Making a mockery of democracy

This refers to Khushwant Singh’s write-up “End of the road for Buta” (Saturday Extra, January 11). The writer has exposed the role of today’s power-hungry politicians who indulge in politics of a dubious brand till their last breath, unless they are dismissed or deprived of power. Such politicians only misguide their voters by using the caste, creed or religion cards. They dance to the tune of their masters and make a mockery of democracy and secularism.

I agree with the writer that Buta Singh makes a calculated display of his religiosity. A majority of our politicians do that except Communists. Politicians amass wealth, other assets and facilities not only for themselves but for their future generations. Buta Singh is no exception to this general rule of opportunism to serve one’s ends.

SUNDER SINGH GIANI, Dialpura (Patiala)

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Loneliness of the aged

This refers to Khushwant Singh’s “Lament of the aged” (Dec 24, Saturday Extra). Problems of the old can form a long list.

The main problem that old people face is loneliness, which is more or less self-created. Greying senior citizens do not lack grey matter and can serve society in the profession they were engaged in previously.For instance, a reputed oncologist over the last 50 years is still rendering service to charity at 80. I retired as a veterinarian 17 years ago and am still involved in animal welfare activities.

All professionals can continue to serve society befitting their ability and health. Like-minded persons can form a society for a cause of their choice for the betterment of others.

Old age does not come alone, it brings along with it a plethora of problems—negelect by children, loneliness, decline of health and financial constraints. Those who fail to learn to live with dignity and self-respect succumb to these problems and lead a miserable life.

Regular prayers to the Almighty, social work for the betterment of others, observance of dos and don’ts for health and leisure activities should form a part of the lifestyle of senior citizens.


Splendid statue

Jangveer Singh has done a commendable job by depicting the glory and grandeur of the splendid statue of Lord Bahubali (Spectrum, January 22). It is encouraging to learn that this is the first time that the head-anointing ceremony of the statue will be held for a period of nine days instead of the traditional one day. The government is expecting 25 to 30 lakh devotees on the occasion.The Karnataka Government has set aside Rs 75 crore and 25 crore respectively for infrastructure development and creating facilities for pilgrims and tourists.

“Nothing grander or more imposing exists anywhere out of Egypt and no known statue surpasses it in height.” That was historian James Fergusson, an expert on ancient Oriental architecture, commenting on Gomateshwara. Many other scholars agree with him. Says Louis Frederic in Indian Temples and Sculpture: “This enormous statue is in fact the largest monolithic colossus in the world—nearly 60 feet high.” The controversy aside, the colossus of Bahubali is unique in one respect. No other colossus is both as gigantic and graceful as Gomateshwara.


Correct couplet

This refers to Khushwant Singh’s write-up “Natwar’s swan song” (Saturday Extra, December 31), in which the writer has mentioned an Urdu couplet, quoting K. Natwar Singh, as follows: Parwana hoon/ Shama to ho, raat to ho;/Marney key leye tayyar hoon/ Koi baat to ho. In fact, this famous couplet was penned by the legendary Urdu poet, Akbar Allahabadi, and its correct version is: “Hoon to main parwana, shama to ho rat to ho,/ jaan dene ko hoon mojud magar koi bat to ho.

Of late, it has become a fashion among our politicians and public figures to quote from Urdu poetry quixotically. They should emulate the lives and the message given in the writings of these personalities.


Zehra or Zohrah

In his write-up “Mind of a Mujahid” (Saturday Extra, February 4), Khushwant Singh has mentioned the name of a poet of Pakistan as Zehra Nigah. There is no word such as “Zehra.” Humra Quraishi mentions her as Zehra as well as Zahra, which means white, bright and blonde. It was the appellation of the holy prophet’s daughter, Fatimah.

The actual name of the poet is probably Zohrah. The most brilliant planet, second from the sun, is called Zohrah. Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, identified with Greek Aphrodite, is known as Zohrah. It was also the name of a woman loved by angels Haaroot and Maaroot. In the verses quoted by the learned writer, there are many mis-spellings. Majnoon has been mentioned as Majnu. Munkir and Nakeer are angels, who cross-question the dead in the grave. Qusoor means palaces.


Literary master

This refers to Darshan Singh Maini’s piece “Sound and fury of language” (Spectrum, Jan 22). William Faulkner, while accepting the Nobel Prize in 1949 maintained that the subject of the literary artist is “the human heart in conflict with itself.” This conflict yields violence and guilt and bigotry, causing men and women to erupt into emotional earthquakes.

The fact is that this American novelist and short-story writer has produced such works as are in the tradition of Balzac, Zola and Henry James. Faulkner is a puzzlingly attractive figure. He is a sombre colossus in the 20th century Western culture.



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