Thursday, September 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Arena for waging trade wars

The World Trade Organisation’s meeting has started at Cancun on September 10. Though the WTO has 146 countries as members, it is the US and the European Union who rule the roost by successfully laying down rules for reduction of tariff levels as well as removal of non-tariff barriers.

The WTO has become an arena for waging trade wars by two warring camps of developed vis-a-vis developing and underdeveloped countries where the maximum casualties are suffered by the latter with mounting unemployment in agricultural and industrial sectors through close downs and windups with concomitant of misery and distress in the absence of any social security to fall back upon.

The US and the EU should understand that it is the communists who have failed but not communism and Karl Marx. Raghuram Rajan, who is going to take over as Chief Economist at IMF next month, when asked to name the economists whose theories are relevant for present times included Karl Marx in the list. In his own words, “Karl Marx in the list may be surprising, but if you go beyond the polemics, there are few economists who have influenced social sciences more.”

Rajan has made out an excellent case study of the subject in his recent book “Saving capitalism from the capitalists”. More and more economists are coming around to the pragmatism of the Theory of Rational Expectations which envisages that a government should not blindly pursue policies on a hit-and-trial basis nor should the people expect a moon from the government. It is hoped that this thinking will form the background of discussions at Cancun.

— R.C. KHANNA, Amritsar


For people’s welfare

This has reference to Mr Surendra Miglani’s letter “Casinos: let’s learn from Nepal” (Sept 8). I agree with him that we should not start casinos in India, but still the single-digit lottery, the two-digit lottery systems which are running for a long time now in many parts of the country are ruining large number of families.

These lotteries are surviving on the low-income groups in which people are already hand to mouth. Most of them invest their daily earnings in these lotteries and lose them altogether. We are supposed to be a responsible society and do not need the Nepalese example to be served as an eye-opener, but we already have examples which show that these single-digit and two-digit lottery systems can also create havoc in the lives of the lower class people who are the largest customers of these lotteries.

If the government is interested in the welfare of the people, it should not open casinos as also scrap the lotteries.

— SUMEET SETH, Kaithal

Himachal entry fee

Apropos of Sq Leader S.K. Sharma’s letter “HP entry fee” (Sept 3), the least the government can do is to exempt vehicles which are registered with Himachal Pradesh, from the entry fee, at barriers.

In case the financial health of the state is really improving with this fee, I suggest the government to introduce the exit fee for vehicles as well to further improve the finances of the state.

— RAJNISH, Shimla

Airfare concession

Indian Airlines had granted 50 per cent air concession to senior citizens. But recently they have withdrawn the concession very intelligently by putting the condition of seven-day stay at the place of visit. I think the executive order duly ratified by Parliament cannot be withdrawn peremptorily.

Majority of the passengers have no spare time to spend seven days at a place. Therefore, they cannot enjoy 50 per cent concession. The government should reconsider this matter and restore status quo ante.

— SATYA PAUL, Executive Secretary, Servants of the People Society, New Delhi

Focus on soft drinks

The real problem in the soft drinks case is not the fact that in India soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi contain pesticide levels way above the European norms, but the fact that India apparently has no norms at all for such products. But this is not the first time the country has been caught napping. Even in the recent past, many countries have rejected Indian wheat and other grains because these contained excessive percentage of pesticides or rat droppings.

So, rather than reacting with self-righteous indignation, we should treat it as a golden opportunity to go over the whole issue with a fine-tooth comb. We should make norms for all food grade products as these are not only desirable but also feasible in the Indian context. If we continue to play havoc with the health and reputation of the nation, then it is quite certain that the country's claim of being an emerging world power will be considered only a pipe dream.


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