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Have a heart for our heroes

Randeep Wadehra has given glimpses of forgotten heroes in his review (Spectrum, June 8). The subject itself is enough to shake the spines of those who respect these guardians of our country. But our political class with its thick-skinned culture is never prepared to give them their due.

The case of POWs during the 1965 and 1971 wars who are still languishing in Pakistan jails should put every Indian’s head down in shame but our political leadership is not moved by such painful plight of our gallant soldiers who sacrificed everything for the sake of their country. While Indian prisoners were kept in Pakistani jails in inhuman conditions, our politicians preferred to take pride in releasing nearly one lakh Pakistani POWs instead of taking up the case of their own soldiers. Those born before 1960 would remember how nicely the Pakistani POWs were treated and fed in the camps with the food of their choice.

As rightly stated, a soldier needs to be assured that his family would be looked after well in his absence; that the government would come to his rescue if he became a POW. Shockingly, the womenfolk of POWs had to do menial jobs to get two square meals a day. These corrupt and coward politicians should be tried for treason for failing to find a solution for the release of our POWs. The soldier’s interest is sacrificed time and again at the altar of diplomacy. No wonder, not a single politician has ever sent his son or daughter to the armed forces.


The Indian POWs held in Pakistani jails are confined to a small world measuring a few square feet. I wish some of our politicians too had joined them in such a small world. I as a retired soldier would be proud to Nafisa Ali and her team for highlighting the plight of our POWs.


The bitter truth

In “Jobless Job” (Spectrum, June 15), Jaspal Bhatti, has, in his typical style, beautifully brought out the bitter truth of life — no one is satisfied irrespective of one’s status, rank, position, stature, power and place in society. The fact is further buttressed by the proverb ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’.

In the present-day world of materialism, consumerism, money power and muscle power, satisfaction is a word that has been deleted from the dictionary of people. The race is for acquiring more and more is on in every sphere. There is no limit to human avarice and this is the cause of dissatisfaction, tension, stress, strain and ruin of many precious lives.
Only those who have no responsibility, like a minister without any portfolio, can be satisfied in today’s world. However, by practising the following “mottos”, satisfaction can be attained in any walk of life:

Kindness at home; courtesy in society; resistance to evil; helping the have-nots; standing by the unfortunate; forgiving the penitent; fairness in work and dealings; honesty in business; and reverence and love for God.

If these nine mottos are adhered to earnestly, it is possible to lead a satisfied and contented life.


Delight of reading

In his article “Sailing with Amitav Ghosh” (Sunday Oped, June 29), Harihar Swarup has written about the chances of making a film on Amitav Ghosh’s latest novel Sea of Poppies. But this doesn’t seem to be a good idea, as it will spoil the real taste of the novel. The ideas, feelings, emotions and thoughts of the writer get digested better if the first hand knowledge of the novel is passed on to the reader.

Moreover, the style and language incorporated in the work also gets observed and absorbed by reading of the novel. Whereas a movie based on the novel would spoil the author’s real intentions.



Master Tara Singh refused to buckle under pressure

Baldev Singh’s comment on a veteran Sikh leader of the 20th century is not based on facts (“Leader who was not”, Perspective, June 15). While conceding the people’s right to air their opinions freely, I get worried about the professional historians whose analysis can get blurred in the process and thus prevent them from arriving at correct conclusions about the march of the contemporary events and capability of political players.

In case of the Sikhs and their leaderships, the historians have to keep in mind that Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s was the only sovereign kingdom conquered by the British on the Indian sub-continent, that too, at a very heavy cost. The rest of India came to them either through grant of ‘Diwani’ by a puppet Mughal King like Shah Alam or by such deceitful devices as Subsidiary Alliances, the so-called Doctrine of Lapse, etc. Very few grandees of Ranjit Singh except the Dogras, the Meerut Brahims or other careerist courtiers of the Khalsa Darbar willingly accepted the British occupation of the Punjab.

The new Sikh aristocracy foisted by the British were not accepted by the Sikh masses. Besides, those aristocrats even found it hard to completely toe the British political approach towards the Sikhs. They remained conscious about the Sikh identity, sovereignty of the Sikh doctrine and became instrumental in heralding Sikh renaissance — the Singh Sabha movement in the early 20th century. It was only the middle class that appeared on the scene in the wake of spread of western education which provided real leadership to the Sikhs.

Secondly, the rest of India had to remain under the British rule approximately for more than two centuries whereas Punjab, where the Sikh young men did not get opportunities to receive education in England like Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah. The progeny of the Pro-British Sikh aristocrats that went to England to receive education chose to scrupulously remain immune from the influence of powerful revolutionary movements of Russia or discontent in India. Hence the Sikh community could not be expected to bring forth Bar-at-Laws.

Historians have given their estimates about Master Tara Singh. They agree that it was due to his politics that the British had to partition Punjab, Bengal and Assam, which left a truncated Pakistan for Mohd Ali Jinnah. This was no mean achievement, particularly in the face of incessant efforts of Britishers at all levels to persuade the Sikh leaders collectively and severally to align with Pakistan.

The quote given by Mr Baldev Singh in his letter has been wrongly interpreted. By now much material has come to light, proving that Mohd Ali Jinnah was not prepared to concede anything to the Sikhs and Master Tara Singh refused to yield to any pressure of the British.

PRITHPAL SINGH KAPUR, Former Pro VC and Editor-in-Chief, Encyclopaedia of Sikhism (PU, Patiala), Ludhiana



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