Print edition : April 24, 1999

India's National Magazine from the publishers of THE HINDU

NATO's aggression

'Shock' is a mild word to describe my feelings when I read about NATO's naked aggression against Yugoslavia ("War in Europe", April 23). After the fall of the Soviet Union, the world has become unipolar with the U.S. calling the shots. The U.S. has become the greatest threat to world peace.

In order to check the U.S., a strategic triangle comprising Russia, China and India, as proposed by Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov a few months ago, should be formed. Countries with huge military capabilities such as the U.S. and the U.K., are tempted to undertake military action against smaller countries in the absence of pressure from the international community. A military alliance like the Warsaw Pact is needed in order to contain the U.S. and maintain world peace.

S. Raghunatha Prabhu Alappuzha, Kerala EMS

The two-day seminar organised to commemorate the first death anniversary of E.M.S. Namboodiripad ("Remem- bering EMS," April 23) was a fitting tribute to the late Marxist leader in that it will help propagate his vision of a secular and egalitarian India. EMS was a man of history. Yet he was the first victim of misuse of Article 356 of the Constitution. But from there, the Communist movement has come a long way.

Launching a mass movement against communalism may be a better way to pay tributes to EMS than installing a statue.

A. Jacob Sahayam Thiruvananthapuram BJP rule

The Cover Story, "Combative Mood"(April 9), was bold and comprehensive. The steep rise in the prices of onion and other vegetables, edible oil, pulses and spices, the Vishnu Bhagwat affair, Mohan Guruswamy's allegations - all these sullied the reputation of the BJP-led Government.

Our political leaders have become experts in giving assurances which would never materialise. This explains why the rich have become richer and the poor poorer. Even after 50 years of freedom our villages do not have proper roads, schools, hospitals and not even safe drinking water.

B.N. Bose Mumbai Folk deities

The article "Deities of the people" (April 9) was rich in detail. It aptly stressed the significance of the study of folklore in the economic, political and cultural spheres in the present-day world. It also drew attention to the fact that folk culture, which represents the culture of a majority of the people of this country, has been unjustly overtaken by classical and popular cultures and cautions readers against the dangerous attempts to homogenise culture.

I hope this article will create an awareness about our rich and diverse cultural heritage and the importance of according respect to its various facets.

Ponneelan Monikettipottal, Tamil Nadu Khajuraho

This has reference to "Millennium at Khajuraho" (April 9). It is heartening to note that the Madhya Pradesh Government plans to launch an integrated plan for the all-round development of Khajuraho, a thousand-year-old architectural splendour. It is one of our national assets which we must preserve at all costs. Our rich cultural heritage, as reflected in the Khajuraho temple complex is truly a monument to the celebration of life in all its complexity.

Onkar Chopra New Delhi DGHS

Apropos the article, "A key appointment under a cloud" by T.K. Rajalakshmi (April 9), the position of the case is as under:

This article is about the ACRs written in respect of Dr. S.P. Agarwal, DGHS, for the years 1988-89 to 1995-96 and his selection to the post of DGHS. These issues were the subject matter in a court case (OA No.952/96) filed by Dr. V.P. Bansal, Addl. DGHS, in the Central Administrative Tribunal (Principal Bench), New Delhi, and the Tribunal dismissed this OA (vide judgment dated 20.3.1997), after hearing arguments and examination of the original records of the ACRs. The Review Application No.118/97 with MA No.1201 and 1202 of 1997 against this judgment was also rejected by the Tribunal on 11.8.1997.

Against these judgments, Dr. Bansal has filed a writ petition in the High Court of Delhi (C.W. No.4617/97) which is still pending. On the same issues, Dr. Bansal had also filed another case (OA No. 105/98) in CAT, New Delhi which was also dismissed by the CAT on 29.1.99.

Separately, a Criminal Contempt Petition was moved by Dr. Bansal in the OA No.952/96 on 11.11.97 in which it was, inter alia, alleged that there were interpolations and fabrications in the ACR Dossiers of Dr. S.P. Agarwal. On this petition, the Chairman of the Tribunal ordered that no prima facie case was made out for criminal contempt nor it appears just and expedient to initiate contempt proceeding. Against this order, dated 16.12.97, Dr. V.P. Bansal filed a Criminal Writ Petition No.254/98 in the High Court of Delhi which was eventually dismissed on 24.2.99.

S. Subramanian, Deputy Principal Information Officer, Government of India, New Delhi.

The points that were raised by Dr. Bansal in his petitions are not within our knowledge. But we are aware of the complaints sent to the Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Cabinet Secretary, which provide documentary evidence that certain Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) may have been rendered in an irregular manner. The story was based in essence on these complaints. As far as we are aware, no court of law has yet provided an authoritative determination of this question. - Editor, Frontline.

Gender justice

The All India Democratic Women's Association deserves appreciation for its struggles in the cause of women ("Women and their battles", April 9). Women's role in social life, especially in India, is largely confined to giving birth to children and looking after the home. They suffer even more oppression after marriage. In a male-dominated society like India this oppression leads to many psychological problems, which manifest themselves in various forms.

Women's organisations generally confine themselves to issues affecting urban women. A majority of women in India live in villages, poverty-stricken and ignorant. Their yearning for emancipation often remains unexpressed. The hazards they face in everyday life should be highlighted and addressed.

Buddhadev Nandi Bishnupur, West Bengal * * *

The public distribution system as it functions today is not woman-friendly. As articles are not distributed at a fixed time, women, already burdened with manifold, stressful responsibilities at home, have to spend long hours in the queue. Rural women are the worst sufferers, for villages have fewer fair price shops than towns and cities. Which women's organisation will fight for them?

Reserving 33 per cent of seats for women in legislature and panchayats will not help unless problems such as illiteracy and health are not addressed. Also, there is no evidence to show that all women leaders have worked for the uplift of women. It was men like Raja Ram Mohun Roy and Gandhiji who did this.

Jyoti Doshi Jamnagar, Gujarat * * *

It was an enlightening article. However, it is regrettable that none of the resolutions passed at the meeting spoke about two things that set women apart from men: motherhood and the predominant role of women in the family in the Indian context.

Motherhood cannot be substituted. This does not mean that a woman is a machine for reproduction. Motherhood is something more than that. In any auspicious occasion in the family the women and the purohits play dominant role.

One of the resolutions passed at the meeting refers to the increase in the number of cases of crime against women and their spread to new areas. Invariably in most of the cases of crimes against women, it is a woman (a mother-in-law or a sister-in-law) who is blamed. Women's attention should be drawn to this aspect of the problem also.

K.C. Kalkura Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh Jammu and Kashmir

The voices from different quarters suggesting a division of Jammu and Kashmir have no basis in reality. Any such move would only deepen the communal divide. More dangerous, it would give room to separatist forces and their nefarious designs to flourish.

Sanjeev Kudesia Hafr-al-Batin, Saudi Arabia Vishnu Bhagwat

In an interview telecast on Doordarshan on April 6, Defence Minister George Fernandes gave the reasons for the dismissal of Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat. The reasons were: the Admiral defied government orders; his actions jeopardised the career of certain senior naval officers; he lied to the Government and he leaked to the media sensitive information on naval operations. Fernandes broke his silence only when a "political earthquake" threatened to bring down the Government. However, in substance his revelations were no different from what he had said in January after the dismissal of Admiral Bhagwat. The only difference was that his tone and tenor this time was quite harsh, the defence mechanism in him being hyperactive!

If the charges against the former Chief of the Naval Staff were so serious, what restrained the powers-that-be from warning him in the first instance or from instituting an inquiry? Such a course of action would have also given Bhagwat an opportunity to explain his stand.

The President's action in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 15(1) of the Navy Act, 1957 goes against the principles of natural justice. Nor does it conform to the known pattern of responsive and responsible governance, bound by the rule of law.

Since the issues raised are of national concern, the demand for a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) is absolutely justified.

Gp.Capt. G.C. Mohanty (retd.) Chhanpur, Orissa

Politics today

What are the minimum requirements for seeking to form an alternative government? I suppose issues, concern, and love for the people you want to serve.

One expects politicians to think of the need to reach out to millions of people who are deprived of political, social and economic justice, to employ educated persons productively in projects that create jobs and wealth for the country, to educate those who have been left out of the education system (crucial in the information age), to create a health care system that takes care of every income group, and so on. These are some of the issues on which politicians of various hues are expected to have differences. But those who seek power do it out of their selfishness. The elected representatives are spending a good part of their time in political intrigue and manipulation.

Those who seek to exploit the present situation of political instability in India will be doing injustice to the coming generations. The unhealthy trends in politics one sees today need to be stopped. One of the ways to do this is to elect a Prime Minister after a national debate in which issues are discussed and ensure that he or she stays in power for a full term.

Dr. Prasad S. Thenkabail New Haven, United States

Khalsa tercentenary

The country, particularly North India, is witnessing a grand celebration of the tercentenary of the birth of the Khalsa. The 'secular' Indian state is financing the event by donating more than Rs.100 crores to the organisers. The Sangh Parivar is participating in a big way in the celebrations. The vice-president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, B.L. Sharma Prem, has converted to Sikhism. (One really wonders why he should convert to Sikhism when it is claimed to be a part of Hinduism.)

Unfortunately, however, the problem with such religious celebrations turned political spectacles is that history is taken as unidirectional. The history of Khalsa has not always been a story of the fight for truth and justice. Unlike the Sikh masses, the Sikh ruling classes more often than not sided with the British rulers. Has anyone attempted to know how many times saropas (religious honour) were presented to the British rulers by the leaders of the Khalsa Panth? In Delhi, outside the Delhi Gate GPO and the Hindu Rao Hospital, are two stone tablets erected by the British rulers in remembrance of their victory over the native forces in 1857. They say, "The Company forces entered the city from here with the help of the timely arrival of Sikh and Gorkha forces ...."

Nana Saheb of Bithoor, who most heroically led the native forces, wrote a letter in the seventh Sudi of Kartik Samvat 1915 (year 1858). In this letter written after his defeat he said: "This was the defeat of the entire country, not mine (alone). It was because of the Gorkhas, Sikhs and the princely order... India has been defeated. The defeat has been caused by the Gorkhas, Sikhs and princely states." (from Remember Us Once in a While... Letters of Martyrs; Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India).

Neelima Sharma Delhi
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