Monday, April 28, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Major-General humiliated

Apropos the report “Major-General not allowed to meet President” (April 24), let me narrate a true incident from the (British) Royal Navy which occurred early in the last century. One naval cadet, George Windsor, was kicked by another fellow cadet in full view of the ship's company. On being “marched up” before the disciplining authority, the defaulter was asked, “Why did you kick Cadet Windsor?” He replied, “I did not kick Cadet Windsor, I kicked the future King George the VI”, or words to that effect. The defaulter was from a humble background and kicking the future King was his way of getting over his “complex”.

Many bureaucrats are jealous of defence officers due to the latter's superb efficiency, impeccable conduct and very good image in the public, whereas the former are generally held in contempt by the public and even by their own subordinates. A very large number of bureaucrats are also "substandard”. So these bureaucrats, who suffer from "complexes", do not miss any chance of humiliating defence officers. Would the bureaucrat have behaved the way he did if a senior civil officer of his own clan (IAS) was involved?

Earlier, the military officers, irrespective of their rank, took precedence in all official functions, since they represented the "last pillar of the state power". However, during Mrs Gandhi’s regime, orders were passed that the military officers would get precedence "based on their rank" as per the warrant of precedence. The civil officers, over the period, kept on upgrading their ranks. The military did not upgrade the designations/ranks in such a lavish and ludicrous manner, a few upgradations notwithstanding. Once, when reminded of this, one bureaucrat had the cheek to say, "But the military never protested"! Such people are too mindless to know that the military must never be driven to "protest", for such a situation can only lead to weakening of the "state structure" and civil-military cordiality.



The humiliation of the Major-General must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. The erring bureaucrat should have the grace to make amends for his behaviour. Or his seniors may like to "take note" of his highhandedness with a view to "correcting" him.


Gargi’s link with varsities

Baljit Parmar’s obit (April 23) has stated that in the late sixties the then Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University, Mr Suraj Bhan, had created a special post of Professor and Director for Balwant Gargi, who established the Department of Indian Theatre at Panjab University.

A former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, Dr J.S. Puar had also offered the post of Professor of Eminence to Balwant Gargi in July 1998, and Gargi continued to adorn it till July 29, 2000.

The post carried a handsome salary of more than Rs 20,000 a month. Dr Attar Singh, Prof Sant Singh Sekhon and Dr Haribhajan Singh had been the distinguished predecessors of Gargi in this exalted position. Balwant Gargi was also given the singular honour of being the “writer-in-residence” at Punjabi University.



Mental illnesses

It is not every day that one gets to read the views of a doyen of an important profession. I refer to the interview of an eminent psychiatrist, Dr N.N. Wig, (April 19). The interview was illuminating about many aspects of psychiatry, its patients and the attitude of society towards both, but your interviewer failed to ask him questions on some very important aspects of the mental illnesses which those interested in the subject as laymen would have liked Dr Wig to answer for the public benefit.

The general public perception about mental illnesses is that these have their roots in mind which on going into confusion, diffusion or dispersion triggers the brain to transmit negative thoughts and emit secretions which result in impoverishment of feelings, motives and attention and dulls the body and its spirit. Now mind is not depicted as an organ in the anatomy charts. If it does not exist in the body, then all those medicines prescribed for mental illnesses cannot reach it. The medicines impliedly pacify that or those sections of the brain which are being agitated by mind. Thus “effect” is being treated and the “cause” centre remains unattended and untamed. Therefore, the big concern is that drugs are becoming a substitute for fixing what is wrong with done one’s life. The mind is left to be tended by the patient or his family. It is here that one is reminded of books like “Varieties of Religious Experience” by pioneer psychologist Willaim James and “Modern Man in Search of a Soul” by Jung where they acknowledge the role of spirituality in mind training and tuning.

Since psychiatrists treat the abnormalities of mind through medicinal correction of malfunctioning or pathology of brain, I am reminded of one incident in the novel “Girl Interrupted” where the story is set in a mental asylum and which was also made into an acclaimed movie. A character muses ruefully that sciences of psychiatry and neurology should be in animated conversation with each other but they hardly exchange any notes. Consequently, the sciences which by their close proximity to each other should work in tandem actually trespass into each other’s domains.

R.C. KHANNA, Amritsar

Fall from grace

Partially, I was driven to pen down this because of the sudden exit made by the only representative of the tiny hill state in the Union Cabinet, Mr Shanta Kumar. After all the wise men in the BJP coerced the patriarch of HP politics to resign from the Union Cabinet just as in a make-believe attempt they saw him instrumental in the poll debacle in HP.

Alas, they are not right. The way the first-time ministers in the previous government performed and the way their synchronised efforts delivered (or not delivered) the goods was the cause prima for the ignominous fall from public grace. The poor Shanta perhaps called spade a spade in his own inimitable style which called for an axe for him. Every organisation does need mirrors to show its real face and this was precisely what the Union Minister had don i.e holding the mirror to the wrongdoers, but instead of giving fine touches to the face-lift, the party preferred to smash the mirror itself.

Having experienced the kind of work culture professed by the BJP ministers with Mr J.P. Nadda as a prototype, they symbolised inefficiency, bordering on callousness, overt greed breeding corruption and their misplaced belief that they are going to come back irrespective of what they do.


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