MiG-21s: Limits of Centre’s insensitivity

THE editorial “Another MiG crash” (Feb 23) rightly raised the issue of the Centre’s insensitivity towards the welfare of the Indian Air Force pilots. The extent of indifference shown by the government in the case of other fighting forces is no less.

The MiG-21 issue is a nauseating example of the government’s absolute rejection of the fact that these machines have not earned the notoriety of being “flying coffins” without reason. Clearly, these machines are outdated, obsolete and deserve to be in the junkyard.

While Defence Minister George Fernandes has shown rare grit (read for a politician) in flying a MiG-21, this won’t help mitigate the enormous risk of flying them in any way. He could have done a much better job had he taken some concrete steps in replacing these machines with worthwhile substitutes. Sadly, our politicians would go to any length to procure ultra-modern facilities for themselves, but when it comes to defence purchase, all kinds of constraints and the lack of political will come in the way.

Prof. SALIL KUMAR UPPAL, Jalandhar




The MiG-21, an unforgiving flying machine, does not ask for the pilot’s permission to crash. It demands the skills of an experienced fighter pilot in order to return safely on earth. A novice cannot negotiate the raw and tough parameters of an aircraft like the MiG-21.

Ironically, the Indian Air Force uses the MiG-21 as a jet trainer, which it is not. It is a full-fledged combat aircraft capable of delivering a great deal if handled by experienced hands. It has become imperative for the IAF to look out for some more practical training option for its pilots.

A fighter plane is meant to defend the country but these planes are doing the opposite task of killing people for whatever reason. It’s better to phase out these aircraft rather than eliminating them one by one by placing them in the hands of the trainees.


Blair vs BBC

The editorial “Blair vs BBC” (Feb 17) again puts the oft-repeated question to Mr Blair that he has never answered: “What happened to the weapons of mass destruction — an issue he used to launch the Iraq war in the company of George Bush”. However, there is another question that baffles my wits: Why the Blair-Bush duo did not seek the help of our police in this regard?

An influential and rich lady once found her expensive necklace missing from her bedroom. She reported the matter to the police. The police, routinely enough, hauled up all her servants for “interrogation”. By the same evening the lady found that her necklace was not stolen but was left by herself in the bathroom. So, she rang up the police to withdraw the complaint and requested that her innocent servants be released immediately.

“Now the case cannot be withdrawn”, replied the police person on the other end of the line curtly. On asking why, he told that two of her servants have not only admitted the crime but the police have also made the recovery of the stolen necklace!

I know it is a joke, but it certainly is not that far away from reality. So, why not give our police at least a try!

BALVINDER, Chandigarh

Promoting tourism

The tourism industry has been contributing a lot to the economic growth of the country. It is one of the major sources of earning good foreign exchange. Why can’t the Centre and the states chalk out a comprehensive strategy to convert all the historical buildings into heritage hotels? Conversion will be far cheaper than constructing new hotels. It will also help in two ways — preserving those historical buildings which are destroyed with the passage of time; and increasing the foreign exchange reserves following the expected boost to tourism.

MUNISH NAGAR, Punjabi University, Patiala


Wanted: A rural health policy

I read with dismay the report of the shocking state of affairs at Rattewal village  where the residents have finally resorted to legal action to get the government play its part in setting up a primary health centre (PHC) for which land and money have been provided.

This is not a unique case. In my ancestral village, the PHC, which was built 30 years ago with contributions from the residents, has for the last 10 years been neglected. It is poorly staffed and the doctor is not available most of the time. If panchayats are given powers to run education and health services in their villages, they must have a functioning service to run. What is the government’s responsibility?

As Dr Dave suggests in his interview (Feb 22), a rural health policy is a must to reduce the burden of referral institutes such as the PGI and the AIIMS. Owing to the lack of primary healthcare facilities, people with relatively minor complaints either go to private hospitals (no shortage of doctors there) or to tertiary care hospitals if they can reach there.

The Chief Minister has urged the NRIs to adopt their villages and provide resources for education and healthcare. We are willing to do so, but only if the government accepts its responsibility to provide proper support and direction so that funds are judiciously used.

Let the people have an efficient primary healthcare system with emphasis on prevention rather than cure. If the government takes a complacent attitude to the onset of modern diseases, arising from changes in the lifestyle of the rural people, it will prove very costly to the country.

S.P.S. SOHI, (NRI, UK), Camp: Narowal Kalan (Fatehgarh Sahib)


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