Tuesday, February 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



What Congress should do now

Apropos of Mr Hari Jaisingh’s poll overview “Congress has a definite edge” (Feb 12), the Congress has secured majority to form a government in Punjab. In the prevailing political scenario, the Congress should devise a system in which there is adequate participation of all sections. The real democracy is one in which all shades of opinion jointly participate in decision making and governance. No progress — economic, educational or cultural — can be achieved unless there is internal stability and continuity of policies for the welfare of the people.

Some of our politicians are totally unfit to assume the high positions they occupy because of their double standards, shady character and lust for ill-gotten wealth. The more money they make, the safer the future even if they lose the elections.

Crores of rupees are sanctioned for development schemes but much of this money goes waste. This is an accepted truth that only 15 paise in the rupee reaches the poor people for whom the development schemes are meant. Apparently the balance goes into the pockets of politicians, middlemen and contractors as the bacilli of corruption have reached the core of every system of governance — the bureaucracy, the police, in fact every government department and every activity.

Earlier, panchayats were run by elders chosen for their integrity, honesty and good reputation.

The Congress should come forward for healthy and issue-based governance, ensuring a clean administration, fast development and employment for youth of Punjab.

JAGTAR SINGH, I.D.A.S. (retd) Mohali


HP varsity affairs

The Tribune report “HP varsity court virtually defunct” (Feb 18), albeit painful, hardly comes as a surprise. In fact, the university suffers from a chronic malaise. The appalling indifference of the powers that be to the sickening plight of the university has helped aggravate the matter.

The reason for the growing rot afflicting the accursed seat of higher learning is not far to seek. The university is virtually a one-man show — the Vice-Chancellor's — thanks to the existing Act, statutes and ordinances of the university. The position of the university's governing bodies — especially the Academic Council and the court — is laughable. These bodies are lop-sided in character/composition and act, more or less, like a rubber stamp. Their meetings are held only once in a blue moon and that too for an incredibly short duration — as if to complete some formality. The Vice-Chancellor can ride roughshod over their decisions, thanks to the vast emergency powers enjoyed by him under the university statute No. 2.5. There are no in-built checks against misuse of powers by him.

The Governor, as ex-officio Chancellor, it appears, has neither time nor inclination to exercise the requisite supervision over university affairs. Will Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who happens to be an academician, rise to the occasion?


Tackling corruption

Time and again we elect corrupt politicians who do deals with equally corrupt civil servants. Unless we, the people, stop handing out bribes, this rot which is set in the system of governance will never be removed. The choice lies with the people and their ethics. The young and educated should form committees and bodies to fight corruption at each level.


Learning from Antony

Mr A.K. Antony is perhaps the first Chief Minister in the country to try to discipline the pampered government employees of his state, Kerala. It is well known that on an average 80 per cent of the revenue of the states goes for meeting the salary bills of the employees.

There are two main factors. First, a big disparity in the salaries of those in government jobs and those in the unorganised private sector. For example, a B.Ed teacher in a private school is paid about Rs 2,000 per month working for 40 hours a week. The day he manages to get a government job, his salary jumps to Rs 10,000/- per month with hardly 25 hours work in a week.

Second, there are government employees who practically do no work, but draw fat salaries whereas there are millions with better qualifications and credentials who are knocking the doors of employment exchanges. No doubt, people pay hefty amounts as bribe for gaining government employment.

One of the solutions can be to force a cut in the salaries of government employees and the amount so saved should be disbursed as unemployment allowance to the unemployed youth.


Reservation policy

With reference to K.C. Sulekh’s letter (February 14), actually the government’s policy of reservations has created an elite group belonging to the Scheduled Castes & the Scheduled Tribes comprising affluent professionals, bureaucrats and politicians. Numerically, this group is not very big but it is very strong and influential politically, socially & economically.

This elite group is cornering all benefits accruing from the current reservation policy. The members of this group are no way concerned about the plight of the deprived sections of society who have no access to the benefits of reservation due to illiteracy and lack of awareness.

But this group never hesitates to use the poor to defend the policy of reservations. And if someone questions the policy of reservations, he is projected as “Manuwadi” and anti-poor, and also opposed in the Press and Parliament by the elite group.

These 21st century “Brahmins” must understand that it is poverty and illiteracy which make a person Dalit, and not the caste.


Supreme commander

This refers to Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh's letter “President, PM should visit the troops” (Feb 13). The PM did visit the troops during the Kargil war. But the present deployment of the Army in battle locations against Pakistan appears to have been intended only to create a war-like situation to influence the Assembly elections in UP. According to a Tribune report date-lined Hussainiwala a few days ago, Army and BSF officers also considered it as a UP election “hungama”.

There is no history of the President having ever visited the troops in forward areas. He is only a titular head of the state and his being the Supreme Commander is only a constitutional myth. It would, therefore, not be correct to compare him with the American President who is the Supreme Commander in the real sense.

The Supreme Commander did not consider it necessary to personally attend the funeral ceremony when the head of his largest force (COAS) died in harness but sent only a junior officer to represent him. Again, the Supreme Commander allowed the Naval Chief to be summarily dismissed without giving him a personal hearing.


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