The quest for peace in Iraq

The US is dithering on holding elections in Iraq and is bent on not handing over the country back to its people. How can the US introduce democracy in West Asia if it is faltering in Iraq itself? The people of Iraq are sovereign and free to decide about their future.

Now that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is trying to ensure the transfer of power and sovereignty from the occupying forces to the people of Iraq, the UN should strictly abide by the aspirations and legitimate rights of the Iraqis and try to surmount all technical problems and hold free and fair elections.

In a way, this should be a preferred policy of President Bush too as any distortion in Iraq at this juncture will directly inflame passions and give further legitimacy to the so-called terrorist forces now openly active in Iraq. The Iraq war and the quest for peace in the troubled land will directly impact Mr Bush’s re-election prospects.





New uniform for the Army

Reports say the Indian Army proposes to change its olive green uniform. The reasons put forth — concealment and camouflage — don’t gell. The oilve green colour dress is only for office or parade. It does not make much sense now to spend crores of rupees for frills for the soldiers.

One may recall how former US President Nixon changed the uniform of his White House Office guards for no other reason than to keep his wife in good homour. Mrs Nixon thought the suggested uniform was cute or maybe her astrologer advised it.

Why the Army bands continue to wear Scottish tartan proudly instead of the historically and politically correct saffron shaheedi sashes (“Rang de basanti chola” style) is baffling. It is time they stopped using Bagpipers to enthuse the martial spirit. The traditional conch shell war trumpets and the spine chilling “been” of the snake charmer are better choices. Gaelic Druid purists should be rejected now. Defence Minister George Fernandes should not be be rigid about adhering to foreign traditions.




Crisis in universities

Apropos of your editorial “Teachers as predators” (Feb 11), the degeneration of the moral fibre in education is not new. With short working hours and heavy pay packets, university teaching has become a lucrative profession. Undeserving, uninitiated and undesirable elements, through their politico-bureaucratic links, have sneaked into this otherwise noble domain and have vitiated the whole atmosphere.

A teacher selected on considerations other than merit must find some unhealthy means of asserting his existence, particularly when he fails to influence his students and colleagues intellectually. Unfortunately, with politics dominating the universities through bureaucratic control, the number of such non-teaching teachers has been rising.

Unless we make the selection, appointment and posting system of teachers transparent and conducive for the growth of genuine scholarship, we should not expect high morals and good conduct from most teachers.



Your editorial “Teachers as predators” (Feb 11) has very rightly exposed the physical and mental harassment of research scholars causing mental trauma and victimisation by supervisors in the universities. Such slurs on the fair name of academics have been reported time and again.

No doubt, it is only a handful of teachers who are revealing their own moral depravity. Such teachers should be severely punished and summarily sacked out of this sacred profession. Quite often some students even allow liberties to teachers to get their work done but the onus is on the teachers to protect the vulnerability of students who are much younger and novice in life. Also the students should not behave like puppets in the teachers’ hands to keep pleasing their guides and go on tolerating their shameful advances.

DR S.K. AGGARWAL, Amritsar


With reference to your editorial “Teachers as predators” (Feb 11), it is deplorable that teachers who are supposed to act as guides and protectors should indulge in the harassment of students. Some teachers-cum-guides use their power and position to trample the tender minds of students. Violence against students at the hands of supervisors is on the rise.

I agree that the harassment of students begins at the post-graduation level, where scholars become a victim of “vindictive policies and politics” of teachers. Research scholars are harassed in one way or the other.

Students are like delicate buds to be handled with utmost care by their teachers till they flower. How can we physically assault students or mentally harass them? Those teachers indulging in victimisation are a blot on the teaching profession.

PAWAN KUMAR, Jalandhar City

Stamp paper scam

The people are aware of how Telgi and other politicians, bureaucrats and middlemen have swallowed thousands of crores of public money in the stamp paper scam. Now we would like to know what remedial steps have been taken by the government to get rid of the century-old stamp paper regime. Why don’t they launch a stamp paper machine, widely used in developed countries, for the collection of revenue?


No problem with Sonia

What if Mrs Sonia Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister if the Congress wins the Lok Sabha elections? I have no objection if Mrs Sonia Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister because our so-called leaders cannot improve our living conditions. We have not tried her leadership. So, she should be given a chance.

The people should consider which leader can provide them good facilities, irrespective of his/her caste or origin. The focus should be on good governance, not the leader’s country of origin.

SUMEET SETH, Kaithal (Haryana)

Why this bias?

The passengers on the Patiala-Chandigarh route are forced to pay Rs 40 towards single bus fare for the monthly general bus pass, but on other routes the corporation authorities charge Rs 30 for the same pass. This is unfair. The authorities should examine this anomaly and rectify it in interest of passengers.


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