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Setting the record straight

In view of the controversy raging in the media for some time about adverse comments on Indira Gandhi, Giani Zail Singh and Sanjay Gandhi in a volume of the Centenary history of the Indian National Congress, I would like to set the record straight.

In Punjab, elections to the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee were in the offing and I was the Advocate General Punjab and deeply involved in the political affairs of the state at Chandigarh and Delhi. Giani Zail Singh and a couple of other party men and myself were deliberating over the choice of a candidate for Beas constituency from where a prominent Akali Jathedar Jeevan Singh Umranangal was a candidate and he was also a sitting member. During discussions, a proposal cropped up that Bhai Amrik Singh nephew of Sant Bhindranwala would be the best option to oppose the Akali stalwart.

Sant Bhindranwala was, at that time, a small time religious preacher located at Chowk Mehta, a place situated in the constituency itself. Bhai Amrik Singh was himself the President of Sikh Students Federation and we thought he would be a strong candidate in his own right as well. No one in his wildest imagination could conjure that Sant Bhindranwala could one day be a “Frankenstin’s monster” of Sikh militancy. Unfortunately Bhai Amrik Singh lost. Even otherwise a time tested adage, in politics, is “a friend today is a foe tomorrow”.

Giani ji took the proposal to Sanjay Gandhi and he okayed it. There was no question of seeking approval of the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in such a small matter. It would, thus, be wholly uncharitable to say that, “it is inconceivable that they could have done so without Indira Gandhi’s consent.”

And those who have known Sanjay Gandhi will vouch safe that he was self reliant by nature and temperament and believed in doing things of his own. Turkeman Gate demolition was undertaken at his behest though later stopped on the intervention of Indira Gandhi.

JOGINDER SINGH WASU, Former Advocate General, Punjab

World-class faculty

The article “Striving for excellence or just surviving?” by Mohit Sharma (June 1) was thought-provoking. The remarks by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh about the faculty of such institutions are unjustified. The faculty in these prestigious institutions is successfully doing its job of producing world-class professionals by injecting much confidence and polishing analytical traits in students.

The world’s top universities have well-equipped laboratories and a highly competitive environment. They attract talent from all over the world. The IITs and IIMs have better faculty than any other state universities, but because of lack of facilities don’t attract world-class talent. So the need of the hour is to strengthen quality infrastructure for research in these prestigious institutions.

ANJU D ANAND, Chambaghat

Ramdev’s campaign

The campaign by Anna Hazare raised issues, not passions. It stuck to one central theme and stayed focused (editorial, “Pendulum swings”, June 6). It studiously avoided political overtones and was serious on its dialogue with the government, thus forcing the government to reciprocate in spirit. In contrast, Baba Ramdev’s campaign was the very antithesis of all this. In addition, it was given to vacillation but worse was not astute enough to avoid being used as a Trojan horse by political opportunists.

The UPA-II for all its serious failings over what is now a national malady did handle the Anna movement with the seriousness it deserved. With regard to Baba Ramdev it went to a point of appearing even submissive, but had the wisdom to carry on a dialogue as it had done earlier with the Lok Pal Bill proponents. It is easy to flex the government muscle; it had wrapped the Baba movement in a space of three hours ; but after it had given dialogue a fair chance. The Baba campaign was basically flawed in content and approach and hence stillborn.

Let us wish that we see a healthy delivery of the Draft Lok Pal Bill. It is a moot point, whether political parties now egging on movements as these, gather the courage to pass the Bill.

R NARAYANAN, Ghaziabad


Swami Ramdev is genuinely and sincerely trying very hard to improve the health of the people through yoga, pranayam and ayurveda, character through moral teachings of Indian ethics and values. He is also fighting a tough battle for bringing black money back to India and to uproot corruption. He has raised important issues concerning the common man. He is trying to channelise the 'aakrosh' of common man in a positive and peaceful way.

But the midnight shameless crackdown on sleeping , unarmed, starving, patriotic satyagrahis in Delhi has sent shockwaves across India. Is this the 'freedom' Nehru declared in his tryst with destiny speech?


Babudom’s hold

P Lal’s middle on the genesis of babudom “The babu and the bureaucrat” (May 25) was knowledgeable and interesting. The ubiquitous “babu” is undoubtedly the foundation stone of bureaucracy. But long before Max Weber’s prophecy, the bureaucracy had become well-established. It had developed its roots from ancient times when monarchies took shape in India and elsewhere in the world, though in different hues and shapes.

By the medieval times, bureaucracy had become indispensable for the rulers and oppressive and tyrannical to the common subjects, thus enforcing a loyalty for the throne. A typical tale is still recounted by the so-called descendants of a soldier of the Emperor Akbar’s army.

The soldier, after participating in a number of victorious wars, went to collect his one year’s salary in the capital. The “munshi” in charge of the record of the soldier’s “mansabdari” (a large unit of army of those times) demanded a hefty bribe before disbursing the salary, which the soldier refused arrogantly and declared to report the matter to the high-ups. The wily “munshi” made a false entry in the identification record of the said soldier to the effect that one frontal tooth from the soldier’s mouth was missing at the time of his recruitment in the royal army. Needless to say that no one could dispute the record and the soldier had to remove his frontal tooth to claim his one year’s salary, which was a big sum in those times.

L R SHARMA, Haripur, Sundernagar



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