Babri Finale

SWEET AND SOUR

I was on leave when Justice Liberhan’s findings on the destruction of the Babri Masjid were handed over to the Government. I may be somewhat late in pronouncing my verdict on Liberhan but I am so pent up on my emotions that I cannot hold back; better late than never.

First a sarcastic thanks to Liberhan for letting millions of people who watched the sordid episode on the TV sets know what they already knew 17 years ago and at the price of eight crore rupees. We know Advani had fouled the atmosphere by his rath yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya. We know what the collection of bricks from all over India was designed to build a Ram Mandir on the very site that the Masjid stood and would require its demolition to do so. We knew Kalyan Singh was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and had assured Prime Minister Narasimha Rao that the mosque would not be touched. He had lied then, he is lying now when he says the destruction of the mosque was the act of God. It was not.

It was the act of Satan in human forms. They had come prepared with scythes and hammers to demolish the mosque. They were members of the RSS, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal and the Hindu Vishwa Parishad. The so-called police force present on the scene did not raise a lathi to stop them. We saw Uma Bharati embrace Murli Manohar Joshi to celebrate the foul deed. While all this was taking place, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao who, at the most of times believed in the wisdom of doing nothing, did nothing more than sack Kalyan Singh. What now? Future action on the report has to be recommended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P Chidambaram and the Congress Party in power. If justice is to take its course, the perpetrators of the crime deserve to be put in jail. However, that would be politically unwise as in our country that is one sure way of making villains into heroes. The best course would be to pass a resolution in Parliament expressing deep regret for what happened in Ayodhya with the undertaking that such things will never again be repeated.

Ace Principal

Of the hundreds of schools in Delhi at least six claim to be the best in the capital and among the top in India. All produce evidence of good results in exams and sports and names of boys and girls who achieved eminence in later life. I have no means of checking their claims to excellence but I do know that it is very hard to get admission into any of them. Some demand extortionate donations for admittance and stories of corruption are rampant. However, I do know that no other Principal of a school in India has been honoured by the Government as the Head of DPS of R K Puram. Last year Shayama Chona had Padma Bhushan bestowed on her. She joined the staff of the school in 1984. After many extensions in her tenure, she is due to retire in a month or so.

Shayama Chona is a product of Jaipur Maharani Gayatri Devi School and college. Her husband is now a retired Major General. They have two daughters. For me her real claim to fame is what she made of her daughter Tamanna.

She was a handicapped child, unable to utter a word or walk unaided till she was nine years old. I met her when she came with her parents to dine with me one summer in Kasauli. She was still in her teens. I could sense she had some difficulty in speaking but she chatted away merrily and had no problem walking unaided.

What was more remarkable, she was running an institution for retarded children, named after her, Tamanna School. I was able to persuade my brothers and sister to donate a block out of our family charitable trust. One of the distinguished visitors of the school was the late Princess Diana. I did not get to see Shayama Chona more than once a year when I want to attend the annual meetings of the Delhi Public School society, which is the apex body overlooking the vast network of DPS schools in India and abroad.
It has been chronically faction-ridden with ambitious men aspiring to be its Presidents, Chairman, Secretary etc. Besides the patronage, they get a lot of perks—so the wrangling goes on & on. Couple of years ago principals of different schools were co-opted as Members of the Society. So the doyen of Principals Shayama Chona was always there.

She never opened her mouth. Most of the time she sat in silence with her eyes shut as if fast asleep. In fact she was wide-awake but did not want to take sides or waste her breath, mouthing platitudes. She had more important things to do. People like Shayama Chona never retire. I have no doubt she keeps making news in the field of education.

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