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President as protector of Constitution

WHILE analysing the powers and functions of the President (Perspective, Aug 24), P.S. Ramamohan Rao should also have examined his powers vis-à-vis the Judiciary, particularly higher judiciary, which is intrinsically necessary in the present-day context when a majority of judges are behaving like unbridled stallions.

A comparative perusal shows that whereas a High Court or Supreme Court judge is sworn to “uphold the Constitution and the law”, the President is sworn to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law”. The affected people feel utterly helpless when apex court judges ignore, disobey or violate provisions of the Constitution.

In such cases of manifest failure of the judges to “uphold the Constitution” it becomes the duty of the President to effectively intervene in order to “Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution”.


Maharaja’s Moran

Manveen Sandhu has done justice to Moran (“Moran, the mystery woman” by Aruti Nayar, Spectrum, Aug 24) and made the public wiser regarding her social status and her role in the life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Very few knew that Maharaja had married her in 1802 and that Moran was a classical dancer and well versed in Arabic and Persian languages. People knew her as a kanjri, a term used to refer to dancing girls in those times.

Maharaja had once rode on an elephant in Lahore along with Moran and was reprimanded by the priests. As per Cunningham (History of the Sikhs), Moran had laid a wager that her name like Empress Nurjehan be imprinted on the rupees but she succeeded only partially in this because instead of her name her mark only in the shape of the tail of peacock (Mor) was imprinted on the currency.

According to Gulshan Lal Chopra, Ph.D, London (The Punjab as sovereign state) Maharaja sent Moran to Pathankot and consoled himself by being with another woman, Gul Begam.

Maj NARINDER SINGH JALLO (retd.), Mohali


Though I admire Manveen’s obsession with Moran, it is not easy to accept her version. In her book “Maharaja Ranjit Singh: Personalitas Extraordin-aire”, she has turned Moran’s tale topsy-turvy. A lot is already known about Moran and hence the term mystery is a misnomer.

In fact, Manveen has tried to reconstruct history as per her viewpoint. One wonders how the woman who brought disgrace to Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the Sikh community at large could be elevated to a respectful podium overnight. Factually speaking, Maharaja Ranjit Singh suffered from two setbacks — one eye and his relationship with Moran.

Surely, prior to arriving at any decision, more discussion and debate on the issue is called for and of course, endorsement by historians of eminence. Till then an “aam aadmi” like me would take it not as a piece of history but as ‘her story’.

I am glad Manveen made Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal witness the play ‘Moran Sarkar’ else she ran the risk of being declared a ‘tankhahiya’.

K.J.S. AHLUWALIA, Amritsar

Nothing unnatural

Aditi Tandon’s “Anti-gay law: will it go?” (Saturday Extra, Aug 23) was thought provoking and timely. At a time when a large number of countries all over the world have legalised gay rights, it is time for India to do the same and scrap the anti-gay law. There is nothing unnatural about this sexual orientation. But, India seems to be untouched though literature drawn from Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and modern writings testify to the presence of same-sex unions.

Even ancient books like Manusmriti, Kamasutra, Upanishads and the puranas make references to homosexuality. Relationships are defined by comfort levels and not by societal sanctions. Also, laws are meant to protect and expand rights, not restrict them. The anti-gay law must be done away with. What is needed is a new mindset.


The origin of OK

Khushwant Singh (Saturday Extra: Aug 30) has traced the ‘Origin of OK’ to the language used by Choctaw, a tribe of North American Red Indians, now in Oklahoma. He has also quoted the ‘Boston Morning Post’, which explained that the term ‘OK’ at that time meant ‘All Korrect’.

However, Wilford Funk in ‘Word Origins and Their Romantic Stories’ says that this colloquial term became an international expression since then. Henry Mencken (1880-1956), philologist, editor and satirist, born in Baltimore (Maryland, US) maintains that it is the “most shining and successful Americanism ever invented”. Its derivation has been subject of hilarious speculation for over a century. But these fanciful guesses, according to Mencken, came to a dramatic end in 1941, with an article by Allen Walker Read in the Saturday Review of Literature, when he described how this expression began in 1840 with the OK Club which supported Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), born in New York, for a second term in the White House. Martin Van Buren became the eighth President of America (1837-41).

He was a founder member of the Democratic Party. His measures of introducing a treasury independent of private banks led to his defeat at the hands of William Henry Harrison (1773-1841), who became the 19th President of the US. However, Harrison died of pneumonia a month after taking over. He was succeeded by John Tyler (1790-1862) as the 10th President of America.

Coming back to Buren, during the stormy battles of the seventh American President, Andrew Jackson’s (1767-1845) period, which were called “Jacksonian Demo-cracy”, Buren was nicknamed as the Red Fox of Kinderhook, his birth place, which led to the term ‘Old Kinderhook’ or OK Club, and the expression, over the period shortened to their watchword ‘OK’.

As for ‘PS’, it is an abbreviation of the Latin word ‘Postscriptum’. It stands for a sentence, a note or a paragraph added at the end of a letter, after signatures. The term ‘R.S.V.P.’ is an acronym of the French words ‘respondez s’il vous plait, which in English means ‘Please reply’.




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