119 years of Trust M A I L B A G THE TRIBUNE
Thursday, August 19, 1999
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In defence of merit

THE Supreme Court has happily given a landmark verdict disallowing the reservation of seats for admission to special courses. To follow a reservation policy where merit is compromised is disastrous for the nation. I was surprised to read the news (The Tribune, Aug 13) that the merit level was brought to 20 per cent in UP and MP. What for is the competition held then? This is obviously the result of vote politics.

It is wrong to believe that general category candidates do not have any social disability. Many people become poor because of the bad management of their family front or other factors. Is this recognised under our reservation policy? No ! And those of the SCs, STs and OBCs who show signs of prosperity are still considered as deserving candidates for various benefits under the reservation policy — as if this is their birthright. But equality is the goal of our Constitution.

It is agreed that the underprivileged classes need help but not through the reservation policy as it exists today. Any monetary help that is given should be offered directly at the basic level to enable them to compete for specialised courses. The nation should promote talent and excellence, and there should be no compromise on this issue.

The apex court should also fix the merit criteria which should not be lower than 50 per cent marks at the qualifying level for the general category and 40 per cent for the SC, ST and OBC category candidates for admission to all the professional courses. The EWS candidates of the general category should also be treated on a par with those in the SC, ST and OBC categories — deciding their eligibility with a minimum of 40 per cent marks.

Let us ask for state-wise data on admissions to professional courses for the past five years to know the reality as a result of the reservation policy. The figures should be published in all the leading newspapers.


Measures to end proxy war

AFTER a humiliating defeat at the hands of the valiant warriors of India, Pakistan has sharpened its unconventional war by surprise attacks on vital Army and paramilitary targets. Many officers and men of the Army and the BSF have been killed through subversive tactics besides a colossal loss in material terms.

In such warfare the aggressors get the advantage at the initial stages. But such nefarious activities need to be nipped in the bud. The authorities must have adopted the necessary measures to prevent the escalation of subversive activities by militants. Even a layman would ask for the following preventive and defensive measures:

(i) All possible infiltration routes should be strictly guarded.

(ii) In addition to the usual patrolling, casual ambushes should be laid at the possible approach roads to the likely targets.

(iii) Screening of the local people to identify the black sheep.

(iv) Laying of counter-ambushes at the approach routes for way-laying the enemies.

(v) Fool-proof warning systems at the headquarters and Army posts.

(vi) Deployment of a striking force to face the enemy in case of an emergency.

(vii) Steps to prevent complacency at all levels.

Ferozepur Cantt

Soldiers & vote by proxy

This is about granting the facility of voting by proxy to nearly 15 lakh serving soldiers since the existing system of postal ballots is too cumbersome, amounting to denying the right of voting to defence personnel.

The secrecy aspect of voting should be seen in the right perspective. Secrecy of vote is more important to the voter himself and none else, to insulate him from any harassment as a result of his voting. Nothing more should be seen in the secrecy clause, more so when the voter himself, the soldier in this case, is voluntarily willing to give up his right of secrecy and authorise his close relative or friend to vote on his behalf.

It is common knowledge that the matter about voting for a particular candidate or party is discussed in the family before the polling, and generally all voters of the family vote for one agreed candidate.

Therefore, the secrecy of the ballot should not be a hurdle for allowing the defence personnel to vote by proxy through their family members or close friends.

Wg-Cdr C.L. SEHGAL (retd)

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Death of a grassroot leader

In the death of Kalpnath Rai both the country and the Congress has lost a leader who was dedicated to the cause of secular democracy, socialism and nationalism, and who had, till the last, valiantly and consistently clung to these lofty principles.

He was noted for his straightforwardness and out spokenness. He was a grassroot leader. He served the people in Parliament for 25 years. He had been elected a member of the Lok Sabha in 1989, 1991, 1996 and 1999, and earlier he had been a member of the Rajya Sabha for nine years.

In 1996, when he had been falsely implicated in the “Havala” case, he had won the Lok Sabha election while in jail. This showed his popularity. He had served as a Union Minister of State for nine years.

He was known as a fighter for the speedy development of not only his constituency but also for backward eastern Uttar Pradesh. He succeeded in getting various projects approved in the zero industry area from the Centre apart from the construction of good roads in that area.

Today both the country and the Congress needed such a champion of socialism, secularism and national unity.

New Delhi

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For war on population front

Mr S.S. Sooch in his letter “Population threat” (13-8-99) has rightly stressed the need for a sustained and innovative approach to curb the enormous growth of our population. Although the population growth rate has declined from 2.2 per cent to 1.87 per cent during the past six years, we are all set to cross the one billion mark soon. Surely, this dubious distinction is no cause for celebration. As a matter of fact, it is time we redefined our concept of security.

The stupendous growth in our population poses a great danger from within. The day is not far off when the demands of our population will be more than our natural resource base can provide. This, in turn, could lead to great socio-economic upheavals and a catastrophe of unmanageable proportions.

It is, therefore, of paramount importance that we, the citizens of this great country, individually as well as collectively resolve to do our bit to prevent the onslaught of this manmade disaster instead of expecting the various agencies of the administration to do it for us.



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