Jaguars: Case for effective supervision

Apropos of the editorial, "Grounded Jaguars" (June 1), though maintenance standards in the IAF are second to none, there is ample room for improvement in the maintenance practices followed in the fighter squadrons. I belonged to the technical cadre in the IAF and had an opportunity to serve in two fighter squadrons (Hunter and MiG 21).

The present maintenance culture in the IAF is more technician-based rather than engineer-oriented. The sanctioned strength of technical officers (engineers) in the squadrons is quite inadequate. The ratio of technical officers to technicians in a typical fighter squadron is roughly about 1:40. This hinders close supervision of work at the senior level.

About six aircraft of a squadron are always under periodic maintenance. A servicing gang of about 15 technicians, headed at present by a junior level supervisor, carries out maintenance of each aircraft. Thus, there are about six gangs at work simultaneously but with only two senior supervisors. Ideally, each gang should be headed by a technical officer for close and effective supervision. This calls for a three-fold increase in the sanctioned strength of technical officers in each fighter squadron.

There is also disparity in pay and perks of the officers of the technical branch vis-a-vis those of the flying branch. Further, some commanders tend to downgrade the importance of technical officers (engineers) and consider them an unwanted baggage. This impinges on the dignity of the technical officers and dampen their enthusiasm and initiative.

We are aware of the financial constraints. The idea of pruning the forces may be right but not at the cost of invaluable lives. My suggestion, therefore, is to suitably increase the sanctioned strength of the technical cadre to enhance close supervision of maintenance work at senior supervisory level.

Wg-Cdr C.L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar



Streamline PGI functioning

The new Director of the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Prof. K.K. Talwar, has rightly said that though the PGI is among the best medical research institutes in the country, during past 15 years or so, there has been a decline in the quality of services rendered by this institution. In particular, there is a fall in the quality of hospital engineering services. If infrastructure deteriorates, every aspect of patient care suffers.

Prof Talwar can streamline the PGI by improving the performance, quality and productivity. There is need for a professional estate committee to cover all areas and operations of health and hospital engineering. The PGI's Hospital Engineering Department should be restructured based on "knowledge", with each unit working as a profit centre. The aggressive MMP and PM techniques should be reintroduced.

In-service training programmes should be revived and institutional work culture rebuilt.

Dr J.C. MEHTA, Former HOD (PGI), Chandigarh



Of tainted ministers

Barring former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar's Council of Ministers, no Union Ministry has had so many people charged with attempt to murder, rape, kidnapping, financial fraud and other acts of moral turpitude, or has had so many defeated candidates, as the present one. But Mr Shekhar had little choice because he had only about 60 MPs, and he was not a morally squeamish man himself.

One expected better from Dr Manmohan Singh. He would himself be embarrassed of the defence he put up that a person is innocent till proved guilty. What about propriety and political ethics? If Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav's appointment as the Union Railway Minister is okay and constitutionally valid, why was he asked to resign as the Chief Minister of Bihar after he was charge-sheeted in the fodder scam? The United Progressive Alliance government has made a beginning that does not augur well for the future.


Sonia’s sacrifice

Very few people in history have refused the crown. Probably not a single politician in independent India has even refused a cap. By doing so, Mrs Sonia Gandhi has brought into the Indian public life the spirit of renunciation a la Mahatma Gandhi. No doubt, different people will attribute this act of courage and sacrifice to different motives. However, what we are concerned with here is the act and not the reason behind it.

Mrs Sonia Gandhi has imbued Indian politics with a new sense of values and given a lead in the regeneration of this fast-eroding institution of democracy in our country where buffoons and jokers, criminals and smugglers, anti-national and swindlers are ruling the roost. She has raised herself to a high pedestal by this masterly act of self-denial, much above the sycophants who surround her and the adversaries who are gunning after her. She has silenced her critics and won the admiration of the world. In the process, she has proven more Indian than Indian-born Indians.

I feel sad that soon after Mrs Gandhi's sacrifice, the hungry politicians have forgotten her brave example and unabashedly scrambled for loaves and fishes of power by fighting tooth and nail for the 'creamy' portfolios!

OM VERMA, New York

Carbon nano tubes

I was amused to read the report regarding the production of nano tubes of carbon by two students in the Physics Department of Panjab University (May 23). It was repeated again under the heading "Research on hi-tech carbon materials" (May 24).

Nano technology and nano materials have become buzz words, but your correspondent should know that the carbon nano tubes have been prepared in about a dozen laboratories in India. Research groups of Professors Goverdhan Mehta and C.N.R. Rao in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, are leaders in this area.

While Dr.V.K. Jindal and his collaborators in TBRL are at the planning stage, researchers in the University of Berkeley (USA) have created and tested the carbon nano tube transistors for making IC devices, as reported in the University of California Newsletter of January 15, 2004.

H.S. VIRK, Mohali

Mysterious, indeed!

Inderdeep Thapar's middle "Bonds that cannot be defined" (April 19) depicts the life of "Blackie" — a stray female dog - and the charm she exercised over the residents of the lane where she lived. The fascinating story makes gripping reading. As Thapar points out, "bonds" defy definition. The invisible relationship knows no barriers of caste, colour, creed, race and even species. How mysterious, indeed!

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)

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