Thursday, April 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Need for male emancipation

THIS is in response to the letter “Gender equality-their style” (April 2). If women ran the world, they would be able to steer through more easily than their male counterparts, that’s for sure. Vivek Khanna’s statement on “gender equality” not only speaks of a typical male chauvinistic viewpoint, but is also counter productive. “The separate queues of men and women” here only reflects that India is going through a transition period. Most of the men in India still need to grow and open up their gender biased minds before the separate queues are united into one.

To corroborate my statement: how many of the men in India, along with their job duties, undertake kitchen work, help their children in their school work, look after their in-laws, pay the bills and what not. Little do men realise how women keep shuttling in this marathon effort!
By the end of the day, if she is unable to satisfy the carnal desires of her partner or ends up in Eliot’s “Wasteland”-like situation, then she has had it again. The educated working woman does all of this above and more. Here I am not talking of the very decimal few who can afford full-time servants.

It is only when the ordinary working woman is able to shed some responsibility on her counterpart at home that the men have a right to ask for a single queue outside. Else, it is extremely selfish to point out at the slightest of privileges and load them with a burden with which she can hardly trudge.


Yes, Mr Khanna, the “lecherous atmosphere” or even the basic norms of decency while standing with women are yet to be learnt here. Though that is not the only deterrent to single queues.

The quotes from Mark Twain and Churchil also reflect a bias against women since ages and by agreeing with them, you only reveal that centuries have rolled by but the male mentality here in India is still the same more or less in spite of the efforts of women emancipators.

The need of the hour is male emancipation since they are in the “driving seat” still. This is also to say that the whole issue need not be looked upon as a “battle of the sexes” but as a desire to live more harmoniously in the present scenario.


Ash’s injury: why the fuss?

Aishwarya Rai is a great actress and a lady of considerable charm and intellect. She is very popular and has a large fan following. She enjoys well-deserved coverage in the media. I have all the respect and sympathy for her and wish her speedy recovery.

But why do we have to create a fuss over a small injury sustained by her while shooting for a film? Look at TV newscasts, front-page write-ups and photographs of hers appearing in the Press. Who all are entitled to such an overkill dose of publicity and glowing praise? Is it only the chosen few — the glitterati, the socialites, the possessors of power and wealth?

What about many others, the lesser mortals, who though in the forefront to do their bit for the country, are relegated to the background when it comes to recognition and appreciation?

To take but one example, how often — except on strictly formal or ceremonial occasions — do we spare a thought, say a word of cheer, express good wishes and gratitude, extend greetings or highlight the singular services rendered by our jawans and officers who undergo most hazardous ordeals, including grievous physical injuries, at times making the supreme sacrifice with their lives? Where have our sense of propriety and norms of priority gone?

True, the media should, and does, take into account the readers’ wishes and preferences. But it also has its own mind, enlightened mind at that. It rejects what it considers trivial, harmful or unworthy even as focussing attention on what promotes greater good of the country and its people, their honour, unity, strength and prosperity.

WING CDR S.C. KAPOOR (Retd), Noida

Curtail holidays

Despite the hue and cry raised from time to time whenever holidays come in a row causing inconvenience to the general public, nothing tangible has been done uptil now to curtail their number by the central/state governments. One of the major recommendations of the Central Pay Commission to bring about a reduction in the number of holidays in the government offices has failed to get serious attention with the result that the list of public holidays announced every year is getting lengthened.

Obviously, no serious effort is being made to deal with this pressing issue, anticipating resistance from employees. Can there be a more painful situation than the one where the government employees will be paid for full 30 days while working for only 16 days? And this exactly is going to happen this month in Punjab and Haryana. One wonders, if there is any other country in the world where the number of off-days is as large as ours. As such, the central/state governments will have to swallow the bitter pill sooner or later as the issue of curtailment of holidays cannot be ignored indefinitely.

The governments should retain only two or three national holidays and all other existing holidays should be converted into restricted holidays with an option to the employees to avail of five or six such holidays in a year. Additionally, the number of casual leave may be raised to 15 or so.


Nuclear option in Iraq?

The USA was defeated in Vietnam and had to run away. It made several attempts to kill Fidel Castro of Cuba but did not get any success. It had to cut a sorry figure in Somalia. It could not oust Saddam Hussein in Gulf War-I.

Now, in Gulf War-II, there is a possibility, even though small, that the USA would meet its waterloo in Baghdad. There can be a scenario in which the US-British forces could suffer huge casualties, say 5,000 to 10,000, because of guerrilla and fidayeen attacks by the Iraqis. In this scenario, there is bound to be tremendous domestic pressure both in the USA and Britain to halt the war and call back the troops. Some degree of desperation and frustration is already visible in the utterances and body language of both George Bush and Tony Blair. The actions like massive and blind bombing, not even sparing women, children, hospitals etc., reflect this desperation and frustration on their part.

In such a situation is it possible that the USA could be thinking of a nuclear option to win the war at any cost to save its face as well as to retain its global supremacy? The world must take cognisance of this possibility well in advance and the international community must make all efforts to prevent this from happening at any cost.


Who opposes US action

There are four types of people who are opposing an otherwise much needed US action against Iraq. First, the Muslims, who think the US action is an assault on Islam. Second, the communists who ideologically oppose any US action, right or wrong. The Nehruvian secularists are opposing it in pursuance of their policy of appeasement towards the Muslims for petty political and other gains. The fourth category of people oppose it for the sake of opposition. These are sort of “sentimental fools” who are totally cut off from the harsh ground realities. Such people often use their heart, instead of their brain, to react to various issues.

All the opponents are opposing the US action for their selfish motives without understanding the seriousness of the threat the world faces from jehadi terrorism, propagated by the likes of Iraq and Pakistan. Indian opponents of the US action against Iraq are doing so at the cost of larger national interests. Rather, we Indians, should not lose this God-send opportunity to support the US action and also make our own strong case against our arch-enemy, Pakistan. We must somehow convince the USA that Pakistan is rather more dangerous than Iraq even.

A.K. SHARMA, Chandigarh

Peace prize & Gandhi

Apropos of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann’s letter (April 4) calling the peace prize in honour of Mahatma Gandhi as a poppy-cock. This may be his personal opinion but does not reflect the majority Sikh view. He laments that we have got stuck in a capsule of the yore and yet he is not able to extricate his own mind from the hoary events of 1947 and 1984.

It is time that Mr Mann examines his own heart and his association with the late Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Mahatma Gandhi has made a coveted niche for himself in the history of the world by successfully leading the freedom movement of India. Blaming him in any way for partition or some other problems facing the nation means being unjust and unfair to him. Instead, he should be held in high esteem by every Indian.


Tension after pension

Apropos A.K. Kashyap’s letter (April 4), the government has introduced pensionary benefits to bank employees, who retired after 1.1.1986 and so on. But those who retired before 1.1.1986 are paid an ex gratia of Rs 1,000 p.m from the peon to the manager level with no provision for the surviving spouse. It is distressing. The public money is recklessly and lavishly spent by ministers, MPs, MLAs and all those who matter.

D.R. SHARDA, Chandigarh

Sonepat stinks

I wish to draw the attention of the authorities concerned to the dismal level of pollution pervading Sonepat. For the past many days, a nauseating stench has gripped the atmosphere because of untreated effluents released into the drain passing through the town by a private distillery situated at nearby Jahri village. Besides, the molasses produced by the cooperative sugar mill and stored in the open also contribute to the obnoxious smell.


Road in bad shape

The Jalandhar-Nakodar road is in very bad shape. There are pot-holes in the entire stretch of this road. Normally, it takes 20 to 25 minutes to cover a stretch of 24 km. But, it takes one hour to the commuters to cover this distance.



Q: Expand SARS

A: Severe American Repression Syndrome!

K.J.S. AHLUWALIA, Amritsar


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