Resilience of a brave community

APROPOS of Mr Bhagwan Singh’s letter “Saint-Soldier Guru Gobind Singh” (Perspective, Jan 11), he has cited some lines from a poem of the poet Bulle Shah. I would like to discuss the following line quoted by him, “...that all would have been subjected to circumcision,” meaning thereby converted by force to Islam. Bulle Shah, was a poet and poets are generally sensitive by nature. He probably was agonised by the atmosphere prevalent in his region and felt excruciated to pen this line in mental pain. However, then, the means of communication were poor. Any piece of news during that time used to take weeks and months to travel from one place to another. So he might not be aware of the forces re-shaping the destiny of India, elsewhere, far removed from him.

The brave Hindus had resisted forced conversions without end for centuries. The Hindus revere and respect all the ten Gurus as any body else. All the religious leaders, half human and half divine, need no patent, they belong to the entire humanity. Undeniably, the Sikhs of today are Hindus of yesterday. The grit and determination of the Hindus was all along as strong as a rock. Veer Haqiqat Rai tasted death as a heroic child martyr, rather then convert to Islam, before the martyrdom of the two teen-aged sons of Shri Guru Gobind Singh. Bravely, Todar Mall, a Hindu, spread ashrifiis for the last rites of the respected Sahibjadas, although himself becoming financially bankrupt.



Maharaj Shivaji, who preceded Shri Guru Gobind Singh, declared war against the bigot Aurangzeb and shook the foundations of the Mughal rule. The Marathas kept Aurangzeb, tied and entangled in conflict in the Deccan. Ultimately, on his death bed, he bemoaned that “the Deccan ulcer had ruined him.” Shahu, the loving son of Maharaj Shivaji, who was captured by the Mughals by guile, kissed death gladly as a martyr at Pune, rather than submit and convert to Islam. In the wake of his death, the Mughals could not dare to convert his child son, who was captured along with him and who remained their prisoner in Delhi for several years, with his mother. Later, after his release, he was crowned at Satara.

The brother of one of the Peshwas, leading a Maratha regiment, raised the Saffron flag at the Attack Fort for the first time since the period of Mahmud of Ghazni’s invasions. A local chiefton in the Arabian region Rahab Dutt, a Hindu Brahmin of Indian descent, died along with his sons, while defending the grandsons of Prophet Mohammad at Karbala in Iraq.

The prominent hearse-men, on the stage to dig the grave of the Mughal rule, were first, the zealot and bigot Aurangzeb, himself followed by Maharaj Shivaji, the worthy Peshwas, Shri Guru Gobind Singh, Shri Banda Singh Bahadur, Nadir Shah, Ahmad Shah Abdali, with the coup de grace, delivered by the British East India Company.

The preceding brief facts would reveal that India of that period was in a state of acute turmoil. India was being re-shaped by new resurgent forces of which Bulle Shah, the well-meaning poet, probably had no perception. The scenario was of a lull before a storm. In brevity, the above facts flash a faithful picture of the times in which Bulle Shah lived, rather than the dismal portrait sketched.

V.I.K. SHARMA, IAS (retd), Jalandhar City

Small achievements and big challenges

THIS has reference to Mr A.J. Philip’s article “Pride without prejudice” (Spectrum, Dec 28). The writer beautifully and meticulously brought out India’s successes and failures in various spheres Although our country has made rapid strides in many fields, much remains to be done to the satisfaction of the people.

Reforms undertaken by the government have yielded positive results but what about the failures? Privatisation and globalisation, vigorously pursued, have given rise to unemployment. America’s policies are effective in that country but not here where the accursed ones are left to fend for themselves, are being followed blindly to appease Uncle Sam and international monetary organisations. As a result, jobs are shrinking leading to frustration, anger and violence. The politics of vote banks has further aggravated the problem.

Information technology, the talk of the century, is available only in English. Yet, the talk of promoting Sanskrit at the cost of English is doing rounds in the higher echelons of the government. In fact, the protagonists of Sanskrit themselves take pains to make their own children proficient in English by sending them to English-medium institutions. Their anti-English stance looks ridiculous as it aims at befooling the masses whose children they do not want to see acquiring skills in English. People are thinking of inhabiting the planets in the space and we are propping up the ancient language in which no one is interested except the priests.

There is nothing to gloat over our achievements as the nation is faced with many a challenge. Moreover, illiteracy and penury still stare at it like a hungry monster to be satiated. Mr Philip has rightly concluded that our achievements are nothing compared to the challenges facing the nation.



Crisis management

This has reference to Dr Rakesh Datta’s article, “Separate force needed to manage disaster” (Perspective, Jan 11). His suggestion is very valuable but the question is who will bother to create such a crisis management group? No leader of our country has seen the horrors of world wars nor perhaps many of them have ever read any book on military campaigns.

In all the advanced countries, the Civil Defence organisation is considered as a fourth arm after the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. It is provided with trained manpower and equipment to meet the disasters of war and other natural calamities. This organisation is to train the civilians on how to save themselves against the air raids of the enemy during the war. They extinguish the fires, take out the dead and injured from the debris and take the injured to the hospitals.

The government should be prepared to accommodate the homeless and provide them with food and clothing. Even if there is a conventional war and a few big cities are raided by the enemy in a pre-emotive strike resulting in the destruction and burning of thousands of houses with water and electricity destroyed or disrupted, the government will not only be a total failure but will also be shocked and confused. Because the sheer magnitude of destruction will be beyond its comprehension.

Dr Datta has rightly suggested that a crisis management group be created and the trained Army manpower, which is retired at an early age, be suitable employed in it.

Major NARINDER SINGH JALLO (retd), Mohali

Vehicle number plates

Common sense, they say, is to be applied on common things. Mr H. Kishie Singh’s column “Good Motoring” (Windows, Jan 10) amply illustrates this in case of vehicle number plates. The writer has given such a simplistic solution to the number plate problem that it is cent per cent foolproof.

Given the present security and terrorism scenario where stolen vehicles with changed number plates are frequently used for crime and anti-national acts, one wonders why the authorities are sitting pretty with the present screwed number plate system. Alternatively, they have hi-tech options with foolproof number plates costing well above Rs 1,000. These shall earn a fortune for those who are waiting to get the licence to manufacture and install them.

I also feel that vehicle registration number painted boldly and aesthetically on all the four sides of a vehicle shall be a deterrent for pickup-and-run criminals for whom the present screwed number plates are a sort of incentive. This will also involve a very nominal painting cost.


Sahir’s pseudonym

As Khushwant Singh puts in ‘Sahir’s tortured soul’ (Windows, Jan 10), one of the three women who came into Sahir’s life was a Sikh Girl Ishar Kaur. To which I would like to add an interesting revelation. It is that Sahir took on to his poetic pseudonym not just accidentally but intentionally and functionally. The letters in ‘Sahir’ and ‘Ishar’ are the same and only their placing differ. May be, a vain yearning on the part of the poet-lover to immerse their names into each other and, thus, live together — so what if only in ‘names’, not life!

Prof SURJEET MANN, Sangrur

Future of women

Can we predestine the future of Indian women? Women are taking up many a movement to bring themselves on a par with men. And many have succeeded. But are these movements only for the privileged few who have succeeded ?

Sadly, many Indian women are not yet revolutionised in their thinking. Women are partly to be blamed for their present as most are orthodox and superstitious. They believe what they are told by their mothers and grandmothers with no further questions. They believe their husbands to be gods. They are ignorant and this makes me truly believe in what Rudyard Kipling had said, “There is no sin greater than ignorance”. The future of the Indian women lies in the hands of women themselves. 

SUSHMA SHARMA, Student, DAV Model School, Chandigarh

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