Saturday, February 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Protecting our own value system

Does the “Massive acceptance of the Western festivals”, to wit, the celebration of St.Valentine's Day, signify the moral decay among youth? This is the poser constructed by The Tribune for its readers in the light of the prompting letter of Dr Suente Holik (The Tribune, February 17, 2003). Responding instantly, I am hesitant to call it a “moral decay”. I would rather see it as a reflection of happy-go-lucky situation borne out of immature understanding of the real. Nevertheless, why it is so?

Incidentally, only last week (February 8, 2003), I had the privilege of presiding over a lecture in the Panjab University campus organised under the aegis of Vidya Bharati, which is perhaps the biggest non-governmental organisation committed to impart wholesome education to young boys and girls from all sections of society. It has about 22,000 educational centres in India. The occasion was the celebration of its golden jubilee (Northern Region) with the theme of the lecture, “National values and education”.

The distinguished speaker on this occasion was Dr J.R.Rajput, Director of National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), New Delhi. The core concern to be addressed was how to germinate our education with human values and how to draw those values from the wide spectrum of Indian culture, religions, ethics, philosophy, literature, arts, scriptures and the Constitution that serve as the rich repository of value-oriented education by adopting the multi-disciplinary approach.


The desired direction could be conceived at two distinct but closely connected levels. At the initial informal level of education, human values may be imbibed from the social and cultural environment. Especially during the formative period of life, a person’s own mother tongue serves as a self-consistent and natural linkage with the environment. With this initial back up of social and cultural value, at the intermediate formal level of education, a person is bound to gain more cultural perspective.

Here, at this juncture of life, the role of a teacher is of critical importance. Through his incisive analysis, informed by “faith, understanding and realistion”, he/she teaches students to construe and comprehend values in their true cultural context. By doing so, a student leans to not only preserve and protect his or her own value system but also augments it beautifully by learning from others.

Dr VIRENDRA KUMAR, UGC Emeritus Fellow, Panjab University, Chandigarh

Foundation of humanity

This has reference to the letter “What is wrong with Western culture” (February 15). I endorse the views of love that Mr Vijay Babbar holds. He has rightly said that Valentine’s day is a day for celebrating the most natural and valued sentiment of humans that is love. Love is multi-faceted like brother-sister, mother-daughter, father-son and so many more relations. One should think twice before making petty remarks about teenage love for their love is pure for them. If the observer does not find purity or sanity in their love, then it is the observer’s fault. Love is a very deep emotion. One should not mistake any kind of love to be superficial. Love is eternal and not ephemeral.

Even if lovers celebrate this day and feel happy, then how does it create problems for others? Let one do what one feels. If we have been unable to stop violence from times unknown on this planet, then we have no right to stop just a day made for love, the most sacred emotion of mankind.

Talking about western culture, one should not forget that there is no harm in imbibing good othings from other cultures. After all, people belonging to other parts of the world are human beings like us and share same emotions that we have. Moreover, if we can have parents’ day, mother’s day, father’s day, why not we earmark a day for love that is the foundation of the whole humanity?

Assimilating good things of other cultures has been the hallmark of our great and rich culture. Let us not shut the gates of our minds and allow the fresh and fragment air of other cultures to flow in and make it still more richer and vibrant.

ANAMICA SHARMA, Student, GND University, Amritsar

Here and there

During a visit to some Western countries recently, I very keenly studied the standard of sanitation there. Surprisingly, I could not find any fly or a mosquito during my six-stay no stray dogs and cattle on the roads.

There are community toilets at short distances in London and other towns, cleaner than what we have in our homes. No piece of paper or fruit skin on the roads and streets. It is a punishable crime in these countries. No pools of stagnant water; if at all, these are regularly sprayed with insecticides. No garbage or waste matter on road sides. Sweepings and waste matter from houses and shops are collected in plastic bags and placed outside; the same are collected by the sanitary staff daily or on alternate days positively.

Our NRIs and visitors from these countries often comment adversely regarding the standard of sanitation in Indian. Let the Centre and the States take up this challenge and take necessary measures seriously and enforce rules and regulations to improve the sanitation standard in our towns and villages.

Dr H.R. KHERA, Senior Citizens’ Association, Pathankot

Helping the disabled

This has reference to the report “Airlines putting the disabled through hell” (February 13). As per security guidelines, there are certain prohibited items for carriage in the aircraft. There are some restricted items also which are allowed to the carried in the aircraft by a passenger but after laid down security checks. Walking stick falls into the latter category.

Mr S. Deshpande, a 32-year-old blind passenger, travelled from Bangalore to Pune by Indian Airlines flight IC 917 of January 27, 2003. On account of the red alert being notified and walking stick falling in the restricted category, CISF personnel, entrusted with responsibilities relating to pre-embarkation security check, had to follow the guidelines. The passenger was, therefore, requested not to carry the walking strick in his hand on board flight.

Indian Airlines had in fact offered to take Mr Deshpande to the aircraft in a wheelchair. He, however, preferred to walk. IA staff helped him to board the plane and properly seated. Even the commander of the flight took personal care in making Mr Deshpande’s journey comfortable.

Mr Deshpande was further assisted in deplaning from the aircraft at Pune and his walking stick was handed over to him in the Arrival Hall at destination.

ANUP K. SRIVASTAVA, Director (Public Relations), Indian Airlines Limited, New Delhi.


Let’s be broadminded

This has reference to the letters by Dr Suente Holik from Denver (USA) and Dr Vijay Babbar from Kingston (Canada) in defence of the Western custom of celebrating Valentine’s day. There can be no objection to an innocent expression of affection for a friend, relation or colleague in the form of a greeting card or a rose. We should be broadminded enough to assimilate what is beautiful in other cultures. Besides, it is not possible to generalise and say that moral decay has set in among our youth. However, it cannot be denied that this Western gift was unheard of a decade back in India. Also, many young enthusiasts need to learn that Valentine’s day does not sanction a licence to act indiscreetly.

Today, it is fashionable among the Indian youth to copy everything Western. The slang they utter, the branded clothes they prefer, the noisy music they tune-in, the crass gyrations they call dance, the junk food they eat and the sex-cum-violence filled films they like to see are the menagerie of Western slavery. Many now think that it is essential to flaunt friends of the opposite sex to be considered modern, liberated and socially accepted. It is this mentality, acquired under Western influence, that needs to be deplored — not the celebration of Valentine’s day. Extra-marital relationships, that constitute the staple spice of our TV soap operas point to the same mental slavery.

There is nothing wrong with consenting young people falling in love if they ultimately intend to get mired. They may exchange roses or cards on Valentine’s day or on any other day. But even such committed and sincere lovers need not make a public display of their private affections as “love” is a singularly pure, personal, intimate and sublime emotion. Certainly, Valentine’s day (like Holi) is no justification for crude behaviour towards the fair sex, particularly strangers.

Violence related to dowry, caste or religion is not a sign of decay of youth; it is the result of instigation by certain vested interests. Similarly, indecency stems from the misinterpretation of the sanctity of an innocent custom like Valentine’s day under the wrong notion that everything Western is worth emulating, even in vulgar ways.

Dr SURJIT SINGH BHATTI, Professor, Applied Physics, GND University, Amritsar


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