Radcliff award: Nehru had the final say

RANJIT POWAR’s “Turbulence documented” (Spectrum, April 8) says that Akali leader Master Tara Singh failed to clinch a better deal at the time of the Partition. This is far from the facts. The June 3 plan, prepared by Mountbatten, was made hurriedly. It had communal majority as the main factor for the division of Punjab.

The map of United Punjab before the Partition, according to the notional boundary under the Partition plan of June 3, 1947, shows entire district of Gurdaspur going to West Punjab. On June 12, 1947, Pandit Nehru sent a letter to the Viceroy including the following terms of reference: “The Boundary Commission is instructed to demarcate the boundaries of the two parts of the Punjab on the basis of ascertaining the contiguous majority areas of Muslims and non-Muslims. In doing so it will also take into account other factors.”

In his interview with the Viceroy on June 23, 1947, Mr Jinnah accepted the terms of reference “which had been put up by the Congress leaders on HMG’s statement of June 3. On June 28, 1947, Mr Liaquat Ali Khan sent the following terms of reference: “The boundary commission is instructed to demarcate the boundaries of the two parts of the Punjab on the basis of ascertaining the contiguous majority areas of Muslims and non-Muslims. The Commission will also take into account other factors.”


It was Pandit Nehru and Mr Jinnah who were solely responsible for depriving the Sikh community of their rights and privileges by denying them Nankana Sahib, their very important religious place. Nehru could prevail upon Mountbatten to have the notional boundary of the June 3 plan changed by retaining Gurdaspur district minus Shakargarh tehsil, which was a Muslim majority district so that he could save the road to his beloved Kashmir. So it was Pandit Nehru and not Master Tara Singh who had the final say in the Radcliff Award.


A social critic to the last

In “Champion of satire” by Peter Guttridge (Spectrum, April 22), it has been observed rightly that Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), who passed away on April 11 in Manhattan, remained a social critic to the last.

Born in Indianapolis (USA), he, like his contemporaries, such as Norman Mailer, James Jones, Irwin Shaw, Joseph Heller, Johan Hersey and Mitchell Goodman, used the two World Wars as a means to find and expose the tangle of contradictions that reflect the most essential aspects of contemporary American reality.

John Dos Passos and Hemingway, who after the World War I, wrote of a whole generation fated to comprehend the anti-humanistic essence in the imperialistic war, did so earlier.

Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and The Children’s Crusade deserve a mention here. In the former, Kurt Vonnegut writes: “One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters”. These words are bound to serve as an epigraph to many American war novels, implying a protest against the senseless cruelty of war, as expressed in the monstrous degeneration of heroism in such writers as E.E. Commings and Slater.

Thus, ‘military valour’ is a purely negative trait with Vonnegut. Slaughterhouse-Five made Vonnegut a cult hero, a literary idol, particularly to students in the 1960s and 1970s, “for the Vietnam generation as did Joseph Heller’s Catch 22”.



Young minds

It is a pity that we are oblivious to the memories of great revolutionaries like Veer Savarkar, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Raj Guru, et al (“Sukhdev’s house picture of neglect” by Kanchan Vasdev, Spectrum, March 18).

The mind of the modern generation has no sense of national pride. Instead garish matters like fashion shows and games like cricket have hogged the mind of the Indian youth.

In Amritsar, the old houses of Saifuddin Kitchlew, Dr Satyapal, Mulk Raj Anand, Field Marshal Maneckshaw are difficult to locate.

The idea of constructing a Veer Savarkar Sadan in the border city has not been translated into reality so far.

It is the duty of all, especially teachers, to disseminate knowledge about our great heroes of the past and of the yore. Besides radical steps need to be taken to disabuse the minds of the young of trivial things.


Utter twaddle

I have read Khushwant Singh’s “Lust in times of boredom” (Saturday Extra). The writer is above 90 but age does not appear to have caught up with him. He is still curious to know as to how long sex stays on one’s mind. A poet says, Piri mein aa rahe hain jawani ke valvale/Goya namood subho ki khwahish ho din dhale (Romantic feelings of youth are being recalled in old age, as desire for dawn in the dusk).

An eminent writer of his status should not have chosen to write, quote and opine on a highly volatile issue like sex. He should have left it to sex specialists. This write-up appears to be more of an advertisement for a book on sex matters by Dr Sudhakar Krishnamurthy. It is wrong to project India as the impotence capital of the world as impotence is not India-specific. n


Good piece of satire

This refers to Khushwant Singh’s Ant & grasshopper (Saturday Extra, March 3). It is a very good piece of satire. It holds a mirror to every one of us. The media, the politician, the NGO, the lawmaker and, above all, the busybody—all are shown their place. The piece is commendably imaginative and delightful.

Such writings serve a useful purpose as they expose the hypocrisy of those who are wearing the mantle of greatness. They contribute to the awakening of the gullible populace to see how they are being cheated by big slogans.




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