|P U N J A B||
Sunday, March 21, 1999
poser to CM
no repository of Harappan culture
absence topic of discussion
of free power challenged
against women on rise
against state YC chief
held on graft charge
announces schemes for town
Chandumajra's poser to CM
LUDHIANA, March 20 A senior SAD leader and MP, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra today questioned the criterion of discipline sought to be enforced by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who is also the party chief.
Talking to reporters here, Mr Chandumajra, who is a Tohra loyalist, referred to statements issued in the recent days by various functionaries warning against the violation of party discipline and said that attempts to highlight the problems of people, their rights, hopes and aspirations and cautioning the leadership against taking any steps which might undermine the unity of the party, tarnish its image and lower the dignity of the Sikh institutions, could not be termed acts of indiscipline.
He wondered how any move to curb attempts by Badal loyalists to do what even the Congress leaders like Mrs Indira Gandhi and Mr Rajiv Gandhi failed to achieve, i.e the lowering of the dignity of Akal Takht and the defiance of "hukamnama" issued by its Jathedar, could invite action for party indiscipline.
He pointed out that it was the Congress which was trying to raise the bogey of return of terrorism to Punjab. It was, therefore, strange that the Badal camp was also speaking the same language. Mr Chandumajra said Mr Tohra and his associates were trying to spread the message of peace. They were also asking the leadership to fulfil the poll promises. He said not a single kilometre of road had been built, not a single school upgraded and not a single new dispensary had been established during the past two years. How could this be termed as an act of indiscipline.
The SAD leader said that while resources of the state had been concentrated on Gidderbaha and Muktsar and farmers had been given a compensation of Rs 10,000 per acre for the loss of crops, no such benefit had been given to farmers in other parts of the state. How could their suggestion to Mr Badal to press the Centre for a grant of Rs 300 crore for payment to farmers be termed as an anti-party activity. The Chief Minister should strive to ensure the withdrawal of the hike in the prices of urea and diesel and seek an amicable solution to the Udham Singh Nagar issue.
He pointed out that the
SAD had always opposed the use of Article 356. Now that
the party was a partner in the ruling combine at the
Centre, it was being asked to support it. Would it not
weaken the party and tarnish its image. "If we try
to tell the leadership not to take a wrong step, how can
this be described as an act of indiscipline. We will
continue to struggle against family rule and dictatorial
acts in order to strengthen the SAD", he said.
Ghaggar no repository of Harappan
PATIALA, March 20 The Ghaggar, identified with the mythical Saraswati river, is not a repository of the Harappan culture and attempts to portray it as such will only communalise the history of the erstwhile Punjab region.
Extensive surveys in Haryana and the neighbouring areas where the Ghaggar is an important river have revealed that there is no evidence of Harappan culture in Ambala and Sirsa districts. This was stated by Prof. D.N. Jha of Delhi University in his paper against communalising history at the 31st session of the Punjab History Conference being held at Punjabi University here.
The historian said even in Pakistan there were no major Harappan sites on the Hakra which is identified with the Saraswati river there.
He further said despite all these facts efforts to rename the civilisation of the Indus valley after the lost and elusive Vedic Saraswati was going on unabated in order to establish the superiority of the Saraswati over the Indus. This, he said, was adding a communal dimension to the Harappan and Vedic studies as also to the history of the Punjab.
Prof. Jha said the claim of some archaeologists that the Aryans lived in the valley of the Sarawati river as mentioned in Vedic texts was not based on facts. Similar assertions that the Aryans were the authors of what is known as the Indus civilisation were not grounded in reality.
The historian also went back to the topic of Aryans while touching upon the issue of the alleged mass religious conversions and the need to take back into the Hindu fold those who had been converted to Islam and Christianity in the past. He said there was hardly any evidence to suggest that the Aryans who came to north-western India and moved eastwards, forcibly imposed Vedic practises. He added that on the contrary there were indications in the Rig Veda that the Aryans and the pre-Aryan groups were gradually absorbed by the Vedic people.
Prof. Jha said the view that Muslims were destroyers of Hindu temples and converted Hindus to Islam by force was largely unfounded. He added that the mass conversion of the indigenous Indian population in Punjab, Sind and other parts of north-western India was the result of sufi saints. He said the sufis gained a following because of their ability to adjust to the local environment and accommodate religious ideas of people they interacted with.
He laid stress on the fact that similar good work done by Christian missionaries from the sixteenth century onwards in the field of education and health care had influenced a substantial number of educated Indians.
Prof. Jha added that the process of conversion to both Islam and Christianity had to be studied by historians as part of the socio-cultural history of different regions. He said the call for a national debate on conversions was only an excuse to implement the Vishav Hindu Parishad's "Hindu agenda" and camouflage the real problems being faced the people.
Prof Indu Banga of Panjab University while delivering Sita Ram memorial lecture on "the State and Society in Punjab Under Sikh Rule" at the conference emphasised that there was greater interaction between the two in that period than even before.
Dr J.S. Grewal, former Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, while speaking on the topic "Khalsa in the Bansavalinama" presented an analysis of Kesar Singh Chhibber's Bansavalinama to examine the treatment of the Khalsa.
Earlier in yesterday's evening sessions Prof Ravindera Kumar Sharma from Kurukshetra University (President, Medieval Section) while presenting his paper on the topic of "The First Line of Defence: Forts, Fortification and Walled Cities of Punjab and North-West Frontier" said this period saw the revival of older established fortifications.
Dr Neelima Dahiya from
MDU, Rohtak, also delivered her presidential address on
ancient Indian history. Prof B.R. Grover, Delhi, spoke on
"A Rare and Unique Manuscript of Dasham Granth
Sahib: By Guru Gobind Singh Ji".
Making of a Budget I
CHANDIGARH, March 20 The Budget will be presented in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on March 24.
The Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, faces an uphill task, which becomes all the more difficult in view of the pressures on the funds and poor fiscal management in the past two years, coupled with lack of political will to mobilise resources.
The revenue outflow has far exceeded the inflow on which the finance has no control. This also is a reflection on the revenue earning departments, namely, excise and taxation, transport and revenue. The only silver-lining is in the small savings scheme.
The ever-increasing establishment expenditure, corruption, wasteful spending, populist policies and loopholes in collecting taxes with inbuilt political interference and lack of firmness have all contributed substantially to mismanagement of finances. The hands of the Finance Minister are politically tied when it comes to additional resource mobilisation. The Council of Ministers has repeatedly been witholding its approval of the notifications concerned. The state's poor showing in this has even made the planning commission sceptical of Punjab's capability to manage its finances.
Despite a string of measures aimed at financial discipline and proper management, including stopping of payments by the treasuries (excepting the pay) and across the board cuts even on sanctioned funds provided for in the Budget have not yielded the desired result. The state's repayment liabilities remain heavy, which has pushed it to the brink of bankruptcy. All development works have slowly grounded to a halt with money flowing in driblets.
The promised inflow has not been there. Hard, at times unpalatable, decisions are required to ensure that the state gets at least what is genuinely due to it from different sources. What Punjab has been through is simple: unwilling political executive to mobilise resources and equally unwilling people to pay taxes.
Therefore, while making the Budget what probably weighs on Capt Kanwaljit Singh's mind is how long can the tax payers be further taxed to run the government and its burgeoning establishment? The economic situation, recession, inflation, paying capacity of the people etc have to be considered. As in the previous two Budgets, the next Budget (1999-2000) is also likely to lay emphasis on "social sector". The social security net, including taking care of health, education, environment, employment etc has become a fashion.
Punjab has poor infrastructure. Proposals to build anew are still on drawing boards while several populist and other schemes have lagged behind or have been abandoned in the past two years. What was announced with a bang has died with a whimper. The Governor's lacklustre Address to the Vidhan Sabha on March 9, and the Chief Minister's speech in the Vidhan Sabha on March 19, can at best be described as "glib and seductive figures of speech". The two, taken at their face value, do not show political will or wisdom what to speak of transparency.
The SAD-BJP government prides itself that it collects views and holds marathon meetings on all subjects and conceivable issues with "experts" (desi and videsh variety). Yet when it comes to implementation, it keeps all such "experts" on tap rather than on top. The actual performance of the two years is out of sync with the declared policies while the election manifesto has already been given a go by.
Will the next year's Budget, therefore, stir up a hornet's nest or will it be only a cosmetic presentation of facts and figures the way a good accountant does?
The state's 1999-2000 annual plan is yet to be approved by the Planning Commission. The state is still busy trying to convince the commission of its "seriousness" at additional resource mobilisation to fund the plan from within. It could not keep such promises in the previous two years (for two annual plans) which showed a shortfall.
The annual plan is pegged at Rs 2680 crore, it is learnt. Till Friday Punjab officers were haggling with the commission on additional resource mobilisation. Political executive remained busy in the past months hounding SGPC president, Gurcharan Singh Tohra. It was also engaged in a battle royal with Akal Takht Jathedar, Bhai Ranjit Singh. Now it will seriously get engaged in the tercentenary celebrations. Despite state being told of next century's agenda in which "cooperation, conciliation and Punjabiat" will find a prominent place, in fact, the agenda will remain the same: religio-political.
Will the Budget,
therefore, take care of despondency and ensure enough
funds for development? So used to have the people become
to defying the tax authorities that any measures will be
resisted. The SAD-BJP government is too kind-hearted to
let the resistance persist. Rollbacks perhaps will be
quicker than strong, firm steps to improve finances to be
announced in the Budget.
CHANDIGARH, March 20 Why a former Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, is not attending the ongoing Budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha?
This question has become a topic of debate not only among MLAs and leaders of her own Congress Party but also in the ruling party ranks.
The current session had started on March 9. Mrs Bhattal has not turned up even once in the House since then.
Informed party sources said that party leadership treated her shabbily in the recent months. She was unceremoniously removed from the Presidentship of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee when she had gone abroad. She was then replaced by Capt Amarinder Singh. Later on she was also removed from the leadership of the Congress Legislature Party in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and in her place Chowdhary Jagjit Singh was appointed.
Mrs Bhattal was expecting that she would be politically rehabilitated by inducting in the Congress Working Committee. But this too did not happen. Instead Mrs Ambika Soni was preferred.
Party leaders say that perhaps these events make Mrs Bhattal to stay away from the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in which she used to be a star speaker and had a talent to counter the attack of treasury benches on her party.
Even the leader of the
House, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, yesterday had a dig on the
Congress MLAs by asking them why Mrs Bhattal was not
attending the session. Mr Badal went one or two steps
ahead. "Our party's sympathies are with her (Mrs
Bhattal) as she had suffered at the hands of the Congress
Party". My party had always stood by those who
suffered in any manner, Mr Badal added.
Supply of free power challenged
CHANDIGARH, March 20 Mr Justice G.C. Garg and Mr Justice N.C. Khichi, of the High Court issued notice of motion for May 5, to the Chairman, Punjab State Electricity Board, Patiala, and the state of Punjab through its Power Secretary in a writ petition filed by Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertaking, Ludhiana, through Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan and other office-bearers of the Chamber.
The petitioners had sought the quashing of notifications dated July 20, 1998 issued by the PSEB by which free electricity was provided to the agricultural consumers "at the cost of general and industrial consumers who were periodically burdened every six months to pay increased tariff to compensate the loss caused to the board". The Chamber had also sought the direction from the court to the state government to constitute a state regulatory authority before effecting any hike in tariff in future.
It was submitted that free electricity being given to the agriculture sector was causing loss of revenue to the tune of Rs 1457.55 crore. The petitioner submitted that the industries especially iron manufacturing units had been directly hit by the steep hike in tariff and also the ancillary Industries. They had become unable to compete in the national and international markets. Most of the industries had become sick and were on the verge of closure. As a result, industries not only in Ludhiana but also in the whole of the state has been seriously and adversely affected.
The petitioners further submitted that the benefit of free power to the agriculture sector had been provided to promote the vested interests of a particular political party and to extend the benefit to the rich farmers and ministers, who owned several acres of land and otherwise have the capacity to pay.
"The PSEB has taken a
loan of Rs 3400 crore from the government which would
result in payment of Rs 457 crore as interest annually.
Under these circumstances, the PSEB can never be expected
to carry on its functions satisfactorily, efficiently and
in an economical manner", the petitioners noted.
Crime against women on rise
BATHINDA, March 20 In a rise in crime against women in the district four women were murdered, one was raped and one injured allegedly by their kin in the past few days.
Mrs Veer Pal Kaur was allegedly killed by her husband Sukhminder Singh and mother-in-law, Balbir Kaur, three months after her marriage at Dunewala village on March 10. Mrs Dholan was murdered allegedly by her brother, Bhola Singh and brother-in-law, Chichi Singh, on March 13 in the Raman police station area.
Ms Jasbir Kaur, a young girl was shot dead on March 16 allegedly by her father, Harpal Singh Bajwa for marrying a boy belonging to a different caste.
Mrs Malkit Kaur, the mother of four, was murdered allegedly by her husband, Kuldeep Singh on the night of March 17. Mrs Swaran Kaur an employee of the District Development Panchayat Office (DDPO), was severely injured when she was attacked by her brother-in-law, Paramjit Kumar, when she was going home last evening.
On March 12, Bholi Kaur was allegedly raped by her husband, Kulwant Singh and brother-in-law, Gurtej Singh two days after her marriage at Sandoha village.
Besides these cases, crime against women is rising as is evident from more and more victims reporting the offences to the police.
Official figures show that four rape cases have been reported in the current year as compared to nine reported in 1998.
Eight such cases were reported in 1997.
In the current year, six women were murdered with two of them falling victims allegedly to dowry. Apart from it, a pregnant woman was beaten up by her neighbour in the city recently and was hospitalised in a serious condition.
The figures showed that of the 14 women killed in 1997 and 11 in 1998, seven women were killed allegedly for dowry in 1997 and 10 in 1998.
Mr Harnek Singh Sran, SSP, when contacted said that it was a mere coincidence that crimes against women in the district in March were committed by their kin.
Revolt against state YC chief
JALANDHAR, March 20 (PTI) In a revolt against Punjab Youth Congress President Devinder Singh Babbu, a number of youth leaders today asked Indian Youth Congress President Munish Tiwari to sack him by April 13 or face agitation.
The revolt was triggered by Babbus alleged failure to accommodate factions loyal to his predecessor Jasbir Dimpa and former IYC chief M.S. Bitta in the newly constituted Pradesh Youth Congress.
Leaders belonging to the Dimpa faction told reporters here that Babbu, among other things, was over 35 years, the age limit set for Youth Congress office-bearers.
These leaders, including Komal Khanna, Harjinder Lada, Kimti Rawal, Karandip Jairon, Sudesh Gulati and Surinder Cheema, all office-bearers in the earlier set-up, said Babbu was guilty of "auctioning the Youth Congress office posts to the highest bidder irrespective of credentials".
SDO held on graft charge
KAPURTHALA, March 20 The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Khera Dona Sub Divisional Officer Balkar Singh has been arrested on the charge of accepting a bribe for removing high voltage tension wire passing over the "dera" of Bala Begha Singh Dudianwala.
Jalandhar Vigilance Bureau Superintendent of Police R.P.S. Bajwa in a statement here yesterday said that the bribe money of Rs 20,000 seized during a search of the SDOs house in the presence of Kapurthala tehsildar Rachpal Singh and a witness.
Tandon announces schemes for town
PATIALA, March 20 Rajpura will be shortly developed into a modern township.
Stating this at a function after inaugurating a couple of traffic-lights at Rajpura yesterday, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Local Bodies, Labour and Employment Minister, announced series of plans for the township. He said Rs 15 crore have been allocated for speedy execution of these schemes.
Under the development plan, the main Rajpura-Patiala road would be further widened by 10 feet from both sides and inner roads would be metalled and widened by the end of May this year. More traffic lights would be set up under the bridge, Gagan Chowk, Nalas Road and Patiala-Ludhiana bye-pass.
He said Rs 12 crore would be spent on constructing a railway over-bridge at the railway barrier on the Rajpura-Ambala road in one year.
GND varsity puts off March 24
AMRITSAR, March 20 Guru Nanak Dev University today postponed all examinations scheduled to be held on March 24 for regular candidates.
Similarly, the university has also postponed all examinations for private candidates scheduled for March 24 and 25 due to certain administrative reasons.
This was disclosed by Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar of the university.
Giving the details, Dr Bawa said the examinations for regular candidates of BA/B.Sc part I and II, B.Com part I, B.Sc (Home Sc) part I, II, III, BCA part I and III, B.Com. (Honours) part I, B.Sc (Agri) part I, II and III, M.Sc (Agri) part I, B.Sc (Food Science and Technology) part I, II, III and IV scheduled for March 24 only had been postponed.
The postponed examinations of March 24 of BA/B.Sc part I for regular candidates would now be held on April 4 (Sunday) while that of BA/B.Sc part II would now be conducted on April 25. The new date for other postponed examinations would be notified later on and information would be sent to the principals of the colleges concerned.
The new dates for
postponed examinations for private candidates from March
12 to 25 would be notified later on the candidates were
advised to contact their centre
superintendents/coordinators for information of new dates
on March 25.
Farmers urged to take up dairying
ABOHAR, March 20 At the turn of the 21st century the main concern of the world will be population. This pressure will be the greatest in developing countries like India.
This was stated by Mr Surender Kumar Jakhar, Chairman, IFFCO, while addressing a seminar organised by Kribhco at Ramkot village near here last evening.
Mr Jakhar said cotton growers had ruined themselves by using insecticides on the recommendation of traders.
Golden Arrow adopts KV no. 2
JALANDHAR, March 20 The Golden Arrow Division, has adopted Kendriya Vidyalaya no.2 at Ferozepore. Col, Raman Dhawan stated that recently, the school was given a complete facelift by the regiment.
The entire low-lying area inside and around the school has been filled up. Keeping up the eco-drive poplar, ashoka and gulmohar trees have been planted all around the school. A sports complex and a children park have been constructed. A large well laid out lawn has been made in front of the main building.
Other sports equipment were formally presented to the school by Mrs Shashi Padha, wife of Major General, K C Padha, General Officer Commanding, Golden Arrow Division yesterday.
BATALA, March 20 The police has restored a 16-year-old girl who had gone away with Sukhwinder Singh, a resident of the Shukerpura area.
A case has been registered
against Sukhwinder Singh at the Civil Lines police
station on a complaint by girl's father Tarsem Lal. The
suspect has been arrested under Sections 342, 366, 396
and 506 of the IPC, the Batala police chief said.
Home guards for wage hike
PATIALA, March 20 The Punjab Home Guards association has demanded an increase in daily wage of Home Guards and uniform allowance, government holidays and free bus travel.
In a press note issued here today, Mr Karnail Chand General Secretary and Mr Hem Raj vice-president of the association said the association would launch an agitation from next month.
The statement stated nearly 2000 home guards were called for duty during the Lok Sabha elections last year on the assurance that they would be regularised after the elections, but only few were re-appointed.
Advice to future teachers
JALANDHAR, March 20 Dr Inderpal Singh, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, while giving his convocation address today at Government College of Education, Jalandhar, made a strong plea for making learning useful for living.
He called upon the graduates to use their skill for the benefit of society. He added that teachers have a great role to play in developing a value-based society. Educationists should honour their ideals, he said.
Hi-tech library inaugurated
JALANDHAR, March 20 The hi-tech, environment friendly, Dronacharya Library, was inaugurated by Maj Gen K.C. Padha, General Officer Commanding, Golden Arrow Division, at a ceremony attended by a large gathering of military officials and important citizens of Ferozepur today.
The library has been named after the great teacher of the art of warfare. It symbolises strength through learning and knowledge.
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