Enough can’t be said
It is heart-stopping to behold the photographs of the extent of devastation caused by the cloud bursts in Kedarnath/Chardham and one is spellbound hearing the experiences of those who could were helped by the Army jawans. They have rendered yeoman service in the truest sense and there aren’t enough words to praise them.
This reminds me of the classic poem ‘Rugby Chapel’ by Matthew Arnold, in which he puts people into three categories. The poet says that the first category of the people are good-for-nothing, do not help anybody or any cause and waste their precious lives and they are like the waves in the mid-sea in the moonlit night. Neither do they reach heaven, nor help others get there. The second category of people set off with many to reach heaven, but lose the others in a life-storm, only managing to reach heaven themselves and informing the gatekeeper that they could not help the others. The poet includes himself in the second category. The third category of people are so diligent, responsible and strain their every nerve and sinew so that not only do they reach heaven, but also ensure that others also reach heaven.
Axiomatically, our proud jawans come under the venerable third category. Let us salute our jawans. We are however, not optimistic that our political class will take a leaf out of the book of jawans and have no doubt that they will be included in the first category.
T M Udayshankar
Retirement ‘nests’, at our expense
The union government had once rightly banned converting government bungalows into memorials and developing any more ‘samadhis’ in New Delhi, which had become a trend at one point. But it is also wrong to provide spacious government bungalows to former Presidents, vice Presidents and prime ministers for a lifetime, a privilege which extends to their spouses for their lifetime in case of death of the incumbent.
Many state governments also have rules to provide similar post-retirement ‘palaces’ for former chief ministers even though he or she might have been chief minister for a couple of days. Several CMs misused government funds during their regime to building post-retirement palaces for themselves at public expense.
Such criminal waste of public resources needs to be stopped. If no such system exists for retired heads in the judiciary and bureaucracy, it is highly improper to extend such a princely facility to those having held high postings in legislature. Former Chief Justice of India J S Verma resided in a rented accommodation after retirement because honesty could not make him build a post-retirement bungalow for himself.
India should follow the example of the US, where every retired President gets half of his last paid salary as the only post-retirement benefit from the government, without any bungalow, staff or other privileges at government expense.
Weather advisory ads, if need be
There is unnecessary discussion about why the Uttarakhand state government did not heed the advice of the meteorological department , which had predicted heavy rains. While the authorities justify it is routine, one fails to understand why the met department did not take up this issue through the media and timely press releases, which would have at least alerted the concerned public.
Hereafter, the met should spend from its budget some money to release its observations on the front page of prominent newspapers, so that not only locals are warned, so are the tourists.
Flat prices that floor you
As per a recent survey conducted by a leading agency, the average price of over 30 per cent of flats in Mumbai exceeds Rs 1 crore. In this context, it would not be out of place to mention a recent real estate deal contracted for a large apartment in the sea-facing part of the Worli area of Mumbai. The agreement price quoted was Rs 1.15 lakhs per square feet; the highest in entire Asia.
Overwhelmingly male concern
This is regarding the photograph of a conference held in Saudi Arabia, which was attended by representatives from 15 Islamic countries. The purpose of the gathering was to hold discussion on the problems faced by the women in these theocratic nations. What marks the event as unusual is the fact that all the participating delegates were males.
Full circle with the Taliban
True to the saying that there are no permanent friends nor permanent foes in politics, the US seem to have gone ahead in engaging the Taliban with talks. During the Soviet-Afghan rule, the Taliban were America’s blue-eyed boy. After the fall of the then regime of Afghanistan, the Taliban became a bitter foe, as it wouldn’t give room to the US to place its favourites in the seat of governance. And now with “drawdown” nearing and every possibility of Taliban assuming the upper hand in ruling that country for a very long period and raising the issue of human rights violations in that country by the Americans, Washington appears to have turned nervous and hence this holding out of olive branch to the Taliban to assuage its feelings and to buy peace without trial in the international court of justice. It’s an expedient approach by the US, which the Taliban and the international community should clearly read.
R N Shanbhag