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Thursday, August 26, 1999
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Plight of Army widows

IN the article “Lionised Army jawans” the writer sheds light on the post-service condition of a soldier. However, he has not mentioned a very important aspect — the condition of widows especially of war widows.

An analysis of the post-Kargil conflict would reveal that most of the officers and jawans who have sacrificed their lives were quite young. The young widows of these brave soldiers have the most difficult and trying time ahead of them. The next category is that of the widows whose husbands die in harness. Then there are widows whose husbands die after their retirement. The misery inflicted on this segment of society is difficult to fathom.

The first and foremost are the in-laws of these widows who inflict maximum injury on them. Very few of them have a dwelling unit of their own and are forced to stay in rented accommodation. A few are given decent jobs to make their both ends meet. No job whatsoever is given to the widow of a soldier who resides in a village.

It is most regrettably stated that no unit or Army organisation ever bothers to know about the state of affairs of these unfortunate widows. The special family pension awarded to them is a pittance because there is no increase except that in dearness allowance. Whereas had their husbands been alive they would have been entitled to time-bound promotions till the rank of Major.

In view of the above, it is strongly recommended that the Army in particular and the country in general must provide them with a

dwelling unit and adopt their children for education and ensure their placement in the job market. An ex-gratia payment to them has a very little meaning when their will to live life has been badly shattered by the loss of their better halves. Lastly, the special family pension must take into consideration the time-bound substantive rank promotion benefits. This kind of gesture will go a long way in motivating the

youth to join the forces, especially the infantry, the queen of a battlefield.

Lt-Col G.S. GHUMAN (retd)

Telecom controversy

This has reference to a news item (August 11) followed by your editorial with the apt title, “Uneasy draw in telecom row” (August 13). The Delhi High Court’s latest ruling, even as an interim order, is not quite the last word. (God only knows if we will ever get the last word on the accursed subject of telecom policy.) Added to this is the din of politicians. Like in everything else, truth has become a casualty in the pre-election rabble-rousing rhetoric of politicians, but a few facts have emerged free from such obfuscation.

First, there is a big communication gap among the different agencies charged with the task of formulating and implementing the policies for promoting the rapid growth of telecommunications, resulting in stagnation instead of growth.

Second, we Indians are totally new to the process of deregulation, having been used all these years to the inertia of monoliths like the DoT, and we know at best only to muddle through the process of liberalisation like Alice in Wonderland.

Third, we do not want to liberalise our economic policies for the betterment of our people and join the global mainstream, but any attempt at involving private initiative invariably invites derision and accusations of corruption, nepotism and malfeasance. It is like having the cake and eating it too.

Finally, our mindset developed over the years has been one of giving less importance to the consumer (or the customer or the user) and a lot more consideration to the supplier (or the provider or the manufacturer) or even to the bureaucracy. How else can we explain the fact that several lakhs of users in different states were left high and dry with their telephone connections severed due to the cancellation of licences to a few operators?

What is at risk right now is the free flow of foreign investments in this vital sector.

(In response to the Internet edition)

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Reappointment of teachers

I would like to divert your attention towards the Punjab government notification and the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bench orders regarding the reappointment of ad hoc teachers whose appointments had been cancelled vide earlier Supreme Court orders, and who were agitating for quite some time at Chandigarh, etc, to get themselves reinstated. It was published in the newspapers a few days back that a High Court Bench had ordered the Punjab government to reappoint these teachers within 15 days.

I would like to point out certain factors against these orders:

1. That the Supreme Court had earlier cancelled the appointment of these teachers on the grounds that these appointments were illegal since these were made more than the vacancies, which were advertised.

2. How could those illegal appointments now be made legal?

3. What will happen to the deserving candidates who could not get employment only because of these illegal appointments and are still unemployed? Isn’t it a grave injustice to them? Everybody knows that these appointments were made by taking huge money from the selected candidates and all selection criteria or merit were put aside.

4. Why have these orders been made when the elections are due and the Election Commission has ordered not to make any new appointments, reappointments, transfers, etc.?

It is learnt that DO offices in the state have to start the process for issuing appointment letters from Monday — 16.9.99. Initial processing is already there.



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