Friday, May 16, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Fleecing foreign tourists, Indian style

THE write-up “Qutab Minar reopening will boost tourism” (May 4) has it that the Qutab Minar would be thrown open to public once again in about two months. The entry fee, the report adds, for Indians would be Rs 5 and for foreigners $ 50. This means a foreigner will have to cough up a huge amount compared with his Indian counterpart to climb the monument!

This is shocking, to say the least. The Tourism authorities may gain some money in the short run but they should realise the negative effects of this move in the long run. Will foreigners really flock to India in large numbers when they find such discrimination being resorted to by the Indian government? What is more, when the government itself resorts to such a practice, with what moral authority will it check hoteliers, taxi drivers and other forms of fleecing foreign tourists?

In this regard, I can’t help recollecting my experience of visiting Far East countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Thiland a few months ago where I was amazed to see the extraordinary facilities being provided to foreign tourists. Leave alone being discriminated against, such tourists are treated with great respect.

Once in Kuala Lumpur, I had an argument with a taxi driver over payment of fare. When I threatened to complain against him to the police, he virtually begged of me not to do so. Later a tourist guide told me that the local authorities take complaints from foreign tourists with utmost seriousness and the person against whom the complaint is made often finds himself in deep trouble. The aim is obviously to ensure that the foreign tourists do not go away with a bad impression about their country. No wonder, those countries, despite being small in size, are earning foreign exchange several times more than India does.



MLA’s drive for road repair

Apropos of the report “MLA shines shoes to fund road repair” (May 8), we take a lot of pride in being the world’s largest democracy. Though the democratic set-up in the country has weakened, there are certain leaders who have maintained the decorum of democracy.

Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MLA, shining people’s shoes and requesting them to donate money for the repair of the 43-km-long potholed stretch of the Hoshiarpur-Garhshankar road, can be seen on the roadside. Such a drive by Mr Khanna would awaken the government and provide an opportunity to him to make people aware that the government is doing little for them.

Mr Khanna is an experienced politician who always keeps his fingers on the pulse of the people and seems aware of their needs and aspirations. He is an indefatigable social worker always ready to help the destitute and downtrodden. Above all, he is a sincere and honest politician.



The Hoshiarpur-Garhshankar road is full of potholes. This stretch is so bad that a even new vehicle traversing it starts rattling. Will the authorities take note of the drive undertaken by Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MLA, and release funds to get the road repaired?.

Brig HARDIT SINGH (retd), Chandigarh

Pension for teachers

Eighty per cent of the education sector in Punjab is in the hands of private bodies, mostly aided by the state government. The spread of education was made possible only because of state aid. Teaching and non-teaching retirees of the privately managed aided colleges have been clamouring for pension (as decided by the government on April 1, 1992) through legal and other methods on the pattern of retirees of schools which has been in vogue since February 1987. College retirees are simply prevailing upon the government to implement their own decisions made to this community before and after the elections. The scheme prepared by the Congress during their tenure was promised by the Akali-BJP government. They did little in this regard.

To woo voters this pension scheme was included in the Congress manifesto during the 2002 elections. However, in July 2002, the present government came out with such a preposterous scheme that there have been no takers. It was a big joke to the retirees from aided colleges. Is it not a strong rebuff to the policy-makers?

Of late, reports suggest that the government is planning to stop pension to the retirees of privately managed aided schools already in force since February 1987. Retirees of aided colleges have been asking for pension from April 11, 1992 on the school pattern. However, on the pretext of financial crunch the government is harassing them.

K.K. KHOSLA, Ludhiana

Poor bus service

I wish to highlight the problems being faced by the daily commuters due to poor bus service on the Rajpura-Chandigarh section. Commuters of Chandigarh and its satellite township are a disturbed lot at Rajpura after 5 p.m. They have to wait till late evening for a bus. And after 5 p.m., very few buses turn up, that too, jam-packed. As a result, one has to jostle to get into the bus.

Most commuters have to go to Rajpura bypass bus stop (on the Chandigarh road) in the flickering hope of getting a bus. The plight of lady commuters is miserable as they too have to wait till late evenings or have to pay through the nose to return. Some commuters are made to beg for a hitch-hike. A lady commuter can hardly do so.

The Punjab Road Transport Corporation, the Punjab Roadways and the Chandigarh Transport Union (CTU) should deploy more buses in the late evening hours on this section so that the commuters, especially ladies, can return home in time.

TARUNDEEP AGGARWAL, Raipur Khurd, Chandigarh

Blow to education

The mind-boggling increase in the tuition fee and other educational charges announced by the Punjab Government is a stunning blow to higher education in the state. The decision betrays lack of knowledge of the ground realities in Punjab. This state is already a laggard state educationally and the steep hike in educational expenses will make the situation worse.

The middle class is already reeling under multiple heavy taxation imposed by the Central and State governments. This apart, almost every six months the RBI and the Finance Ministry are reducing the interest rate on bank deposits and with inflation at 6.47 per cent, such deposits are now earning negative interest. Consequently, the financial condition of the rural and urban middle class has become miserable. The hike in the tuition fee has made higher education beyond the reach of common man. The government needs to give serious thought and reconsider the matter afresh. It should withdraw the hike immediately.

S.B. SINGH, Jalandhar

Bathinda model

I want to draw the attention of Punjab’s Traffic Police to emulate the traffic arrangements in Bathinda city. This backward town of Malwa region now gives a nice look as parking space for two and four wheelers has been made. Parking at personal whim is not possible and the traffic policemen on duty are on the spot for preventing this and guiding motorists. This city has become a role model for other towns of this state. I appreciate the efforts of the SSP/SP of Bathinda in this regard.

O.P. GARG, Patiala


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