Fighting stress

This refers to Fighting stress (Saturday Extra, Jan 6). The writer has given a well-researched view on the sad and increasing incidence of suicides among soldiers. A striking revelation is that most of these cases happen after soldiers return from leave. It clearly brings out the fact that soldiers return frustrated, perhaps due to their inability to solve their families’ problems like land or property being grabbed, wife or daughter being harassed, ill treatment of the family at the hands of a joint family, etc.

These are very common problems that our soldiers face. Any retired officer’s experience can speak for it. It is here that society and the civil administration has to step in to protect the interests of a soldier and lend him legal and emotional support. Provision for this does exist but the overall value system in our society has deteriorated so much that no one seems to be bothered, leaving the soldier in the lurch.

There was a time when commanding officers used to write to the civil authorities concerned. Action was taken and a report was sent to the unit concerned. The system probably vanished with the ICS officers’ cadre. In my service of 33 years, I must have written about 70 letters to the civil authorities, but, alas, none fetched a reply. Social insecurity is a major cause of stress among soldiers. The government and society should address the issue with sincerity and compassion.

Lt-Col BHAGWANT SINGH (retd), Mohali


Gandhi’s failure?

This has reference to R. L. Singal’s review of Thomas Weber’s book Revisiting Gandhi (Spectrum, Jan 28). Towards the end of his review, Singal writes, …Gandhi’s policies failed to prevent the Partition. He further adds “No Gandhian has explained to us how we could non-violently counter the tribal invasion of Kashmir in 1947.” This criticism is too simplistic and ignores the ground reality of that time.

The power to retain India as one unit or to divide it rested in the hands of the British Government. Gandhi struggled for the independence of India and was victorious in it. Of course he was not in favour of the partition of the country but that was beyond his control. It can’t be termed as Gandhi’s failure.

It is very easy for any leader even of mediocre understanding and intelligence to instigate religious riots and to preach hatred between different communities as was being done by Jinnah and other Muslim League leaders.

Gandhi had repeatedly said that he was not propounding any philosophy and that he might change his ideas any time if the situation so warranted. When Kashmir was invaded in October 1947, Gandhi did not ask the Indian Government not to send troops to Kashmir to expel the invaders. Not only this, when he saw the Indian troops leaving for the front at Delhi, he blessed them to be victorious in saving the Kashmiris from the depredations of the Pathans and Pakistani raiders. Lastly it has become a fashion for some people to deride the Mahatama-the greatest man that India ever produced-with their half-baked knowledge.

V. P. MEHTA, Chandigarh


The mind of a psychopath

Through the article How does a psychopath’s mind work? (Spectrum, Jan 28), Simmi Waraich has tried her best to enlighten parents and the general public about the working of a psychopath’s mind. Parents, teachers, community leaders, NGOs and police must remain on alert to protect children from psychopaths. A psychopathic personality never hesitates to commit crimes while remaining most gentle in the eyes of the general public.

Innocent people, especially children, become their victims. No doubt, there may be psychological problems with these deviants but they deserve no sympathy. Psychiatrists must throw more light on their deviant behaviour.

I think the roles of parents and teachers are most important in keeping the minds of the children occupied through creative curricular and co-curricular activities.

Children should be helped to release their pent-up emotions through guidance and counselling and their feelings must never be suppressed. Whenever these suppressed feelings find an opportunity, the person indulges in deviant behaviour. In their teenage, adolescents because of hormonal changes live in a world of dreams. Then youth should be engrossed in curricular and co-curricular activities and must draw pleasure through “achievement motivation.”

Parents and teachers must remain in touch with the growing needs of students. They must also keep a watch on the students about their peer group, books, TV programmes, relatives, neighbours, servants and consumtion of liquor and drugs. Children must be taught to disclose the immoral activities of relatives, teachers and friends. A sound education system based on practical psychology can do a lot to forestall the growth of psychopaths. Merely bookish knowledge can never teach a young mind to cope with the stresses generated by suppressed emotions.




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