Friday, January 31, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



The great Indian paradoxes

The very first sentence of Hari Jaisingh’s well thought-out and analytical write-up. “The great Indian paradoxes” (Jan 24) sums up the essence of an average Indian politician’s philosophy. Indeed, loot and plunder by politicians of all shades and their cronies has become the rule rather than the exception. Like everyone else, the Mayas, Laloos, and Amar Singhs of this world have every right to celebrate their birthdays and weddings. But as the old saying goes,” there is a time and place for everything”. India, which is still a Third World country where there are pockets of extreme poverty (people making do with mango kernals) is certainly not the right place to indulge in ostentatious and vulgar display of ill-gotten wealth.

Mayawati could not have chosen a worse time to celebrate her 47th birthday, given the fact that her state recorded the highest number of deaths due to the cold wave. It is a shame that when a major chunk of our population is facing the onslaught of poverty, disease, all-pervading corruption, absence of social security, galloping population growth, unemployment, and unclean social and civic environment, politicians are having a gala time.

This is a grim scenario. Everyone is busy in lining his own pocket. No one, least of all our leaders, has either the time or the inclination to pause and ponder as to where we are headed.

M.K. BAJAJ, Yamunanagar


An egalitarian society

Hari Jaisingh’s article shows his deep concern and an earnest desire for the upliftment of the downtrodden even through the need-based reservation route in jobs and education. So does every conscious and committed citizen of the motherland. But what about the disparity and distortion in the system when kin of bureaucrats jump the power ladder via the reservation route leaving behind their own meritorious jobless batchmates.

In today’s job arena, jobs are few and takers are more. Everyone should compete equally, irrespective of caste, class and socio-economic background. Otherwise jobless meritorious youth would loot and be happy and many more Mayawatis and Laloos would emerge and shatter the dream of an egalitarian society to take shape.

ASHA NARANG, GND University, Amritsar

Wasting public money

The article “The great Indian Paradoxes” raised many questions on the functioning of the elected representatives of the public.

Often politics is described as a dirty game. It is dirty game because it consists of leaders like Laloos, Mayawatis and many more who have been indulging in the vulgar display of power and money at the cost of the public exchequer. What a shame it is that public money to the tune of 20 crore was spent on the birthday bash of Mayawati. These leaders who used to provoke the common man by noisy demonstrations, uncontrolled and uncouth speeches against a particular sect, caste and creed and are often involved in rail rokos, bandhs, traffic jams that result in loss of crores of rupees and later on make alliances with their opponents to grab power to loot public money with both hands.

This reminds me of the great Chanakya. Once a guest went to his house for some personal work at night. Chanakya was doing official work under the light of a torch. On seeing the guest he put off the torch and took him to the adjoining room where he lit another torch. Surprised, the guest asked him: “why did you put off the torch in another room when you could have met me in that room”? Chanakya replied: “Since I was doing official work under the official torch, how could I use it for my personal work? That’s why I put it off.”


Loot & be happy

Hari Jaisingh focuses attention on a curious post-Independence phenomenon — the emergence of a queer brand of leaders who, whenever they happen to occupy any coveted position of power and influence, behave entirely differently from their loud public professions and brazenly indulge in those very “antics” which they decry while in “wilderness”. I fully share Mr Jaisingh’s anguish over the matter.

The curious phenomenon seems all-embracing — engulfing leaders regardless of their caste, community, colour or creed. In a position of vantage the leader today develops get-quick rich mania overnight and is seen practising, virtually with a vengeance, the “mantra”: “Loot and be happy”.

The why of the matter is a subject fit to be investigated by erudite sociologists of the day. Maybe the topsy-turvy happenings are part of the socio-economic and political evolution of the deprived sections of society reeling over the centuries, under callous neglect, as Mr Jaisingh seems to feel. Be that as it may, the impact of the painful phenomenon on the vast multitude of have-nots is there for all to see.

The following verse in Urdu sounds exceedingly pertinent:

“Ham to murdabad rehaye aur leader zindabad rehaye,

POTA ne ham ko pakra desh-darohi azad rehaye.

Rangmahal abaad the pehley rangmahal abaad rehaye,

Ham Jaisey barbaad the pehley, ham vaisey barbaad rehaye.”

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)

Drastic steps needed

Hari Jaisingh has drawn a true picture of Indian leaders in his article. Mayawati, who became Chief Minister with the votes of the downtrodden, now behaves as a feudal lord. Something drastic and meaningful must be done to stop the greedy, nasty and lustful behaviour of politicians, bureaucrats and moneyed people.

I suggest (1) politics should be made a non-earning business. Extra perks and undue privilege, such as free telephones, conveyance, income tax relief, diplomatic passports and pension be withdrawn. (2) Jumbo Cabinets should be banned at the Centre and state levels. A Cabinet must not have more than 10 per cent elected legislators of the party or the ruling group. (3) Every bureaucrat and politician must be legally bound to declare his assets annually. (4) Politics should not be a family and hereditary affair. Only one member from a family should be allowed in active politics at a time. The retirement age of politicians be fixed at 65 years. (5) To stop the sale and purchase of legislators, all loopholes in the anti-defection Act be plugged. Each legislator who defects must vacate his seat immediately. (6) People should be properly educated so that they do not elect killers as legislators, as was seen in 1984 in Delhi and in Dec 2002 in Gujarat. (7)A system of recall of elected representatives be adopted at the Centre and in the states. (8) Communal caste and politics of reservation be stopped.


Quality education

To evolve an egalitarian, progressive and cultured society, we have to adopt a national policy that ensures quality education on scientific lines, employment, health care, population control, elimination of economic disparities and good governance. For this all sections of society should be mobilised to put in their efforts. They must stop themselves from being misled by the evil forces of communalism, casteism and regionalism.



Politics of dividing society

I am surprised by the article “The Modi effect on Indian polity”. Though you have left a lot unsaid or to one’s imagination, your writing this article gives credence to the view that it is the Press that builds or breaks a politician.

Mr Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat in the aftermath of the ghastly Godhra tragedy. The state machinery was a silent spectator to the murder of a large number of Muslims. How can we absolve him of all responsibility for action or inaction during these riots or state-sponsored programme, which has been well documented by Mr Riberio and others by their visits to Gujarat.

My question is: how is his action different from the actions of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, who is being tried by the International Court of Justice at The Hague for the genocide of Croats, Slovaks and Albanians. In fact, frankly Mr Modi should be tried for the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat, and not be spoken about as a future Prime Minister material of the BJP, while those responsible for the Godhra burning of the railway coach be shown no leniency under any circumstances whatsoever.

Unfortunately, the Congress cannot also raise this issue, having been an accomplice in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots of Delhi and other places. Those accused of masterminding or abetting the riots are still roaming scot-free. It will be a hallmark of statesmanship if the leaders of the Delhi Administration and now Gujarat are tried and punished to atone for the failure of their governments to control riots expeditiously. Such an action will ensure that no ruling party stage-manages or targets a community for whatever reason it be, and the police will act to restore law and order in the minimum time frame in future.

The talk of minority community versus majority community is basically a ploy to create a vote bank for politicians. Similarly, the talk of secularism versus pseudo-secularism is all for creating divisions in society for their narrow political gains. We are a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, which has lived in peace, and can do so in future, if only political parties stop dividing us and make us fight on religious grounds, caste or other sentiments for their narrow political gains.

Lt Gen KARAMJIT SINGH(retd), Gurdaspur


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