Thursday, February 3, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



The loss from power sector

THE editorial “Power sector impasse” (January 28) sets the tone for a thorough discussion on the reform process being stressed by the Government of India. It has been rightly summed up that the government should stop believing that it is interested in reforms for reforms sake. Actually, it is foreign loans which are generating friction.

The Power Minister says that the Electricity Boards are being trifurcated just to pinpoint the area where the losses are accruing, as if one does not know this. The real causes for the loss are subsidised power to a section of consumers along with the theft resorted to by influential persons.

One cannot imagine the state of the economy after the privatisation of the power sector. In Maharashtra, only one project, Enron, is sufficient to cause a direct loss of Rs 460 crore per year because of the guaranteed offtake of the power produced irrespective of the price — not buying 200-250 MW of power from TATA at Rs 1.80 per unit and not backing its own unit at Chanderpur (at Rs 1.20 per unit).

  Abhay Mehta, in his book “Power Play — A Study of Enron”, has illustrated that Enron subverted all the laws and institutions of India, and the powers that be made a systematic surrender at every step. Even the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Power in its 26th report expresses grave reservations in respect of the excessive cost and the “guaranteed offtake of power”.

The Bombay High Court has observed in the Enron case that even after 50 years of Independence political consideration outweighs public interest.

We do need reforms in the power sector if this is well meaning after all, this is to be in the interest of consumers and employees. For this purpose, the work culture in the SEBs needs to be improved. Persons of proven integrity should be given sensitive posts, and politicians should stop recommending the posting of their favourites at “wet posts”.


Improve ties with China

The mysterious appearance of the 17th Karmapa in Dharamsala with ill-defined intentions and destination has ignited a dangerous controversy, threatening the Sino-Indian relations once again.

Our country can’t afford to forget the tremendous loss of life and territory consequent to the war between the two countries, precipitated by the grant of political asylum to the Dalai Lama in 1959. The Indian Government may soon be facing the dilemma of whether or not to grant asylum to 14-year-old Karmapa whose very credentials, religious seniority and socio-political status remain unsettled due to the two more contenders for the high seat of Kagyu.

China is our great neighbour, and at this critical moment when Pakistan has succeeded in cementing its ties with Beijing, endangering India’s security, no stone should be left unturned to improve our relations with China. A decision to grant political asylum to the Karmapa is bound to sabotage this strategy, and will be tantamount to a political suicide.

It is high time we saw the writing on the wall and honoured the sacred principles of Panchsheel.

Let us not hesitate in giving the marching orders to the Karmapa with due honour, and refrain from irritating the Dragon by prolonging his stay in India.

Senior Consultant,
B. L. Kapoor Memorial Hospital



Constitutional review

The constitutional review question is a part of the NDA agenda and the central government is well within its mandate to initiate action in that direction. It is essentially an intellectual exercise to be conducted by legal luminaries within well-defined terms of reference.

The core of the basic structure of the Constitution is like the truth which cannot change whatever way we look at it. Let us realise that even the best can be improved.

There are issues like steep economic disparities between the rich and the poor, the exponential growth of population, the mushrooming of smaller political parties, horse trading in Parliament/ Assemblies (remember the JMM bribery case), Centre-State relations, stringent punishment for economic offences, corruption and antinational elements, adequate representation for women in Parliament/ Assemblies, the basic qualification to hold ministerial offices, electoral reforms and the flaws in our legal system are some of the areas which may be reviewed by legal and constitutional experts.


Violation of human rights

The ignominy suffered by Indian nationals at the hands of US immigration officials is, in fact, the worst kind of violation of human rights. Forty Indians working as computer professionals at a US air force base in San Antanio (Texas) were handcuffed unjustifiably and the Americans did not even spare pregnant women.

The savagery of the US immigration officials is not to be pardoned. The Government of India must register its strong protest against such violations of human rights and demand that the culprits must be brought to book. All the NRIs in the USA must also raise their voice against this cruelty.



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