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Saturday, October 31, 1998
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Spectre of rising prices

THE unprecedented rise in the prices of essential commodities like food and vegetables is alarming. At today’s prices, one cannot gather one’s daily needs in the vegetable market even with a hundred-rupee note. The most disappointing thing is that the BJP government, the traders’ representative, is sleeping unaware of the plight of the common man. Nothing curative has been done by it to bring down the prices of vegetables. Some traders with vested interests are playing the sinister game of creating a temporary shortage of the essential commodities. The government seems to be doing nothing against the hoarders.

The producer, the farmer, is still in a losing position. His crop is still not honoured in the market. A bad crop to him means suicide. He cannot go to the insurance company for the insurance of his crop whereas a stockist enjoys the right to get the stock of foodgrain insured against any kind of loss or damage. The season seems to be the traders’ season. Onion and tomato are available in the open market in any quantity but at a high price. There is no shortage of these commodities at a premium.

Has the Prime Minister ever thought about the poor man? What would he eat? How can he make both ends meet? The back-breaking rising prices of essential commodities have turned into “neck breaking or throat cutting” for a poor man. What a nice shortcut to end the poverty in India!


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50 years on indian independence

UTI crisis

The current UTI crisis can be solved if it is viewed in its historical perspective. To the UTI, particularly US-64, the credit should be given for converting investment in India from a class to a mass habit. Not only did the UTI propagate the message of savings and its investment for industrial development of the country, but also created a new class of professional investment agents all over India, who in turn gave a fillip to the saving habit.

A number of investment products to suit requirements of different sections of the population were innovated by the UTI. It emerged as a professional set-up, with a relatively small staff of 2,300 handling funds of nearly Rs 55,000 crore some four years ago.

The UTI also helped national economy by giving a facility to the corporate sector to park its funds on a short-term basis. The UTI provided funds to needy industries at a critical juncture. With bank finance bogged down in mountains of paperwork and banks taking decisions with a Rip Van Winkle syndrome, many industries would have collapsed but for timely UTI help.

The institution suffered two major deficiencies, viz., inadequate technology input to service its growing clientele; and poor public communications, especially press relations.

The present crisis can be solved.

1) Obviously US-64 funds have been diverted to support and develop other UTI schemes. The possibility of these funds being treated as loans, and called back, thus shoring up the depleted fortunes of US-64 which is basically a strong fund should be explored.

2) The RBI, which nurtured the UTI in initial stages, should no longer act as a constraint on the salary and other conditions of UTI staff but allow it to operate on commercial grounds.

3) The opaque relationship with the Union Finance Ministry, whose mandarins do not necessarily have knowledge of UTI’s specialised operations, should be redefined to end a sorry chapter of power without accountability.

4) The curious situation of nominees of institutions, which run rival mutual funds sitting on the policy-making Board of the UTI, with access to sensitive information, should be immediately ended. UTI ownership and policy-making should be in independent hands.

If these changes are introduced, long-term investors should think twice before walking away with their investments from a pioneering and essentially healthy institution.


In gas chamber

Delhi and other metros are already reeling under the grip of automotive and industrial pollution. And the fact that Chandigarh, too, is following suit rather rapidly, is not hidden from anyone’s gaze. Commuting on the city roads is gradually but surely becoming a nightmare. Data could perhaps be procured from the pulmonary diseases department of the PGI in corroboration of the observations that children and, many adults too, are falling prey to this scourge in rapidly increasing numbers.

Not much thought, however, seems to be given by anyone to the plight of police personnel on daily traffic duty. Day in and day out they are subject to immeasurable doses of such atrocious air and sound level pollution from automobiles, as would not be humanly possible to endure for long, before succumbing to it. I sympathise with their plight as far as risk to their physical health is concerned. Shouldn’t their welfare be a primary concern of the state and the society, of which they are a sine qua non part?

May I suggest that they should be issued with good quality dust/gas masks in order to reduce the risk to their life, as far as air pollution is concerned.


Ugly killers

Recent killings of black bucks and chinkaras in Rajasthan amply prove that the so-called heroes and heroines of the present-day Hindi films not only celebrate vulgarity on the screen but are equally ugly off the screen. Not one, of all these females in film world could remotely match the playful galloping of the deer hunted, nor any of their male counter-parts has an iota of the majesty of the killed hapless animals.

Such perverted souls should be barred from going near anything beautiful like forests, sanctuaries mountain’s deserts and all the protected monuments. They should only be confined to the noises of discos.

Why only, the hunting of endangered species is prohibited, is not understandable. Is the Government waiting for other creatures too becoming endangered?

New Delhi


The alumni of the Sikh National College, Lahore, are holding their reunion on January 2, 1999, at Punjab Bhavan, Sector 3, Chandigarh. All those desirous of getting further information can contact B-29, Industrial Area, Phase III Mohali, Distt Ropar (Phone: 0172-670318)

BRIG A.S. MANN (retd)
S.A.S. Nagar

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