Thursday, March 2, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Restructuring Punjab economy

IN terms of production, income and employment, the Punjab economy is mainly rooted in an agrarian structure. Consequently, it is unable to generate viable economic prosperity and enhance the status of Punjabi society in the Indian nation-state. There is a relative development of agriculture to be sure, but only a limited/lopsided spread of industry and irrational expansion of the tertiary sector. This distorted development is responsible for disjointed social change as well as the recent economic crisis in the state.

It is evident that an industrial structure with a capacity to radically alter economic life and socio-cultural values of people has failed to materialise in this state. Given the social grip of “agro-culture”, the structure of the Punjab economy is not very productive. A large mass of the main workers employed in the primary and tertiary sectors has low labour intensity and productivity.

  On the one side, the generation of surplus value is limited in Punjab and, on the other, the policy of extracting a measure of surplus from farm/industrial producers and commercial concerns by the state is hampered by social and political populism. Besides, capital extraction by the Centre from the Punjab economy is marked by a system of unequal market exchange.

The existing structure of big industries and small-scale units in Punjab is not suitable and appropriate in terms of size, scale, fixed investment, employment and production. Only that pattern of rapid industrialisation of the Punjab economy would be socially useful and economically viable which (i) develops interaction of labour and capital between agriculture and industry, (ii) helps in reducing the exclusive dependence of the small peasantry on farming, (iii) provides productive employment to educated youth, (iv) allows social adjustment to lumpen elements, and (v) generates capital accumulation.

This new pattern of development would help the state to handle the question of poverty alleviation and social alienation without subsidising products and services. Only this restructured mode of the Punjab economy would result in sustainable economic prosperity, labour-oriented urbanisation and rational socialisation of Punjabi society.


Alternative to cash transactions

The Prime Minister has warned of the fake currency racket by Pakistan. But cash transactions were never safe in India. Not only in Bihar, UP or Delhi but everywhere too there is fear of theft, loot, etc. Payment by cheques takes time with the added apprehension of a cheque getting dishonoured sometimes due to the mistake of banks.

Bank drafts and pay orders are the best alternatives. If banks can reduce the charges of preparing them, more people will opt for them, thereby compensating the banks revenue loss. Further, banks will get rid of preparing pay-in-slips, etc, of outstation cheques, and reconciliation of accounts will be very easy. Mr Vajpayee has earned the image of being industry-friendly. Let him show that he is common man and customer-friendly also!

New Delhi

Ravi water

The brief article “Punjab — facts & figures” that appeared in The Tribune on 12-2-2000 was interesting but it had certain inaccuracies. It says that after India’s partition in 1947, only two rivers — the Sutlej and the Beas — remained in the state. This was true only for a few years. Punjab now has three rivers and not two.

In 1960, an India-Pakistan treaty was signed under the auspices of the United Nations, and as a result, taking care of the Ravi was also the responsibility of Punjab.

In Gurdaspur district, a multi-river project called the Thein Dam is being built. On its completion, the water of this river will be utilised in this country and not allowed to flow down to Pakistan.


Computer institutes

Recently I visited a private computer training centre in Sector 35, Chandigarh. It was promised to me that the classes would be held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Sector 35 centre and the batch would consist mostly of hostellers of Punjab Engineering College for coordination. However, when I joined institute I was allotted a Sector 17 centre and the classes were held on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. instead of as promised. Moreover, the batch turned out to mostly of day scholars.

The students wishing to join a computer course not to succumb to the wishes of these institutes and join them only after ensuring the authenticity of their promises.



Counterfeit notes

With reports of counterfeit notes of Rs 100 and Rs 500 in circulation, the public should safeguard its interest by knowing the characteristics of genuine notes and how to distinguish them from counterfeit ones. The Reserve Bank of India circular giving these particulars is useful.

It is reproduced in a public service booklet by us, “Coin Shortage & Soiled Notes”. Interested persons can obtain a copy by sending Rs 15 (free by ordinary postage) to the All-India Bank Depositors’ Association (Mumbai), “Peninsula House”, 2nd Floor, Mumbai-400 001.

A good number of counterfeit notes are used in property transactions, payment to contract labour at construction sites, speed money to politicians and government employees, and cash deals in markets.

If the government wishes to wipe out this menace, by combination of good intelligence and effective action, it is possible.



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