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Adoption of Chief of Defence Staff system

In the article “Need for Chief of Defence Staff” (May 28), P R Chari, has said that the thinking in the services that the bureaucracy has perpetuated the present system to keep them divided and unable to jointly represent the armed forces is an exaggeration. He blames the three services for non-adoption of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) system in India because of rivalry among them. This is not correct.

Though adoption of CDS system is an old issue, but we never came so close to having a CDS as we did after the Kargil war. When the Group of Ministers recommended the creation of a CDS in 2001, there was some controversy between the three services as each service staked a claim on this appointment. But when all the hurdles were cleared in 2002, the political hierarchy wanted consensus of all the political parties on this issue, which has not been achieved till today.

India is not likely to have a CDS because the bureaucrats feel that if the defence forces are integrated under one head; they will become stronger, resulting in bureaucrats losing some of their powers. The politicians, on the other hand, suffer from an inherent phobia that a strong Army will not augur well for them.

Col PRITAM BHULLAR (retd), Chandigarh

Get facts right

The views of the writer in the fifth volume of the series “A Centenary History of the Indian National Congress” are based on surmises only ( news report, “Book blames Zail Singh, Sanjay for Punjab turmoil in 80s”, June 1). The genesis of turbulence in Punjab lay in the incident of Baisakhi day in April 1978 in Amritsar when an armed clash took place between Baba Gurbachan Singh and his followers of Nirankari Mission and some anti-Nirankari Sikhs. At that time Prakash Singh Badal was the Chief Minister of Punjab and Morarji Desai was the Prime Minister of India. Neither of them was behind this incident. The Congress was not in power— either in Punjab or at the Centre. Sanjay Gandhi died in early 1980 (in June, 1980) and did not play any part in the “dirty politics” in Punjab.

In 1980 Darbara Singh became the Chief Minister of Punjab and Giani Zail Singh was the Home Minister of India at that time. Both of them did not see eye to eye on many things relating to politics in Punjab. Darbara Singh and Giani Zail Singh did not play any communal card in Punjab politics.

It is a misconception which has been there in the air for so long that Giani Zail Singh had propped up Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Giani Zail Singh, though, did take some measures to soothe sentiments of Sikhs as a whole such as bringing back arms of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and naming roads and cities after the historical Sikh personalities so as to weaken the religious agenda of the Akalis. But these measures cannot be said to have contributed to the origin and rise of terrorism in Punjab.

Terrorism in Punjab showed itself when in 1982 some Hindus were pulled out from a bus and killed and Lala Jagat Narain of the ‘Punjab Kesari’ newspaper was killed.

Any writer should check facts before putting them in black and white  as history.


Red Cross funds

The editorial, “Open loot: Unending misuse of Red Cross funds” (June 3) presented a shocking account of how the officials of the state governments of Punjab and Haryana have been looting the funds of the District Red Cross Societies meant for the “relief of the sick or suffering and distress caused by the operations of war in India or any other country!”

It is really shameful that the Red Cross funds are being blatantly misused for satisfying the personal needs of the officers and juniors in the Deputy Commissioners’ office since 2005 without any fear of the law and despite audit objections. More shameful is that Rs 2.86 crores have since been “filtered” on celebrating “important day”, buying computers and air conditioners and on refreshments for the family of a judge, maintenance of office buildings, purchase of gifts, furniture, mobile phones, telephones bills, purchase and repair of vehicles for the DCs and SDOs.

All such expenditure can be made from the DCs own funds. Most of the Red Cross money has been spent on items for personal use.

This shows that the poor and needy have been deprived of the money and help meant for them. A thorough enquiry should be held and the exact amount misused by the culprit officials should be recovered from them with interest and they be also punished appropriately. Adverse entries should also be made in their Annual Confidential Records (ACRs). In fact, such officers and juniors must be removed from services on charges of embezzlement of government funds. These culprits should have no place in government services anywhere in the country. The government should take immediate action to punish them.

R K KAPOOR, Chandigarh

Naipaul’s outburst

The Royal Geographic Society must be biting its collective tongue for having invited controversy’s “child”, VS Naipaul, to launch into his misogynist diatribe. He should have heeded the advice of George Eliot to abstain from giving wordy evidence of his hollowness; his misogyny and, by now, well established decline into senility.

People who have read Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, George Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Iris Murdoch, Anais Nin, Amrita Pritam, Anita Desai, George Sand, Anne Frank, Jhumpa Lahiri, Martha Wells and Margaret Mitchell with fascination, passion and understanding would wish that the tiresome Sir Vidia’s attention-seeking biases would somehow be gone with the wind. If ace historian Romilla Thapar, noted for her depth of knowledge, ever record the history of Indian origin writers, she would be expected to put Naipaul into the context as a gifted writer whose insecurities forced him to be perpetually “breaking news”; using sarcasm and insensitivity to remain in the spotlight.

Like Taslima Nasrin, all those who love good writing must be dying of “lajja”; deathless shame for having to cope with such biased, sexist thinking as that of this once relevant but sadly declining writer.

Maj-Gen RAJ MEHTA (retd), Shimla



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