Saturday, April 12, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



No defence this, Mr Blackwill!

US Ambassador Mr Robert D. Blackwill has decidedly devised a dedicated defensive to justify his country’s invasion of Iraq, but no amount of rhetoric or technical gibberish can help in achieving what he has attempted to do in the “Defence of an invasion” in a contemporary.

The sections and resolutions he has quoted in his article may appeal to the logical mind of a lawyer, but the heart of any ordinary, sensitive human being will remain unmoved by the vacuity of his words. What is happening in Iraq to its soldiers as well as civilians in the name of democracy and freedom is against the principles of humanity and will remain so, no matter how much convincing is done by war-minded citizens of the states.

A quote provides us an appropriate analogy to Saddam’s mentality: “Power corrupts, and the lack of it corrupts even more.” There is another one to remind us of Bush’s too: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. If a regime change is must at all, it’s the people of Iraq who have all the rights in this world to bring one and not any other nation or consortium of nations who have arranged a marriage of convenience to take on an enemy.

People are already clear about who is responsible for the war that is being imposed upon a whole nation just for the heck of it. So, all the clarifications, justifications and reasoning to defend a cause which is long lost in the annals of humanity, is totally uninvited and hence, is not going to do any good to revive the reputation of the US and its allies. For the moment, it may be a good idea to confuse the people as it seems difficult to convince them, but it is a bad proposition for the long term.


Mr Blackwill will realise that to fight against injustice and to fight for personal gratification are two diametrically different things and to cover up one in the name of another is as culpable a crime as waging war in the first place. Every lawyer worth his salt would tell Mr Blackwill that charters and regulations can be manipulated according to one’s convenience and authority can be used to mend as well as to bend, but as Mr Blackwill has summed it up in the end of his article: “This is not a question of authority, it is a question of will.”


Playing a wrong chord

I was surprised to read a news item about the “concern” expressed by eminent ghazal singer Jagjit Singh to the Home Minister about the “cultural invasion” by Pakistani singers and his demand to ban their India visits (April 4). It is really in bad taste that an artiste of the calibre of Jagjit should come down to such a level to lash on fellow artistes of the neighbouring country. Many Indian singers, including Jagjit, himself have a huge number of admirers in Pakistan.

It is not a secret that many Indian singers and musicians thrive on imitating Pakistani maestros like Nusrat Fateh Ali and Shazia Manzoor. Similarly, many cassette companies earn huge profits by illegally selling the albums of Pak artistes. There is no denying the fact people on both sides of the border enjoy the works of artistes on the other side, thanks to their common cultural and linguistic roots. Popularity of some artistes cannot be dubbed an “invasion”. Jagjit should live up to the reputation of his fraternity. Moreover, his utterances smell more of business apprehensions than patriotism.


Stick to singing

It is very difficult to handle success. The first comment Jagjit Singh made after receiving an award was against his own professional community. Jagjit Singh and Abhijit are sheer jealous of Indian love and respect for artiste from across the border. It was neither concern for Indian artistes nor patriotism, but only money that Jagjit Singh and Abhijeet have just expressed their sheer concern for. They certainly have lowered their self-image and prestige of the award.

Remember “Jis ka kaam usee ko sajey. Leave politics to politicians. You play and sing for peace. A good artiste never pulls a wrong chord to spoil a composition. Let us all condemn communal strokes on the pristine canvas of music.

“Unka jo kam hai who ehley siyasat janein,

Mera paigham muhabat hai jahan tak pahunchey”

S.K. ASIF NAQVI, Patiala


Ghalib’s couplet

This refers to the subject “More on Ghalib” (April 1) in which one of the couplets quoted by Bhagwan Singh is: “Hua hai Shah ka ghulaam phirey hai itraata/vagarnah shaihr mein Ghalib kee aabroo kya hai”. There are patent errors in the quote which cannot be ignored. Since the learned contributor has quoted the first hemistich (misra) of the couplet (shei’r) twice with the same mistake, it is evident that he has little knowledge of prosody (‘arooz) — the architectonics of versification — which, in classic(al) Urdu poetry, is of paramount importance. The word “ghulaam” (slave) has been erroneously substituted for “musaahib” (companion or distinguished friend). With “ghulaam”, the first hemistich of the couplet is out of “baihr” (metre) which, in Urdu poetry, is also called “wazan” (weight), and has very precise units (“arkaan”) of measure.

Obviously, the first hemistich must have exactly the same weight as that of the second one to create a perfect sound-balance in the couplet. The meaning is also perverted by the misquoted word. Zauq was reverred as Bahadur Shah Zafar’s menter (“ustaad”), not his slave (“ghulaam”). Also, the word “Shah” should be transliterated in its contracted (“mukhaf’faf”) form as “Sha” because, in the former case, if the sound “h” is pronounced (‘ha’) the hemistich would be out of rhythm. For the same reason, the word “vagarnah” should be transliterated as “vagarna” (meaning: and if not) because its sound is short as in “na”, not long as in “naa”.

In Urdu prosody, if numerical values be assigned to “sound-units”, “na” would be one (1) and “naa” two (2). According to the rules of scansion (taqtee’) the first hemistich and its corresponding numerical values will be written as “hua/hai sha’/ ka/musaahib/phierey/hai itraata=1,2/1,2/1/1,2, 2/1,2/1,2,2,2.

Mr Bhagwan Singh has done it too literally, combining the sound of “n” with that of “h”, as in the Urdu original, ignoring the imperatives of “baihr”, whose rhythm gets affected adversely by wrong or superfluous sound-units. Other errors of transliteration ought to be ignored for constraint of space. I hope the distinguished scholar will take this analysis in the right spirit, especially when he always has the last word on Urdu poetry, its painstaking transliteration, and magnificent English translation.

Dr S.S. BHATTI, Chandigarh

Ghalib: a half Muslim

Apropos of my letter “More on Ghalib” (April 1). Dr H.K. Lall has remarked that the actual word is “musaahib” (companion) and not “ghulaam” in the poet’s couplet quoted by me.

About five decades ago, I purchased some rare old books, including some unknown litterateur’s note book containing handwritten pleasantries and interesting incidents from the lives of various poets and writers of yore from a dealer in “raddi”. In the note book, Ghalib’s gibe at Zauq was mentioned as “Hua hai shah ka ghulaam phirey hai itraata” with the remarks that in the couplet recited by him before Bahadur Shah Zafar he changed “ghulaam” to “musaahib” and, thus, used a derogatory word for the King’s mentor and an honorific term for himself.

The actual word in the couplet is “musaahib” and not “ghulaam”, which had been mentioned by me inadvertently. I sincerely thank Dr Lall for pointing out the mistake.

In a poem, addressed to Zafar, Ghalib asserted: “Aaj mujh sa nahin zamaaney mein/Shaair-e-naghz-goey-o-khush-guftaar (There is no other eloquent poet enjoying the felicity of phrase like me). Yet when someone pointed out a mistake in his verses, he admitted it broadmindedly. In a Persian poem, he wrote “Khook shud o panjah zadan saaz kard”. One Gul Mohammad Khan Naatiq pointed out that “knock” (swine) had “sum” (hoofs) and not “panjah” (claws). In a letter to him, Ghalib remarked that it would have been better if he had pointed out the mistake before the book was sent to the press.

Ghalib was extremely courteous, candid and quick-witted. When asked about his religion by Col. Browne after the political upheaval of 1857, he frankly called himself “aadha Musalman” (a half-Muslim) on the ground that he took wine and avoided pork. He was not a strickler for strict religious discipline and rightly said about himself: “Haq maghfirat karey ajab aazaad mard tha” (May God bless his soul. He was an extraordinary free thinker).


Vagarnah, not varnah

One Urdu word “vagarnah” in my letter “More on Ghalib (April 5) has been published as “Varnah”, which is an error.

H. K. LALL, Chandigarh

Dental surgeons

I fully share the views expressed by Dr Baljit Singh in his letter “Teachers await promotion” (April 4). The worst affected among doctors are the dentists, especially those who seek admission to the MDS courses. Surprisingly, there are only four seats each that are being allocated to Amritsar and Patiala dental colleges for the MDS courses. In the absence of PG doctors within the state, the state government usually banks upon teachers from other states as and when it has to show the strength of teachers to the DCI, that too on hefty payments to these teachers.

Without initiating remedial steps like increasing the intake for PG seats of MDS, all other efforts of the government such as retaining of doctors seeking voluntary retirement etc are not going to solve the crisis which has emerged in the health sector owing to the acute shortage of specialised dental surgeons.


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |