Monday, February 17, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi




Defending ruthless Saddam

It is rather disheartening to see so many people standing by a man as ruthless and destructive as Saddam. People want a smoking gun, OK, then how come even one Iraqi scientist has yet to come forward for an open private interview outside Iraq. Or why is it that any media inside Iraq must be accompanied by Iraqi minders even when they are talking to the general public.

Clearly there is a fear of something leaking out, what could it be? Could it be information about banned weapons, or the stories of torture and mass genocide where chemical and biological weapons were actually tested on live human subjects?

Why are countries like Russia, France and Germany so opposed to a US-led war that seeks to rid the world of a monster? Is it because it is France and Russia and not the USA who have billions of dollars worth of oil contracts with Iraq. Or maybe it’s because Germany and France who are the most responsible of Iraq having acquired and developed WMDs in the first place.

Most people have become so blinded by the jealousy for the USA that they would buy almost anything that the French and its cronies dish out. For example, nobody even uttered a word on the recent French aggressions in Africa. Or how about the very recent North Korean crisis. While it is now openly known that North Korea has flouted every UN mandate by restarting its nuke programme, both China and Russia are staunchly opposed to the matter being referred to the UN. Is only me who can see the hypocrisy here?


The USA is doing what any country would have done, had it the resources. A regime change in Iraq would be a major blow to the fundamentalist Islamic militant movement and would lead to a greater stability in the region. The terrorists are going to strike us regardless of whether a war actually takes place on not. So there is no point in saying that because of a terrorist backlash the USA should not go ahead and deal with a serious security threat.

Let me remind those people (read France, Russia and Germany) who would say that the USA wants to occupy Iraq for whatever reasons, that the last time Russia and Germany worked together on a crisis, Poland disappeared from the world map. The USA is the reason that the French and the Germans and the Japanese have their freedom .And let me also remind my compatriots not to forget that it was the USA that responded to our cry for help in 1962 when our leadership was committing blunder after blunder and the Chinese Red Army was rapidly making advances on Indian soil.

It, therefore, behoves all of us to do a little homework before we start standing shoulder to shoulder with a murderous dictator. Let’s criticise others, but let’s be fair and reasonable about it. And Mr KJS Ahluwalia would greatly benefit if he would only read the transcript of Secretary Powell’s presentation that he made to the UN not very long ago or maybe read the next of Resolution 1441 which clearly states that Iraq is in material breach of its earlier UN resolutions and, therefore, must “voluntarily” disarm.

H.S. AHLUWALIA, Amritsar

Moral decay among youth?

I am a research scholar with an efficient knowledge of Hindi and have been a student of Hindu culture and works for the past many years. It was on a visit to India 12 years back that I first came in contact with The Tribune and was impressed with its clarity and forthrightness. Ever since I and your newspaper have shared an intimate relationship.

The policy of your newspaper to initiate debate and dialogues on various social and economic issues is praiseworthy, and the recent increase in the space allocated to the reader’s views is a special gift to the readers, which no other newspaper has been able to do, as per my knowledge.

Come the St Valentine’s Day and a lot of hue and cry is raised by the so-called moralists and the psycho-sociologists about the cultural invasion by the West and the MNCs. No effort is spared and no stone is left unturned in bashing the West. Every Westerner is projected as a sex-starved, sexually promiscuous maniac who goes about in a wild pursuit to fulfil his physical desires. He is presumed to be an eternal ignorant without any knowledge of spiritual needs or spiritualism, and hence a morally corrupt being trapped in the material world.

But I would like to call upon so-called moralists for a deeper introspection and ponder over a few posers.

(1) Even if the Valentine’s Day was introduced by the West and the MNCs, is it not a sign of spiritual weakness of the youngsters (and hence indirectly a sign of the weak guiding forces) that it has been accepted with open arms?

(2) It is so often lamented that this day encourages one to propose to a person, and upon refusal to the next one and so on. But has such multiple proposition scheme- been suggested by the West or the MNCs ever?

(3) The festivals of Holi and Baisakhi, no doubt, have the appeal of universal love and brotherhood that is lacking in the St Valentine’s Day, but has the day of Holi not been misused by a sizeable number of the youth to terrorise the weaker sex? Is there any role of the West in such a behaviour also?

(4) Why is it that a nation that boasts to be the birthplace of spiritualism has such a high incidence of dowry deaths, caste violence and violence in the name of religion on a regular basis.

This letter should neither be seen to espouse the cause of the St Valentine’s Day nor is it an attempt to compare any religion with the other. It is only an attempt towards an honest introspection. Hinduism is a far greater religion than any of us knows or thinks it to be, and the great Indian culture which has withstood the assaults of the Ghaznavis and the Ghoris does not need constant Western bashing for its subsistence.

The only point that I want to put forward that the sociologists and the psychologists should ponder over the fact that such a wide and massive acceptance of the Western festivals and occasions may be a sign of the moral decay among the youth and the weakening guiding moral forces.

Dr SUENTE HOLIK, Denver (Colarado)


Indo-Pak ties

This refers to your editorial “Indo-Pak diplomatic war” (Feb 10). Until recently, relations between India and Pakistan were cordial, India having very wisely withdrawn its forces from the Punjab border. By this diplomatic episode, we are, unfortunately, back to square one. Unfortunate in the sense that West Asia is on the brink of war.

India’s relations with Bangladesh are also at their nadir. Relations with that small country have reached such a point that it has had to sign a defence treaty with China, with whom again India does not get on.

Having been an IPS officer, I know from experience that both India and Pakistan, or for that matter any country that carries out espionage doles out huge sums of money to the discontented in their respective inimical countries for political, economic and defence secrets. As a person with first-hand knowledge in handing out money to one’s source, I know this money is never handed over personally by an officer in the higher echelons of the service. As such it is highly unlikely that a seasoned diplomat of the seniority of a Deputy High Commissioner would hand over a paltry sum of Rs 3 lakh to the Hurriyat.

Mr Advani has slipped up in his haste to find an excuse for bringing Pakistan and India to an eye ball to eye ball situation once again. The rightwing in both India and Pakistan are welcome to their war games, but will they please let us be in peace? India must learn to live with its neighbours and minorities as we are the children of the same mother, having adopted separate faiths.


Bus fare hike

This refers to the letter about the hike in bus fares. The writer’s observations do not seem to be based on the accurate date. The 5 per cent hike in the fares is too little as the transporters have time and again been giving the reasons and figures about the running cost of the buses and the returns.

It is not logical to observe that the bus operators would have wound up had the business been profitable. The bus industry employs thousands of people. It is the matter of survival. Drivers and conductors of private buses are as handsomely paid as those of the government, in certain cases more in terms of incentives.

Had the bus operations been a profitable venture, then Punjab Roadways and the PRTC would not have surrendered 70,000 km of bus routes to private operators. The writer’s reference to 60 per cent hike during the time of Mr Parkash Singh Badal is absolutely out of context. It was hiked at a time when the bus operations had come to a standstill as the running costs had increased in massive proportions. Above all, the private operators have to return the loan with a massive interest rate to the financiers.

The private operators offer better services in terms of new buses and comfortable travel. Most of the buses operated by the state agencies have outlived their utility. We reiterated our demand for more hike in the bus fares to ensure smooth plying of traffic. If the situation continues like this, private operators may have to wind up.


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