The pitiable plight of people

Apropos of A.J. Philip’s article “The unbearable burden of plenty” (Spectrum, February 29), the writer has acquainted us with the pitiable plight of the people, especially of women, of Bhatta Basti of the Pink city.

Ignorance of the use of contraceptives results in unwanted and frequent conceptions. High mortality rate prevalent among the lower classes further aggravates the problem.

Improvement of women’s educational level has failed to fetch any tangible results in areas like Bhatta Basti. Government agencies have proved incapable of making such people grasp the evil consequences of large families and frequent pregnancies. The poor fail to understand that population breeds penury, disease and misery.


They have a voice too

Keeping in view the gross neglect and abuse that girls in most Third World countries are subjected to, as highlighted by Juhi Bakshi in “Give them bread but roses too” (Spectrum, March 7), it can be concluded that daughters are, by and large, still made to feel unwanted. Despite concerted efforts by government and voluntary organisations to educate the people about the need to give equal love and care to both male and female children, the sex factor still determines the quality of parental care and the extent of investment in child development efforts at home. In extreme cases preference for a son often leads to the abandonment of the female child or even infanticide or foeticide.

It is customary to watch girls coping with the drudgery of household jobs right from childhood onwards. Women have a right to be free from drudgery and exploitation. A qualitative shift has to take place to view woman not just as an object but as a subject and what is more, as a subject with a voice.

K.M. VASHISHT, New Delhi



Kabir’s role

Apropos of the book review “The untranslatable Kabir” by B.S. Thaur (Spectrum, February 29), I would like to congratulate Vinay Dharwadker for accomplishing the formidable task of translating Kabir. The translator is, however, wrong when he propounds (in the translator’s note) that Kabir was a primary influence on the Gurus and played a role in the evolution of Sikhism as a “distinctive antithetical religion.” Such a view has no sound basis and has been completely unheard of in the history of the Bhakti Movement. To say that Kabir acted as an influence on the Gurus is to ask if the moon drew its light from the neighbouring stars, however refulgent.


Lessons to learn

This refers to Jaswant Singh’s book review “Educating teachers” (Spectrum, February 15). The rot in the education system is not only because of teachers. It is mainly due to a decline in moral responsibility of students, society, politicians, bureaucrats, towards the education system. Students feel that there is no need to do regular hard work, acquire thorough knowledge and respect teachers and parents. They just want to get a degree.

Privatisation of educational institutes and establishment of autonomous colleges does not serve the objective of excellence.

Dr K.L. NARULA, Yamunanagar

Lingua fracas

This refers to Khushwant Singh’s write-up “It is time to revive Hindustani” (Windows, April 3). I do not endorse the writer’s suggestion to write Urdu in the Devanagari script.

Many well-turned Persian and Arabic phrases and similes are, of necessity, used in Urdu verses. These cannot be correctly written in Devanagari script. Even simple words like nazar (sight) and nazr (present) are often written as najar in Hindi.



I fully endorse the writer’s views that the time has come to merge Hindi and Urdu words. It will be interesting for the learners of Hindi language to study Zafar, Ghalib and Iqbal in Devanagari script. Urdu and Persian words will enrich the Hindi language. But calling the new language Hindustani can lead to a controversy among Hindi zealots.


Friends indeed

I read with interest Vimla Patil’s write-up “Ties that bind” (Spectrum, February 1). It is unconditional love and sincere trust that binds two friends. Friendship can be more enriching if it is long lasting. Unfortunately, sometimes minor misunderstandings can mar a friendship. But even if this happens, the memory of the beautiful moments that one has spent with one’s friend remains. 

ANJU ANAND, Chambaghat

Tiny specks don’t reflect a clear spectrum

IN his letter “A brave community” (Perspective, March 7), Hardial S. Othi has made a number of references which need to be clarified. Humayun had shown utmost regard and honoured the rakhi, sent to him by Rani Karnawati of Chitor, seeking his aid. Akbar and Jahangir married Hindu princesses, but confined to a couple of Rajput states which had acquiesced.

Dara Shikoh was not born to a Hindu woman. He was the second child of Mumtaz Mahal nee Arjumand. The Udaipur House dispatched no princess to enter the Mughal harem and thereby steadfastly upheld the honour of the Rajputs.

Conversely, Peshwa Baji Rao had Mastani and Maharaja Ranjit Singh had Moran, Muslim women, as spouses. Cunningham’s History refers to the abduction of a Qazi’s daughter by Shri Guru Hargobind, who, the Muslims say, was Qazi’s concubine. The army of Udaipur raided the Imperial camp and carried away Aurangzeb’s favourite Begum, Georgian Udaipuri. The Rana, with full honours, sent her back with a chosen guard.

When Shivaji raided Kalyan, the Arab daughter-in-law of the Muslim Governor, a famed beauty, became his captive. He returned her, without any violation. Chivalrous acts. After the execution of Shri Banda Singh Bahadur, his widow was forcibly converted to Islam and thrown into the Mughal harem. Todar Mall, a pious Hindu, belonging to the then persecuted community, like the Jews in Nazi Germany, daringly risked everything and braved to arrange the last rites of the executed, respected Sahibzadas, a tangible act. Why belittle his noble deed?

Despite persecution of the worst type, the soul of the Hindu community remained intact and finally emerged unscathed. Resilience epitomises the same.

Soon after Aurangzeb’s death, the Peshwa knocked at the doors of the Red Fort, bent to oust the Mughal ruler and would have done so, but for the restraint put on him by Shivaji’s grandson. Nevertheless, the Mughal ruler was reduced to a subservient status.

When the events of an age are viewed in a country’s fleeting history, crucially reshaping it’s destiny, tiny specks never reflect a clear spectrum; it is the widespread political firmament that sketches a faithful picture. Bulle Shah rang the tone of anguish of his immediate surroundings, then enveloped in a film of tortuosity, trauma and turmoil.

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


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