Need to review our defence strategy

Apropos of the article “More money for defence?” by Col P. Vasudeva (retd) (Feb 21), our Defence Ministry continues to function separately from three defence headquarters. We have not created an integrated defence apparatus to bring about smooth assimilation of the services. As a result, over Rs 300 crore are spent on the maintenance and functioning of the Ministry of Defence.

The issue of appointment of Chief of Defence Staff has been hanging fire for the last many years. Before asking for increasing the budgetary allocation for defence, it will be worthwhile to study, analyse and reorganise our defence apparatus keeping in view the growing geopolitical and threat perceptions. We need to review our defence strategy.

When integrated finance in the Ministry of Defence continues to be under the strict guidance and control of the Ministry of Finance, how can the projects (from the expenditure angle) continue to malfunction on flimsy issues? The basic flaw in the system stems from the lack of accountability. Eventually, the operational commander in the field becomes the scapegoat who has to content with the poor quality or deficiencies of spares, equipment and manpower.



Whom should the nation blame for neglecting the legitimate requirements of defence services? Can’t we carry out studies to assess the cost benefits against deficiencies versus efficiency and efficacy of the decisions taken by the mandarins of the Ministries of Defence and Finance? After all, management by objectives (MOB) is a tool which can be applied to any situation or objection.


Keeping Kasauli clean

Now Kasauli Cantonment and its surroundings are looking neat and clean. It is now a common sight to see the Cantonment staff doing their job regularly. The new Cantonment Executive Officer (CEO) has started a vigorous drive to keep this tiny hill station tidy. In its own interest, the public should support this drive.

Kasauli has a large number of stray dogs. Instead of stoning and shooing them away, people should show some concern for them. The CEO should devise some method of gathering the stray dogs at a particular place and getting them immunised and sterilised with the help of veterinary doctors. The residents of Kasauli, Mashobra and Gadkhal should also extend their support to the authorities in executing this plan. Further, instead of being dumped in garbage bins, left-over food can be collected from every household and carried to a central place for feeding these animals.


Liquor in marriages

This has reference to the news-item “Armies of liquor barons harass hoteliers” (Feb 14). Is liquor a status symbol? Can’t we live without liquor in a marriage party? Consuming liquor is not the only way to celebrate a marriage or to express happiness. Enjoying music and dignified interaction with the guests are some of the others ways to share one’s joy. By not serving liquor in the marriages, you can avoid coercion of the liquor barons, enjoy food, conclude the function early and avoid the risk of road accidents while driving back home.

Surprisingly, while the government is putting the statutory warning, “use of alcohol is injurious to health”, on liquor bottles and spending huge amounts of money in running de-addiction centres, the liquor producers are designing luring advertisements to promote the sale of their liquor brands. The Excise Department conducts auction of liquor vends which give it a large revenue. It allows liquor shops near the residential areas, highways and other such places.

How can you blame others when the government itself is playing with the health of the people? They create addicts and later treat them. If the government does not take corrective measures, the vandalism of liquor barons and smugglers and corruption will be on the rise.

Col G.B. SINGH (retd), Patiala

Reshma’s earnestness

I watched with great interest the exclusive concert of legendary singer Reshma on a Punjabi channel on Feb 16. What really impressed me was the earnestness of her affection for the people of India and Pakistan alike. Despite her fame, the simplicity of her speech and manner add to her stature. She has proved beyond doubt that true artists or ‘fankars’ are above religion and politics.

It is this spirit of fraternity that should inspire the people of both countries. The young singers should take a cue from her. She weaves the magic of melody using traditional musical instruments like harmonium, tabla, flute etc, while the singers of the day fail to register themselves with the audience even with the help of modern gadgets. It is the quality of her voice, style and art of rendition which have immortalised Reshma.

No videos, however flashy and provocative, can perpetuate a singer. Let us not forget that music is more to the ear than to the eye. During her three-hour performance, it hardly occurred to me that she belongs to a country with which we have fought three full-scale wars. Such is the power of art. Enmity fails where music prevails.


Make it trim and slim

The sight of pot-bellied, overweight cops manning police stations/posts presents a sorry picture of the Punjab Police. A lean and well-built policeman swells up like a pumpkin after a few years in service!

I request the state government to make it mandatory for the police personnel to undergo annual medical examination as in the Army. The promotions and increments in the service should also include the criterion of medical fitness. This will go a long way in improving the image and efficiency of the Punjab Police.


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