Frisking of service chiefs an insult

Defence Minister A.K. Antony’s statement in Parliament that the Service Chiefs are not exempted from frisking at airports is a pointer to the steady downgrading of the Indian armed forces. It is an insult to the dignity and honour of every serving soldier, sailor and airman and to the millions of armed forces veterans.

Nehru’s disdain of military officers was evident to his successors and bureaucrats who adopted devious methods to bring down the services at every opportunity. This was apparent in the Warrant of Precedence. After the Indo-Pak war (1947-48), the service chiefs were made junior to the Supreme Court judges. In 1955, their designation was changed from Commander-in-Chief of their respective services to Chief of Staff.

They further dropped in status after the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict and then became junior to the Cabinet Secretary. They were made junior to the Attorney-General after the Indo-Pak war of 1965. Yet again, after the 1971 war, they were put next to the Comptroller and Auditor-General. The list of disparities between the officers and staff of the three services and their civilian counterparts is endless. When unjustly discriminated against or  vilified, the soldier must defend his own honour. For too long, this issue has been swept under the carpet.

Lt-Col B.R. MALHOTRA (retd), New Delhi



In his article, “Why should Service Chiefs be frisked?” (Nov 24), Maj-Gen Himmat Singh Gill (retd) rightly observed that the prestige of the serving and retired soldiers has been drastically eroded since our Independence. Otherwise, why this snub to top officers with 40 years of glorious service to the nation?

A Service Chief is not an individual but an institution, representing over a million-strong army which ensures our safety from threats, external and internal. A Service Chief is a symbol of our national honour and highest values enshrined in our Constitution. He is also an icon for the youth to join the forces to serve the nation.

We cannot treat this institution, one of the main pillars of the country, in such a manner. Aren’t we belittling our own strength — the armed forces?

Col R.D. SINGH Commandant, 213 Transit Camp, Jammu


While the Sixth Central Pay Commission is trying to remove anomalies in the pay structure of the employees and officers, efforts should be made to restore the Warrant of Precedence which puts the three Service Chiefs just below the Union Minister. Those who defend the nation from external and internal aggression at the cost of their lives deserve much higher status than others.

In the meantime, civil aviation should be made part of the Ministry of Defence to ensure security of our entire air space when the country is facing wave of terrorism as also for synergy between the IAF and the civil aviation.

Our air space management can be optimised if the entire set up is manned by the IAF personnel who handle much greater volume of traffic in critical conditions — of mostly single engine and single pilot aircraft with much less fuel reserves. As it is, security is already with the CISF. It can be given to the DSC or armed forces who will decide whether or not to frisk their chiefs.

Air-Cmde RAGHUBIR SINGH (retd) Pune

Bitter experience

I read the editorial, “Chaos at airports” (Nov 20). Air India is least service oriented and Indians settled abroad prefer to avoid travel in its carriers. I personally had a harrowing experience with it.

In July 1990, I went to Toronto, Canada, to attend World Punjabi Conference as the nominee of the Punjab Arts Council. At that time, there was no direct flight of Air India from New Delhi to Toronto, but it had arrangements with Air Canada to take passengers onwards by changing the carrier at Heathrow Airport, London.

Accordingly, I changed the aircraft at Heathrow and reached Toronto as per schedule but my baggage reached 10 days later. I was to present a slide show on “Murals of Punjab” in the conference, but had to cut a sorry figure because I was not aware of your observation, “Maharaja lets down its praja.”


Neglect of Bilaspur

After the submergence of Old Bilaspur town in the Gobindsagar Lake, a new Bilaspur town was planned decades ago on the lines of the Chandigarh model. However, there is little headway in this regard. Though Bilaspur has all the infrastructural facilities, it has the lowest growth rate in Himachal Pradesh due to continued apathy and neglect.

Bilaspur is closer to Shimla after Solan. Yet, it is farther in accessibility. Almost all buses going from and to Shimla from the state’s western districts and other places outside the state bypass it, following an alternate route just to save 5-6 km. Thus, travelling between Shimla and Bilaspur has always been a problem.

Some long route buses from Shimla should pass through Bilaspur to help common people. Or provide a mudrika-type bus service on the Bilaspur-Brahmpukhar circuit.

O. C. HANDA, Sanjauli, Shimla



VAT on ghee

Punjab Cooperation Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh has stated that VAT on desi ghee would be reduced from 12 to 4 per cent. This was long overdue. Other adjoining states are imposing only 4 per cent VAT.

The government will now get extra revenue, i.e. 15-20 per cent more than last year because of the sale of desi ghee in Punjab will increase manifold. There is need for a uniform tax policy for the survival of the milk industry in particular and the farming community.

BALWINDER SINGH, GM, Milk Plant, Ludhiana

Of trees and books

There is a wrong impression among some sections that fewer textbooks will help the environment. No forests are being cut to make textbooks. Paper industry in India has adopted the system of social forestry. Under this, the industry provides seedlings, fast breeding clones, fertiliser and extension services to marginal farmers to enable them to derive economic benefit out of their degraded land.

The farmers have the responsibility of protecting the trees which are harvested upon maturity and sold at market price to the paper mills. The rotational planting pattern provides green cover to the otherwise arid land. It is a myth that forest trees are cut to make paper in the country.

Also, the bamboo grown in the north-east is abundant and purposely allocated to two paper mills in the public sector because of their geographical location. Clearing and disposal of bamboo clumps is a necessity and commonly adopted as an essential silviculture practice.

R. NARAYAN MOORTHY, Secretary-General, Indian Paper Manufacturers’ Assn., New Delhi

Teachers under attack

Of late, violence against teachers appears to be on the upswing. A college principal in Bulandshahar in Uttar Pradesh and a Yamunanagar teacher are the latest victims. The assaults range from severe verbal abuse and confrontation to physical assaults.

Gone are the days when we used to treat teacher as God. Today they are expected to tolerate a work environment that exposes them to violence, disrespectful behaviour by students and some anti-social elements who pretend to be students. The teachers’ role as a nation builder is long forgotten.

The result: good teachers are leaving the noble profession. Teachers should be able to do their jobs without fear of verbal or physical abuse and every child, student, citizen and parents must take a pledge not to show disrespect to teachers.

Dr MANDEEP SINGH, Yamunanagar

Enforce the rule

In mid-August, the Himachal Pradesh government directed, through a notification, all the regional transport officers (RTOs) to enforce 33 per cent reservation of seats for women in buses, HRTC and private. While the public response to the notification is mixed, some sections are reluctant to follow it.

The government should strictly follow it up and fix accountability on the RTOs for its compliance. Otherwise, it will strengthen the impression that the government is not committed to this social objective. Moreover, why cannot direct officers undertake surprise checks and ensure its strict compliance?


Irritating calls

I would like to highlight the modus operandi of some leading mobile phone companies. To popularise their schemes, they don’t bother about time while calling a subscriber. It is embarrassing and irritating when in the amidst of an urgent task, meeting or event one gets a call on the cell phone from the so-called company — a pre-recorded song, followed by the scheme they want you to subscribe for it. This is something discourteous. Can’t the companies seek a particular time on a certain day for conveying the scheme? Or why cannot they send an SMS?


Degrees and jobs

I endorse Sunit Dhawan’s opinion in his article, “Higher education in a mess” that bookish knowledge won’t help today. What is needed is personality development and skills. Our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was right in forecasting the idea of de-linking degrees with jobs.

In fact, we need skilled workers befitting the job requirement. To stem the rot in the system, the top brass should take steps to make general knowledge and personality development a permanent part of education.

HARISH K. MONGA, Ferozepore City

Good news, but...

Man marries Dog” (The Tribune, Nov 13) makes good news. But is marrying a dog permitted by law? Is it not bestiality punishable under Section 377 of the India Penal Code?

G. R. KALRA,Chandigarh



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