Saturday, September 16, 2000,
Chandigarh, India




Spirituality is not an escape

APROPOS of “No spirituality in slums” by Mr Abu Abraham (September 10), I disagree with the author on the point that our spirituality is an escape from social responsibility. It is sad and bad on the part of the author to mention that billions of manhours are lost every year in puja and prayers.

To my mind, spirituality is a way of life and we should accept and propagate this reality. The time spent in prayers is a worthwhile investment and never goes waste. I firmly believe that for every ill of Indian economy there are Vedic pills and Bhagvad Gita is the panacea. There is no doubt that India will emerge as a super power of the world on its spiritual strength only and not on the basis of anything else. To make it happen we should adopt an evolutionary approach and should not expect miracles. The need of the day is to accept spiritually guided materialism making a case for “needonomics” and not greedonomics. I am sure India possesses the necessary and sufficient capacities and capabilities to satisfy the needs of the country men, whether living in slums or not.

To remove poverty, of course, there is need for removing built-in corruption in poverty alleviation programmes. I firmly believe that the annual growth rate of Gross Domestic Product can be increased by at least 1 per cent through removing corruption in poverty alleviation programmes only. The propagation of the concept of zero tolerance against corruption by the Prime Minister of India deserves to be understood, analysed and implemented by one and all. It, of course, needs courage and enthusiasm which comes from the principal of morality and ethics — a byproduct of spirituality and not of anything else.

Dr M. M. Goel


Ban Cisapride

I urge the Drug Controller General of the Union of India, to put a ban on the sale of Cisapride, a prokinetic drug which is prescribed for the treatment of severe night time heart burn in patients with gastroesophageal reflex disease.

In India Cisapride is available under 62 brand names and has a market of nearly Rs 100 crore. Medwatch, an agency which monitors adverse drug reactions in the USA, has confirmed 341 cardiac rhythm abnormalities in patients who were on Cisapride. Medwatch has also confirmed 80 death associated with the use of Cisapride in persons who were using medicines such as antibiotics, anti depressants etc. Due to these findings the US Food and Drug Administration has warned doctors and patients against serious cardiac problems associated with this drug. The Janssen Pharmaceutical, sponsor of Cisapride in the USA, has now voluntarily stopped marketing this drug in that country.

The Government should appoint a committee of eminent pharmacologists and physicians to decide about the sale of Cisapride in India. Till then, the Drug Controller of India should put a provisional ban on the sale of this drug.




State anomalies panel

For the last few days, I have been reading news items about the State Anomalies Panel report and its effect on the employees’ pays and allowances.

In some cases the panel has not taken the demands in correct prospective and in others the cases have not been put by the departments concerned to the anomalies panel.

Take the case of consumer forums in the state. The members of all consumer forums as per the Consumer Protection Act (Punjab) Rules 1987, if appointed on a part-time basis were to get Rs 150 per day (President Rs 200 per day). In those days, the basic pay of Class I Officers was Rs 2200. Since then the basic pay of Class I Officers has become Rs 8000, an increase of 340 per cent. All the employees’ pay enhancements were done from 1.1.1996. Nobody has even thought of taking into consideration that the member of consumer forum even today gets Rs 150 per day as he was getting in 1987. There is no mention of this in the State Anomalies Panel report. At least it has not come to my knowledge from anywhere. I am sure that the department of Food and Civil Supplies has not taken the pains of putting up the case.

Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have already enhanced the pay/honorarium in their respective states. Nobody has bothered to see that honorarium paid to members of the consumer forums is honourable in nature.


Industry package

Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee has announced a package of relief to small scale industry wherein excise duty exemption limit is raised from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore. On matters relating to customs duty, the Finance Minister will be announcing suitable measures in due course of time. As part of the package, the Prime Minister has announced the raising of the limit for composite loans to Rs 25 lakh from the present limit of Rs 10 lakh to small scale industries. Business enterprises relating to service to industries with a maximum investment of Rs 10 lakh will qualify for priority lending. There is announcement of capital subsidy of 12 per cent for investment in technology. The government will continue to grant Rs 75,000 for ISO 9000, i.e., for quality management. For khadi sector a comprehensive package is under preparation.

All this goes to prove that the present government is seized of the problem of small scale industry and is keen to provide some help. Raising of limit in excise duty is undoubtedly a great help in addition to availability of loan from SIDBI.

Small scale industry is facing a lot of competition from international world and it is, by and large, at the verge of closure and is on the path of slow death. Infrastructure required for smooth and congenial working is still not available in the country. For instance, single window disposal of all matters, including electricity, labour, registration, land, power connection, telephone, loan, pollution etc is the need of the day. Similarly various old, obsolete, outdated laws, more than 20 in number applicable to each industry need to be withdrawn at least for small scale industry. Then only can one hope that industry will be competitive with the international market. Facilities in the form of infrastructure from the government and tieup of small scale industry with large buyers or suppliers is another need of the day. Better facilities should be ensured. Advance declaration of policies on a long-term basis is another need of the time.


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