Monday, February 21, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Multiplying woes of farmers

BY publishing the editorial “Taxing ideas” (February 19), The Tribune has done signal service to the farming community, highlighting the plight of crores of hapless and helpless farmers. I don’t know where they will find rich farmers to tax.

Farmers’ income already stands curtailed by the Land Ceiling Act. It is only the farming community in whose case the government puts a stop to the increase in their income and their further progress and development. They are made to sell their produce at a low price fixed by others.

They grow food to feed the country and in return the country gives them poverty, hunger and indebtedness. Many farmers commit suicide out of frustration and we know there are no big land-owners. Mostly, the land-holdings are not viable.

  Agricultural land is getting fragmented generation after generation, reducing the holding further, which is not sufficient to support a family. Most of the farmers are leading a hand-to-mouth existence. The percentage of the persons living below the poverty line is directly proportionate to the percentage of those depending on agriculture. The need of the hour is not to tax the farmers but to stop further fragmentation of their land-holdings.

The diminishing land-holding and a reduced income from it have resulted in large-scale unemployment. The deteriorating situation of law and order is the direct result of unemployment. The farming community is the only section which is mainly hit by the vagaries of weather without any help from the government.

I agree with you when you say that the farmers are thinking of selling their land and shifting to cities for better opportunities. If it so happens, the situation will become further complex, creating more problems. So, instead of thinking of taxing the farmers, we should help them by reducing the prices of their inputs like seed, fertilisers, diesel, electricity, agricultural implements and pesticides and giving them a remunerative price for their produce. I hope every right-thinking person will endorse your views in the national interest.

ex-MP, National Vice-President,
BJP Kisan Morcha
New Delhi

CVC’s action

The action of the executive committee of the Punjab State IAS Officers Association questioning Central Vigilance Commissioner N. Vittal’s action of putting names of certain IAS Officers on CVC’s website is condemnable. As a crusader against corruption, I was expecting that various associations and trade unions will appreciate the action of the CVC to bring into public focus the all pervasiveness of corruption. It defies all logic as to how an association of the premier all-India service is trying to use its collective strength to weaken the constitutional authority of the CVC. It is an admitted fact that corruption has played havoc with Indian polity and economy and has over the years facilitated concentration of wealth in fewer hands and accentuating of inequalities. The objectives set forth in the very preamble of the Constitution of India have been primarily defeated and derailed by this evil. The Indian Administrative Service, the elite group, having been at the helm of affairs all these years since Independence has to share its blame in this respect in proportion to the privileges and perks it has enjoyed. Will the IAS Officers Association of Punjab explain to the readers as to why various poverty alleviation schemes have been virtual non-starters?

I request the Punjab unit of IAS Officers Association to emulate the example of its Uttar Pradesh counterparts who are electing the most corrupt amongst themselves annually and making these names public. The Central Vigilance Commissioner requires support for his actions, which may at times look to be non-conforming to certain rules and practices. But is it that the corrupt are following norms and procedures to loot the country? I make an appeal to all associations — may be that of bureaucrats, technocrats, lawyers or any other elite group — to take measures to expose the black sheep amongst their ranks. All the routine administrative and judicial channels are blocked and the system needs immediate cleansing. Mr N. Vittal is doing a great job in this direction.



Knowing India’s neighbours

The weekly column “Window on Pakistan” is a welcome addition to The Tribune. However, it is not enough as it does not meet the information requirements of the people in the region about the goings-on in the country’s neighbourhood.

Pakistan needs special attention (study), being our immediate neighbour and an important adversary. Besides, it was a significant part of undivided India until 1947. We should not forget our limbs and parts (old) and give due attention to the happenings inside Pakistan.

By the same logic Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka also deserve our greater attention. We need to cultivate our neighbours, and for this purpose we must know their thinking on different issues.


Clinton’s coming visit

It does sadden me a bit that India in today’s geopolitical scenario could warrant a visit by an outgoing US President and that too could be motivated by the boost required for his wife Hillary Clinton contesting a Senate election from New York having Indian voters.

Every Indian and any government would like Pakistan to have a democratic government before any interaction. In fact, that too was found treacherous as it ended in the Kargil war.

With Pakistan and China being closer to each other in spite of Pakistan’s military rule, the USA is left with no other option than to be behind India and keep the balance. With the big forces aligning, Kashmir may emerge as a flashpoint for the worst things to come.

I hope the present visit is reciprocated by the Indian Prime Minister and followed up with the new US Head of State.

Sydney (Australia)
(Received in response to the Internet edition of The Tribune)

Performance of PUDA

Since the inception of the Punjab Urban Development Authority its construction and development activities have been centred around SAS Nagar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Phagwara and Patiala which are considered developed areas.

It has done pretty little for the backward areas where housing development is the crying need of the hour. It is no achievement to develop the already developed areas. The performance of PUDA can be lauded if it plays a role in the development of the backward areas like Mansa, Sunam, Muktsar, Barnala, Moga, Ferozepore, Faridkot, Kotkapura, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ropar, where the housing problem is very acute. PUDA should plan and execute modern housing colonies at these places to ease the housing shortage there.


The Indian disparity

We are nearly one billion now. The disparity between the rich and the poor exists.

We have both the largest middle and poor classes in the world. Kashmir needs to be brought on a par with the rest of India and protection of the poor and starving persons has to be ensured through constitutional safeguards if the danger of a civil war or politically and economically unstable regions is to be avoided.

We have a strong government at the Centre now. Let us proceed with the constitutional reforms and changes.



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