Angling for plum positions

IN “This Above All” (Saturday Extra, Nov 4), Khushwant Singh has rightly observed that cabinet reshuffles, in some ways, “are like dealing out cards in a game of bridge” which is dependent on making bids. “Every cabinet-making and reshuffle”, writes Sudhansu Mohanty in Babudom: Catacombs of Indian Bureaucracy (Rupa) there exists an “uncanny parallel” between “the selection processes that govern the political and bureaucratic worlds”. By the time ministers have found their niches or new slots, there starts among the senior bureaucrats (IAS/IPS and others) to find their own cool, adorned grottos.

There is a tug of competition between the left-outs/also-ran aspirants, both among politicians and bureaucrats. During their stay in particular ministries or departments, they use every thing at their command to “elevate” themselves.

After they have settled in their perches by overcoming challenges, it is time to indulge in jockeying for power, more power, and still more power and better ministries/departments. These include benefits such as better and bigger bungalows, foreign travel, use of an official car without any petrol ceiling and five-star parties. These are the blessings of our democracy, which in the words of US writer, King Florence, are “the fig leaf of elitism”.



Resurrecting the Indian Cheetah

That the Mughal Emperor Akbar was known to keep 1,000 Indian Cheetahs in his hunting stables, gives an idea how abundant this mammal once was in India. Of all the big cats the Cheetah alone was playful and affectionate by temperament and so not difficult to tame and discipline as a Hunting Leopard, which was its second name.

Unfortunately, we drove the Cheetah to extinction when the last two surviving animals were dispatched by the Raja of Korwai in North Bastar in November 1947, paradoxically the year of our Independence.

On November 3, The Tribune carried a detailed article in Spectrum on the potential and activities of India’s state-of-the-art bio-genetics research establishment at Hyderabad. The head of this facility was quoted to state that they possessed the capability to clone the Cheetah and thus reintroduce it to the wilds in India.

The truth is that in this case even science cannot reverse an extinction. A similar idea was first mooted in the 1980s, albeit through extensive captive breeding of the Cheetah.

Georges Schaller, the “Ayatuallah” of the cat species of the world and experts in India found the idea totally unrealistic because by then Indian industry, agriculture, highways network and population centres had completely usurped the Cheetah’s habitat.

For the Cheetah was no an animal of the forests but the open plains and arid rocky outcrops of Northern and Central India and the Deccan upto Mysore. And that its prey-base (the Black Buck, Chinkara and four-horned, antilope) had by then been exterminated from the Cheetah’s habitat.

It is tragic but true that extinctions are for ever. Dead as the Dado, as the saying goes. The India Cheetah is past history. Let us do what we can to save the Royal Bengal Tiger which is teetering on the lips of the abyss of extinction.

Lt-Gen BALJIT SINGH (retd), Chandigarh

Gluttony unlimited

This refers to Khushwant Singh’s write-up “Gluttony unlimited,” (Saturday Extra, Oct 28). Many people eat voraciously as if they have remained hungry for days together. Once a Nihang Singh told me that he often took three seers of pudding.

The meat he took was also of the same quantity. In his Na-qaabil-e-faramosh (collection of articles), the late Diwan Singh Maftoon of the Riyaasat, Delhi, has mentioned that captain Shivdev Singh, a relative of the then Maharaja of Nabha, once devoured five seers of milk mixed with two seers of jalebis. One day he ate the whole meat of the deer in 12 hours.

Famous poet Imam Bakhsh Naasikh (1771-1838) was an excessive eater. He ate only once a day. His meals weighed about five seers and consisted of breads, seasoned stew, grilled mince, rice cooked in meat soup, boiled rice, vegetables, pulses, sugar beet, jam, pickles, etc.

Once he stayed with a friend as his guest. There was delay in preparing food for him. He saw some servants carrying platters full of food for themselves coming out of the kitchen.

He devoured the food of five servants, telling them to eat his when it came. The poet incurred the wrath of the ruler of Lucknow and had to leave the place saying, Veeran misl-e-vaadi-e-vaihshat hai Lakhnow/ Suntey hai Naasikh aaj watan se nikal gaya.


Question of God

Question of God” by Khushwant Singh (Saturday Extra, Nov 11) regarding the existence of God. Singh had stated that the mother of a child kept mum when her child asked her, “Who made God”? It appears she was ignorant about the views expressed by Guru Nanak about God’s existence.

In Japuji Sahib, Guru Nanak stated that “God can neither be installed nor created, the Pure one is all in all by Himself. God is Himself all Truth. God is one, He is the Creator, The Fearless, Without enmity, The Immoral, The Unborn, Self-illuminated”.

J.S. KOHLI, Chandigarh



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