Thursday, February 10, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Constitution: unavoidable review

THE raging controversy over the proposed review of our Constitution is deplorable. A cursory look at the results of working with our Constitution reveals that all is not well. We find that we have retained major problems that we inherited at the time of Independence. Secondly, we have created major ones, in that the institutions are being destroyed. Even the armed forces, the last bastion, have systematically been threatened.

Finally, a major casualty has been the decline in values resulting in large-scale corruption in all walks of life and at all levels; worsening law and order situation and increasing economic gap between the rich and the poor. The end result is that a large population has been demoralised and is often seen questioning the merits of our Independence.

In praise of our Constitution our worthy politicians and

  their supporters are claiming that the Constitution has done us well in that the country has progressed and that democracy has stabilised. They are wrong on both counts. Development is a relative term. It is well known that a large number of countries with limited resources have made great strides, whereas we, with all the resources, both human and material, have been left behind, making India one of the poorest countries in the world.

Regarding the stability of our democracy, it is well known that due to the centuries of subjugation, our historical baggage and cultural/social background the people silently suffer all sorts of injustice and have rarely reacted unlike in other countries. If the people are going through the democratic process silently it is due to their nature and not due to the Constitution or due to the leadership qualities of our politicians.

The question arises: what is wrong with the Constitution? Basically, it is a mere collection of the Charters of several European nations. In other words it is like a wardrobe prepared using the best designs, finest fabrics and top class tailoring. The only mistake has been that measurements of the owner or the user were not taken. This is a major failing of the Constitution. The fact that it has been amended twice a year on an average since Independence confirms its weakness. These amendments are at best patchwork corrections and they cannot replace conceptual lacunae which need to be attended to on priority.

It is being rather loosely mentioned that nothing is wrong with the Constitution. It is the people who are inadequate/unequal to the task. This statement exhibits extreme insensitivity and vanity of the people in power. These very people were a party to amending the Constitution on a number of occasions purely for electoral gains.

It seems the main reason for opposing the constitutional review is that our politicians and their supporters are worried that the system to be evolved may curtail their avenues of using the Constitution for the furtherance of their personal agenda. We must disregard the objections of these politicians and carry out full review of the Constitution. The selection of the committee for this purpose must be done carefully.

New Delhi

Health services need more care

I read with interest Mr Ravinder Sud’s write-up, “A sea change to dispensary” (The Tribune, Feb 1). The Constitution of India aims at eliminating ignorance, poverty and health-related problems and directs the states to raise the public health status of the people and their quality of life as their primary responsibility.

India being a signatory to the Alma-Ata declaration of 1978 was committed to attaining the goal of “Health For All” by the year 2000, but it appears that the country would not be able to achieve the goal even in the next decade.

The government-run health centres are in bad shape in the entire state, particularly in the remote rural areas. Buildings are in a dilapidated condition, and even basic drugs are not available to poor patients. The government must spend at least 10 per cent of its budget on health services, and doctors should involve the local community so as to improve the health services in their respective areas as has been done in the rural dispensary at Naru Nangal.


Science City

This refers to a misleading report regarding the location of Science City to be developed at Kapurthala.

The Punjab Government and The Tribune have been wrongly projecting Science City as being developed in Jalandhar district. However, the truth is that it is being developed very much on the land located in Kapurthala district on the Kapurthala-Jalandhar road.



What is common between Bal Thackeray and Jaspal Bhatti?

Answer: Both launched their career as cartoonists.

What is the message?

Answer: Beware of humorists!



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