Thursday, October 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Kargil & Siachen: need to correct distortions

It is necessary to correct certain fallacies and distortions resulting from the deliberations of a seminar on national security held at Panjab University, Chandigarh, recently, where Defence Minister George Fernandes also spoke.

Mr Fernandes tripped up badly both on Siachen and Kargil. He blamed the Simla agreement for not being farsighted enough, resulting in an “improper demarcation of the territory in J&K” where later on Pakistan took advantage to launch a Kargil. Because of a not too well-defined border, Siachen also happened, he went on to add.

Those of us who were in the Directorate of Military Operations in 1971-72 know that the facts are quite different. Lt.-Gen Prem Bhagat and his Pakistani counterpart did a pretty good job of delieniating the LoC, where there is little confusion on where the dividing line runs, both on the maps and on the ground. Kargil happened because of the failure of our senior army leadership in the Northern Army and up to the Defence Minister, because of their failure to assess the ground reality of the intrusions and a fitful siesta on the part of all our intelligence agencies and the troops holding the forward posts in the effected sectors.

Unless we select the right type of Commanders for the Army, we will have more Kargils. Mr Fernandes should know this. What he should have concentrated on was how to convert the LoC into a permanent border which is the only possible solution to the Kashmir deadlock.


The genesis of Siachen, however, goes back quite a bit in that had India not settled for the operative sentence of the line running northwards from NJ 9842 (to the glacial regions of Siachen and beyond), and had substituted the north with the word northeast from this Point, there would have been no Siachen issue. Even otherwise, but for one or two very senior Generals who convinced Indira Gandhi into believing that Siachen would be a walkover, this region where both sides continue to waste lives, money and troops, would have remained a non-entity and in deep freeze, no pun intended.

Siachen is the perfect example after 1962, where blundering politicians ably supported by pliable bureaucrats and a military hierarchy that looks first which way the wind is blowing before rendering advice to the Defence Minister or the Prime Minister, have brought disrespect to the soldiery and strategic diplomatic losses to the country. But Mr Fernandes should not blame the Congress for its past, because there is enough in his present stewardship of the forces that many may call to order.

The Kargil coffin case and the “one lakh Bangladeshis illegally crossing over into India every month”(?) will pale into insignificance (he spoke of these at the seminar), if the lopsided recruitment policy of the Army, the lack of any worthwhile results in the DRDO, and the defective system of selection and placement of our top brass in the Services were to be taken up for a full length discussion by an impartial and fair body of experts.

Seminars, where certain people or organisations could politicise the armed forces and the national security concerns, are best not held or encouraged, much less by ministers.

Maj-Gen Himmat Singh Gill (retd), Chandigarh

Planning on education

Ms Shashi Mehta has very rightly inferred ("Many engineering seats remain vacant", Sept 18) that too many institutes are started without assessing manpower needs. In the name of quality education, parents are forced to spend large amounts of money.

Whereas education must be accessible to all, certain minimum standards must be maintained to keep the spirit of competition alive among the aspirants and for a healthy growth of knowledge. Indiscriminate opening of engineering colleges has boomeranged with about 50 such colleges in Tamil Nadu facing closure. The history might repeat elsewhere.

Flawed planning in technical education has also spurred over to indiscriminate opening of postgraduate and professional courses. Universities and colleges vie with each other to multiply as many courses as possible, though unwarranted. Imagine if the total number of seats for professional and postgraduate courses are much higher than the number of applicants, as in most of the courses, the fallout is imminent. A day will come when the poor quality of graduates and postgraduates will lead to derecognition of our degrees abroad.

We should rise above parochial and monetary gains and go in for proper education planning. Higher education demands availability of high-tech facilities and expertise of international standing. If any institution is competent enough to start any course, the very need for the universities will vanish.

Dr A.K. Thukral, Amritsar

Pay before Diwali

I appeal to Punjab’s Finance Minister to disturb salary/ pension for October before Diwali which falls on October 25 this year. It will be a fine gesture towards the staff as it will help them, especially the low-paid staff, celebrate the festival without any financial handicap.

Yash Paul Ghai, Govt Pensioners’ Assn, Ludhiana

Not in public interest

This has reference to the editorial “Dangerous release” (Oct 1). We should thank the Supreme Court for having restrained the Haryana Government from releasing the convicts in haste. Their premature release will not serve the purpose intended.

Our politicians are in the habit of misusing their powers for narrow partisan ends. There is need for proper checks and balances through a constitutional amendment so that the government of the day does not take a wrong decision, detrimental to law and order.

Nachhatter Singh, Odham, Sirsa

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 |