Tuesday, April 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Why CMs order transfers

THE first thing a Chief Minister does after he takes the oath of office is that he orders the transfers of senior officers. It may be worthwhile knowing why. Obviously, the CM and other ministers lack the confidence and the ability to get work from any officer that happens to be working in their ministry just then. Everyone can get good work from good officers; merit lies in getting good work from the not-so-good officers. That merit might be lacking.

Second, the minister concerned might be in need of services of an officer of his confidence because the work he gets or orders is not always performed in the public interest alone. The work the minister wants done might have political and even personal interests involved. An obliging officer naturally processes the case according to the wishes of the politician he is serving. The minister is, in such cases, equally anxious to oblige the officer concerned so that the benefit is mutual. This is what is described as “the politician-bureaucrat nexus”.

This is what has happened recently in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. The CMs have gathered around themselves the same people as they had during their last tenures. Naturally, the governments will be run as they were run during their previous tenures, the same mistakes will be committed and, it does not require an astrologer to predict that the result at the next elections will also be the same.


The way out lies in finding out and correcting the mistakes committed during the last tenure and avoiding the same in future. Democracy is all about mixing with and working according to the wishes and to the benefit of the people. Bureaucracy is there to implement the policies, not to dictate policies. Nor do these transfers add to the dignity of the bureaucrats because the process logically points to the fact that there are favour-seekers among them.

L.R. SHARMA, Solan

Kashmir massacre

Kashmiri Pandits have once again become the target of an imbecile passion. To check this tide, once again a super head is required. Mr Vajpayee condemns this attack. Mr Advani, heavily armed by black commandos, tells the hapless people not to move out. Mufti Sayeed wants to apply a healing touch. Healing touch to whom? Which leader has owned moral responsibility for this ghastly murder of humanity? Six days of Gulf war have not reported so many casualties as a single night of peace has claimed in India. Is India only a large tract of land meant for digging graves for innocent people? Don’t we have any sense of indignation? Can outbursts from politicians suffice? Alas! we lack morals and worse, wear no heads.

J.S. ANAND, Bathinda

Haryana buses speed to kill

A couple of months ago when the Indian cricket team lost to the Kiwis there was the demand that the coach and the captain should either resign or be removed.

Whenever there is a train accident in India (and there are many!), there is the demand that the Railway Minister should resign.

Haryana Roadways, not so affectionally known as Haryana Airways, is infamous for its killer buses on NH1. The other day a Haryana Roadways bus killed five occupants of a car in a head-on collision. The bus dragged the car for over 20 metres. This is a good indication of the speed of the bus. The driver is absconding.

If a coach, a captain or a minister are to be held responsible, why not the head of the corporation which kills people on a regular basis?

To begin with, the MD should be made to ride a Haryana Roadways bus. He will learn what lack of maintenance means (no wipers, bald tyres and a dirty filthy exterior with an interior to match). He will learn to spit, swear and curse. He will learn how to drive while gesticulating with both hands and talking and barrelling down NH1 at a prohibited speed. He will learn how to overtake from the left. He will learn how to be an anti-social element. There is a lot to learn from just one trip!

H. KISHIE SINGH, Chandigarh

Ministers’ phone bills

I was shocked when I read in a daily that the Punjab Government spent Rs 47 lakh on the furnishing of bungalows of ministers.

Another shocking news was that the Punjab Government had paid Rs 32.62 lakh on telephone bills of the ministers in one year, from March 1, 2002 to February 28, 2003.

The highest bill has been that of Capt Amarinder Singh (Rs 4 lakh) followed by ministers G.S. Bhullar (2.13 lakh), P.S. Bajwa (2.10 lakh), R.S. Puri (1.85 lakh), Mrs R.K. Bhattal (1.74 lakh). Almost all the ministers crossed the 1 lakh mark. Why this wasteful expenditure?


12.5 pc tax on phones

This refers to the Punjab Budget for 2003-04, which includes a proposal to levy tax at the rate of 12.5% on phone rentals charged by BSNL, private telephone companies, including cellphone service providers.

With the scattering of families within and overseas, a telephone connection has become a necessity and is no longer a luxury. The daily increase in the cost of living is heavily burdening the backbone of an average middle class family like the fabled burdening of the back of a camel with a straw.

It, therefore, will be going too far to impose the proposed tax indiscriminately on an item of utter necessity. A house with a single phone connection and no cellphone needs to be spared from the dragnet of the said measure. However, wealthy families with multi-telephone connections may gladly be included in the proposed net. The Finance Minister may kindly consider the suggestion to make his budget more just, fair and humane.

V.I.K. SHARMA, IAS (retd), Jalandhar

More on Ghalib

In his letter “More on Ghalib” (March 18), Mr P.L. Bhola has, mentioned two interesting incidents from the poet’s life. The “guest”, referred to as saying that there were many donkeys in Delhi, was Faiz-al-Hasan Faiz, a poet of Saharanpur. Ghalib and Faiz were returning after participating in a “mushaaira” or a banquet at a place other than the former’s house when the incident took place.

The incident regarding Zauq’s complaint about Ghalib’s sarcastic remarks against him was like this. On the marriage ceremony of Jawan Bakht, the youngest son of the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Ghalib wrote a “sehra” (an encomium poem on the groom’s chaplet). Its last couplet was: Ham sukhan-faihm hain Ghalib key taraf-daar nahin/Dekhein is sehrey sey kaih dey koi behtar sehra.”

Zafar felt that through this insinuative verse Ghalib had disparaged his mentor, Zauq, and asked him, who happened to be there, to write a “sehra”. Its last couplet was: “Jis ko daava ho sukhan ka ye suna do usko Dekh is tar’h sey kaihtey hain sukhanvar sehra.”

On this, Ghalib wrote a beautiful poem “Maazrit” (Apology), saying, inter alia, “Roo-e-sukhan kisi kee taraf ho to roo-siyaah/Sauda nahin, junoon nahin, vaihshat nahin mujhey” (If I have made a sarcastic comment on any body my face be black. I am neither demented, nor lunatic nor savage). Some people feel that Zauq’s complexion being dark, Ghalib made a dig at him in the first line. In this poem, Ghalib asserted: “Sau saal sey hai pesha-e-aaba sipah-gari/Kuchh shaairi zaria-e-izzat nahin mujhey” (I do not consider it an honour to write poetry, as my ancestors always acted martially).

It is said that there was not much cordiality between these two great poets. One day, seeing Zauq going in a palanquin, Ghalib said: “Hua hai Shah ka ghulaam phirey hai itraata” (He prides himself on being a slave of the Emperor). Zauq complained to Zafar, who called Ghalib and asked him to read the verse he had written on that day. Ghalib recited the couplet: “Hua hai Shah ka ghulaam phirey hai itraata/Vagarnah shaihr mein Ghalib kee aabroo kya hai”. Zauq felt abashed.

Ghalib was a lively conversationalist having a good sense of humour. One day he visited his friend Maulana Fazl Haq, who greeted him with the verse “Baya biraadar, aao rey bhaai” (Come brother, come brother). All of a sudden, his concubine showed up. Ghalib asked the Maulana to complete the couplet by reciting the second line “Ba-nasheen maadar, baith ree maai” (Be seated mother, be seated mother).

Sometimes Ghalib talked jestingly even to his wife and parrot. Once he wanted to shift to some other house. His wife said that a “bala” (an evil spirit) lived in it. “Is there a greater” “bala” than you”? the poet shot back.

One day, while entering the house, he saw that his wife was saying “namaaz”. He stood at the gate. When her prayer was over, he took off his shoes, placed them on his head and went into his room. “Why have you done so”? she inquired. “The whole compound has become a mosque. Where should I keep my shoes?” he quipped.

On a wintry day, seeing his parrot sitting hiding its head in its feathers, Ghalib said: “Miyaan mithoo, na tumhaarey joroo na bachchey, tum kis fikr mein sir jhukaaey baithey ho”


Khap panchayats

This refers to the letter “What khap panchayats do” by Dr D.P. Singh Mor. These khap panchayats sit in judgement without knowing their jurisdiction. Sometimes these are managed by shrewd politicians in order to gain political ground vis-a-vis their opponents. Maham Chanbisi is one of the most prominent panchayats of Haryana. This panchayat was instrumental in the rise of the late Chaudhary Devi Lal during the eighties when he became the Deputy Prime Minister of India.

A few years ago a prominent politician of the Bhadhra area in Bhiwani district was declared an outcast by the Sheoran-25 khap panchayat for political reasons. Similarly, a private nursing home at Bhadhra was attacked after the boycott by the same Sheoran-25. Earlier to that, there was a hue and cry over the murder of a married woman in a village near Charkhi Dadri. The culprit was sentenced to imprisonment by the court of law. But the Sangwan-40 khap panchayat expelled the family of the guilty youth from the village for the reasons best known to the khap leaders only. Consequently, Kadian khap held a panchayat seeking justice for the expelled family as the family concerned was of the Kadian sub-caste of the Jats. However, the judgement of the Khaps is yet to be implemented.

These so-called khap panchayats have lost their social recognition in the wake of the panchayati raj system under the 73rd and 74th Constitution amendments. The village panchayats have been empowered adequately to run the affairs at the village, block and district levels. The traditional leadership in the rural areas of Haryana has since been sidelined by such panchayats. These democratically elected panchayats have the popular mandate and the legal and constitutional backing as well. The voice of those elected panchayats is heard in various social circles. The public representatives such as MLAs and MPs also listen to them. So, these democratically elected panchayats have gathered importance of which earlier they were deprived of. In their clever moves, the traditional leaders attempt to undermine the influence and importance of the legally and democratically elected panchayats in the rural areas.

Dr Mor appears to be unaware of the fact that mostly the Arya Samaj leaders are responsible for organising these so-called khap panchayats. Actually, the Arya Samaj has not been playing its role properly after the reorganisation of Punjab.

O.P. DUHAN, Rohtak


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