Why research has taken a backseat

IN sharp contrast to the usual hype on special occasions, on Science Day, Dharam Vir has brought out a systematic and step-by-step analysis of the present status of research and development in the country (“Science Day: Need for bold initiatives”, Perspective, Feb 27). He has laid emphasis on urgent steps to make use of the abundant and unparalleled scientific talent lying untapped in the country.

Every student and his/her guiding parents prefer a medical, engineering or management seat. As a result, courses in applied sciences take a back seat. The plain truth is that admission to graduation in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology is taken only when a student doesn’t get a medical or engineering seat. Rather than preference, it is a sort of compromise. A Master’s or Doctorate in these subjects is sought only when a good job is not available. Such an environment cannot be conducive for R and D.

I know though some outstanding IITians have completed their post-graduation in Mathematics and Physics, they run coaching centres in the city and mint money instead of taking jobs for meagre salaries. The question of engaging one’s self in R and D activities is ruled out because of the poor stipend offered to scholars.

The message is clear. Unless we provide basic facilities, fulfil basic needs and ensure social security for those with research-oriented skills, R and D can’t take a real flight in this country.

Er JAGVIR GOYAL, Chandigarh




It has rightly been said that our universities have become teaching colleges, relegating research work. It would be better if we give the task of conducting examinations to colleges or some other organisation like the Punjab School Education Board. The authorities should allot research work to each lecturer, reader and professor along with teaching work. They should function at par with research associations who are given research projects as also teaching work.

If Research Associates can perform these two duties for lower wages, why are lecturers, readers and professors exempted from research? All teachers must complete at least one project within five years. Promotions, senior scales and selection grades should be given to only those who complete the research projects allotted to them within a specific timeframe.


Making human soul free of bondage

Criticism of Tagore’s work by Sinjita Gupta in Khushwant Singh’s “This Above All” was in poor taste. (Saturday Extra, Feb 12). Literature and acting are two skills which no one can fake. The world buys only quality and no one can palm off any nonsense in both the cases. Why is Tagore considered an icon not only in India but even abroad? Why was the Nobel Prize in literature conferred on him and no one else from India?

I would like to remind the writer that there is a basic difference between English and any regional Indian language. The essence present in our language and culture can never be translated into English. Even the westerners agree that western culture is totally mechanistic, while Indian culture is spiritual.

When the writer says “However, one also gets the uneasy feeling that there is little substance in the original,” she strays very far from Tagore’s original work because otherwise it is impossible not to find any substance in his masterpiece.

Tagore’s writing never depicts the materialistic world. He always tried to make the human soul free of every bondage in his writings. The flavour and essence of his work is based on simplicity which even a kindergarten child can enjoy. He always searched for ways which are soothing and tension-free and which afford a lasting peace. His writings always reflected that peace is possible only when we fall back upon our cultural values, based upon spiritual ideals. Let us not ignore Tagore.

Sangita Chaki Roy, Una


Beating the retreat

Amita Malik echoed my feelings about the Republic Day show in general and Beating the Retreat in particular, (Saturday Extra, Jan 29). Bands from the Army, Navy and Air Force converge outside the Rashtrapati Bhawan and celebrate the event to mark the culmination of Republic Day celebrations. The march past and the orchestration is awesome and one can only applaud with a sense of awe at the grand finale.

The tour de force is when drummers of the three Forces amalgamate to play what can only be described as steady rain crescendoing to a thundrous climax. I have a lump in my throat and tears well up in my eyes when Jana Gana Mana is played.

Baljit Issar, Karnal


Apropos of Sumant Dhamija’s “The lion-hearted warrior” (Spectrum, Jan 23), Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was a tall, sturdy and good-looking man of enterprise. He was brimming with patriotic fervour and possessed political talent and a good knowledge of military tactics. Nawab Kapur Singh made him the leader of the Dal Khalsa and before his death gave him the steel mace of Guru Gobind Singh. The lion-hearted Ahluwalia Sardar rushed upon the rear of Nadir Shah’s army many a time and relieved him of much of his booty and rescued 2,000 Hindu women from Ahmad Shah Abdali and sent them to their homes with liberal financial help. He enjoyed the titles of Bandhi Chhor and Sultan-ul-qaum. the Dal Khalsa under him entered the Red Fort in Delhi on March 11, 1783. He was placed on the throne of Mughal emperors and called Badshah Singh. Because of his saintly disposition, many Sikh chiefs (Raja Amar Singh of Patiala was one of them) considered it an honour to take pahul from him.

Bhagwan Singh, Qadian

Kasturba Gandhi

In “Woman behind the Mahatma,” by Rajiv M. Lochan (Spectrum, Feb 20), when Kasturba married Gandhi little did she realise she was marrying a unique figure of history. Soon she realised that her husband was married to many causes. She made those causes her own and her task was all the more difficult because she was more or less illiterate.

There were occasional spats with her husband as she tried to suit his tempo and temper. He expected her to renounce all worldly belongings but as a mother she occasionally showed weakness for certain possessions for the benefit of her sons and daughters-in-law. Kasturba spent more than 60 years in self-denial and in sublimation of self. Gandhi acknowledged later in life that his first lesson in passive resistance (Satyagraha) was learnt from Kasturba.

He wrote, “Her determined resistance to my will on the one hand and quiet submission to my stupidity on the other, ultimately made me ashamed of myself. In the end, she became my teacher in non-violence.” As Harilal, the rebellious son of Mahatma, who converted to Islam, always used to say Kasturba ki jai.

Vijay Sheel Jain, Ludhiana

Hasrat Mohani

Apropos of Bhagwan Singh Qadian’s letter (Feb 20). ‘Quera’ used by him is actually quern. I owe its to this scholar that I got to know and add a new word to my vocabulary. To be doubly sure, I consulted my dictionaries, English to Hindi, English to Urdu, vice versa, all spelt it quern.

H.K. LALL, Chandigarh

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