119 years of Trust M A I L B A G THE TRIBUNE
Thursday, September 2, 1999
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Do elections solve any problem?

THE election process is on, but there is no election fever as such — voters not excitedly discussing their favourite party or candidate.

Somehow people have lost their faith in the politicians of all hues; their image as a class has declined steeply. Their tall promises come and go.

As an illiterate citizen says, these elections solve no problem of the masses, the problems and difficulties that stared us at the dawn of Independence remain as terrible as ever — poverty, hunger, corruption, ill-health, illiteracy, etc. The only problem solved is that of food, but for that the credit must go to the hard-working kisans, the backbone of the nation, just as the credit for the victory in the Kargil war must go to the brave jawans and not to our ministers and bureaucrats.

Parties take great care to draft and publish their manifestos, yet these leave the general masses quite cold. There are no comparative discussions on them, nor any great hopes raised for the future on their basis. They are a necessary formality, and every party must live up to that tradition. Now most of them are similar, like an egg is egg. There are hardly any topics or suggested solutions to catch the public imagination.

In fact, during the last half a century of our Independence, all the important topics that could benefit the people have been exhausted. “Gharibi” was “hataoed” long ago; big dents were made in the unemployment problem; the health and population problems have already been solved. People’s average incomes and standard of living have already been raised and all that. The only innovations thrown up today are “Mandalism”, reservations for more and more categories — today for women — and other such parochial and narrow-minded topics that divide the mind and heart of India and pose a serious danger to the unity and solidarity of the nation.

Regional parties posing a danger to our all-India outlook are springing up like mushrooms — there are over 40 of them already. Such multiplicity and separatist mindsets pose the greatest danger to our future as a great united nation.

People are so despaired of expecting any great good from the elections that at many places they have raised cries of poll boycott as never before. Of course, most of them would fall in line and there would be no boycott in a big way. But the mere talk of boycott shows their disillusionment with the system. As someone said, why waste Rs 1000 crore of government (people’s) money and many more thousands of the parties and the candidates involved in a project which may bring another hung parliament and the same old permutations and combinations?


Overlooking the aged

This has reference to the report published on August 21, saying that Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee has driven home the importance of even a single vote. He pointed out that his government had lost the confidence motion in the Lok Sabha by one vote only.

Despite this hard fact, all the political parties have been little careful about a big chunk of votes of about seven crore senior citizens of the country, for whom even the UN has dedicated the year 1999 as the International Year for the Aged. Their cause could not find place in the agenda or manifesto of any group fighting the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.

The senior citizens, undoubtedly, did a lot for the nation when they were young and active. But now they are a neglected lot when they have become aged. The mention of even a word or two about their welfare could work as a magic-wand in motivating them as a class to vote for any party.

It is urged that the new government that is formed at the Centre must include the “cause and care of senior citizens” in its national agenda or the common minimum programme. The older people deserve security and public assistance as per the Constitution of India.

President, Senior Citizens’ Council

50 years on indian independence 50 years on indian independence 50 years on indian independence
50 years on indian independence

The new millennium — when?

The fact is that the 20th century is going to finish, and the 21st century will begin on the midnight between December 31, 2000, and January 1, 2001. The new millennium will also start exactly at that time.

However, many people are confused that this transition into the new century and into the new millennium is going to take place with the beginning of the year 2000 — on the midnight between December 31, 1999, and January 1, 2000. This is absolutely wrong, as at that moment the present century will complete 99 years only and the present millennium will be only 1999 years old. They still have to spend one more year to herald into the new century and the new millennium.

For quite some time I have been noticing the above fallacy and the wrong notion of reporting and declaring every (annual) event of the year 1999 as the last event of the millennium. But when this newspaper (The Tribune, August 16), which I hold in great esteem for its accurate reporting, declared (on the first page under the heading “End subversion, then talk...”) August 15, 1999, as the last Independence Day of the millennium, I felt that I should bring the correct position to your notice.

This century will complete its 100 years and the present millennium will complete its 1000 years on December 31, 2000. So, we will have August 15, 2000, as the last Independence Day of the present century and of the present millennium. This will be true for all other annual events, and for that matter all events occurring till December 31, 2000, will have to be counted in the present century and the present millennium.



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