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Pay our pilots more to attract talent

The article “IAF: Man and machine mismatch”   (Spectrum, Sept 7) by Ajay Banerjee was a thought-provoking piece. Indeed, it is a matter of grave concern that the Indian Air Force is facing a shortage of 600 pilots and that it will take five years to fill this gap.

This situation can be tackled very easily if the IAF increases emoluments and other perks a la private companies. The IAF offers a maximum salary of Rs 40,000 per month, whereas other private airlines are paying in lakhs. This is the main reason why our young and talented pilots are running to private airlines rather than serving the nation. Our Defence Ministry should work on it.



Man-machine mismatch occurs when the machine is more sophisticated than the man who mans it or vice versa. The IAF has no such mismatch. The article makes no mention of any mismatch and talks only of the shortage of pilots.

Wg-Cdr C.L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar

Football glory

Jotirmay Thapliyal’s write up (Saturday Extra, Sept 6) about the Brazilian boost for the revival of the football glory of Dehra Dun was heartening as I have been a witness to that glorious period of football in Dehra Dun.

I want to add two more names to the list of ‘Bahadurs’ of that golden era. They are Puran Bahadur and Dhan Bahadur. These players played for East Bengal and Mohan Bagan teams.

During the World War II period, some foreign teams also played in popular tournaments in Doon which used to commence from June and end by October-end. Regimental teams also used to take part in these four or five tournaments, besides such known teams as Delhi Heroes and Ambala Heroes.

Mahant Lakshan Das Football Tournament was very popular. During that period, even the DAV College gave some good players to the district team. A mention of Bhupander Rawat’s name for his distinctive achievement during the 1966 Durand Cup is inspiring.


A Maharaja who was not

The life of the last Sikh ruler of Punjab Maharaja Dalip Singh was full of trials and tribulations (“Tragic tale of Dalip Singh”. Saturday Extra, Aug 16). It was as if an evil star presided over his destiny. The British Government in India and England treated him most unjustly. He was about 10 years old when he was deprived of his sovereign state and made a throneless pensioner. His marriage with the daughter of Chatar Singh Atariwala was not allowed to take place.

Lord Dalhousie brazenly remarked that he did not approve of any relation between him and his co-religionists “either by alliance with a Sikh family, or sympathising with Sikh feelings”. He was more interested in his conversion to Christianity and when Dalip Singh resolved to revert to Sikhism, Queen Victoria tried to dissuade him from doing so.

On his way to India, he along with his wife and children was detained at Aden on April 21, 1886. The Tribune (May 1, 1886) said: “To treat the recent letters of Maharaja as a political manifesto is to put a bad and unjustifiable construction on the motives of the Maharaja and raise a hurricane in a tea kettle”. Despite limited income he was very generous. His wife and children lived in penury in England and he lived on the sale proceeds of his jewels in Russia.

Overwhelmed with misery and shame, he became paralytic and died in Paris on October 22, 1893. Poet Ghalib’s verse Mujh ko diyaar-e-gair mein maara vatan se door/ Rakh li mere khuda ne meri bekasi kee sharam, fitted his tragic end.

The Tribune (October 25, 1893) said, inter alia. “As we are going to the press we heard the sorrowful news of the death of Maharaja Dalip Singh.... there was no one with him to close his eyes... There are many old men living who remember the festivities that took place in Lahore, nay, throughout the Khalsa Empire in 1838, when Dalip was born. The ‘Lion of the North’ was then in the zenith of fame and power and he celebrated the occasion in a befitting manner.

When the Sircar sat, surrounded by his warriors and nobles, in the Hazoori Bagh
Baradari, when the court bards were chanting appropriate shabads, guns were
booming, bands playing, the ladies in the Palace were joyously singing wadhai,
and the Royal Naobat filled the capital city with glad strains, could anyone have
predicted the dark and mournful end of the new-born prince. Wherever he was,
in whatever conditions he was, there was no diminution in his passionate love
for his motherland.”


Partition tales

There are already a large number of books on the Partition of India (“Anguish of divided people” by Kanwalpreet Kaur, Spectrum, Sept 7). Moreover, as the event took place only 60 years ago, its details are etched in the minds of several people of that era who have narrated them to their children. Hence the account of Vazira Fazila -yacoobali is unnecessary. All the events that happened before and after the Partition are an open book.

It intrigues one that the reviewer calls the rewriting of the history as “delving into” it. The reviewer betrays her ignorance when she maligns “then Deputy Commissioner of Delhi” (the late M.S. Randhawa). Randhawa was a multi-faceted conscientious officer who saved the Capital of India at great personal risk and ingenuity.


Inevitable end

True, death is inevitable (Khushwant Singh’s write-up, “We all want a painless death”, Saturday Extra, Aug 30) and it will come when it will. But when will it come? It keeps no calendar and how it will come, remains shrouded in mystery.

One is remembered only by one’s deeds after one’s death. So one shouldn’t be scared of death, rather one should concentrate on doing good, noble, dignified, notable, exalted and heroic deeds. But people at large do not want to die. William Shakespeare has rightly said in Julius Caesar: “Cowards die many times before their deaths,/ The valiant never taste of death but once”.

Death is a great leveler, it lays its icy hands on rich and poor, kings and beggars alike. It is beyond human capacity to decide how it should come — painlessly or painfully. However, it is better to die than to remain bed-ridden interminably and waiting for the end.


On Tipu’s trail

On Tipu’s trail” (Spectrum, Sept 7) was interesting. Srirangapatnam was the capital of Mysore kingdom since 1610. The Tiger of Mysore ruled and fought three valiant wars against the British. He destroyed and looted the palaces of Wodeyars and castigated the surviving members to a virtual jail in a miserable hovel from where the British rescued them in 1799.

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.

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 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 been converted into a museum. After Tipu’s death, most of his valuable possessions were plundered and sold off by the British.




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