Wednesday, April 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


Taming the tyrants

IN the history of mankind dictators and tyrants like Genghis Khan, Timur, Nadir Shah, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Yahya Khan et al have caused immense suffering to their people and the world around them by killing people in millions but there has been no noticeable success at the international level to checkmate their clones in their evil designs of causing misery and mayhem. This issue has been engaging the attention of great thinkers and visionaries like Plato, Hegel, Hobbes, Bentham and many others ever since it started raising its ugly head. But history provides us with sorry spectacles of those who for personal greed or glory turned a blind eye to these idealistic imperatives.

Harold Laski, the seminal political thinker of the last century, had written years before Hitler started his despotic and sadistic campaign of death, destruction and holocaust that it was necessary to regulate the relationships between states. International law is a body of rules by which the mutual contracts of the states and their citizens are organised and without them if we move to the external characteristics of statehood we would be presented with conditions for which anarchy would be the only word. We saw that happening through Nazism and Fascism.



After World War II, the state of detente through deterrence of nuclear arsenal was an acceptable workable proposition of international politics because one superpower had a democratic setup and the other had a system of checks and balances through the party and presidium edifice. After the collapse of Russia, America emerging as a unipolar power is now a fait accompli of international politics. Salman Rushdie, who had to live for nine years under the spectre of religion-sponsored terrorism, had prophetically said more than a year before the 9/11 mayhem, “The defining struggle of new age will be between terrorism and security.”

After 9/11, the entire spectrum of international law and politics has taken a new turn both with regard to national self-defence and declaring war on states ruled by capricious and ruthless dictators which pose a serious threat to the life and liberty of not only their own people but also the neighbouring and other countries.

The majority opinion in the liberal and democratic world is that Saddam Hussein is a brutal and tyrannical demagogue who has caused untold suffering to his people for the past more than two decades. He has been giving bestial treatment to his opponents. He waged a horrible war for obscenely wrong reasons against Iran and Kurds and used weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons fiendishly to cause more than a million deaths. He has forced his people to live in abject deprivation by inviting economic sanctions and trade embargos by his defiant attitude to the world opinion. He tried to gobble up neighbouring countries by capturing Kuwait to start with.

America and England, by declaring war against this demagogue, have given a U-turn to the grammar and lexicon of international politics and jurisprudence to deal with rogue states which are peddling Islam as nationalism. Discerning observers are correct in their views that all the opposition by Arab states to the attack on Iraq is for public consumption, while in their hearts they despise Saddam more than Georges Bush. We all know how all the hue and cry against the American attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan has ended in a whimper. By a dialectical analysis of international canons of politics, America and England may arguably appear to be wrong, but according to the letter and the spirit of the same law, Iraq is guilty as charged.

R.C. KHANNA, Amritsar

Preparing for war

The doctrines and weapons used in the latest successful war always become reference points for the next war. As such the ongoing operations in Iraq would be keenly watched by military planners all over the world. Seemingly the sheer momentum and precision of the fire power are the most distinguishing features. In our case, Kargil in the last century could be saved only due to the sheer grit of our brave soldiers led by young officers who fought with whatever they had. But then nobody can really win a war by sacrificing only lives in the modern high technology driven environment. The need is to modernise and modernise fast.

In this context the factual comments of Col D.S. Cheema, which have unfortunately evoked sharp reactions, are extremely relevant. Perhaps at higher levels, one has to tone down the services requirements lest the higher-ups should be offended. Some of the examples in this regard where loud protests have been heard are

(a) officers do not always get married accommodation even though 100% accommodation has been authorised

(b) No major induction of a modern weapon system has taken place in recent times. There is obsolescence all round. Be it small arms, artillery, rockets, missiles, aircraft

(c) In protocol, services have been systematically pushed down. Even in the DRDO they just scrapped a government order on equivalences on the pretext that in research everyone is equal in order to make their own people more equal.

Our system seemingly has been subverted and big filtration is done at the Lt Col level to weed out, amongst others, very capable but outspoken service officers. Generally speaking, for higher elevations the weeding out process ensures that there is smooth meshing with the existing arrangement and that no one raises the services requirement forcefully. The solutions are:

(a) Apart from the existing criteria, the education level, intellectual agility, uprightness and moral courage should become the inputs for promotion for promotions beyond the Brig level. Would not a qualified engineer with PG in management or Ph.D. even in English literature make a better service chief?

(b) If there are more than acceptable casualties due to unpreparedness or lack of equipment, the service chief must quit so that it becomes a lesson for future.

(c) The procurement, production and R&D of weapons should be under the proposed Chief of Defence Staff - whenever it is created. The respective service chiefs know the best what to productionise, what to procure and what to get via research route.

(d) As in other advanced countries, the weapon system production should be in the private sector where quality, cost and time frame would be a key to survival. Only explosive filling can be continued in the ordnance factories.


Smell of Arab blood

The International Red Cross talks of heavy casualties in Baghdad. This reminds me of Lady Macbeth walking in her sleep, mumbling expressions of guilt:

“Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!” (Macbeth, Act V Scene 1).

Now that the Arab blood is flowing my question is this: “Will all the perfumes of the White House and 10 Downing Street ever sweeten the hands of the liberators?”

Who is the next on the holy liberation list?

U.S. IYER, e-mail

Dissolve UN

The American and allied forces’ naked aggression on Iraq is condemned by one and all and we appeal to all countries to stop the war with immediate effect.

The UN should be dissolved as it has lost its relevance because it cannot protect the weaker countries from the strong-arm tactics of the US and its likes. We appeal to all countrymen and all nations to condemn outrightly this assault on a free country, all for oil.

KULJIT SIDHU, Major K. S. SIDHU (retd), Ludhiana


Palak metal paneer

APROPOS the editorial “Palak metal paneer”, it is a matter of happiness that The Tribune has taken up the case of contamination of food with life threatening chemicals. The level of contaminants in different food products in India has gone beyond limits and the matter is so serious that now even new mothers who feed their infants are giving a dose of some insecticides, pesticides and heavy metals along with milk.

The food is contaminated with these chemicals at various stages of its growth and post-harvest levels. An unlimited amount of insecticides and pesticides is being added into the soil to control insect pests and diseases which are all absorbed by the plant and some part of it reaches the edible parts — like fleshy fruits, vegetables, grains, oilseed etc.

Farmers use pesticides indiscriminately and beyond the recommended limits and they feel that more pesticides will lead to more production which is not true and this harm farmers in three ways i.e. by increasing the cost of production, by contaminating the food and by creating resistance in dangerous insect pests and plant pathogens.

The food is also contaminated by unscrupulous traders and businessmen who add synthetic colours to green vegetables before sending it to the market to fetch a better price.

All pulses available in the market now are coloured with synthetic chemicals in the name of polishing. This also increases the level of contaminants.

Vegetables grown in a river basin is the third category. These river basins are highly contaminated with heavy metals which are taken up by fleshy vegetables. Summer vegetables like cucurbits, cucumbers and melons, including watermelon grown in these areas and available in markets, belong to this category.

The findings of Shrishti may be eye-opening to the general public, but it is well known to the scientific community in the country. Urgent steps must be taken by the government, NGOs and scientists to create awareness to check this menace.

V.K. Gupta, Palampur 

Post-office building

I would like to draw the authorities’ attention towards the poor condition of the post office building at Bhagta Bhai Ka. Due to cracks in the walls and the roof, the building can collapse at any time.

AMARJEET SINGH MAKKAR, Bhagta Bhai Ka (Bathinda)

Majitha road in neglect

As a resident, I am exasperated to see the deteriorating condition of the Majitha road in Amritsar. It seems the road does not exist on the map of the Municipal Corporation. Every year the municipal staff fill up potholes, but when rain comes, the road once again becomes unfit for driving vehicles.


Ban Pak artistes?

I would like to express my views on the request for a ban on Pakistani artistes (April 4). I think the request of ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh and playback singer Abhijeet to Home Minister L.K. Advani was unwarranted. As music is called the food for soul, how can we distinguish between artistes based on their nationalities? Coming from an artiste of Jagjit’s stature, it was highly disturbing. He termed the popularity and success of Pak artistes in India as a “cultural invasion” and a conspiracy by Pakistan.

How can we think of putting a ban on Adnan Sami or Shazia Manzoor as we regard them as devotees of music, rather than Pakistanis? Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen, Ghulam Ali, Hyder Ali.... there is a long list of personalities who entertain us, but belong to the other side of the dividing line.

I feel sorry for the people across the border as due to lack of insight of their administration, they are deprived of enjoying the arts of India. So, please don’t let politics creep into art and culture.

MANU MOUDGIL, Chandigarh

Hospital life

I wish to highlight the biased presentation of the medical profession in the TV serial, “Sanjeevani”, which is telecast on Star Plus every Wednesday at 9 p.m. The TV soap started with very informative and credible issues. But now it has become more of a “thriller” on account of the Juhi-Simran war over Dr Rahul. Doctors should be shown working efficiently. The love triangle in the soap as well as the wickedness of the trustee have eclipsed the real hospital life.

PRIYAGEET KAUR KALSI, Class X student, Batala

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