Ministry of Defence is a non-professional body
AIR Marshal M. M. Singh (retd) is absolutely right in observing in the interview with Aruti Nayar (April 13) that "The Ministry of Defence is a non-professional body" but his response to a question about the motivation of the pilots flying MiGs: — "...Youngsters would continue to dare. Despite all warnings for safe driving and following road rules, do youngsters not speed on their bikes’" — is based on strange logic to say the least. If the youngsters have a tendency to ‘speed on their bikes’ do we give them bikes with faulty brakes or with other defects? Or allow them to ‘speed on’ with inadequate training? If we allow them to ‘speed on’ fully knowing about the defective bikes and inadequate training or other adverse conditions, we are sending them to sure death. This is exactly what the Indian Air Force (IAF) is doing.
The Air Marshal further says that the media should desist from blowing up the accidents and magnifying them. The media is doing a Yeoman’s service by highlighting these accidents. Media is the ‘watch dog’ of the public and must not be muzzled, simply because it is barking against the wrongdoers.
HARWANT SINGH, Chandigarh
British and the bathing habit
Apropos of "Smelling
Sahibs learnt to bathe in India" by Manohar Malgonkar
(April 5), British social history reveals how the English were averse to
the idea of a daily bath. That is why they used perfumes and pomades to
get rid of body odour.
Bathing was officially introduced in England by Eleanot of Castle. Surprisingly, the 1600-built Palace of Versailles does not contain a single bathroom! But, interestingly, Napoleon Bonaparte gifted a bath tub to Josephine.
The writer has correctly inferred that bathing was not a part of the English culture. Last year in July with my family, visited Cambridge during our tour of England. There, during the city walk the ‘Blue Badge Guide’ showed us a place with the word ‘baths’ boldly inscribed on it. The building was by the side of a tavern. Pointing towards the building the guide informed us that that had been the only place in Cambridge in the 18th and 19th centuries where people could take a bath. A bath would cost 50 pence or 1 pound. Scholars and the students used to come there once a month or so for taking bath. "Bathing was not the routine those days", added the guide.
Such an attitude towards bathing was a part of tradition and not fallout of water scarcity or the cold weather. River Cam flowed through the town. In India, people living by the rivers are known to bathe daily on the ghats even in severe winters.
It appears that in old times for the English taking bath was a rare event — an event befitting celebration. On the contrary, for Indians a bath was a regular activity, carried out as a routine — devoid of any pomp and show.
SANDEEP KUMAR, Barnala
Noise without reason
While going through the views expressed by Mahesh Bhat in the interview with V. Gangadhar, (April 13), one gets the impression that he nourishes the arrogant idea of being "Mr Right". He is not prepared to brook any difference of opinion on any subject, be it politics, democracy, free sex, underworld and so on. His refusal to attend the breakfast meeting with the President of USA went against all etiquette and Indian traditions.
J.K. MAGO, Panchkula
This refers to the review of Reena Bhasin’s book entitled "Urban Poverty and Urbanisation" by P.K. Vasudeva (April 6). I was shocked to read the opening paragraph of the review, where the reviewer writes "In 1973-74, the urban population was 60 million. It increased to 64.6 million in 1977-78, 70.9 m in 1983-84,....., and in 1999-2000 it had risen to 77.2 m." But in fact India’s urban population was 109.1m, 159.4m, 217.6m and 285.3m in 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001 respectively. All these figures are given in the book under review. Such a review cannot do justice to the author.
RAVINDER SINGH SANDHU, Amritsar
This refers to Vimla Patil’s article "When the court steps in to save family" (April 6). This is quite right that the number of marital break-ups is increasing day by day. We are going through a period of ‘post-modernity’. We have discarded our age-old traditions, values, culture and we give secondary place to our duties. This is one of the primary reasons behind the break-up of all ties.
SHIVDEEP SINGH, Barnala
This is to congratulate you on the high standard of Spectrum of April 6.
GURCHARAN SINGH, Kota
Moment of joy
This refers to "A moment of joy" (April 16). My eyes were wet when I read this story. The human race is alive because of such people. Carry on with such stories.
B.S. ARORA, Jalandhar