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Marching towards secularism

I read the article on the problems faced by Shabana Azmi in getting a house in Mumbai (Spectrum, September 14). Shiv Kumar has convincingly analysed the structure of our society by citing the example of Mumbai. Yes, we have been living in self-designed water-tight compartments for centuries not only on the basis of religion but also on caste and sub-caste.

This is the situation not only in big or small towns but also in villages. Perhaps such groupings give a certain sense of security.Things are not different even in the Muslim society. Muslims have their own traditions and prejudices. In Pakistan, agriculturists, traders and the working classes of all hues have their own traditions depending upon their respective economic conditions. There are also various other social and religious taboos in different areas.

Considering the traditional system, Shabana Azmi’s regrets are only partly justified. On the other hand, the language of protest of the activists of the BJP and other Hindu outfits is too harsh, unworthy and parochial. We Indians should be proud of the fact that the long-established taboos are being cast away and, surely, we are marching towards secularism, though slowly.


Facts on Kosi pact

There were some errors in Man Mohan’s write-up on Nepal (Perspective, September 7). The Kosi Agreement (not treaty) was signed on April 25, 1954 by Gulzarilal Nanda on behalf of India and Mahabir Shumshere on behalf of Nepal. The agreement document does not state the designations of the two signatories.

At that time, Matrika Prasad Koirala, the estranged elder half-brother of Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala (known universally as BP), was the Prime Minister, a nominated one. BP had become the first democratically elected Prime Minister and had taken office on May 27, 1959, five years after the Kosi agreement was signed.

Secondly, the 1954 Agreement is no longer in vogue. It was superseded by another agreement signed on December 19, 1966 at Kathmandu. Shriman Narayan, the then Ambassador of India to Nepal and Dr Y.P. Pant, Secretary, Ministry of Economic, Planning and Finance and His Majesty’s Government of Nepal (now only Government of Nepal) were the signatories.

The main aspect of the December 1966 Agreement was insertion of a clause which provides that the area of work for the Hanuman Nagar barrage and other structures, such as embankments, would be given to India on a lease of 199 years on a nominal charge. This was done to emphasise the fact that the land did not belong to India but to Nepal, the sovereignty of which was not impaired by the lease agreement. The 1954 Agreement did not contain this provision.


A perversion

Saurabh Bambha’s thoughts on homosexuality in the context of Aditi Tandon’s article (Sat Extra, August 23) are not harmonious with the Indian culture. To be gay means inviting social ostracism. One becomes a butt of ridicule and sneers and will remain so even if it is legally permitted.

In the context of Indian ethos and ethics, it finally results in shame, guilt and complexes not only for the person concerned but for the other members of the family also.

Can physical partnership of homos produce a child in whom we become immortal, in whom our future lies, in whom our culture and heritage is enshrined?

Depravity and perversity have always been present in society. No doubt, there were gays in ancient times too, as mentioned by Mr Bambha. But it is to be verified whether they got the approval of the law, religion and society.

The Indian religious traditions and moral standards that have been handed down from one generation to the other do not, even obliquely, sanction gay activities. Homosexuality is unwholesome, unnatural and undignified. n

C.L. ARORA, Ferozepore City

On Tipu’s trail

“On Tipu’s trail” (Spectrum, September 7) was very interesting. History shows that Srirangapatna, originally spelt as Seringapatnam, was the capital of Mysore kingdom since 1610. The tiger of Mysore ruled and fought three valiant wars against the British. Hyder Ali, the father of Tipu Sultan, never proclaimed himself as the king of Mysore. However, he kept the Wodeyars — his original masters — as nominal kings during his entire reign from 1765 to 1783. Further, he allegedly killed two of the Wodeyar kings when they came of age and even installed one when no natural heir existed. He was just sarvadhikari (having all rights) of Mysore. Tipu, however, was more adventurous and never bothered about this and instead destroyed and looted the palaces of Wodeyars and castigated the surviving members of the royal house to a virtual jail in a miserable hovel from where the British rescued them in 1799. Moreover, he destroyed even the old palace and fort at Mysore and shifted the populace to Shara Gajam and tried to build a new town near Mysore known as Nazrabad.

On May 4, 1799, Tipu was very much inside the fort throughout the day. However, on the advice of astrologers (who had proclaimed it to be a fateful day), he didn’t join the war actively and was just idling his time when the news about the breach in the fort reached him. And as advised he looked at his reflection in an oil vessel and went out on his horse, but it was too late. He fell down and was later found among a heap of dead bodies not far from his palace. Dariya Daulat Bagh, the summer palace of Tipu, built in 1784, the walls of which have been completely covered with beautiful paintings (most of which depict scenes from the wars fought by Tipu) and sculptures made with a teak wood in Indo-Saracen style, has already been converted into a museum. After Tipu’s death most of his valuable possessions were plundered and sold off by the British.


Angels of love

M L. Dhawan (“Affairs to Remember”. Spectrum, September 7) delves on many triangular love affairs in films, including the all-time greats, like Andaaz, Sangam and Arth. The ‘two against one’ character has formed the basis of many a film, stories and novels. It vividly brings out the fine human emotions of love, sacrifice as well as vendetta at times.

In Gemini’s Insaniyat (1953), Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand loved the same girl, Bina Rai. Dilip Kumar passionately loves his childhood mate but silently walks away from her life as a heart-broken man when he comes to know that she loves Dev.

Mehboob’s Deedar (1954) had Dilip Kumar as a childhood friend of Nargis who meets her years later as a blind singer when Nargis is in love with Ashok Kumar. The ‘tragedy king’ superbly depicted the tragedy of a rich person (Nargis) forgetting her childhood love (Dilip).

In Anmol Ghadi (1946) Noorjahan and Suraiya are in love with the same man, Surender. The story of this love triangle was greatly enriched by Naushad’s musical score. B.R. Chopra’s classic Naya Daur (1957) basically portrayed the conflict between man and machine but had a triangular love angle in great friends Dilip Kumar and Ajit turning foes because of their love for the same girl, Vyjayanthimala.

There were movies like Gumraah (1963) and Hum Dono (1961) where the triangle had a different angle. In Gumraah, the hero Sunil Dutt comes back in the life of Mala Sinha after she had married Ashok Kumar. In the same way, Dev Anand, in his double role as Major Verma and Captain Anand meets Nanda as wife of Major Verma after returning from war where Verma is declared missing and goes through many situational confrontations.

In the same genre was Dil Ek Mandir (1963) with Rajendra Kumar, Raj Kumar and Meena Kumari in which Rajendra Kumar gave a stellar performance as a doctor torn between his ex-love and his duty as a doctor treating her ailing husband.

There were some more such films like Bewafa (1953) with Ashok Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Nargis and Safar (1970) with Rajesh Khanna, Feroz Khan and Sharmila Tagore dealing with the emotional issue of love involving three persons.

Brig H.S. SANDHU (retd), Panchkula



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