Gen Aurora: a man of war and peace

My association with General Jagjit Singh Aurora, which I cherish, was in his capacity other than a General. In 1984, some of us had formed a committee for a Dialogue on Punjab of which I was the convener. In my very first meeting with him, he endorsed our approach to the Punjab problem and offered to associate with our activities.

I was scheduled to address a meeting at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. We invited him to chair it. The date of our meeting just coincided with the anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh when he was to be honoured at a public function in Calcutta. He preferred to attend the meeting at Amritsar and forgo the public honour.

In fact, we had been warned against holding a public meeting at GND University which was supposed to be a strong centre of Khalistanis. As we reached there, a group of armed Sikh youth introduced themselves as followers of Sant Bhindranwale who knew gun as the only effective method of dialogue. I expressed my inability to dialogue with them in their language. They assured me that they had come to listen to me.

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Moreover, they were proud of a great General like J.S. Aurora. They had also come to ensure that both of us were listened to peacefully and nobody did us any harm or disturb the meeting.

General Aurora was source of great strength to our campaign throughout Punjab on the Hindu-Sikh dialogue. He demonstrated how a man of war could be equally effective in restoration of peace. The latter, too, required courage and intelligence.



General K.M. Cariappa became a Field Marshal because he had been the seniormost serving Indian army officer when the British left. Sam is now a Field Marshal on account of Bangladesh, we are told. How about a posthumous Field Marshal for General Aurora, the only case in the world where a simple and unassuming soldier helped in the creation of a new country? India would only honour itself by doing this.

Today when we have many retired Generals as Governors, Chairmen of Union and state Public Service Commissions and Ambassadors, we should honour a true hero like General Aurora by unveiling his statue at a prominent place in Delhi, naming a road after him there, and conferring the rank of Field Marshal on him posthumously.

Our political leadership needs to recognise its military heroes. General Harbaksh Singh died unsung. Yet, had it not been for him, half of our Punjab would have been in the Pakistani hands in 1965. At least now, let us recognise General Aurora’s place in history.

Maj-Gen HIMMAT SINGH GILL (retd), Chandigarh

Jobs on merit alone

Successive governments have done little to encourage merit. They are supporting the job reservation system keeping an eye on the vote banks. No administrative reforms committee has ever examined the reservation system’s demoralising effect on the quality of administration.

Isn’t it foolish to encourage mediocrity at the cost of meritocracy? How can the government give priority to a third division SC or ST candidate over say, a first division upper caste candidate during recruitment?

The SCs, the STs and others deserve facilities like free education from primary to the university level, free board and lodging in hostels but, certainly, no job reservation. They must compete with every other candidate for jobs in open competition. Merit should be the sole criterion for recruitment.

Dr SUDHA GAUTAMI, Chandigarh

Ban on diclofenac

The ban on the use of diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug, for cattle in Punjab is welcome. This will help control the alarming decline in the population of vultures. However, as these birds and cattle generally migrate from one state to another, all other states/UTs should enforce the ban. Otherwise, the Centre should step in.

Scientists should also explore alternatives to diclofenac. The Punjab Government should set up a centre for captive breeding of vultures on the pattern of the Saini Majra Centre near Solan to save vultures.

HARBANS LAL MEHMI, Special Secretary to Transport Minister (Punjab), Chandigarh


There has been a 95 per cent reduction in the vulture population in India and Pakistan. Their number in Delhi and Agra has reduced to just 150 from 20,000 a few years ago. This is alarming.

Among the possible causes are habitat destruction, human cleanliness, burial or cremation of dead bodies of animals and humans, the presence of a mysterious virus, poison in the food chain, and even deliberate extermination of the vultures by the Indian Air Force. The presence of diclofenac sodium in the food chain is also responsible. The ban on diclofenac by the Punjab government is, therefore, welcome.


Anti-pulse polio drive

The next round of the pulse polio eradication campaign is on May 15. The time is not right because temperatures soar in May. The oral polio vaccine, administered to the children, is the most heat sensitive vaccine. It requires most stringent conditions for storage. It loses its potency at high temperature.

Moreover, the power situation worsens in the summer. Villages go without power for days. I request the authorities to reschedule the programme in winter months for better results.


Doctors in courts

The doctors appearing in courts as expert medical witnesses for giving evidence in medico-legal cases must follow the uniform dress code laid down for medical professionals. They should wear white aprons inside the court rooms. This will facilitate the judicial officers and the advocates recognise the doctors during evidence and maintain the dignity of the medical profession.

If the lawyers and the police officers can attend courts in their uniforms, there is no reason why the doctors should not follow suit.

Dr D.S. BHULLAR, National Vice-President, Indian Academy of Forensic Medicine, Patiala



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