|M A I L B A G||
Tuesday, December 28, 1999
Motivated attack on SBI
GOING through the editorial Motivated attack on SBI (December 17), one is aghast to learn how deviously the National Task Force appointed by that high-sounding forum going by the name of CII, has put forward the pernicious proposal for sellout of the prestigious SBI and certain other not-so-prestigious banks (later retracted). And all this in the name of the problem of unrecovered loans to the tune of Rs 50,000 crore, created by entrepreneurs represented by the CII and such other venerable bodies! The editor has understandably, rather ruefully, commented that The SBI is an attractive asset and foreign financial institutions which are sitting on billions of dollars in ready cash will be tempted to seize the offer or that Having spent time and energy on the sale of banks, the (KV) Kamath Committee did not have much to say on its original task to tackle the intractable problem of bad debts.
In fact, the Vajpayee Government has also gone ahead to set up special groups comprising the same set of entrepreneurs, assigning them eight new economic themes. One wonders whether India is going through its own version of Prestroika inflicted on the USSR by that woolly-headed visionary, Gorbachev, known for presiding over the super-powers liquidation, and yet lauded to the skies by the western media. Not only that, the suggestion to open up the area of print media to foreign investors, sure to have serious implications, has naturally elicited the comment from Mr Hari Jaisingh in his weekly column alongside the said editorial that this does not happen even in advanced democratic countries, prompting him to ask,then how should a section of the saffron establishment be even thinking on these lines?
Unless Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee has decided to go down to posterity as Indias own Gorbachev, he must halt in his tracks to introduce these versions of Glasnost and Prestroika. Mr Vajpayee through his Pokhran-II blasts might have made India a nuclear weapon state for which anyway we had all the potential expertise and technology even before he took over as Prime Minister; it should not be lost sight of that the USSR was a much greater nuclear power. What matters in the final analysis is the soundness of a nations economic policies as reflected in the employment levels and the pervasiveness of health and educational facilities, not to speak of potable water. I can only stress with Mr Jaisingh the dire need to draw a Lakshman Rekha to help us identify the areas which should be open to foreign direct investment and the areas which should be out of reach of MNCs.
J. N. NARANG
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With three Miss World awards during the last five years, this country feels proud of this achievement and women in particular, despite strong opposition by women activists against holding such shows with their slogans sexist cattle market and womens bodies are not for sale. Never mind. We are entering the next millennium with poverty standards which put this country to shame even compared with several developing countries. And with 50 per cent of the population living below the poverty line there is little chance of their emerging from it with the current mood of the economy.
And it is in this country where women enjoy far inferior status compared to men. They are denied their rights and often have to lead an existence of humiliation, dire illiteracy, poor health care and work round-the-clock under the existing social order.
Dowry deaths and the torturing of women have been a common feature and this evil instead of declining with the spread of education has been rising. And here again it is the educated and well-to-do families who have been in the lead. There is a craze for the male child and the birth of a female child is still not welcome.
With this background, should we rejoice at these beauty competitions which have been even condemned by women reformers and activists in the advanced societies where barely women of substance participate in these shows?
We should do serious heart-searching and first of all set our own house in order before we start feeling proud of our achievements in these shows.
V. S. MAHAJAN
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Lt Col Sarangs letter titled Privileged class (Dec 18) stating that since the farmers are a privileged lot paying for their domestic electricity also seems to pinch them is totally incorrect. Rather, such a dictation highlights the distinguished gentlemans ignorance about the genuine plight of the Indian farmer.
In the same letter he has mentioned that the privileged class has gone down so much that it cannot even pay Re 1 and Rs 2 per acre on barron and irrigated land. The letter which is directed at the Punjab Government, seems to have an undercurrent of jealousy towards the farming community.
I would like to ask Col Sarang if he has ever visited a mandi where farmers sell their stock of wheat or paddy? Exploitation by the government agencies and the arhtias is rampant and very few farmers get the minimum fixed price as promised. So where is the privilege?
Furthermore, I would like to question him if he has ever wondered what would be the state of a small farmer if his crop fails due to a natural calamity? He does not have a pension to fall back on.
A farmer has no Saturday or a Sunday in his calendar and he labours throughout the year without knowing what future has in store for him. May I point it out that free electricity was never a demand of the Punjab farmers. Assured supply of electricity is what a farmer has always wanted which he has not got till date. Free electricity and waiving of revenue are sops which the Akalis had promised before coming to power to woo voters. Before this farmers were regularly paying their bills and depositing Mamla judiciously.
I would, request Col Sarang that lets not confuse sops with demands or farmers being privileged because of the sops. Farmers economy is in distress today and it needs all kind of government help and support to straighten its backbone. The issue here is that since we do not have dynamic leaders in our fold these are the kind of incentives and subsidies political masters can think of to offer to the farming community, to make farming workable.
But to pose farmers as beggars who are always looking for free this or that is definitely not agreeable.
* * * *
This has reference to the news item Twice born MP minister in trouble (Dec 16) in which you have drawn similarities to the case of Bihar Minister Rakesh Choudhury.
Mrs Suhas Pradhan of the BJP, who has drawn Governors attention to the discrepancy and Governor Bhai Mahavir Parshad, who has sought clarification, are not fair to the fair sex (Jamuna Devi). Every woman has the right to conceal her age; women in politics are no different.
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