Friday, March 24, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Brilliant summing up of Millennium Debate

MR HARI JAISINGH has very well summed up The Tribune Millennium Debate — What is wrong with us and what is keeping us back? (The Sunday Tribune, March 12, 2000). A galaxy of writers presented discussions in depth on various issues and problems that have confronted the nation for the last over 50 years. Mr Hari Jaisingh’s summary of the problems and their solutions is indeed praiseworthy.

In India, the ruling elite (the politicians and the bureaucrats) have amassed wealth by manipulating men, matters and the system. The ordinary citizen still feels harassed and the rulers, for their selfish ends (to increase their note and vote banks) have roused communal passions, divided the people in the name of God, caste, creed, community and colour.

  Even after 52 years of our independence, 40 per cent of our population is living below the poverty line. We are still struggling with the same problems. Kashmir problem stands as it was. To save the honour of our motherland, the jawans have shed their blood always but the politicians have failed us. We are moving towards a new corruption culture. People are losing confidence in the present system. Tall promises by the rulers are not needed. To regenerate India in the 21st century, we need serious thinking on the basic problems facing the nation. There is no substitute for hard work, discipline and the creation of right type of atmosphere for efficient functioning. The quality of administration needs revamping.

Kudos to the Editor when he writes: “The Tribune will continue to play its crusading role without fear or favour”.



In his write up, “Roadblocks in Indo-US ties’ (March 17), Mr Hari Jaisingh has rightly emphasised the importance of technical and economic cooperation between the USA and India. In this context the visit of the President of USA, Mr Bill Clinton, is a welcome development.

Paradoxically, India is highly advanced in technological and scientific fields and yet remains a poor country in terms of per capita income. I am firmly of the view that, if right political atmosphere is created in this region whereby the countries learn to live in peace and amity instead of perpetual state of mutual hostility and insecurity bordering full-scale war, if the prices of crude oil are kept in reasonable limits by exerting pressure on the oil producing countries (India’s oil import bill has increased from Rs 24000 crore in 1998-99 to an expected Rs 70000 crore in 2000-01 due to increase in crude oil prices), if scientific and technological research and development are directed to utilise colossal solar energy available. If conditions are created to suitably waive off (partly, if not fully) the external debt repayment burden of the developing countries, then huge funds can be made available for the real developmental activities to raise the living standards of the people.

These are some of the areas in which America, the global super power can certainly help the poor developing countries.


Link in a chain: We have to locate at this given moment of President Clinton’s visit the particular link in the chain of processes which, if grasped, will enable us to hold the whole chain and to prepare the conditions for the achievement of strategic success. Such a link of eradicating terrorism which is today a global threat will serve the purpose. The point here is to single out from all other problems and confront the immediate problem, the answer to which constitutes the central point, and the solution of which ensures the successful solution of the other immediate problems. Only the combined efforts at these different levels will ensure peace.

There are expectations and rightly so because the present events are like solving a large intricate puzzle. All we have is a meaningless assemblage of oddly shaped bits of coloured cardboard. With a box-top, each piece has meaning and has to be given due importance as all are going to fit into the picture eventually. As rightly said by Shakespeare, “Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied; And vice sometimes by action dignified”.


Pipe controversy

This refers to the news item “Controversy over pipes” (Feb 16), regarding shallow tubewells along right side of Rajasthan Feeder Canal to eradicate waterlogging. The facts are that submersible pumps and B-Class pipes provided are technically suitable. C-Class pipes are meant for high steam pressures. The difference of cost over the B-Class type of pipes has already been recovered from the contractor. The provision of earthwork for ramp is a job facility. It exists in the tender document and is paid as per measurement for the actual work done at site.

Further, the area being severely water-logged a few pump houses were tilted due to low bearing capacity of soil. These had been reconstructed at the cost of the contractor. No tilted pump house exists at site.

Out of 320 tubewells being installed, 140 have been energised and only 15 tubewells are non-functional due to mechanical/electrical minor defects, repairs to which are carried out as a matter of routine. Remaining tubewells are being energised through hotline.


Status of women in India

Myth, legend and Hinduism give Indian women an exalted position. But a woman in India has no identity besides that of some man’s daughter, wife, mother or grandmother. Women have been and often still are dependent on men. But from time to time there have been women who got what they wanted through determination, grit, cunning and perseverance.

In Indian mythology, five women — Sita, Savitri, Draupadi, Ahalya and Arundhati — are held up as role models. They are known as Pancha Satis or the five ideal women. All men want their wives to be like Sita — long suffering and obedient. The lot of most Indian women today is similar to that of Savitri and Sita, but with a slight difference. Modern-day Indian women put up with indignity and degradation from sheer economic necessity, being not trained for any profession. Taught from childhood that a husband’s word is law, most find it easier to suffer rather, than leave the security of the home to look for a job to support themselves and their children. That is one reason for the low divorce rate in India.

There is the additional factor of societal pressure. Girls are taught by their mothers that their main purpose in life is to be a wife and mother and they are groomed from an early age for these roles.

Being a single woman in India — whether from choice, divorce or widowhood — is regarded as unnatural and as bad luck and a disgrace to the family. But times are changing. More and more girls are going to school and more and more women are working outside home. As women begin to realise the power of literacy and economic interdependence, they are shedding their fears and fetters.

They are into dance, music, creative writing, movies, journalism, service industries, defence, broadcast media, medicine, nursing, social work, sports etc. But even after realising every bit of information provided on account of women, still they are looked down upon. Still they are being killed for dowry, raped, discriminated in the family, killed in their childhood etc.

It is very surprising and also unfortunate that we are entering the 21st century with a notion at the back of our head that women are nothing but a towel which a man uses to wipe his tears and throw away. Thousands of years of prejudice are hard to change, but there is a glimmer of a beginning.

Dr R. Dhanjal


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