but makes you work for it.

2. One which pays its employees perhaps three times more than the prevailing market rates for doing one-third of the job which they are supposed to do.

3. One to whom you pay perhaps up to 40 per cent of the basic rate as tax in different forms, to earn may be, 10 per cent profit on your sales.

4. One which remains in slumber when a smaller country than yours goes on doing all forms of acts of mischief and asks you to remain vigilant.

5. One which sold its goods like petrol, telecommunication services at three times the prevalent international prices and tells you that it is in the national interest.

6. One which can ensure high respect in public life for its officers of loss-making public undertakings solely on the strength of their questionable means of earnings.

7. One which commits major taxes collected on the salaries and pensions of its employees and leaves hardly anything for development.

8. One which exists on your taxes but have nothing on agenda for you except paying them more and more for doing less and less.

Surinder Garg, Chandigarh.


UGC sets standards

The UGC model curriculum for performing arts (2001) is full of errors in so far as the section relating to theatre arts is concerned. There are grammatical and factual errors. The words like “playwright”, “marionette” etc have been spelled wrongly as “playwrite” and “marionate”. The names of famous theatre personalities from India and abroad like Shombhu Mitra, Utpal Dutt, Alkazi, Karanth, Andre Antoine, Stanislavsky and Meyerhold have been spelled wrongly.

Even the titles of internationally known books like “The Theory of the Modern Stage” by Eric Bentley have been quoted wrong. There are grammatical mistakes in the use of capital letters, commas etc. This model curriculum has been produced by the UGC “to take care of the lacuna, defects/shortcomings in the existing curricula in certain universities, to develop a new model curriculum aiming to produce the one which is compatible in tune with recent development in the subject” (sic) etc. It is further explained in the ‘Foreward’ that “the recommendations have been compiled by penals of experts drawn from across the country. A published matter full of errors like this from an apex institution of higher education is an obvious example of the decline in our educational standards. It seems as if pseudo academicians with shallow knowledge of the subject were appointed on committees by the UGC.

Prof Kamlesh Uppal, Punjabi University, Patiala


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |