Friday, August 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



This isn’t the way to promote
Indo-Pak ties

Apropos of Pakistan’s retired Colonel Riaz Jafri’s letter “Need to promote Indo-Pak relations” (July 18), he should look beyond our political boundaries and spare a moment to know the strength and stamina of the Indian soldiers who take pride in making a supreme sacrifice, should the situation so warrant. No doubt, General Musharraf, being a soldier, makes short speeches, creating a sense of pride among his countrymen. On the other hand, our political leaders speak in a choked voice, giving long pauses, only to please themselves. Even a few soldiers who have been elected to Parliament and State assemblies change to the political culture the very next day and forget their pride in uniform the other day.

Pakistan cannot and has never been able to digest defeat even in sports. I wish to narrate an incident during the late fifties when we were participating in the joint naval exercises at Trincomalee (Sri Lanka) under the overall command of the British Admiral. The Indian Navy defeated the Pakistan hockey team at Trincomalee. As the sun set, the Pakistani sailors, accompanied by their officers, came in the boat, circled around INS Delhi, then commanded by Captain Mahindroo (later Rear Admiral) and started abusing us in a filthy language. Mahindroo was a gentleman who just reported the matter to the British Admiral.

The same thing happened next year and this time INS Delhi was commanded by Captain Chakravarty. But he was not sober and told the British Admiral that he would not hesitate to take serious action against the Pakistanis if they did not disappear from the port by next morning. I was then on board INS ‘TIR’. As expected, the Pakistani warships disappeared the next morning and sailed to Pakistan to save themselves from the Indian Navy.



Too many warnings and no action

We have become a nation known for too many warnings but no action. Warnings lose their potential if not culminated into some concrete action. The nation, at present, is caught in a very maddening state of affairs. We are really in a fix as to what course of action we should pursue now, whether to sit across the table for talks or issue a fresh warning.

The Akhnoor attack once again derails the peace process and keeps alive our age-old animosities. We cannot afford to be impetuous in issuing the hard statement we did in the past. The world stands witness to our inaction despite our bold declarations to settle the issue once and for all.

Self-moratorium, no-first-use, defensive outlook, no free hand to army and its non-participation in the decision-making process are key factors sending wrong signals across the border. The morale of our soldiers touches the lowest ebb when they have to wait and be killed but have no order to fire back at the enemy. It may sound undemocratic and non-political but the need of the hour is to think of an option of giving a free hand to the Army to a reasonable extent.

This is not to suggest that we should unmindfully launch an offensive like the adversary does, nor it is to leave the Army to prevail upon the political system. The point is the decisions taken by the Indian government without prior consultations with the Army have never been in the interest of the nation. Following the terrorist attack on our Parliament, troops were mobilised to teach Pakistan a lesson but when we were threatened of the use of nuclear weapons by the enemy, we chose to be on the defensive and decided for the border stand-off almost for an year. A huge chunk of the exchequer was wasted during this exercise. We are all aware of the fact that Pakistan was a nuclear state and like us it does not believe in the doctrine of no-first-use. Wasn't the decision of mobilisation of troops a flawed one?

To avoid confusion during emergency, the nuclear doctrine should be a document with answers to all the situations that may arise from time to time. Besides, there should be no scope for doubt, distortion, ambiguity and deconstruction of meaning. The victory of a nation depends on clear thinking, quick decisions and their implementation.

To conclude, the convergence of the top brass of Indian Army at one place at the same time speaks of lack of strategy and farsightedness. Only a flawless decision-making process can help us come out of the present situation.


A fine gesture

I fully agree with the editorial “Healing touch” (July 26). But it is not a policy statement. How will the help to 20 children heal the psyche of Pakistanis? The minds of the Pakistani people are biased by years of propoganda against India. Rather this step may also be projected in a wrong way.

Has the Pakistani media given the same type of coverage to Noor’s case as the Indian media has done? Has any goodwill been generated by running the Samjhouta Express and the Lahore Bus? It simply allows relatives and friends on the two sides to meet each other. This is as it should be. In the same way, this gesture will definitely help the beneficiaries from the neighbouring country.

Dr ASHOK GUPTA, Ludhiana

Songs of Lata and Rafi

Apropos of Brig H.S. Sandhu’s rejoinder (June 24) to my letter (June 16), the research work of certain film historians has covered the songs of not only Mohd. Rafi but also of several other prominent playback singers of Hindi cinema including Lata Mangeshkar. They have found that Lata’s claim of having sung about 25,000 songs was also a guesswork as wild as Rafi’s claim of having sung 27,000 numbers (which helped both of them get a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records)!

Vishwas Nerurkar, after intensive research, has found that Lata had actually sung only 5044 songs for 2,101 Hindi films till 1989 (when the research was completed). Of them, 3,324 were solos and choruses, 1,426 duets with male singers, 242 duets with female singers, 48 numbers in which she had more than one co-singer. Significantly, Lata has not only failed to produce any proof in support of her claim of having rendered 25,000 numbers but also “blessed” Nerurkar's encyclopedia as is clear from the preface of the book. She specially penned two songs for the book.

The combined research work of Marmandir Singh’s “Hamraaz”, who is considered the pioneer of research on Hindi film music, and Bishwanath Chatterjee also endorses the aforementioned figures. Researchers are of the view that the total number of songs rendered by Lata till 1989 was not more than 6,500. Come to think of it, she had claimed to have sung 25,000 songs about 10 years earlier!

As for entries in the Guinness Book of World Records relating to the songs of Lata and Rafi, these were deleted in 1992 when the findings of the aforesaid research work were brought to the notice of its publishers. Neither any member of Rafi’s family nor Lata Mangeshkar produced any proof of having sung 27,000 and 25,000 songs respectively. The Guinness Book authorities had published the claims of Rafi and Lata without any proof. This has reduced the credibility of the book.


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