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Noble deeds make one immortal

In “Ideas of a good life” (Saturday Extra, July 5), Khushwant Singh has dwelt upon various ways adopted by people to be remembered after their death. He has, however, dealt with the rich only — building of castle mausoleums, hospitals, institutions, inns etc.

Ordinary men, who don’t have the necessary wherewithal to undertake such constructions, devise novel plans in an attempt to perpetuate their name — the commonest being writing their names on buildings and rocks for passers-by to read. One such person had inscribed his name on the pavement before the concrete had dried. Not a good idea though, as it got trampled day in and out. But one should never forget that it is only noble deeds that make one immortal.

D.K. AGGARWALA, Hoshiarpur




While giving his ideas of a good life, the writer has expressed contradictory views. On the one hand, he has denounced the popular concept of wine, women and song and, on the other, he advocates the indulgence of the five senses to their fullest extent. Indian culture does not propagate the philosophy of “eat, drink and be merry”.

The ultimate goal of life, a priceless gift of the Almighty, is not satiation of ‘self’ but to alleviate the sufferings of others. Tulsidas in Ramcharit Manas has exhorted: Parhit saris dharma nahin bhai, parpeeda some nahin adhmai.


Protocol lapse

I read Amita Malik’s piece, “The media did Sam proud” (July 5). The Centre, the Tamil Nadu government and the three Service Chiefs, certainly, did not cover themselves with glory by absenting themselves from the late Field Marshal’s funeral.

The placing of the condolence book at New Delhi’s India Gate is an afterthought brought about by public disapproval of this ungrateful act. It appears that an off-the-cuff remark by Sam after the 1971 war against Pakistan continues to rankle the establishment even after three decades of the event. This insult to the memory of the departed war hero was avoidable and, as pointed by the writer, it is only the print and electronic media that helped people to pay their homage to the veteran soldier.

Dr M.K. BAJAJ, Zirakpur

Gill, Aurora real architects of Bangladesh victory

As a member of the Army Headquarters’ Military Operations Directorate tasked directly for the conduct of Eastern Command’s Bangladesh war, some clarifications on Khushwant Singh’s column (July 19) are in order.

The writer says, “the Indian Army was deep inside East Pakistan before President Yahya Khan was forced to declare war against India”. This is incorrect.

The Indian Army or IA (as opposed to the Mukti Bahini) entered East Bengal only after the Pakistani aerial bombing on the Western Front at Amritsar, not any time before that. The IA was poised operationally ringing East Bengal from all sides including bridging to cross water obstacles and a certain airlift capability before it was ordered to move in.

And yes, we hardly got any help from and were none too happy with the performance of the Mukti Bahini in most sectors they were operating in. Once the war had been joined, the Mukti Bahini had hardly any role to play.

The statement that the “logistics were against Pakistan” is only true in respect of any assistance from the Pakistani mainland. Actually, in this short war, the IA had to cut its logistic tail to make up for more boots on the ground and all the natural obstacles that confronted us.

General Yahya grossly misjudged Gen Niazi’s generalship. Quite frankly, we ourselves expected greater resistance to some of our outflanking moves that finally clinched the race for Dacca (which incidentally was not in our initial plans and came as a gift which we readily accepted). Again, it was deliberate planning on our part to avoid cities or their capture that obviated mopping up casualties and provided added impetus for the link up.

The writer is right that we repatriated the POWs to India as we feared reprisals and since logistically it was a problem holding so many of them in the enemy territory. Finally, though Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw got all the credit, some of us who were right there do know that the nation should have better recognised Lt-Gen I.S. Gill, the DGMO, who so often clashed with Sam in the Operations Room and stood up to Indira Gandhi and Jagjivan Ram in not prematurely launching the operations, and General Aurora, who engineered one of the greatest military victories in modern times.

Lt-Gen Gill, an MC from WW2, incidentally like Khushwant Singh who loved his Scotch, was as tough as they get, could suffer no fools and lost out to the politicians to become an Army Chief because of his outspokenness. It is his contribution and not that of any other General or Chief of Staff who claim ownership of the victory today that needs a mention and one, after due research, hopes Khushwant Singh will write about.

Had we gone in to East Bengal earlier during the rains as our politicians wanted, we would have suffered a terrible blow as we did in 1962 and the Indian Army would have been blamed for it.

Maj-Gen HIMMAT SINGH GILL (retd), Chandigarh


Vinod’s music

My article, “Vinod never got his due” (Spectrum, June 15) did create a lot of interest in America and India. Yes, I agree music director Pandit Amarnath might have died in February of 1947 and not in 1945.

His music for the film, Mirza Sahiban was composed in 1945 and the songs were released in 1946. His younger brothers, Husan Lal and Bhagat Ram, re-recorded some of its songs in 1946, obviously, because he was too sick and unable to work. Vinod composed the music for three of his films in Lahore in 1946.


Admiral Nelson

I have read with keen interest Lt-Gen Baljit Singh’s piece, “Emperor’s dream” (Spectrum, July 6). This article has added to my knowledge on Napolean in Egypt: The greatest glory. Having stated this, I shall confine myself to the crushing defeat of the French Naval fleet at the hands of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson.

The French Admirals hated Admiral Nelson so much that they preferred to sink his ship even if it meant facing defeat. A plan was drawn to recognise him and his movements on board the British Naval flagship. He often walked on the quarterdeck of his ship and the Captain of the flagship advised him to keep his movements restricted only to the Bridge (a place from where the ships are controlled and commanded).

In spite of this, Nelson continued his movements on the quarterdeck. At this stage, the naval fleet under his command had surrounded the French fleet. But the plan to kill Nelson was the priority for the French Navy.

The Captain of the French Navy maneuvered his ship close to Nelson’s flagship. As he was walking on the quarterdeck to see the state of guns and his crew, the French ship fired a gun shot at him injuring him seriously. When the Captain of his ship rushed to him, he asked him how many French ships had surrendered? “18 ships Sir,” replied the Captain. Nelson looked at the Captain with wishful eyes and wanted to turn his head but could not. His last words were, “God and my country”. This is mentioned in the Battles At Sea.

Admiral Nelson was born in 1758 and died in this sea battle in 1805 and still remains one of greatest Admirals of the British Navy and is adored by everyone. As he died on quarterdeck, the tradition of saluting by every member of the warship when entering the quarterdeck still prevails in the British Navy. Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) is said to have bequeathed this celebrated epigram to the world: “Men must be led by an iron hand in a velvet glove”.

Lastly, I appreciate the writer for having highlighted such a famous and historical part of the battle at sea as well as the role of Napolean as the ruler of France.




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