|M A I L B A G||
Monday, November 29, 1999
Many ills of industry
GOING through the editorial Many ills of industry (Nov 22), one felt Prime Minister Vajpayee was coming to grips with the realities of our socio-economic scene, administering gentle rebukes to the industrial fraternity assembled at the recent FICCI meeting to improve the quality of products and efficiency on the plant floor and exhorting our captains of industry to take a hard look at the economic and social reality outside their small world
Why should the accumulated loans of Rs 50,000 crore payable to banks alone, not to speak of the large sums owed to other financial institutions unnerve or give creeps to our industrialists and manufacturers? Is this the spirit of trusteeship which our national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi wanted us to imbibe with regard to the national wealth?
Not only that, the process of economic reforms must not be carried too far so that the burden of adjustment in the process of economic growth does not unduly fall on the shoulders of vulnerable sections, as eloquently stressed by Mrs Sonia Gandhi at the same venue.
Also, her observation that our opponents played politics when they were in the opposition and now that they are in power they have suddenly discovered virtues of pragmatism should hopefully go well with the subtly changed Prime Minister.
Should we also hope that the powers that be will think 10 times before they proceed with the privatisation of the insurance sector, for by not doing so they will only jeopardise the security of public funds lying in the LIC life fund over Rs 1,00,000 crore ? Whatever the fate of unrecovered bad loans of Rs. 50,000 crore and more advanced by banks and other FIs, the government owes it to the people to fully safeguard public funds rather than play ducks and drakes with the same.
Lest Scientific System of Selection by K.C. Verma as quoted by Tara Chand in the Editors Mail (Nov 6) as a sequel to N.D. Sharmas Tale of Two IAS Officers be dismissed as simple poetic outpourings of an angry bureaucrat, let it be recorded for the benefit of your readership that recently, probably August, 99, the Public Service Commission conducted at Shimla interviews for the posts of Veterinary Officers Class I and the board constituted for the purpose had on it as Technical Member a person who knew nothing about the diagnosis or treatment of animal diseases. He is not even a Regd. Veterinary Practitioner and has no veterinary qualification at all.
We already have an agricultural graduate heading Veterinary College at Palampur. Soon we may have an engineer heading Indira Gandhi Medical College at Shimla and a dentist heading Engineering College at Hamirpur.
Scientists all of them!
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Phone users woes
This refers to the news item Plan to increase phone density in rural areas (The Tribune, 19-11-99, page 3). Mr Ram Vilas Paswan has promised to expand the telephone network manifold, making it more accessible comfortably in the rural areas. There is no doubt that the minister is honest in his promise or pronouncement, but look at the present state of affairs.
A telephone subscriber is much aggrieved at this state of affairs because of a cut in the free calls, a manifold increase in the rent, and so on. This is besides the other numerous problems a subscriber has to face. When his/her telephone is out of order and to get it set right, the subscriber has to lodge a number of complaints. He has to run from pillar to post and has to tolerate the rude behaviour of officers sitting in their AC offices.
There is urgent need to overhaul the whole telephone system as well as the Telecom Departments network.
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In the name of human rights
I wholeheartedly support the views expressed by Mr M.S.N. Menon in the write-up Human rights: the new mantra (November 12). In the name of human rights, democracy, liberalisation, globalisation, freedom and what not, the West and its allies elsewhere are determined to consolidate and enhance their supremacy over the rest of the world, particularly the less developed regions of Asia and Africa.
At different periods of history in the past they invented and invoked a host of cliches, catchwords, terms and phrases for selfish gains, political, financial, cultural and military. Not long ago they used to talk to White Mans Burden to justify their rule over their erstwhile colonies even as they indulged in the worst form of oppression exploitation and racial hatred towards the local population. Where were the human rights then?
Now a latter-day export version of human rights, selectively applied, amid an intense media hype, is being used by the same colonial powers as a means to create dissensions and weaken other countries. The self-appointed guardians of human wellbeing, good governance and order in the world are, of course, happily insensitive to the dismal human rights records in their own backyards and many other places for reasons best known to them. The USAs tepid response to the need for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan amply betrays the mere lip service it pays to the high ideals it never tires of flaunting to the lesser mortals like Indians and others.
The irony of it all is that we take the duplicitous behaviour of some of the Western powers at its face value unthinkingly as if what they say or do is ordained by God Himself to be implicitly followed without delay. This slavish mindset has done us incalculable harm. We need to be much more discriminating, insightful and practical than we have been so far to look after our immediate gains and long-term interests.
Above all, we should learn to be a lot more disciplined and hard-working, proud of our past as a great civilisation and confident of our potential for progress. We have to make up and soon for 52 years and more of indolence, ineptitude and lost opportunities if we want to survive as a well-integrated, prosperous and powerful nation. There are hard times ahead for India.
S.C. KAPOOR (retd)
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The year 1999 is dedicated to the welfare of elders or senior citizens who are supposed to occupy a position of respectability in the present-day social setup.
The senior citizens in Himachal Pradesh should be allowed 50 per cent concession in bus fares, while travelling in state-owned buses. Police personnel, freedom fighters, accredited journalists, sitting and former MLAs and handicapped persons already enjoy such concessions in Himachal Pradesh.
The Punjab Government has allowed women aged 60 and above free travel in Punjab Roadways buses and the U.T. administration has allowed a 50 per cent concession to the senior citizens for travel in CTU buses at Chandigarh. Besides, the Central Government has allowed to senior citizens a 30 per cent concession in rail fare and a 50 per cent concession in Indian Airlines flights.
The Himachal Pradesh Government should use the occasion and announce 50 per cent concession in State-owned buses to senior citizens of Himachal Pradesh.
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