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Balanced budget for the masses

The editorial Budget takes on food prices (March 1) rightly called it the budget for the masses. The provision of Rs 300 crore each for pulses, oilseeds, vegetables and other cereals is a step in the right direction to check the inflationary trend in food items. A large percentage of the food items perish due to inadequate storage facilities. It would have been more purposeful and realistic if the Finance Minister gave more incentives to create storage facilities in the rural areas.

The other aspect of the budget that is reducing the age limit of senior citizens from 65 years to 60 years is laudable too. Making the hospital facilities and eating in air-conditioned hotels and restaurants more costly is not justified. In India, health insurance is not taken care of by the state and government hospitals and health facilities are deficient and inefficient. The private health care system has become costly and unaffordable. The Finance Minister must reconsider this. To provide a compensation of Rs 9 lakh to soldiers suffering 100 per cent disabilities is praiseworthy too.

The global environment is being constantly degenerated due to over-exploitation of natural resources and earth. More purposeful concessions and monetary help for non-renewable energy projects should have been announced. Keeping in view the present scenario of the economic slowdown and unabated inflation of food items, this is indeed a balanced budget for the masses.



Going by the general global economic scenario, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee deserves all praise. Indeed, the budget is balanced. The salaried class is definitely not very excited at the marginal relief coming to them this year. Similarly the female working population is got getting anything more. Mr Mukherji’s approval to finally do away with the need for filing income tax returns by salaried persons having no other sources of income, once their tax stands deducted at source, is a welcome step. He would have done better by not keeping a cap of five lakhs for such cases.

Besides, saving unnecessary paper work and the Herculean task associated for handling the same, the move is bound to improve the productivity of the staff at the income tax offices, while helping the employees concerned to focus on more growth-oriented activities for themselves and their employers. The IT department can now easily focus on businessmen in unorganised sectors.



When the economy is doing well, budgets can afford to take on reforms. But circumspect/ conservative Finance Ministers would prefer it to be a non-event. The proposal to contain the fiscal deficit at 4.6 per cent indicates this concern. This would have carried more weight, had he boldly continued with the existing exemption limits on personal income.

By doing so, he would have signalled his firm resolve to bring down inflation. Inflation is the biggest tax on low income / vulnerable groups. Once upon a time, budgets were designed to be milestones of political commitment and performance. Perhaps the price of growth is that economics, politics and commitment to people are increasingly going separate ways. In this, it is the common man who ultimately bears the burden of unequal wealth distribution.

R.NARAYANAN, Ghaziabad

Pheasant breeding

To the news report on Pheasant breeding (Feb 23), I would like to add that instead of raising enclosures for captivity breeding, buffer zones need to be created. Besides, there is a need to keep a strict watch to prevent poaching.

Holistic planning by the Wild Life Wing of the Himachal Forest Department can save the future of threatened species of Pheasants like Koklas, Khaleej, Monal, Cheer, and Tragopan. Their revival in forest is a need of the hour. Through successful breeding in the natural habitat, we can restock Pheasants in different pockets to enrich the ecosystem.


Art of viewing

In her interesting middle Mystique of simplicity (March 1) Nonika Singh has cleared some of the misconceptions that prevail in the minds of most of the art viewers of the day.

I, being a professional painter, would like to add another point to it. Perhaps most of the confusions about art begin when instead of ‘enjoying’ (often confused with the word  ‘understanding’) a piece of art for its inherent artistic qualities one starts reading between the lines. And in this rather tricky process one misses, more than often, the actual lines.

BALVINDER, Chandigarh

Stray dog menace

The news report Rabid stray dog bites 10 (Feb 21) is a sad reminder of ineffective control over stray dogs in India. Imagine what can happen to the victims if they are not treated with proper vaccine the WHO-sponsored survey reveals that a dog bites every 30 seconds and 20,000 rabies deaths occur annually in India. Despite its grave consequence, dog control has always been a low priority. The Centre had notified the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules (ABC), which call for sterilisation and vaccination of stray dogs. These rules are more followed in abeyance than observance.

Laxity on the part of the local authorities, lack of will being shown by animal welfare organisations, inadequate funds, poor public cooperation and non-involvement of the animal husbandry department are the reasons for the failure of the dog birth control programme.

It is heartening that a new technique to sterilise dogs has been initiated by veterinarian Dr Baljit Kaur, renowned surgeon. This technique called Minimally Invasive Vas Occlusion Technique (MIVOT) is simple, humane, cost-effective and least cumbersome, and has been widely practiced by veterinary doctors of Amritsar. The government should train the maximum number of veterinary surgeons to acquire this skill. A half-hearted approach will be of no use.




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