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First step to austerity

I agree with Khushwant Singh’s view in “Freeloaders all” (Saturday Extra, Sept 19). On the occasion of birthdays and death anniversaries of our “esteemed” leaders, each ministry vies with the other to show its allegiance and loyalty to Sonia Gandhi through full-page ads. Rahul Gandhi is the latest in the series, inspiring elderly statesmen.

Even the cash-strapped and debt-ridden Punjab Government also makes exaggerated claims of achievements in all fields — agriculture, industry, health and education. They keep on draining the exchequer through wasteful expenditure on ads, tours, opening ceremonies etc.

Add to all this, the cost of the cavalcades accompanying them wherever they go and one ceases to be surprised over the increasing debt burden on the state.

D.K. AGGARWALA, Hoshiarpur


True, politicians have no right to waste crores of public money on advertisements in the print media praising their performance and highlighting their achievements, most of which have no concrete basis. It is a criminal waste of public funds, which should be stopped with the help of legislation. This is the right time to do it with the trio of honest politicians — Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukerjee and P. Chidambaram — steering the nation in the right direction.

Self-praise by politicians is, no doubt, an act of vulgarity. They should leave it to the people to praise them for their work. Self-praise is no recommendation.

Major S. S KHOSLA (retd), Ludhiana

Outstanding Sahir

Sahir, no doubt, was a great poet (Spectrum, Sept 20). He came from a Gujjar Muslim family. His father married 11 women and Sahir (Abdul Hay) was the only male child of his parents. His mother did not like the lifestyle of her profligate husband; she shifted with six-month-old Hay to her brother’s house and never returned. While browsing through Iqbal’s verse: Is chaman mein honge haida bulbul-e-shiraaz bhi/Sainkron sahir bhie honge sahib-e-ejaaz bhi. He assumed “Sahir’ as his pen name.

The first edition of Talkhiyaan (collection of his verses) was published when he was a college student. He was in Mumbai during the 1947 riots. Pained by what happened then, he recited his famous poem Aaj on AIR. His mother migrated from Ludhiana to Lahore. He went there to fetch her. Seeing the plight of refugees there, he cried: Chalo voh kufr ke ghar se salaamat aa gaye lekin/khuda ki mamulkat mein sokhta-jaanon pe kya guzri.

An American litterateur, Karlo Kopola selected the verses of five poets from India and Pakistan for his doctoral thesis. Sahir was one of them. Even in his film songs, he observed the prosodic rules to maintain their metrical structure. n


Brave sons of India

"Brave soldiers of India” (Spectrum, Sept 13) has portrayed a true picture of the bravery of Indian soldiers. Over 1.4 million Indian soldiers fought for the British in World War I. Of these, 47,000 were killed and another 65,000 were wounded. In this war, Indian soldiers became known the world over for their valour and won 12 Victoria Crosses.

The first Victoria Cross was awarded on October 31, 1914, at Hollebeke in Belgium to an infantryman Sepoy Khudadad Khan of Battalion I, 129th Duke of Cannaught’s own Baluchis. Thus, of the 17 Victoria Crosses awarded during World War I, 12 went to the Indian soldiers. Only one of these, Rifleman Gobar Singh Negi of Battalion II, 39th Garhwal Rifles was awarded posthumously, other VC holders had fought on to inspire their fellow soldiers. At the end of the war, 2/3 Gorkha Rifles had two living VCs in the unit.

The Britishers were very tactful, tough and tenacious. They had not considered the Indian soldiers entitled for the Victoria Cross. The “Order of Merit” instituted in 1837 was the highest gallantry award for the Indian soldiers. It was only in 1911 that Indian soldiers became entitled to receive the VC.

The courage of millions of soldiers from the Indian sub-continent, Africa and the Caribbean, who fought and died for the British in the two world wars, has been recognised now with the erection of memorial gates adjacent to the Buckingham Palace. Leading industrialists Gopichand Hinduja, Lakshmi Mittal and Avtar Lit were among influential Asians in Britain who were the driving force behind the setting up of these memorials.

Our politicians have no time for our martyrs. On Kargil Day many leaders had no time to grace the functions held to mark the occasion.




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