Friday, December 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Women in Kashmir forced to bear
the burden of culture

THE ghastly murder of three girls and the beheading of one, followed closely by the murder and beheading of an older woman in Hasiyot by militant groups to force the women of Jammu and Kashmir to don the burqa has added another dimension to the suffering of Kashmiri women who bear the brunt of both State-sponsored violence and violence from militant groups. The attempts by the self-appointed moral police to “reform the culture of the people”, enforce a new dress code for women and attack women who do not comply have created a pall of terror in Jammu and Kashmir.

Religious and fundamentalist political movements and their onslaught on women have remained a major area of concern for the women’s movement the world over. The call for a return to more traditional norms for women, emphasising women’s roles and place in the home, adoption of a dress code and submission to patriarchal values point to a major reversal in women’s rights.

Girls are reportedly afraid to go to school as wearing a burqa is disallowed by the security forces who allege that militants hide under the veil, and not wearing a burqa could lead even to their murder and beheading by militant groups. Ironically, culturally and traditionally, only a tiny section of the elite women wear the burqa while the bulk of women in Kashmir have never worn it. But Kashmiriat is increasingly getting defined in religious terms, and women are bearing the burden of culture and religion in the most horrific ways.

We strongly condemn the actions of the militant outfits which aim at denying women their rights and freedom. The authorities must identify the perpetrators and unequivocally check such extreme acts in the name of religion and culture, coming in whatever religious or political shape. We also appeal to all progressive forces in Kashmir and the rest of the India to come out openly against such diktats and their enforcement and strengthen the struggle of Kashmiri women for autonomy and a life free of fear.

SADHNA ARYA, Laxmi Murthy Saheli, Women’s Resource Centre, New Delhi


Judging the Judges

The article "Judging the judges" (The Tribune, Dec 15) by Justice S.S. Sodhi raises many questions, including the source and authenticity of the information on the subject. Secondly, the author seems to be predominantly biased against lawyers.

Before explaining, let it be recalled that it was the unanimous decision of the Bar Association to request the then Chief Justice to go into the matter and find out if there was any substance in the allegations levelled against some judges of this High Court. The allegations, by their nature and content, were not only degrading for the whole justice delivery system but could also shatter the faith of the people in it. We may also recall that The Tribune was in the forefront in this quest for justice, carried front-page editorials and at every step stood for the general cause and the common good of the people. Perhaps, it was the joint effort of the Press and the lawyers that took things to a logical end.

The article reflects strong prejudice when it refers to "insinuations in the media by rabble rousing lawyers". It says again in the last paragraph, "It is bad enough that there should be allegations or insinuations against judges, but to give the media and the rabble amongst the lawyers the opportunity to sensationalise the issue, as in this case, cannot but adversely affect the credibility of the judiciary and thereby undermine public confidence in it."

The author forgets that sensation is rarely created; it is always inbuilt in the embryo of the event. Sensation is perception or awareness of stimuli. Senses never perceive if there is nothing to sense. The source of insinuations against the judges was neither the media nor the lawyers. The media reported, and reacted by carrying articles. The lawyers showed courage in demanding an enquiry. It was a joint effort. But the author — while using the expressions "rabble rousers" and "rabble elements", meaning "a crowd, a mob, the lower classes, the common people, stirring the emotions or prejudices of the public unusually for his own interests, a demagogue" — has just resorted to calling names, knowing that lawyers never gave a call to the public, never incited anybody against the judges, but only demanded an enquiry, not by the police but by the Chief Justice of the High Court who has found substance in the allegations, and whose findings have been confirmed by a larger committee.

JOGINDER SINGH TOOR, President, All India Lawyers Union, Chandigarh unit, Chandigarh

Contract jobs

I must congratulate Sucha Singh Gill for writing a bold and brilliant editorial-page article (Dec 14) in regard to the proposed contract appointments in universities and colleges.

Not only this particular flawed idea of contractual appointments of teachers but almost every other educational malady in higher education can rightly be attributed to the incorporation of “incapable leadership” in our educational organisations. It is this ill-conceived and non-professional handling of our education system that has brought the creative teaching-expertise on a par with physical-labour skills, and thus has resulted not only in the present rot but also paved ways for its future and further decay.

It is high time that we realised the import of education to achieve overall productivity goals of our sagging society. For this the government should pump in adequate funds, but not before cleansing the system from the clutches of boring babudom, without looking, irrationally, at any immediate monetary or other returns/gains.

BALVINDER, Chandigarh

Teachers are victims: Professor Gill has correctly pointed out that the fault really lies in the way most universities are run. Hence, it would be illogical to punish teachers who are the victims, not the perpetrators, of misgovernance. Contract appointments in the Indian setting will play havoc with whatever is left of the higher education here. The system will smother academic freedom and ideological dissent. Those who think that the market should determine education need to get their vision corrected: Saraswati cannot be put in the marketplace.

If the aim of the proposed change is reform, then the contract will not reform but deform the system. The focus, instead, should be on making the teacher as well as the administrator accountable for performance. And this is easier said than done. Academic decentralisation is absolutely necessary for this purpose. In place of a uniform syllabus that is imposed from above and that does not take account of the diversity of students, we need to identify the levels of learning and skills that the teacher would be required to impart. Both teachers and students should be evaluated on the basis of this transaction. Promotion for both, accordingly, should be linked directly to their performance in this transaction.

(Dr) RAJESH K. SHARMA, Hoshiarpur


Intermission is a crucial point in Indian films. A filmmaker generally inserts it in such a way that the viewers feel compelled to watch the subsequent portions of the film. One must watch recent Hindi movies like “Humraaz”, “Road” and “Deewangee” to know how a beautiful conclusion of the first half can make the audience curious about the second half.

Unfortunately, none of our TV channels seems to realise the significance of the intermission. Even though they have a number of intervals to accommodate a plethora of advertisements, they never declare an interval at the situation where the maker of the movie concerned intended it to be. Generally, the channels insert it before or after a song I feel that if they allow a somewhat long intermission at the point where it originally occurred, I am sure watching a movie on TV would become a more pleasing experience than what it is at present.

The TV channel authorities may insert their own “intervals” for ads at points where they make the viewers curious about forthcoming events rather than inserting them blindly before or after a song. That will surely add to the charm of a movie on the small screen.


Health or horoscopes?

The enlightened sections of society should take a lead and exchange, instead of horoscopes, health certificates of the persons who are going to tie the nuptial knot. This will avoid a lot of complications to all concerned at a later stage.

K.G. SAPRA, Amritsar


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 |