L E T T E R S    T O    T H E    E D I T O R

Army has a self-correcting mechanism

It is with utter shame that we watch senior officers being found guilty and being sentenced to rigorous imprisonment (editorial, “Jail for a Lt-General”, Feb 21). Section 63 of the Army Act of 1950 covers “an act prejudicial to good order and military discipline.” Any misdemeanour (insolence, insubordination, stealing the affections of a brother officer’s wife, being drunk or not being at an appointed place at the correct time, etc) can be charged under it. In fact, Section 63 was the most used rule to discipline officers. With all around economic progress in the country, more and more cases of corruption are surfacing and more serious charges are being pressed.

However, I am satisfied that in most cases the services themselves throw up such cases and deal with them, unlike our colleagues in the civil services and our political masters, who know what is wrong with their colleagues but seldom make out a case against them. Even if they are found out, the CBI has to obtain permission from the government to start investigations which their colleagues take ages to give, so that the culprit can cover his tracks at leisure. In fact, if somebody blows the whistle, they go after him.

How is it then that the country and the media that goes into a frenzy if a couple of officers cross the line? Has a politician or any bureaucrat ever been brought to book with such alacrity and severity? The punishment given to Lt-Gen Sahni will ensure that for at least 10 years senior officers will think twice before they try something similar. Unlike the civil servants, the Army will continue to take decisions promptly, and not seek protection like the joint secretary level officers do. The self-cleansing process in the services will ensure that they stay a notch above their civilian counterparts as far as honesty is concerned.

The Defence Services are still proud of their distinctive character, culture and élan and will continue to perform well both in battle and in peacetime. But do not expect them to be superhuman. You want them to shoulder all the responsibilities due to the failure of the state but want them walk the straight and narrow line.

Lt-Gen SK BAHRI (retd), Gurgaon

Macho Punjabis

The news report “Drugs dent macho image of Punjabi men” (Feb 22) depicted the reality in an accurate way. It is a shame that the youth who were once called ‘gabrus of punjab’ have been led astray. Gone are the days when only one Punjabi was enough to send shiver down the spines of others.

ANKITA SHARMA, Talwara, Hoshiarpur

Budget session

I fully appreciate the views expressed in the editorial “Advani’s gesture to Sonia” (Feb 21). Now that the government has agreed to form the JPC there is likely to be greater cooperation between the government and the Opposition. Let us hope that the Budget session of Parliament is peaceful and productive.

Dr AMAR JIT SINGH GORAYA,  Griffith NSW Australia

Corrupt services

P R Chari’s article “Corruption in civil services?” (Feb 22), reflects how civil services have become corrupt. The main task of civil servants is to provide beneficial services to society and help the government in decision- making. But in reality many bureaucrats are more interested in making money and enjoying the perks and privileges of their jobs.


Political compulsions

We don’t understand the wisdom, prudence and thoughtfulness of the Prime Minister to order the JPC probe now (news report, “2G scam: PM announces JPC probe”, Feb 23). If this was to be agreed now then why precious money, time and efforts of the nation were wasted by ignoring the Opposition’s demand and wasting the entire winter session of Parliament?

The country cannot afford bad governance, non-performing, non-accountable and unsustainable political system. Have our politicians in general and parliamentarians in particular ever thought and realised that what are the aspirations, compulsions and needs of the people? Why these politicians are only concerned about their compulsions? People cannot be fooled in the name of democracy.



Ultimately, with the announcement by the Prime Minister to constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to   probe into the 2G-spectrum allocation scam a bitter chapter in the Indian parliamentary history has come to an end. If the government had done this in the winter session itself, or the Opposition had agreed to it, then precious time, public money, energy and resources would not have been wasted.

Besides, this has certainly undermined the spirit of democracy and Parliament has been weakened by the stand-off of the last winter session. The ruling party as well as the Opposition overlooked this important aspect while stubbornly sticking to their respective stands. It reflected the general sense of drift that seems to have gripped this government.

S K KHOSLA, Chandigarh

Cricket fever

People are crazy about cricket, more so during the World Cup (editorial, “Spirit of Cricket”, Feb 19). Cricket is one subject that captures the imagination of the nation and is discussed by one and all. The media too plays it up and builds up the cricket frenzy.


Take a cue 

The two middles on corruption, by Ram Varma (Feb 22) and another by Harwant Singh (Feb 23) are not only apt, but also reflect the character of the writers. Ram Varma who retired as Chief Secretary, Haryana, is a well-known intellectual, a writer and an honest person. 

Lt-Gen Harwant Singh was a Brigade Commander in Babina when I was posted on the Staff of the Armoured Division at Jhansi. As in the early eighties, there was hardly anything available at Babina; families had to perforce use the government transport. Being a commander’s wife, Mrs Singh too had to fulfil her social obligations and she would travel by a staff car on payment.

In the Army, the system itself has been created in the form of Regimental Cutting which is paid by all officers, JCOs and jawans, on a pro-rata basis every month, compensate for small privileges that officers enjoy in the form of various services such as barber, washerman, etc.

My son who is now a serving officer often pays some amount to his company fund for an odd cup of tea and pakoras that he enjoys with his boys during training. How sincerely one wishes that other organs of our society too would follow suit and pay for extraneous services.

Col MAHESH CHADHA, Panchkula 



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