Forgetting lessons of history

I refer to the articles “Weak national security system (Feb 3) by Maj-Gen Ashok K. Mehta and “Forging the shield: Have we learnt any lessons from the past?” (Feb 12) by Gen V.P. Malik. Sadly, our ruling class has no culture of strategic thinking. In August 2000, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, London, stated “New Delhi has no coherent vision of military reforms, much less of radical change”.

If you do not learn from history, our own or that of the world, it has a nasty habit of repeating itself. Kargil was a classical example of history repeating itself when all organs of the government were caught napping, notwithstanding the militancy, besides the loss of human lives which is more than the cumulative total of the previous wars.

General Malik had asked for an additional Rs 800 crore in the defence budget for modernising plans. When this was denied to him, he announced a reduction of Army strength by 50,000 troops to affect a saving of Rs 800 crore within the allotted defence budget. And a year later, he had to deploy exactly the same number of troops in the Kargil war.

People at the highest decision-making level feel that it is just an irksome habit of senior brass of the armed forces to keep asking for better weapons and resources whereas actually the troops could do without these. They are right in a way as we had won all the previous wars with whatever we had, with the result our Generals (also Admirals and Air Marshals) after each war start preparing for the previous war.

General Malik has aptly brought out that military is an organism being, not a switch-on, switch-off robot.

Maj-Gen ATMA SINGH (retd), Gurgaon



‘We let you down’

I’ve written and dedicated the following poem to our brave 54 Army men languishing in Pakistani jails since the 1971 war:

Thirtyfour years ago

54 of you and many

responded to nation’s call of duty

put your lives on the line

to defend the nation

our pride, our freedom

against an enemy

fought with valour and bravery

defeated the enemy

made us secure and proud

all else returned home

but left you behind

we celebrated the victory

with wine and dine

while you were braving torture and crime

could hear your screams and crying

received your letters

got all your messages

you waited

for us to take you home

but we wee too busy

sorry, we had no time

we let you down

we let you down.


Destination peace

Apropos of the editorial “Destination peace; A step forward in India-Pakistan relations” (Feb 18), the agreement on bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad is a historic one. The whole country has welcomed this. More bus services and the laying of a gas pipeline are on the agenda. CBMs in the areas of trade, transport, defence, sports, media and culture are eagerly awaited.

In fact, people of both countries love each other as they have a common past. The process of globalisation also forces them to come nearer to meet their socio-economic challenges.

The day is not far off when the fundamentalists and vested interests on both sides will get isolated and the two countries will live in peace. Huge budgets spent on defence will be then available for socio-economic development. General Musharraf must take the peace process to its logical end, otherwise he is sure to be swallowed by the fundamentalists.


It’s for entertainment

Apropos of “Politics on the box” by S. Nihal Singh (Feb 5), I disagree with his perception that viewers are politically influenced by TV shows.

Viewers do tune in to the sparring matches on TV — not for information, but only for entertainment. Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav, for them, is only a Charlie Chaplin or a Johny Walker in politics.

The voters are wise enough to distinguish between cheese and chalk. They do enjoy the wit, rather the slipshod humour of leaders. And that is that. Not a word of their sound bytes is considered a food for thought.


School functions

January and February are peak months for studies. Normally, functions by schools and NGOs are held in these months. No function is successful without the involvement of schools.

This deviates the attention of students for many days before and after the functions. No function should be held in schools during these months except Republic Day so that studies are not disturbed.

B.R. SALHOTA, Khanpur (Pathankot)

Repair the road

Punjab is recognised as a wealthy state. But the government does not pay proper attention to road maintenance. For example, the condition of the road from Mehtapur (Una) in Himachal Pradesh to Anandpur Sahib in Punjab is not roadworthy. Light motor vehicles cannot pass thorough this road during night. I request Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to get the road repaired on priority.

KULJIT CHAND KATOCH, Paprola (Tharoo), Kangra

Police image

I read with interest Kuldip Nayar’s article “Police itself to blame for bad image” (Oped, Feb 15). It is nothing new if Mr Nayar has jumped to the conclusion without verifying facts. Recall his outburst two years back.

For him, what a self-styled eyewitness spoke to him and his wife on the phone was the gospel of truth and what the police was saying was a lie. He had not then cared to even verify who were the persons who were killed there — Indians or Pakistanis.



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