Letters to the editor
Apropos of ‘Forward March’ (‘Spectrum’), although the Supreme Court’s decision to ask the Government of India to allow female candidates to appear for the National Defence Academy entrance examination is a welcome one, gender-based discrimination is likely to persist unless the court directs the government to make sure that the physical standards for selection are the same for both male and female candidates. The physical standards for selection to the institutions such as the Officers Training Academy, Chennai, are different for male and female candidates, with the standards for female candidates being much lower. Since the nature of the job is supposed to be the same for both aspirants for the Indian armed forces, the physical standards for selection should also be exactly the same.
Gursharan Singh Sidhu, by mail
Criterion for choosing CM
The Punjab Congress Legislature Party elected Charanjit Channi, a Dalit, as the next CM. No Constitution in the world allows any nation or state to choose a minister on the basis of caste, religion, colour, language, region or any other discrimination. In India, experience, education qualification, career history, social values or personal wisdom are blatantly ignored. The parties in power or in opposition are establishing a wrong tradition or encouraging wrong trends. Only education can exonerate society from the disease of electing or choosing an incompetent person on such said basis.
DILWAR ALI MEERAK, TOHANA
Ahead of the 2022 elections, the Congress has tried to give a new lease of life to its Punjab unit by replacing Capt Amarinder Singh with Dalit leader Charanjit Channi. On the one hand, it has underlined the supremacy of the high command, and on the other, it would be nullifying the strategy of opposition parties SAD and AAP to woo 32% SC/ST population in the state by announcing the Deputy CM’s chair for a Dalit, if voted to power. At the outset, it seems to be a bold decision to curb dissidence, but its political ramifications due to strong resistance against the disgraceful exit of the powerful CM will remain to be seen.
NJ Singh Chatrath, by mail
The Congress’ critical situation in Punjab, and before that in Rajasthan, is making it tough to rely on its promises, both at the national level and at the state-UT level. A party that is literally imploding from within, how can it handle a state or perhaps even the nation?
Varun Malik, Chandigarh
The Congress has humiliated the most astute and senior politician Capt Amarinder Singh, who brought 77 MLAs to the Punjab Assembly when the Modi wave was at its peak! I don’t think anybody is his equal in the Congress, including Sonia Gandhi, what to talk of Punjab alone. It will be a miracle if Sidhu and Rahul & Co. could bring back even half of its present numbers. Just to appease Sidhu, the whole party has been put at peril. It will be rare if the Congress has a nationalist like the Captain. Sidhu will never utter a single word, like his Delhi ‘captain’, against Pakistan and China about LAC and LoC.
SHAM MURARI SHARMA, Chandigarh
Dalit Chief Minister
The Congress, in a similar fashion as the BJP, changed its CM candidate months before the elections. However, it mastered this move by giving an opportunity to a Dalit face, where other parties promised deputy CM posts to Dalits. Charanjit Channi has become North India’s first Dalit CM. Even if it is for a short term, this crown brings heavy responsibility for him and his Cabinet. He will have to take firm steps to fulfil each promise which he claimed the Captain couldn’t fulfil. With protesters already on state's roads, Channi’s Cabinet needs to work at a fast pace prioritising issues like narcotics, sacrilege and employment. Sidhu’s claims of improving Punjab’s fiscal condition through sand and liquor policies shall also be tested at this time. This short-term arrangement shall decide Congress’ long-term existence in the state.
Harsimranvir Singh, Patiala
Freedom at retirement
Refer to ‘Easing into life of retirement’; the piece can easily be connected to many retirees. Women do not miss office as much as men as one foot of a woman is always in the household chores. The funny reality of retirement is that one can never take a day off. About money, one can be young without money but cannot be old without it. Retirement offers you 'freedom', which one always longed for while in service.
TVA RAM, Gurugram
Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: Letters@tribunemail.com
The resignation of Capt Amarinder Singh as Punjab CM was expected, given the long simmering tensions between him and the Congress high command, read the Gandhis. The development is yet another reminder to all second-rung party leaders not to entertain ambitions of growing too big. Though it is the norm in all family-owned state political parties, one would expect a national party like the Congress to have a broader vision. Nehru alone had the stature not to feel threatened by the growth of other leaders in the party. That apart, making the mercurial Navjot Singh Sidhu a replacement for the outgoing CM, or projecting him as CM candidate in the state elections, due in a year, would be an act of harakiri. Politics is more about perception than performance. The fact that Sidhu has repeatedly changed sides, his participation in Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony as Pakistan PM, defying his CM’s advice, his infamous hug of Pakistan army chief Bajwa and so on, may not endear him to the people of a state that has contributed maximum number of martyrs during Indo-Pak wars and skirmishes.
V Jayaraman, Chennai
This refers to ‘Congress fiasco’, Amarinder Singh’s ouster and the selection of his baiter Charanjit Singh Channi as Chief Minister was scripted in Delhi by the Gandhi scions Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. The party MLAs had turned against Captain Amarinder, but not before the Gandhis made it clear that they wanted him out. The cost of this change for the Congress will be clear only in the coming days, but it is already evident that getting the party back in fighting shape will be an uphill task, while Amarinder is exploring political options outside the Congress. Appointment of Channi, a Dalit leader, as CM is a smart political symbolism — he will be the first Dalit CM in a state with 31% Dalits. But this does not take away from the Congress’s poor management of the Punjab crisis, which has potentially jeopardised its electoral prospects and enhanced the trust deficit between senior party leaders and the Nehru-Gandhi family nationally.
N Sadhasiva Reddy, Bengaluru
The Congress move to appoint a Dalit as CM can turn the tables in the forthcoming Vidhan Sabha elections. Picking Charanjit Singh Channi as the state's first Dalit Chief Minister has given the party the first mover's advantage at the nick of time when its leadership was fragmenting. Channi is the new broom that sweeps clean and will hopefully keep the party together. However, he needs to put out the greatest show of administration in less than a year's time, as the main opposition parties like the BSP, AAP and BJP are also promising a Dalit CM candidate in 2022.
Ankita Sharma, Panchkula
Another power conflict
The resignation of Capt Amarinder Singh and the unanimous selection of Charanjit Singh Channi as the Punjab CM seemed to have wreaked havoc in the Congress yet again. The sudden change in the internal party dynamics shows cracks in the party, which will be an opportunity for the Opposition. This will cost the Congress in terms of votes as well as optics in Punjab. It will be interesting to see how Channi's appointment will sow the seeds for a new power conflict in the state. The Congress seems to have created yet another internal war for itself.
Khyati Kataria, Chandigarh
We need to appreciate the Chief Justice’s concern that the legal system should be Indianised to make it more effective. As a lay person, I can only say that there is dire need to first simplify the language of the judicial system, because the language used in the proceedings is not only meandering, repetitive and incomprehensible, but also it is often grammatically incorrect. It is challenging for the uneducated litigants as well as those with an education to understand the archaic English used in our legal papers.
Lalita Jagmohan Singh, Chandigarh
Deal with addiction
Apropos of ‘De-addiction centres’, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh taking the two top slots in drug trafficking is a matter of huge concern. The rising trend is reflected in the arrest of bootleggers on a daily basis. The border state has acquired the epithet of ‘udta Punjab’ while a nondescript village has acquired global recognition for ‘Malana cream’. The tobacco story as the major contributor of life-threatening diseases is non-stigmatised. The graph is rising with an increasing population of infirm people, putting a massive drain on resources and the economy. It is a wake-up call.
Harbans Lal Kapoor, Mandi
Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: Letters@tribunemail.com
Reference to ‘Telecom reforms’; these are not reforms but an effort to bail out private telecom companies at any cost and continue to kill both BSNL/MTNL. The Supreme Court thrice rejected an SLP filed by all private operators against the telecom policy decision to pay licence fees and inter-usage charges on Aggregate Gross Revenues, and not on revenues from operations alone, as contended by private operators. This is unambiguously mentioned in the telecom policy to which private operators are legally bound. BSNL in contrast paid on AGR. Now, the government is changing the definition of AGR to bail out private operators. This crisis is a consequence of illegitimate predatory pricing that RJio was allowed to indulge in since 2015, impacting the revenues of private operators. All private operators (not BSNL/ MTNL) were given 4G spectrum and freedom to borrow from financial institutions, despite having incredible debts from public sector banks.
Arvind Pal Dahiya, Rohtak
There is a lot of discussion on the menace caused by the burning of paddy stubble. A number of measures are being suggested, including persuasive as well as regulatory. No amount of persuasion, incentives or threat can stop this unless the solution offered is financially attractive and viable. No doubt, the cost of burning the stubble is much more than treating it. However, most of this cost is invisible — in the form of loss of nutrients, or in the form of loss to the environment, health issues and depletion of the water table. Attractive MSP causes these losses to become obscure. The solution is replacing paddy with other crops like pulses and oil seeds. The main argument against this suggestion is high cost. It is forgotten that it will save cost of MSP on paddy, and invisible and indirect costs. It will also save the import costs on pulses and oil seeds. Further the loss of grain due to faulty and inadequate storage facilities too will be checked. In the meanwhile, there is a need to find uses of paddy straw. It can be used as fuel in boilers, brick-kilns and the dyeing industry; as feed of non-milch animals and making fuel pellets.
RAVINDER MITTAL, LUDHIANA
Apropos of ‘The AUKUS deal’; the US is consolidating its power in the Indo-Pacific region and leaving the strategic space in Asia to its allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia. The EU countries that have been burdening the US for securing their borders against Russia would need to step up and protect their interests. The new alliances like Quad and AUKUS have been tailored to suit the sensitivities of various interested parties. Being shy of military alliances, New Zealand is part of the intelligence-sharing alliance called ‘Five Eyes’. Similarly, India having the stated policy of not joining any military alliances is part of Quad and the countries who don’t share land borders with China have become part of AUKUS. The US strategy has sprung a big surprise on Beijing, leaving it fuming. Effective containment of the Dragon will be a respite for the neighbouring countries of the Indo-Pacific, including India.
Property tax illegal
Refer to ‘29 govt depts owe Rs 150 cr to KMC’; the claim of property tax on government-owned properties by the MC is illegal, as per the various decisions of the apex court since these institutions or departments are not the owner of any personal properties, but are working in the overall interests of the public, on the lands owned by the state. Can the Delhi Municipal Corporation claim property taxes on lands on which the Supreme Court or Parliament or Tihar Jail are working? This whole episode only shows the legal illiteracy of the incompetent bureaucracy known for messing up public issues.
VIRENDER SINGH LATHER, Karnal
Earmark protest site
Over the past many days, Jalandhar has been witnessing a blockade of roads and railway lines by one community and union or the other. This is discomforting to the public and citizens of different areas. Patients are not able to visit hospitals, students are not able to take exams, office-goers are not able to attend office in time, and so many other problems people are facing. The government should provide open spaces for such agitations. Like Hyde Park in London, here also similar grounds should be allocated for the protests in different cities to save the public from any inconvenience.
JS Wadhwa, Kapurthala
Refer to ‘Polarisation at work in UP’; CM Yogi Adityanath is catering to the majority community through the cow card, religious intolerance and bigotry. The minority communities, especially Muslims, have been hit hard by the loss of livelihoods. The ‘abba jaan’ narrative is meant for fanning the fire of fanaticism in UP in the election year.
Abhimanyu Malik, Jind
Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: Letters@tribunemail.com
‘Digitising work in courts’ must be given top priority. Unfortunately, our courts are flooded with all sorts of frivolous and unwarranted cases. Courts should discourage litigation done on flimsy grounds, and more so, where the law is well settled. Erring officials should be taken to task by fixing responsibility on them. Even innumerable tribunals and commissions are not performing their duties diligently. The RTI Act has turned out to be a dismal failure due to the lackadaisical attitude of the politically appointed information commissioners. Greater emphasis should be laid on merit and ability while appointing judges. The judiciary is the last hope left in our country. The standard of integrity and probity expected from judicial officers is much higher than that expected from politicians and bureaucrats. Our courts need to introspect their own functioning so that public faith remains firm. Judicial activism is okay but not judicial adventurism.
Anil Bhatia, Hisar
Pendency in courts
People have some faith only in the judiciary, out of the three legs of democracy. The government had earlier kept the posts of chairman and members in various tribunals vacant. After the strong SC judgment, it has started filling the posts. Crores of cases are pending in the courts due to shortage of judges and non-functional tribunals. Unbiased persons only can give fair judgments, which cannot be expected from politically appointed members in the tribunals other quasi-judicial bodies. There is a need to fill all the vacancies with capable and neutral persons to keep the faith in the judiciary. A time-bound system must also be implemented in the courts to reduce pendency.
Wg Cdr (Dr) JS Minhas (retd), Mohali
Aid to Afghanistan
The US withdrawal from Afghanistan has been a strategic mistake. Any economic aid to that country shall further be a pat on the back of the Taliban. On humanitarian grounds, the population of that country requires aid in the form of money and food. This could be done by establishing cells of the US and its allies within that country who will receive such an aid to ensure that it is utilised by the government for the right purpose and reaches the common man. To meet the food necessity of hunger-stricken people, thousands of food packets may have to be dropped daily. Food aid centres may have to be created in many parts of the country.
Mohinder Behl, Chandigarh
Apropos of ‘The Afghanistan quandary’, the fall of the Buddha statues was a result of Taliban’s religious intolerance which they may spread among people of Kashmir. Pashtuns of Kashmir who favour Taliban government are wrong in thinking that this is an expression of resistance to foreign invasion that does not favour Islam. In fact, such brutality has nothing to do with religion but a tribal war. The Taliban, which was raised by the US and fuelled by Pakistan, is hiding its face behind the veil of sharia. Their real motive always was to come to power by using religion as a weapon. India should step very carefully in the matters of Afghanistan.
Aparna Dubey, Patiala
Refer to the telecom reforms, the government’s belated endeavour to bail out the troubled telecom sector is a welcome step. The question is, can it be a magic wand? Airtel and VI have reached a point of no return. This stimulus may not suffice. The overall milieu in the majority of sectors is such that all small players are gobbled up by sharks resulting in monopoly/duopoly. The government ought to introspect why it is not able to inspire confidence amongst the extant and potential players. Business-friendly measures ought to go hand in hand with being even-handed and unprejudiced. This shall beget creativity and novelty which is the edifice for any business enterprise.
Deepak Singhal, Noida
Benefits of ageing
‘Forgetting to remember’ is an apt sign of ageing. Groaning while bending, sleeping while watching TV, forgetting names, difficulty in multitasking, health-related issues, dementia, disorientation, etc., are indicators of ageing. But one needs to overlook these issues. As we age, we gain confidence, maturity, experience, leisure, and above all, love of grandkids. We need to accept that independence, interdependence and then dependence will ultimately lead to our exit from life. This is an inevitable truth. Hence keeping ourselves happy, busy, socially active and healthy by way of regular checkups can decelerate the process of senescence.
Anita Kataria, Patiala
There is no doubt that Afghanistan will have a fully functional Taliban-led Government. At the same time, there is no ambiguity about the close relations between Pakistan and the Taliban. Since the Taliban has assured that it will not allow its soil for launching terror activities against any country, India should test the waters by asking the Taliban to facilitate the handing over of the most wanted terrorists Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed and ZR Lakhvi to us, so that they can be brought to justice. Despite repeated rendering of credible evidence, Pakistan is yet to hand them over to India for trial. India should give recognition to the Taliban government in Afghanistan, provided they make it happen.
Ravi bhushan, Kurukshetra
Can’t rely on US
The US is reported to be looking at India to secure a staging post for Afghan strikes, if needed. Should this be pursued in greater earnest from our side as well, we stand to set up a paradigm shift in the subcontinent to virtually create a lasting conflict zone with Afghanistan and its proxy well-wisher Pakistan on our north-western borders. The resultant and expanded theatre of operations will dwarf the decades of our toil and expense in the J&K sector. And a fickle US can be expected to abandon its post at any time without a second thought, to leave us handling the aftermath.
R Narayanan, Navi Mumbai
Reforms a long shot
Apropos of ‘Reforms an arduous process for Afghanistan’, at this crucial time, the role of the international organisation should be creating awareness rather than propagating politics. Beside this, the tribals of Afghanistan should know that no war can be won by raising enmity and creating foes. They should understand that ‘community is strength’, where everyone is aware and united for a particular interest. Only then will there be no barriers, tribal dispute and no humanitarian loss.
Aparna Dubey, Patiala
‘Abba jaan’ barb
Since the elections in UP are approaching, BJP leaders have started their old game of polarisation. Instead of talking about their achievements during the past four and a half years, and on other problems being faced by the people, the CM is talking of ‘abba jaan’ and is likely to target a minority. Children are dying due to dengue, but not a word of sympathy came from the PM during his address on his visit to UP. It is a strategy of the BJP to divert people’s attention from the real issues. Most TV channels are hand in glove with the government in this game.
Bhupinder Kochhar, Panchkula
Gallantry award allowance
Refer to the news Punjab increases gallantry award allowance by 80%. It is a great gesture by the government led by Capt Amarinder Singh, who has always been a front-runner, to appreciate and applaud the tremendous contribution and sacrifices made by soldiers. All awardees highly appreciate and welcome this monetary increase. This substantial financial help will mean a lot, especially to war widows. Today, the Punjab Government gives Rs 50 lakh to every martyr, a sum no other Indian state provides.
Col GS Bajwa (retd), by mail
Another tax raid
Income tax raid on actor Sonu Sood is not good for the government. The government conducted the raid only after the actor had a meeting with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, who named him as the brand ambassador for the NCT government’s mentorship programme for school students. It has become the practice of the government to raid only those who oppose the BJP government. The government’s main agenda is to raid only leaders of opposition parties, or those within the BJP who try to oppose any action of the government at the Centre or states.
SC Dhall, Zirakpur
No easy way out
Reference to ‘Shift stir plea not political: Capt’; although it's inevitable to have a critical opinion on the prevalent issue of farmers’ protest, many have a neutral approach towards it. The Punjab CM makes a valid point regarding the state's declining economy, which unfortunately is being misconstrued by many. But on the other hand, farmers’ concerns can't be trivialised. The situation isn't being handled ideally. Even Ambani and Adnani, who are being treated as a threat by the farmers, could come forward and issue a statement refuting the false claims of the government passing agricultural laws in their favour, but sadly, everyone's merely beating around the bush.
Agam Garg, Jalandhar
Refer to ‘How America got the war on terror wrong’; America never got the war on terror wrong. In fact, it is America who gave birth to the Taliban. It was done with the intention of uprooting the USSR. It was supplied with the latest weapons, automatic guns, rocket launchers, grenades and ammunition. It was only 10 years later when Osama bin Laden was suspected to be hiding in Afghanistan that the US trained its guns on the Taliban. The way the US pullout was executed has left the world in a shock. None of the three lakh trained Afghan soldiers fired a shot to stop the Taliban. Moreover, the US has left behind a large stock of arms that makes the Taliban better equipped than many armies of the world. The US has put the lives of innocent citizens in grave danger. Even a list of Afghans, who helped the US, has made its way into Taliban’s hands. The writer has mentioned Guantanamo Bay, where suspected terrorists were detained, but there is no mention of the Afghan population left to the mercy of trigger-happy terrorists.
SUMAN KUPLISH, LUDHIANA
Though the UN is appealing for generous aid to Afghanistan, it will not be easy for allies as well as other nations to come forward too soon as the Taliban regime’s credibility is yet to find a niche with the world. The long haul of weaponry left by Americans, now in Taliban control, may be used against opponents. Further, to run its economic show, the Taliban regime may also clandestinely step up the narcotics trade internationally through drug cartels, even though it is telling the world that it has banned opium cultivation. In view of the fluid scenario in Afghanistan, there can be increased smuggling of opium and heroin through J&K and Punjab borders with Pakistan into India. The GOI as well as states must increase their vigilance at borders to check the influx of drugs.
Brij B Goyal, Ludhiana
Apropos of ‘Fast-track food labelling’, India needs to stop treating food allergies as a trifling disability. It is unnerving that not reading something as small as the labels on our food packages, which a majority of us don’t look at twice, has resulted in such grief and loss of lives. India, like western countries, must establish strict laws for highlighting potential allergic constituents on food labels. As a citizen, the carelessness of the Food Safety Standard Authority of India for the past 15 years is disheartening.
Tejal Kumar, Pune
The only time the officer rank structure of the armed forces was altered was when, after much deliberations, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was appointed. The main idea, as is in practice in many European countries, was to coordinate and enhance the joint effect of the three arms. So far, no such proposal/decision has been seen. On the other hand, the CDS comes up with illogical proposals. First, he stopped the sale of foreign Scotch through canteen services, citing the ‘atmanirbhar’ effort. Since these whiskeys are available in the open market, with no proposal from the government to ban, this decision is irrational and uncalled for. Now, there is a proposal to disturb the retiring age of Colonel and its equivalents in the Navy and the Air Force. God knows what the proposal intends to achieve by tinkering with the long-established and time-tested structure. It appears to be a case of a schoolboy trying to keep his teacher happy.
Prem Kumar Sharma, Chandigarh
It is proclaimed by the BJP that the PM and the Union government are upright and not involved in any scandal. However, if one looks around, one finds that the government has been indulging in a different form of corruption. Free gas connections, free electricity, houses and toilet schemes have been bringing votes for the BJP. The PM talks about the freebies, which is nothing but indirectly asking for votes. Free rations are being issued to 80 crore people in bags with Modi’s photo. Similarly, farmers are being paid cash every quarter. Recently, he launched a free gas connection scheme in Bundelkhand with fanfare. All these schemes are part of the UP government’s publicity blitz let loose on the public before the polls.
Harbachan Singh Sandhu, by mail
New tennis stars
The US Open was supposed to be about Novak Djokovic and the end to a 52-year drought (‘US Open: A major upset’). Instead, Russian Daniil Medvedev played spoilsport in a stunning turn of events, toppling the World No. 1 in straight sets to claim his first-ever major title. Djokovic could not claim his 21st major title remaining tied with Federer and Nadal. Tennis has benefited from Djokovic’s run. But the sport may also benefit from the result as it will give a chance to young players to dominate the circuit. Teenagers like Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez, who played classic tennis, are likely to dominate the courts in future.
Gregory Fernandes, Mumbai
‘Rs 25-cr sop for industry to curb farm fires in Punjab’ seems to be a right step by the state government to tackle the menace of stubble burning. But in reality, it goes against the earth’s resources. If stubble is incorporated into the soil, it enhances soil health. To douse fires, two innovative solutions are already in existence (‘Innovative solutions can douse farm fires’), only the will to implement them is required. First, the Happy Seeder is available with heavy subsidy to plant the wheat crop without removing stubble from the fields. Second, the Pusa bio-decomposer can convert stubble into useful manure in a short time without much cost. So, instead of removing useful stubble from the fields with extra costs, the state government should popularise these two alternatives.
Naresh Mohan Johar, Amritsar
Every winter, the Delhi-NCR region is enveloped in a toxic haze causing serious coronary and respiratory diseases (‘Checking stubble burning’). Among industrial exhaust, vehicular emissions, construction activities and dust, paddy field fires in Punjab, Haryana and UP are a major factor. Despite initiatives taken by the Centre and the state governments for in situ and ex situ straw management, and declaring it a punishable offence, it goes on unabated. Due to financial constraints and shortage of labour, small and marginal farmers resort to this practice to prepare their land for the next crop. The governments also do not strictly penalise the erring farmers eyeing their big votebank. The authorities should release more funds for enhancing subsidies for the purchase of high-tech machinery or provide it on cheap rental basis for addressing the crucial issue.
Tajpreet S Kang, Hoshiarpur
US media bias
The US has been hounding the imaginary axis of evil for the past 20 years, ever since its pride was grounded by Osama bin Laden (‘Revisiting war on terror’). Its Iraq escapade left a power vacuum that led to the emergence of ISIS and there was no course correction in the American media. Although America’s elusive bete noire Osama was found in the safe haven of its own partner in the war against terror, Pakistan, but carpet bombing of war-worn Afghanistan could not silence the dog whistle of the US Fourth Estate. This bitter reality of the US media fails to provide any such evidence which the writer seems to gloat in the article.
Abhinav Sharma, Ludhiana
Apropos of ‘12 Tarn Taran villages inundated’, concrete steps must be taken for rainwater harvesting. Tamil Nadu passed a legislation in 2003 and the positive results are for all to see. All government buildings, including schools and colleges and sports stadiums, should make rainwater harvesting arrangements. Subsequently, all new constructions, public or private, should be brought under this policy as a mandatory requirement at the time of approval of building plans. In cities, choke points should be identified for rainwater harvesting so that water does not inundate roads and residential areas. With the groundwater table going down every year in the state, rainwater harvesting would go a long way in harnessing this valuable commodity. It would also save crores which are spent on the recarpeting of roads after every rainy season.
LT COL JS DULLAT (Retd), Patiala
Bad politics, bad economics
Refer to ‘Criminal-politician nexus ingrained in our polity’; I salute the writer for still carrying the flag for warning people of the dangers of the increasing hold of criminals in our polity. The desperation is genuine because people in general have surrendered to fate and have now resigned to a stage where they are happy in getting their petty jobs done by these criminals-turned-politicians. There is an important relationship between economics and politics that students generally talk about; good economics vs good politics. It is time we change the tag and start talking about bad politics and bad economics. A criminal is naturally inclined to follow bad politics and therefore through his bad economics will be responsible for the misery of the country. How long the magical illusions created by these criminal-politicians in the name of ethnicity, religion, caste and culture will continue to bewilder us?
Nirmal Singh, Patiala
Farewell to learned friend
It was sorrowful to learn, through the middle ‘Sad end to a zealous journey’, about the passing away of Bhupinder Singh. I had come in contact with him on Facebook. By reading each other’s posts, our acquaintance changed into friendship and we shared our opinions about the English language and other matters concerning art regularly. I got a couple of chances to meet him in person at cultural functions. His flawless command of the language and his passion to maintain its chastity impressed me. He didn’t flaunt, but was natural, spontaneous and polite. The way he made creative use of the period of his retired life, devoted to his hobby, inspired me, and maybe many others too.
Chaman Arora, Ferozepur
GROWING criminalisation of Indian polity is a cause of serious national concern, courtesy lack of political will, poor implementation of law, caste and religion-based politics and illiterate and semi-educated electorate (‘Criminal-politician nexus ingrained in our polity’). Gone are the days when leaders with a clean image and high moral character dominated the political scene. But today, despite various SC judgments and reports of committees and commissions, political parties have failed to restrict the entry of persons with a criminal background in the election process. Rather, they continue to patronise them, eyeing their victory prospects. Due to their muscle and money power, these leaders intimidate or influence voters and get elected. Holding the government machinery accountable and overhauling the voters’ behavioural patterns are the only panaceas for cleaning Indian politics.
DS Kang, Hoshiarpur
Crime and politics
Legislature and executive are reluctant to act upon the orders/observations given by the apex court in several judgments on criminalisation of politics because at the helm of affairs (Parliament), these criminals become lawmakers after winning elections. Why will they enact a suicidal law that will mar their political career? The real fault lies with the voters who are poor, illiterate and influenced by the muscle power, distribution of illegal underhand money and terror unleashed by goons. Some time back, the EC had introduced NOTA option in the ballot paper which is nothing but a statistical figure, without affecting the result of the election. Our election system requires overhauling. Or the Election Commission should be fully empowered to draft new rules which may propose strict measures to bar criminals from entering Parliament.
RL Bansal, Kurukshetra
‘Nari shakti’ only in words
The Mumbai rape incident lays bare the crude mindset of our society. Myriad of such repugnant stories go unreported. We need to inculcate values while bringing up the younger generation of boys in our families. We have failed to teach them how to respect women. Our scriptures are replete with guidelines to respect women — ‘yatra naryastu pujyante, ramante tatra devta’. Our history is brimming with examples of extraordinary fortitude shown by women. There is no field where women have not made us proud. We seem to have a falsified the sense of reverence in the name of ‘matri shakti’ or ‘nari shakti’.
Kapil Sharma, Kaithal
Refer to ‘Yet another Nirbhaya’; women continue to suffer molestation and rape across the country. Easy availability of porn only adds to the problem. We hear several voices from among men in authority, holding out ‘advice’ for women on the clothes they should wear, or the time or place they should not visit. Boys too should be brought up with similar care and concern with which we bring up our daughters. We should work towards a social system ensuring freedom to both men and women.
Lalit Mohan Sharma, DHARAMSALA
Gender issue here, too
Apropos of ‘Gender-segregated universities: says Taliban’, why are we making headlines of this news? We must not forget that in India, too, we have gender specific educational institutions with specific dress codes. Though there is no ban on appointing male teachers in all girls’ institutions, there is a ban on the appointment of male principals.
When one tries to tinker with a well-established system, instability shakes the system (‘Common retirement age at Colonel level mulled’). The same is true of the proposals of common retirement age at the rank of Colonel in the Army and its equivalent rank in the Navy and Air Force, and the revision of ‘work profile and related salary’ of a re-employed officer of the rank of Colonel. The varying retirement age of the officers has been prescribed as per the requirements of their respective job profiles. The job profile of a Colonel in the combat arms of the Army differs from the technical work required to be undertaken by Air Force officers. Standardising the retirement age is, therefore, meaningless. On being re-employed, a Colonel is paid the salary of his rank, but is given the work responsibility of a Major. The plan is to get the re-employed officer to do the task mandated at the level of Colonel. There is no logic in paying the salary of a Colonel to a re-employed officer and task him with a Major’s work. Given the anxieties of resettlement and the levels of motivation, re-employed officers cannot be tasked with the exacting responsibilities of selection-grade Colonels. Re-employed officers forego their respective pensions on re-employment. Moreover, the protection of the last salary drawn is an accepted principle in government services. Such proposals, under the garb of reforms, are highly destabilising.
Lt Col GS Bedi (Retd), Mohali
Indeed, the best option for the West is to have a UN Peacekeeping Force in Afghanistan (‘Through the lens darkly’; Nous Indica). This has been necessitated by the changed geopolitical situation in Central Asia. Indian foreign policy requires to be circumspect in dealing with the US. It is worrisome to observe that it partners with India on vaccination and climate change and collaborates with Pakistan on Afghanistan and counter-terrorism. Pakistan has been using terror as an instrument of state policy and the newly installed government in Afghanistan may not be an exception. The power vacuum created by the US is being filled by Russia and China, with the latter announcing $31-million aid to the Taliban.
Gurpreet Singh, Mohali
Pak in driver’s seat
Apropos of ‘Through the lens darkly’, the events prove US is offering Pakistan the driver’s seat. The US’s ‘Pak-first’ policy must make us take note of the precarious geopolitical ground reality. We must ensure that the Taliban do not allow the use of Afghan soil for terrorism by outfits like the LeT and JeM. The overall situation in Afghanistan is fragile and chaotic, forcing Russia not to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the Taliban-led government in Kabul. The demand for a UN Peacekeeping Force in Afghanistan is well placed. We must be watchful since terror groups may indulge in violence in J&K.
Raj Bahadur Yadav, Fatehabad
Taliban must reinvent
This refers to ‘Afghan women repressed’; it is unfortunate that despite the promises made by the Taliban to respect the rights of women when they captured Kabul last month, they are going against their words. There are reports that women protesters were whipped by the Taliban for protesting against all male members in the cabinet. It is also reported that Afghan women are banned from sports. The Taliban need to reinvent themselves as an organisation that respects human rights and women's autonomy and lay more importance on economic renewal for the betterment of the country rather than following strict discipline of religious agenda in order to get recognition from the international community.
Gregory Fernandes, Mumbai
Rise above politics
Apropos of ‘Morcha leaders call shots’, strength of votebank was visible at the meeting presided over by the ruled and attended by the rulers of the past, present and also by those dreaming to be prospective ones, although no party is in a position to get majority in the 2022 elections. Today, farmers are wise enough to understand the hidden agenda of political parties. It was for the first time that the well walked to the thirsty. Some of the party presidents were present in person and had to wait for hours. These are those people whom the people have to wait for days, weeks and months. Some of them might have felt the heat of the moment. But, for votes, they can go to any extent. The farmer class has proved that they stand united. Political parties attended the meeting under the fear of losing their votebank. Nobody talked about the solution to the problem and the agenda was confined to political and democratic rights to hold rallies at the expense of harmony and economy. Voters should also rise above party politics and elect only those individuals who can fight for them and not for those who invest crores of rupees in elections and then get it back with handsome premiums at the expense of the taxpayer and the state exchequer.
Vijay Syal, Sangrur
I took the first dose of Covishield vaccine while on a visit to Gurugram. I went to the Civil Dispensary, Sector 20, Panchkula, for the second dose. I was refused the second dose on the plea that the app being used by the staff was not picking up my first dose, as perhaps it was from a different app. I showed them the certificate on my phone, but still I was refused and advised to go somewhere else. If one has to run from one health facility to another just because of different apps being used by the health facilities, it speaks volumes about the inefficacy of the vaccination programme. It is frustrating for a senior citizen on the wrong side of 75 years.
MK BAJAJ, Zirakpur
Every winter, the Delhi-NCR region is enveloped in thick toxic haze causing serious coronary and respiratory diseases (‘Check stubble burning’). It has drawn special attention in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Among industrial exhaust, vehicular emissions, construction activities and dust, paddy field fires in Punjab, Haryana and UP are a major factor. Due to financial constraints and shortage of labour, small and marginalised farmers resort to this practice. The governments also do not strictly penalise farmers eyeing their votebank. The authorities should enhance subsidies for the purchase of high-tech machinery or provide it on cheap rental basis for addressing the crucial issue.
Tajpreet S Kang, Hoshiarpur
REFER to ‘Taliban’s true colours’; it is now quite clear that the interim government in Afghanistan has the strong imprint of Pakistan’s military-jihadi complex. The new Afghan leadership structure sans non-Taliban members comes after the recent Kabul visit of Pakistan ISI chief who played peacemaker between different factions. The role of the spy agency in the formation of the Taliban's interim government was no secret. Now that the Taliban government has many UN's globally designated terrorists with high bounty on their heads, all kinds of bad news can be expected. This is liable to make international recognition of the new regime difficult. The ball is in the court of the rest of the world. The challenge before the world community, including India, is to come to a decision on recognising the Taliban regime and engaging with it.
EL SINGH, by mail
Devious Pak role
With the recent developments in Pak-Afghanistan politics, it’s obvious that Pakistan has been a key player in removing the Afghanistan government from power and establishing a group to a decisive position in Afghanistan with its nexus of terrorist groups in the region. The ISI and the Taliban have deep ties with each other. The Taliban are trained, directed and controlled by Pakistan. The humanitarian crisis is looming around Afghanistan and it could be stopped from going beyond the national boundaries if the US, UN or the Security Council members get to know the Taliban's violent ideology and its connection with Islamabad. All units created by Pakistan as proxies, whether it is the IS (KP), Taliban, Haqqani network or the LeT, are related to one another, with Al-Qaeda remaining their uniting body.
Women in Afghanistan
There is little wonder that women are being subjected to regressive, coercive and misogynistic tactics to trample upon their rights and liberties that they have enjoyed during the last two decades. No political formation deviates from its dominant and core ideology. Taliban's anti-women stance is well documented by the reign of terror unleashed against women by its previous 1996-2001 regime. That women will have to face the same kind of atrocities again is likely, which is being corroborated by the recent happenings. No woman has been inducted into the cabinet. Even the male population belonging to other ethnic groups other than Pashtuns will also be reduced to second-class citizens. Misconceived and hasty withdrawal by American troops has precipitated this humanitarian crisis which is likely to have a devastating impact on the contiguous countries, except for Pakistan. It is a dismal failure of democracy.
Roshan Lal Goel, Ladwa
In reference to ‘Incredible success’; India's 19-medal tally has not only bettered the sum total of 12 medals won before the Tokyo Paralympics, but has also placed the country at a respectable 24th rank. Indian para athletes have delivered a great round of fresh cheer. Their performance has outstripped most pre-competition projections. While the success indicates the opportunities being given to the disabled, gaps remain. India’s first table tennis para medallist Bhavana Patel, who was diagnosed with polio in infancy, has spoken of how often she had to take her family’s financial support for training and equipment. Nowadays there is no shortage of solutions to help people with disabilities to live life more fully. New-age wheelchairs and other assistive technology can enhance speed and mobility.
PL SINGH, by mail
Refer to ‘Keep Himachal tourism alive’; the state government itself is responsible for this loss, as it allowed and encouraged setting up hotels and homestays on a massive scale without realising their viability. Last week, I stayed at a luxury hotel in Theog which was running at 25% occupancy. They suddenly increase their rates manifold as soon as they see tourists. There's not enough drinking water and parking space. Officers and local residents have usurped the entire parking space. The only way to survive is to accord better services to tourists at affordable rates.
RAMESH GUPTA, NARWANA
It is nice on the part of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to keep his word. As per his promise, he not only cooked food for the Tokyo Olympics players, but also served them himself. Being the CM, he took out six hours from his busy schedule to cook food. I have never heard or read about such a gesture by any political leader. He is humble to say that what he has done is nothing as compared to what these players have done for the country. He truly says that food always tastes better when served directly from the cooking vessel. He has proved that he is not only an able administrator, but also a good host.
Bir Devinder Singh Bedi, Sangrur
Refer to ‘In Memoriam’ tribute (‘On this day...100 years ago’) to the late Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia who founded The Tribune; ‘the only way to lift people lay in their intellectual and political awakening’ is more relevant today, as the immaturity of voters of India@75 is the reason why vote bank politics rules the roost. Maintaining the courage of conviction of the lofty ideals of The Tribune’s founder would do well to earmark a daily column ‘The Sardar beckons’ to give shape and impetus to his illustrious vision and way on a sustainable basis.
Lalit Bharadwaj, Panchkula
Reference to the news ‘Taliban’s true colours’; the Taliban had promised an inclusive government that represents Afghanistan’s complex ethnic make-up, but there is neither any Hazara nor woman member in the cabinet. The role of Pakistan’s ISI in the formation of the government was no secret, given the presence of its head, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, in Kabul. The selection of four members of the Haqqani Network, a distinct group within the Taliban, which has had cosy relations with the Pakistani security establishment for nearly four decades, speaks of its influence with the new dispensation. The challenge for the global fraternity, including India, would be to wean the Taliban away from its dependence on Pakistan.
SS Paul, Nadia
This refers to ‘Farm stir: After Singhu & Tikri, now Karnal takes centre stage’. The motive behind the farmers’ protest in Muzaffarnagar and in front of the mini-secretariat in Karnal seems more to condemn the BJP government than to serve the interests of the farmers. Initiatives to reach meaningful results are being partly undertaken by the Centre-state governments along with the representatives of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha. Sincere political-cum-social efforts need to be continued to minimise the protests. A vicious campaign against the BJP is being run in the social media by the Opposition in view of the Uttar Pradesh elections in 2022. It’s an urgent need of the hour to resolve the long-pending issue of new agricultural laws. The Modi government must clarify its stand on the so-called reforms in order to seek farmers’ mandate.
Yugal Kishore Sharma, Faridabad
Refer to ‘Talks fail, farmers lay siege to Karnal mini-secretariat’; farmers have been protesting since the new farm laws were announced, and till now, there is no conclusion, but just misery and protests. Thousands of farmers have been injured and the government is not understanding their point of view. The peaceful protests are now turning violent, and this is causing trouble nationwide. Farmers are the food givers and not listening to them will only toughen the situation. The government should now come up with a solution because farmers are not at all ready to accept these laws.
Akshara Gurbani, Rajpura
In reference to ‘4K Rewari, M’garh students fail in English’; it is a reflection on the poor quality of English teaching in our schools and colleges. The students look upon grammar from the point of view of examinations and least worry about its real utility. We need highly competent and committed teachers to teach a foreign language. Spoon-feeding of learners is a wrong habit which must be checked from the beginning. Self-learning is the best, besides it is useful to consult a good dictionary to clear doubts pertaining to word meaning and usage. The teacher should aim at linguistics, as the objective of teaching English varies from level to level and from learner to learner.
Anil Bhatia, Hisar
Apropos of ‘HC quashes transfer done at MLA’s behest’, the HP High Court did a commendable job by quashing the transfer order. The complainant was transferred by the Chief Minister on the recommendation of Nachan MLA Vinod Kumar, without the consent of the authorities in the administrative department. It is an irony that no strictures were passed against the Chief Minister. Transfers are a prerogative of the management and should be done on merit alone. I have come across cases in banks, where officers were transferred on grounds like ‘lottery by computer’. An officer had to leave the branch 20 minutes after joining it.
Upendra Sharma, by mail
Politicians are encouraging drug peddlers for their own ulterior motives and the police are at the receiving end. They have to remain silent. The youth of Punjab have been ruined. Daily we hear the lives of youngsters being lost for nothing. The youth of Himachal Pradesh and Haryana have also become a victim of drugs. Is it difficult to check the menace? It may be difficult but not impossible. When the Naxals and other terrorists can be controlled, this trade can also be controlled.
NPS Sohal, Chandigarh
Refer to ‘Drug deaths in Punjab’; the ruling party, before the 2017 Punjab Assembly elections, had assured people that the drug menace would be controlled within six weeks after it assumes power. Since then, the state government is struggling to eradicate the menace but none of its strategy has been successful. The criminal-politician-police nexus has proved to be too strong to be smashed. Drugs continue to be smuggled from Pakistan through rivers, rail, road and air routes. Even drones are being used. All connected agencies should coordinate and implement multi-pronged effective measures to defeat the strong drug mafia.
SUBHASH VAID, NEW DELHI
Re-engage with farmers
It’s been nine months since farmers have been protesting against the farm laws. About 600 farmers and their families have died in this span of time. The real issues of development and uplift of the suppressed are being overshadowed because of this continued protest. This is a big limitation on account of the Modi government that despite being in majority, it can’t find a solution to this issue. It should remake the laws according to the demands of those for whom these were initially made. Fixing MSP and giving government storage facilities on all crops is the best way to make farmers feel secure and make them try alternative crop growth. If not, the decision should be independently left to the state governments whether they need the implementation of such laws or not. The government is by the people, for the people and of the people. There should not be a ‘versus’ war against citizens.
Harsimranvir Singh, Patiala
Refer to the report ‘ED issues lookout notice against Maharashtra ex-minister Deshmukh’; it is highly intriguing as to why our investigation agencies are so helpless in such cases, and why politicians continue to flout the laws so blatantly. Our judicial system allows any suspect to seek legal remedies to prove his/her innocence. Laws need to be suitably amended for allowing the courts to proceed ex-parte in such cases after publishing a public notice. But our politicians will never pass such a legislation.
JAGDISH CHANDER, JALANDHAR
It is shocking that six minor girls were paraded at a village in Damoh district of Madhya Pradesh to appease the god of rain. What a tragedy it is that in this digital era, people still believe in such superstitions. The parents of the hapless girls and the villagers remained mute spectators and no one could muster the courage to lodge a complaint for this objectionable act. The local administration also showed indifference. The slogan given by the BJP, Beti bachao, beti padhao, has proved a hollow one.
Shadi Lal, by mail
‘Why herd immunity is elusive…’ is a well-analysed write-up. The unrelenting efforts worldwide and equally unrelenting non-adherence to vaccination norms and Covid-appropriate behaviour is the real tug of war. The data of Israel, the US and Europe is frightening. We appear to have done better thus far but our irresistible temptations to celebrate festivals and political and religious leanings bring to naught these efforts. Covid-appropriate behaviour is a misnomer, instead we should adopt ‘social-appropriate behaviour’.
Harbans Lal Kapoor, Mandi
Refer to ‘Incredible success’; Indian para athletes have displayed an inspirational show of grit and passion at the Tokyo Paralympics. They have also steered the media’s attention towards the lack of differently abled-friendly sporting facilities in the country. Shortage of funds for the development of sports infrastructure catering to the differently abled affects participation. Inaccessibility of facilities presents a serious obstacle to Indian para athletes. The Paralympics have brought Indian athletes into the forefront of the nation’s sporting journey and increased investment would result in greater glories.
Ananya Dixit, Bhopal
Apropos of ‘Centre crippling tribunals, says SC’; the anguish expressed by the CJI at the inordinate delay in filling up vacancies is justified. A month earlier, during a hearing of the same case, the Supreme Court had pointed out that ‘vacancies of 20 presiding officers, 110 judicial members and 111 technical members were choking the tribunals, where thousands of cases dealing with specialised laws were pending’. Tribunals were formed to take the load off high courts and expedite justice. The magnitude of the docket explosion facing the judiciary, with over two crore cases pending before the courts, one-third of them being civil in nature, is well known. Against this backdrop, for the Centre to bring in the Tribunals Reforms Act, 2021, attempting to reduce the tenure of chairmen and other members of the various tribunals, is baffling. Though the Act has been challenged before the apex court, it only strengthens the CJI’s suspicion that an attempt is being made to scuttle tribunals. The government should set at rest the misgivings by immediately filling up vacancies.
V Jayaraman, Chennai
China in Afghanistan
China is trapped in an interesting situation in Afghanistan. It has invested heavily in its ambitious CPEC project and cannot abandon it. China needs to have good relations with the Taliban. Pakistan has influence over the Taliban. Pakistan depends on China and obeys its dictates. Will China trust Pakistan? The Taliban need investments and political support from China to survive. China is shrewd. The Taliban won’t get much from China unless they consolidate their power and establish peace. The Chinese will invest only if they are convinced of a return. For that, the Taliban have to show that they can manage and also protect Chinese investments. As of now, China will be generally supportive of the Taliban at international forums, but will invest only when it is sure that the Taliban government is stable. Can China succeed where the Russians and Americans have failed?
Ashok Bahl, Kangra
Death by drugs
This refers to ‘I have lost 2 sons, curb drug menace: Father’. The nexus between political leaders, police officials and drug peddlers in the state of Punjab has led to the destruction of youth of the state and their families. The increase in demand for drugs has led to an increase in crime as these youngsters aren’t able to afford drugs like heroin. Drug addiction has caused the death of hundreds of youngsters. No one is going to benefit from this except politicians and peddlers. There is a need to take immediate action to break this nexus and save the lives of our youth.
Ritish Pandit, Sunhet
The problem in our country is not only that there is delay in getting timely justice for the people, but also that the burden of pending cases in the higher and lower courts is increasing continuously. Delay in justice is known and concerns have been expressed from time to time, but there does not seem to be any significant and promising change. It would be appropriate that all parts of the system, especially the judiciary and executive, should be set right on priority basis. When people will get justice on time, their confidence in the system will increase. The appointments of judges in the upper and lower courts should be done on time. There is also a need to make the judicial system more efficient, speedy and sensitive.
Shakti Singh, Karnal
Refer to ‘Anti-conversion laws violate right to equality’; interfaith marriages must not only be celebrated, but also encouraged by incentives and appreciation for a better understanding of each other’s faith, social harmony and to strengthen bonds among various faiths. But marriages being entered into with ulterior motives, hiding real identity, for deception, cannot be justified and there is nothing wrong in strengthening the existing laws and enacting new laws to deal with such offences. Stringent laws would act as a deterrent and thwart sinister attempts of those who try to force conversion under the garb of love, commonly known as ‘love jihad’.
SWATANTRA MARWAH, Karnal
Reference to ‘Eat right, stay fit’; in order to keep fit, exercise plays an important role. Most of the diseases occur due to the absence of routine exercise. Continuous sitting with no movement invites diseases such as blood pressure, sugar and increase in cholesterol levels. All these diseases can be avoided if simple norms are applied to our daily lives. These include reduction in the intake of salt and sweets, avoiding oil and oily products, taking adequate fluids, walking for at least 30 minutes twice a day, yoga exercise for 15-20 minutes daily, chewing food properly and inclusion of fresh vegetables and fruits in our meals as a routine.
Ashok Agnihotri, Kharar
REFER to ‘Interim arrangement likely till Loya Jirga’; so now the world in the era of modern liberalism relies on the word of an extremist group known for its bestiality to form an interim structure in what seems to be rather chaotic future. No other business should seem more appealing to the United Nations than the Afghan crisis, for the prime objective of the organisation was to establish world peace. It is an excellent opportunity to serve humanity after its lukewarm response and performance during the pandemic. The UNHRC has an equal role to play as violations of rights and the exploitation of refugees has already been asserted and testified by authentic sources.
Akshay Kapoor, Amritsar
Afghanistan on boil
In reference to ‘The new men in Kabul’, political prism, lately in Afghanistan’s geo-ethinic-economic parleys is not yet clear and stable. The world is keenly waiting and watching the situation to take a firm stand for lasting peace, before official recognitions pour in. The Taliban do not have affable credentials. They may learn from their past mistakes, and act wisely after annexing power. Their one agenda which annoys the world is their maltreatment of women and depriving them of education. Their next-door Islamic state, Pakistan, gives freedom and liberty to its women. India is in a catch-22 situation. Afghan terrorists, Pakistan and China are waiting in the wings to foment trouble. The key player Pakistan is working relentlessly on the Kashmir issue. We have to be extremely careful and give no space to Pakistan for any misadventure in a changed scenario, where the Taliban is running with the hare and hunting with the hounds, as seen in their recent controversial and inconsistent statements on Kashmir.
BM SINGH, AMRITSAR
Giving the additional charge of Governor of Punjab to Banwarilal Purohit is an illogical and unjustified move by the Central government. He is also presently serving as the Governor of Tamil Nadu. How can one hold the charge of another state situated around 2,400 km away? It seems that the Centre didn’t find any other suitable Governor from the nearby state of Punjab to be given its additional charge, which has been normally done in the past. This move will only put an additional burden upon the state exchequer, leading to the wastage of public money. The Supreme Court must step in this matter to restrain the government from taking these kinds of decisions. Moreover, the Governor’s post is regarded as a white elephant as it works as per the wishes of the Central government.
Navneet Seth, Dhuri
Agenda for medics
Apropos of ‘In MP, Hindutva icons part of MBBS first year course’, it is strange that instead of inculcating secular values in the minds of students, the BJP is trying to make them communal in approach by only presenting its own icons. They are not the only patriots; there were other more important ones also. Why Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, who were the real freedom fighters, not being introduced to the students? Maharishi Charaka is already being taught in ayurvedic courses and is not needed in the MBBS course.
Vidwan Singh Soni, Patiala
Apropos of ‘Lahaul-Ladakh border row’, way back in 1965, while reconnoitring remote areas of Lahaul-Spiti, I, as Range officer, Border Range, had seen a 2’x2’x 5’ high stone-masonry pillar marking the ibid border. An 18”x18” brass plate stood embedded in that pillar, reading ‘Ladakh to East and Kangra to West’. The location of that boundary pillar was about 4 miles east of the steel footbridge on Lingti Nala. I happened to traverse Serchu in 1982 again, as an officer of the Leh-based Border Roads Task Force. At that time, the boundary pillar in question was reduced to rubble, perhaps by thieves for removing and plundering the metal in the plate. My age notwithstanding, I can still point out the exact location of the state boundary pillar on the ground as well as on the relevant survey sheet.
KL Noatay, Kangra
Refer to ‘Declared after 6 years, literary awards for Punjabi writers yet to be conferred’ and ‘Unkept promise “haunts” FM’; the phrase ‘khazana khali hai’ often comes to mind when reading or hearing news about the non-disbursement or non-approval for disbursement of funds by the finance minister and the Punjab Government. Every government, after coming to power, focuses on providing free amenities to some specific sections in order to strengthen their electorate, but when the turn comes to spend money on some important work, their ‘khazanas’ go empty. This approach has landed the once wealthiest state Punjab into a debt situation.
SANJAY THATAI, Jalalabad
It is sad to read that the ‘Global Meet on Terrorism’ called by the External Affairs Ministry had to be cancelled as only four out of 28 MPs turned up. Most of these MPs are the ones who shout the maximum whenever any untoward incident happens. It is demoralising for the armed forces that face terrorist threats, to see that their elected representatives have no time to discuss such important issues of national interest. These MPs are enjoying all the perks and privileges at the cost of the taxpayers. Why should they not be taken to task for showing scant respect to such burning issues?
Lt Col JS Dullat (retd), Patiala
CJI Ramana has done the right thing to flag that everything in India is shown with a communal overtone by a section of media, particularly social media platforms. The CJI has also rightly noted these entities have no accountability and could freely besmirch individuals and institutions they disliked and were circulating content without verification. The Tablighi Jamaat was demonised and an attempt was made to manipulate the fears already stoked by the pandemic to deepen communal polarisation. The prime suspects were TV channels that played a role to please those in power by amplifying hate with fake news. There are no easy solutions to the problem. The State is part of the problem. Freedom of the Press is an essential part of the people’s right to know. The CJI's anguish could serve a larger purpose, by starting a wider conversation.
EL SINGH, by mail
Channel of hatred
Refer to ‘Weeding out fake news’; many of the contents of social media like Facebook and YouTube are highly objectionable with communal overtones. If the trend remains unchecked, it can lead to hatred amongst communities which, in the long run, is bound to prove detrimental to society and the nation. What more, some organised groups through social media are engaged full time to spread hate among different communities. Let us keep in mind: pollution of social media is far more dangerous than environmental pollution. The earlier it is checked the better it will be.
VK Anand, Chandigarh
Refer to ‘Sensex breaches 58,000-mark for the first time’; Sensex is shooting higher and higher each day, defying the laws of gravitation. It is flowing above the danger mark. One hopes it doesn't replicate the Lehmann Brothers fiasco. All sectors of the economy are under-performing, courtesy the two waves of Covid. Stock market performs if industry performs. Financial wizards can better interpret the contradictions.
HMS NAGRA, FARIDABAD
Politicians are the same, whether the Congress or the BJP when it comes to buying the latest luxury cars for CM, ministers and bureaucrats. At a time when the revenues of the government have fallen due to Covid, the Haryana Government is buying the latest Mercedes Benz car for the CM, Land Rover for its deputy and Honda CRV for other ministers. This kind of splurge was not expected from BJP ministers as they carry an image of simplicity. PM Modi should frame guidelines for its state governments not to waste money on such useless pursuits.
RAMESH GUPTA, NARWANA
What a teacher!
On Teacher’s Day, I am reminded of my dedicated teacher, the late Girdhari Lal who was a real guru. He taught us English in class VII at the nondescript PBN Middle School in Amritsar during the 1950s. Every day, during 10 minutes of roll call, he would write five items on the blackboard, be it sentences for translation, change from noun to pronoun, verb to adverb or difference tenses and other grammar exercises. All students would answer these on a paper during roll call. He would mark these during his free period and give the result to everyone during class. He would cane us on the hand for wrong answers. This daily exercise laid the basis for correct grammatical English. About his honesty one incident comes to mind. He stopped taking tuition for my cousin when he found that he was not interested in studies. He refused to take Rs 25 as fee. It is rare to find dedication and honesty of purpose among teachers now.
Harbachan Singh Sandhu, by mail
Bow in gratitude
Apropos of ‘Shaping lives the way only a guru can’, the role of teachers in inscribing the right kind of values on impressionable minds, along with imparting the best education, help students grow perfectly. Teachers are responsible for equipping and nurturing them with knowledge, skills, talents and potentialities to become better citizens, capable of countenancing life’s challenges effectively and courageously. They deserve our respect for their sterling contributions. What we are today is only because of the teachings and skills imparted by our teachers.
Ravi Sharma, Dhariwal
THE CJI's concern about ‘Fake, communal news bringing a bad name to the country’ will find an echo in every right thinking citizen of India. There are reports of such news triggering the killings of innocents, besides creating hate and fear in the minds of the readers, making one wonder if we are living in a civilised society. As all appeals at self regulation have failed, it is time the government took some strong measures to curb the menace. The SG, Tushar Mehta, has contended before the Supreme Court that the IT Rules 2021 have been framed precisely to regulate web portals and social media platforms, which have predictably been challenged before various courts of the country as an ‘attempt at curbing freedom of speech and expression’. With the petitions since transferred to the apex court, one hopes for an early verdict.
V Jayaraman, Chennai
No honour in killing
Refer to ‘Tackling honour killing’; parents should accept an inter-caste, or even an inter-faith marriage, for the happiness of their children. A Hindu girl marrying a Muslim boy against the wishes of her parents and converting to Islam has become rather common. Marriage may be fine, but not conversion. If there is true love between the two, each one should be willing to accept the other's faith. There are instances, especially among some celebrities, where a Hindu woman has married a Muslim man but without converting to Islam. Here, another moot point comes to one’s mind. If a Hindu girl asks her Muslim boyfriend to convert to Hinduism, would he do that?
WG CDR CL SEHGAL (RETD), JALANDHAR
The so-called 20 years of military presence of the US since the presidency of George W Bush has been brought to a naught, with Russian President Vladimir Putin contending that the US achieved ‘zero’ in Afghanistan. This is perceived as a complete intelligence failure of the US. Other countries such as Britain concede the failure of its espionage. Now begins the substantial hardship of mediating with the Taliban. Countries like India are trying to bolster peaceful ties with the Taliban. The US is yet to react to the diplomatic attack by Putin, but this is not the time to accuse each other, rather it is time to work together and help civilians in Afghanistan, either by evacuating them or signing an MOU with other countries for maintaining peace and security in the country.
Mehtaab Singh Rehal, Patiala
Apropos of ‘1 crore doses a day’, over 50 per cent Indians getting at least one shot of Covid vaccine is a significant milestone of the Covid-19 inoculation drive. However, there still is the need to unlock carefully, as these developments are likely to give a fillip to the post-second wave opening-up underway across the country. There can be hardly any doubt on the need for people to be freed from the pandemic-imposed restrictions. At the same time, there are abundant reasons to suggest that necessary caveats be built into the un-lockdown measures. The temptation to assume pre-Covid normalcy should be resisted. This may help in thwarting the third wave being predicted in September-October.
PL SINGH, by mail
Austerity in public life
‘An early lesson in austerity’ highlights the dire need of austerity in public life. In the past, we had honest, dedicated and committed leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri who practiced a simple, principled life and were close to the common people. It is the tragedy of Indian democracy that in today’s feudal political system, a majority of legislators have abandoned Gandhi’s ideals. They indulge in all kinds of unlawful activities to grab power, amass wealth and live lavishly. They are public servants, not masters. It is heartening that the issue of a clean, ethical public life is gaining importance. Leaders should be sensitive to people’s problems, perform their constitutional responsibilities conscientiously and make the country a better place to live in.
DS Kang, Hoshiarpur
Rising air pollution
How far air pollution can be deleterious to our health has been revealed by the report ‘Air pollution can shorten lives of 40% Indians by 9 years: Study’. It has labelled India as the most polluted country and has also mentioned that millions are at risk. Health risks increase considerably as the AQI rises. Some polluted cities of India witness AQI value as high as 300, making people gasp rather than breathe. The particulate matter in air sabotages health and environment. Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter have detrimental effects on lungs, blood and heart. Rising to the occasion, the NGT and various pollution boards should work aggressively and give exemplary punishment to defaulters. We, the citizens of the country, should also be serious about this issue and do our bit.
Sunil Chopra, Ludhiana
The article ‘Take one step at a time’ paints a realistic picture of the situation arising from the sudden withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan. This ignominious withdrawal has thrown up a number of problems for India. With America leaving and the collapse of the Afghan army, a large cache of arms and equipment has fallen into Talban's hands. It is feared that it may not be transferred to terror groups to be used in Kashmir. Picture about the top Afghan leadership is not yet clear, but one thing is known that Haqqani is in control of Afghanistan's national security. This is a matter of concern for India. There have been some diplomatic moves, including the meeting between Modi and Putin, but the situation is still unsettled. It is a real test for Indian diplomacy — to rein in/win Taliban by friendly gestures, ward off terrorism and cut Pakistan to size.
Beant Singh Bedi, Mohali
Apropos of ‘Expedite GDP growth’, the latest GDP estimates expectedly show that national output rebounded in Q1 of the current fiscal from the record contraction in April-June 2020, when the pandemic’s onset and the lockdown gutted the economy. The numbers, however, show a different picture when compared with either the preceding quarter or the pre-pandemic first quarter of fiscal 2019-20. The economy is not yet out of the woods, though there are signs of recovery. As the growth in touch-intensive service sectors has still not recovered, the government should increase its investment to boost growth capital expenditure in the country and fiscal measures should ensure that the overall consumption demand does not weaken.
SS Paul, Nadia
Refer to ‘Decoding hate-for-the-record phenomenon’; a sense of déjà vu engulfs the reader. It appears that the writer has made Uttar Pradesh her journalistic playground and she rarely ventures outside this province for gathering information. She has inadvertently developed a habit of generalising the whole country on the basis of her experiences in UP. But even that is not without bias. For example, she conveniently overlooks what some Muslim clerics utter every other day. It would have lent her discourse some element of genuineness had she included their utterings. Conscientious citizens do not think that a state like UP can represent India as a whole. She should make a holistic assessment before expressing her views.
LR Sharma, Sundernagar
Schools are returning back to their original offline mode where students can physically interact with teachers. This is a boon not only for rural kids who have no or little access to digital gadgets, communication signals and even electricity, but also for city students whose screen time has enormously increased. However, the inoculation of the teachers and students is a must. The enforcement of the Covid-19 guidelines among children is a humongous task for schools. The threat of the third wave looms large, but paediatric health infrastructure is still short. The governments should promptly focus on revamping health infrastructure, vaccinations and testing.
Varinder pal Singh, by mail
India is ranked as the worst-hit by air pollution in the world. Soil, water and sound pollution are also harming human health, besides air pollution. The use of insecticides, allowing mixing of effluents of distilleries and industrial units, uncontrolled deforestation, unrestrained disposing of garbage in megacities in the open are some of the causes for pollution. The annual air quality life index published by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago is dangerously alarming. Life expectancy would be reduced by nine years. NGOs, religious groups, all media, authorities, state and union governments should take strict and effective action in this regard. A large part of the budget is squandered by all political parties for advertisements to influence voters. Nothing is done to awaken people to climate change and pollution. Most of an individual’s income is spent on medicines, but the real and ultimate root cause of diseases is ignored. The health and other ministries concerned should be directed and empowered to take action against the guilty and save the lives of the innocent masses.
DILWAR ALI MEERAK, TOHANA
Poor air quality
India is the most polluted country in the world. A recent study shows that if this problem persists, it can shorten the lives of the people and have an adverse effect on their health. If timely steps are not taken to control it, it will be difficult for people to survive. The authorities should take major steps to contain pollution.
Kirti Jain, by mail
THE decision of the UP CM to ban the sale of meat and liquor in Mathura defies logic. Does Mathura not have locals who are followers of different religions? Isn’t it visited by people from other countries and Indian states who consume ‘both’? Don't personnel from the armed and paramilitary forces in Mathura consume liquor and meat, which the Government of India allows them to as part of entitled ration? It is easier said than done that the affected sellers should change their profession. What about banning cigarettes, bidis, tobacco, paan, gutkha and bhang, etc?
SPS NARANG, NEW DELHI
Disability no hurdle
The greatest sporting spectacle continues to bring happy tidings for India as the Tokyo Paralympics takes off from where the Tokyo Olympics left. At the halfway mark, India have gone past their best-ever medal tally, winning two gold medals with a world record to boot. Shining in the glittering star cast is javelin para-thrower Devendra Jhajharia whose silver is as bright as his 2004 gold at Athens. Wheelchair- bound shooter Avani Lekhara’s gold revives our memory of Indias first individual gold winner Abhinav Bindra, who is also Avani’s idol. Our differently abled men and women athletes have proved that their disability hasn’t disabled their spirit to shy away from any competition. Getting due recognition from the PM and the President, besides Neeraj Chopra, will go a long way in bringing more glory for India in these competitions.
SK SINGH, by mail
Fruits of labour
lt is a moment of pride for India at the Paralympics as debut shooter Avani Lekhara has scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in the history of Paralympics. Indian athletes are shining at the world stage, despite all odds. Though the number is still small, which is likely to increase in coming days, it’s significant, given the multitude of odds, right from the lack of world-class infrastructure to lack of encouragement. India has to go a long way in making the country a sports star. The encouragement from the government and private entities should go beyond praising the winners and rewarding them in a knee-jerk fashion.
Yash Pal Ralhan, Jalandhar
The ongoing slugfest that started with CM Khattar alleging that the Amarinder Singh government was instigating farmers, has now taken an interesting turn. Khattar, in a series of tweets, listed out several steps taken by the Haryana Government in the past seven years for crop diversification, water conservation, smart farming and direct benefit transfer of several incentives to farmers — the areas which have been completely ignored by successive governments in Punjab, leaving the Captain ‘tweetless’. The onus is now on the Captain to respond and match facts with facts.
‘Future woman CJI sworn in’ suggests that judicial appointments are not made on merit alone, but there are some other considerations also. The other considerations are political party affiliations, caste, religion, region, gender etc. At times, there are public demands that a Sikh, Muslim, Dalit, an OBC be made CJI, and that was done. Recently, it was demanded that a woman be made CJI, and now that may also get fulfilled in near future.
Baldev Singh, Australia
Although evacuation operations after Kabul bombings have resumed, airlifting all foreign nationals by the deadline will be difficult. This can create a hostage situation where the Taliban or other militant outfits could detain the remaining foreigners. US President Biden has vowed to hunt down those behind the airport bombings, but there is no denying that his administration messed up the evacuation process. Pulling US troops out before complete civilian evacuation was a huge mistake, as was prematurely leaving the Bagram airbase. which Taliban later took over and released thousands of prisoners housed there. The fear of Afghanistan once again becoming the launching pad for international terror groups may become a reality. With such a large number of Taliban fighters and weapons, Afghanistan descending into civil war is a possibility. This puts India in a spot. Its focus is on evacuating its citizens, but it would soon need to have contingencies in place if Afghanistan becomes a terror haven.
MS KHOKHAR, by mail
Act against SDM
It was shocking to learn that the Karnal SDM ordered the police to ‘break the heads’ of the farmers who were protesting in Karnal and gave a free hand to the police to lathicharge them, leading to serious injuries to several farmers. The SDM must be punished and be given only jobs which may be performed in office confines. Action must be taken at the earliest. Any delay will prove counterproductive.
Subhash C Taneja, Gurugram
REFERENCE to the editorial ‘Erasing Nehru’; in the present politically vitiated atmosphere, any thing can happen. While vigorously airbrushing the country’s history and creating a communal divide, how can we conceive of being part of the great festival of ambrosia that our Independence was. Can the country be brainwashed to forget Nehru as India’s first
PM and his contribution to the nation? That is impossible.
However hard the present regime tries to overlook Nehru, neither can he be dwarfed nor can any of them match him.
EPSA PRASHAR, DHARAMSALA
Nehru stands tall
Apropos of ‘Erasing Nehru’, dropping Nehru from the poster because his political ideology was different from that of the current dispensation is the height of political vindictiveness. Nehru’s stellar contribution towards liberating and modernising India cannot be belittled through these churlish and childish tactics. These petty leaders won’t be able to diminish his towering stature by distorting history. Those who opposed the Quit India Movement are being glorified and those who languished in jail for years are being sidelined. The day is not far when Gandhi will also disappear from the political firmament of India.
ROSHAN LAL GOEL, LADWA
This refers to ‘Erasing Nehru’. It is disgraceful that the ICHR has omitted the photograph of Nehru. The member secretary’s explanation for the omission is ludicrous and the issue has triggered a controversy, with Opposition parties slamming the government for being ‘petty’, which has never been seen in the past.
Bhagwan Thadani, Mumbai
Reference to ‘No should mean no’; SJVN Ltd has a history of completing two mega hydroelectric projects in the Sutlej basin with world-class construction techniques rendering zero leakages from underground water conductor systems of more than 50-km length. The techniques of controlled blasting coupled with blast seismic studies in the vicinity by an independent agency of repute, the National Institute of Rock Mechanics, have been conducted in real time in the presence of locals. Employment opportunities have been generated by engaging local vehicles, contractors and outsourcing from locals. All said and done, the solution lies in improving the domain further rather than removing the scope at all. The project would be a boon to local people. Impetus for harnessing hydropower from projects like Jangi Thopan cannot be ignored; of course, in the most professional way with a collaborative approach with locals who are important stakeholders in such ventures.
Kranti Kumar Gupta, Panchkula
Nothing but trouble
Navjot Singh Sidhu, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, is a troublemaker. He is not fit for politics. He always starts creating problems for the party wherever he has been. He is a man of his own whims and does not listen to anyone. If he is unable to work with Capt Amarinder Singh, he cannot work with any party. The Chief Minister was right in not taking him into his Cabinet, despite pressure from all sides. The Congress must immediately expel him, otherwise he will create problems for the party in the coming elections.
Subhash Dhall, by mail
Wounds have healed
Refer to ‘Lest we forget the horrors of Partition’; August 14 as ‘Partition Horrors Remembrance Day’ may have been be a good idea, but has come at a time when people on both sides of the Radcliffe Line have forgotten the horrors of Partition. They have got on with their lives and achieved spectacular success post migration from their ancestral lands. The tragedy of Partition was suffered by both communities, thus it is sad that August 14 should be chosen when the other side celebrates its Independence Day. The various commemoration/remembrance days mentioned are not in the same league as Partition. Here, the riots erupted without any warning. The killings were neither orchestrated by the government of the day nor by any other organised establishment. Those who came at each other’s throats were all Indians. The lives lost cannot be termed as a sacrifice as the killings were mindless. There was no patriotism involved in that senseless fever which engulfed the populace on both sides. The wounds have healed. They better not be scratched. The pain will be unbearable and may give rise to another reason to promote hate and discord.
YOGINDER PAUL, Chandigarh