Monday, April 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Take care of rural doctors

SOON after assuming charge of the Health Ministry, Mrs Sushma Swaraj has made plans for starting PGI and AIIMS-like tertiary level medical institutes all over the country. She should make it a point to get the best of doctors to run the different departments and not compromise on the quality of equipment and manpower. A building comes last in the treatment of any disease. Only highly qualified and competent doctors will make the dream a reality.

She should pay greater attention to population control and improve the conditions of PHCs and provide more facilities to the doctors working in remote areas and villages. She should revise the policy of taking help from private doctors and institutions in providing family planning inputs and performing tubectomy operations.

To provide emergency care in remote areas and in times of disaster, “Sanjeevni” is a very good idea. In Australia and Canada, where the lands are vast, modern medical help is provided by air to remote areas. Just as we have mobile hospitals, the same is done through planes carrying a competent OT, doctors, para-medical staff, x-ray and diagnostic facilities.

As for the “brain drain”, the need is to provide better working conditions to brilliant doctors as some institutions in Delhi like Escorts, Appollo and Ganga Ram are doing. Good remuneration and good working conditions for research will stop the “brain drain”. Medical facilities in some top institutions of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai are comparable to those in the USA, and Canada and many foreigners now prefer to have treatment in India because of cost effectiveness.



Dogs die in hot cars

As per dogs have got the inherent psychological instinct for companionship, the dog owners not uncommonly take out their pets with them in their cars, little knowing that keeping dogs in stationary cars in summer can be fatal or alarmingly distressing to them.

Even otherwise in all weathers dogs should not be left in closed cars. As a routine, a dog in a parked open car should not be left in for more than 5-10 minutes in summer. It is imperative that windows should be kept open irrespective of the weather to allow in fresh air.

A dog needs training for travelling with its owner. First, it should be taken out in a car on short journeys and then gradually for long drives. Nervous and excitable dogs need journey sickness medication to make them calm. Regular halts are necessary to allow the dog to ease itself. Feed and water should be offered. Dogs during a halt must be kept chained to avoid disturbance by their chasing vehicles, attacking and interfering with persons and animals on the road. A dog should not be allowed to take its head out to avoid an injury and nuisance to passers-by. Stickers “Dogs die in hot cars” should be affixed on cars to make public conscious.


Speaking honestly

This refers to Mr Paramjit Singh’s letter “Excellent English prose” (March 11), which I read a few days ago.

Instead of puffing up on his eulogistic remarks about my letters published in The Tribune and boasting like a flashy, ostentatious person, of the talents which I do not possess, with all humility I quote a Persian saying “Man aanam ke man daanam” (I know my limitations).

In 1945, in Class IX, I had taken up Persian and science, besides other subjects. The science master left the school. Till his substitute was appointed, I used to sit, during the science period, in the classroom where Urdu was taught by a distinguished teacher. His method of teaching was so charming that I developed a taste for Urdu and Persian literature. About 90 per cent of the verses of these languages then read or heard still survive in my memory.

After partition, we migrated to India and remained in straitened circumstances for years together. Therefore, I could not receive formal education in a college and joined government service as a stenographer. I did B.A. as a private candidate by hiring books, as I could not purchase them.

Instead of going through the entire courses, I mugged up the answers of some important questions of each subject. Had some of those questions not figured in the question papers, I would have failed miserably. Graduation, thus, did not add to my knowledge. I am, therefore, a man of mediocre abilities. However, I have a strong penchant for reading and writing. But it is because of the unmerited grace of God towards me and the magnanimity of the readers that my letters, carried in The Tribune, are liked by them.

This divine favour reminds me of Allama Iqbal’s verse: “Koi poochhey ke zaahid ka kya bigarta hai/Jo be-amal pe bhee bakhshish voh be-niyaaz karey.”

However, because of physical weakness, caused by some ailments, I lack the will to touch my writings up with the result that sometimes these remain insipid. An Urdu poet has rightly said:

Dil-shikaston ka sukhan hovey na

kyoon-kar na-durust.

Saaz bigara ho to nikley hai sada bigari huee.”


Highway patrolling — Punjab Police way

WAITING for the train to pass any railway crossing is a confounding experience for a normal mind. By the time the barrier lifts, there are four lanes of traffic facing four lanes of traffic! It takes up to 30-40 minutes to sort out this self-made madness. It is an unabashed and shameless display of indiscipline.

I have always wondered why the police is not to be seen, challaning the offenders. It’s a captive audience. No one can run away.

The reason the police is not out challaning is that policemen themselves are the culprits (see photograph). The police van itself is a model of safety. Note the missing windshield wipers. Red lights in front, a contravention of the Motor Vehicles Act. The van is parked on the wrong side of the yellow line, in the oncoming lane. The driver has gone probably for a cup of tea, leaving the engine idling. Why? It’s push start. There are rust marks below the windscreen. The van has not been wiped clean on a regular basis. It takes months for rust to build up. For sure the hand brake does not work. The brakes and electricals are suspect. The vehicle is not in a roadworthy condition. Another contravention of the M.V. Act.

To leave the engine idling, the vehicle in neutral and unattended is down right criminal. Watch out! This is “Police Highway Patrolling”! And they are going to get you! For what? The pot can’t call the kettle black!

Challaning, like charity, should begin at home.

Incidentally, shopkeepers on both sides of the railway crossing at Kurali complain about frequent jams and chaos. It’s bad for business.

H. KISHIE SINGH, Chandigarh



More on gulmohar

This refers to S.P.S. Dosanjh’s letter (March 21) on tree talk about gulmohar. Dosanjh has a point in saying that the words “flame of forest” stand for dhak. That is the usage of North India. However, for India gulmohar is an exotic species. It is a native of Madagascar. There it grows in the wild. The plant becomes completely leafless towards the end of winter. With the onset of spring it dons an exquisite cloak comprising exclusively flamboyant reddish brown flowers. The canopy looks like a ball of fire. The people, therefore, call it as “a fire tree”. The groves comprising a pure crop of the species looks like a forest ablaze and is so likened to the “flame of forest”. In other words, what dhak is to India, gulmohar is to Madagascar.

In any case regional names vary from place to place. In this regard Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707-78) has done a great service to subsequent naturalists, scholars and students by evolving a methodical classification in Latin terms for a universally acceptable nomenclature for numerous members of the plant kingdom. Accordingly, poinciana regia is the right and enough of a name for the species in question.

The letter writer’s objection to the meaning of the word “gul as “rose” is misplaced. In this context I can quote a naturalist poet who said:

“Khub shei yeh gul hei, shaan bhi aur ghiza bhi,

“Kaante chabhoti hei magar fasal-e-gulab yaro!”

Dosanjh can also refer to 19th century British educationist John T. Platt’s dictionary of Urdu, Classical Hindi and English or Arvind Kumar’s Hindi Thesaurus to verify that gul gulab (rose) are synonyms.

And, to be further sure, let us recall the common Hindustani word “gul-qand”. It stands for a preserve of gulab (rose) flowers, an oriental appetiser as well as a remedy for several stomach disorders. Prepared out of rose flowers only, it leaves no scope for doubt that the word “gul” stands for “gulab” — the rose flower.

So far as the disagreeing writer’s assertion that gulmohar is too short lived to serve as a good ornamental tree is concerned, he may be right about this kind of behaviour of the plant, but in his area only. Not everywhere. The species has certainly proved a good ornamental tree in many a tract — in India as well as beyond. The Tribune is read all over the world and I prepare my notes by keeping a wider and larger audience in view.

K.L. NOATAY, Shimla

Misleading ads

Amir Khan, in his typical style, states that 200 ml bottle of Coke is priced at Rs 5. However, the 200 ml bottles available in our market place bears the printed price of Rs 6. So the ad is not conveying the right message. Even the price cut in softdrinks is not passed on to customers here. The retailers say the bottles bearing Rs 5 price have been launched in big cities, but not in the interiors. Then, Coke should stop the ad from being telecast in interior towns.

Similarly, the tariff, quoted by mobile companies is often misleading. One company advertises vociferously that all incoming calls are free. However, as soon as one moves out of Haryana, he is charged for incoming calls. The company says that it charges for incoming calls when the subscriber is on the roaming facility. The advertisement does not mention this, all means all.

Almost all quotations of EMI by the DSAs and banks offering car and home loans, respectively, are deceptive and do not reflect the true picture. Similarly, many quotations of computer hardware, luxury items etc do not show the actual price, which the customer pays ultimately.

Marketing efforts are directed at alluring customers, but this should not mean trapping them. Advertisements should reflect the true state of affairs and the offerings aired must be available at retail outlets. The marketers should understand that this would lead to the loss of their customer base and credibility, eventually, which they can ill afford in today’s competitive environment.


Fleeced by booking clerk

Apropos the letter “Going for a film” by Surendra Miglani, I wish to share my experience of another modus operandi of persons across the counter. A few years ago I gave a hundred-rupee-note to buy a train ticket, costing about Rs 70, at New Delhi railway station, the Ajmeri Gate side, to a lady booking clerk. She dropped it in her cash drawer and immediately picking up a Rs 50 note tells me, “Uncle you have given me only a Rs 50 note whereas the ticket costs Rs 70”.

I was taken aback as I did not have a Rs 50 note with me at all. But she insisted on her contention and as the time was running short to catch the train and other passengers were also in the queue behind me, I had to shell out the balance amount with great embarrassment. The people standing behind me told me that this was a frequent happening there and people were fleeced but couldn’t do anything because of two reasons. First, they do not expect a lady to do such a thing and, second, if someone indulges in misadventure of arguing forcefully with her the whole lot of other staff inside booking office would come to her “rescue” and pounce on the person concerned.

Obviously, no one has time enough at such places to sort out things in a legal manner. As my conversation with the booking clerk was going on, one of her colleagues entered with a packet of snacks which the whole lot got busy savouring, along with loud guffaws and jokes, unmindful of the people waiting to buy tickets. It is anyone’s guess at whose cost the party was going on.

Lt Col BHAGWANT SINGH (retd), Mohali

Iraq-US conflict

Even as the Bush-led coalition gains grudging around in Iraq, it seems to be losing in the Republican-majority US Senate. The Senate has voted 51/48 to limit the relief from $ 726 to $ 350 billion. Mr Bush seems to be on the losing spree. A pall of gloom seems to have fallen over the American think-tank.

What is happening to this champion of democracy? How can the mighty USA abandon diplomatic efforts when the turmoil in the world cries out for diplomacy? It is indeed tragic that no one has come to the rescue of hapless Iraqis, being shelled in their own homes. Protests from people and various organisations the world over seem to have fallen on deaf ears. May God continue to bless the USA in the troubled days ahead. Sand storms may have been raging in Iraq, but obscured clarity of vision appears to have become a worldwide phenomenon. Over to Mr Bush.


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