Saturday, March 25, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Speeches meaningless if massacres go on

MR Bill Clinton should appreciate that we the ardent followers of non-violence and the Vedic principle “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the whole universe is a family), extended him a warm welcome on his landing in the great land of Buddha, Mahavir, Gandhi, Nehru and Swami Vivekanand. Due to tremendous troubles and turmoils, internal and external, the nations of the world are standing on the threshold of a nuclear holocaust and extinction. The whole universal scenario has undergone a sea change. So has Indian political and diplomatic panorama. Panchsheel and non-alignment have disappeared in the womb of a deep dark and heinous cult of violence and terrorism. Militancy has oozed out in whose ferocious flames not only India but the “super cop” USA is also burning. Osama bin Laden, the kingpin of international terrorism and mastermind of the mercenary attacks, has bombarded US embassies and taken shelter in Afghanistan and despite US administration’s stern warnings Pakistan, closing eyes like an ostrich, has not uttered even a single word in condemnation. Clinton is going to put a seal of acceptance on the military-junta-run administration under whose shadow militant outfits, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen and their counterparts are maiming Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs in our “paradise on earth” — Kashmir.

  The President’s treaties, agreements, MoUs, long speeches and joint communiques are futile and fruitless, if he does not declare Afghanistan and Pakistan as terrorist nations. Dialogues, table-talks and peace-loving parleys are meant for sane heads, not for power-inebriated ones. If Mr Clinton is sincere about a positive new beginning of goodwill and harmony in South Asia:

(i) He should not visit Pakistan where democracy is languishing.

(ii) Wind up US diplomatic mission in Pakistan.

(iii) Sternly warn Islamabad to defuse the “Islamic bomb”.

(iv) Impose all sanctions on this hot-headed nation.

(v) Don’t aid them. Your dollars will make them devil. Act upon advice of Mr Pressler.

Mr Clinton, let us remind you that your gracious stay is in Maurya Sheraton’s “Chandragupta” suite. Chandragupta, with the diplomatic policies of his adviser, Chanakya, demolished the devilish empire of Nand’s dynasty. Let history not repeat itself. Don’t compel our Chandragupta — Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee — to use force to tackle the hydra-headed monster called Pakistan.


Power reforms

This is in response to Mr M.G. Devasahayam article, Power Sector Reforms in Haryana (March 9, 10) the author has argued that the World Bank sponsored management model-based restructuring and purely market driven power sector reforms being implemented in Haryana will take years to benefit the consumers whereby vested interests who are opposed to reforms, though in minority, shall have a field day and will successfully spread doubts about the very need for reforms. As politicians are creations of public opinion and as long as public perception is not in favour of reforms in its present form, there can hardly be sufficient political will to implement the same.

Mr Devasahayam has advocated mid-course correction consisting of three specific recommendations: Demand Side Management (DMS) through promoting energy efficient technologies in low tariff sectors of agriculture and domestic consumers and energy thus saved be diverted to high tariff consumers to augment finances. The market centred mindset relying on tariff increases and subsidy elimination to achieve utility viability needs to be replaced by a tariff and subsidy management approach, which will help realise the twin objectives of utility viability and end-use efficiency.

The alternative proposed by Mr Devasahayam is a self contradictory utopia. To the best of my knowledge, all the studies on DMS through the promotion of energy efficient technologies in U.S.A. as well as in West Europe show that their success pre-supposes market driven incentive mechanisms. Therefore, the present reform process being implemented in Haryana and alternative being proposed by the author are in fact perfect complements and not substitute policies. I wish the author had calculated the investment cost of DMS policies and their time horizon to achieve the desired objectives; constraints would have been apparent. Lest I be misunderstood, I do not really subscribe to the present reform model being implemented in Haryana.



Value of DM’s orders

I read the news, “Loudspeakers Banned” (March 4) stating that the District Magistrate of Patiala, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, has banned the use of loudspeakers till May 31, in view of ensuing examinations of various classes. Since a major source of noise pollution remains the loudspeakers at religious places, it is good that the District Magistrate has made it clear in his order that “anyone in the district, including religious organisations, will keep the volume at such a level that it remains within its premises”.

Though fully appreciating the order, I have got some questions in my mind. First, will the use of loudspeaker and scattering its sound beyond the premises of the users, lawful in the absence of a ban? Second, why up to May 31 only? Will there be a blanket permission to create havoc after the said date? Students have to study almost throughout the year. Why should a District Magistrate want them to study only during the days of examinations and not regularly during the rest of the year? And finally, why should only students do their study? Why should not elders, including the District Magistrate himself, be provided necessary comfort to read newspapers and journals, to concentrate in the study of literature of their interest, to listen to radio and to watch TV for acquiring knowledge? Even religious minded persons prefer to do their daily rituals according to their own way at the time of their own convenience. Why should a citizen be forced to listen to some thing unwanted by him or her?

Anyhow, something is always better than nothing. This morning, I drove to a nearby area in Patiala district to enjoy the calm gifted by its DM. But the order was perhaps yet to reach there. I have reasons to fear that the order may remain valid only in the cities and that too in the area where the DM and other VIPs live. If the local authorities are to wait for a complaint from someone before going into action, then there is no need for prohibition at district level. The ban can only be effective if the local authorities are instructed to themselves check the violation and take action. If violation is repeated, the action must be punitive. Simply asking the authorities at religious places to keep the volume low will be useless. Even the next door neighbour of the religious places must be guaranteed full comfort from avoidable pollution and inconvenience.

I learn that a similar order by the Deputy Commissioner of Chandigarh is also in force, but in all practical terms, it is operated only in the central part of the city where VIPs live and not in Manimajra complex, where I have the residence. We wait for the law of the land to land.



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