Friday, March 31, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Changing ‘vision’ of India

WITH reference to Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article “USA’s changing ‘vision’ of India, A diplomatic triumph for New Delhi” (March 24) there is no doubt that the signing of the ‘vision’ document by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and President Bill Clinton is an event of far-reaching significance. It marks a remarkable transformation in the relations between the two countries since the Cold War days. The document covers a wide range of areas of mutual interest which reflects the depth and intensity of the engagement sought by both sides. And the framework for institutional dialogue that has been drawn up, including a provision for periodical summit meetings between the heads of the two governments, indicates a determination to translate good intentions into sound mutual relations.

The new direction that is envisaged in mutual relations is aimed at problems that are of considerable relevance in the South Asian context. The focus on bolstering counter-terrorism measures, along with the emphasis by Mr Clinton on the respect for the LoC in Kashmir, is significant. Its import should not be lost on India’s immediate neighbour.


  No option: General Pervez Musharraf has no option but to follow the line of action suggested by Mr Clinton.

President Clinton has made it clear that you cannot expect a dialogue to go forward unless there is absence of violence and respect for the LoC.

India will have to adopt a more balanced attitude vis-a-vis Pakistan and America. Mr Clinton’s views are clear about Kashmir. If the impasse on Kashmir is placed in the balance of the two-nation theory, by what logic are we going to incorporate India’s 140 million Muslims in our agenda for the future?


True picture: Mr Hari Jaisingh has painted a true picture about the significance of Mr Clinton’s visit. Mr Vajpayee must be congratulated for his straightforwardness and boldness while presenting the Indian point of view on CTBT and trans-border terrorism. We should also examine Mr Clinton’s views, he expressed during the course of his speeches in Parliament and at the reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan. He (Mr Clinton) shared our concern and expressed sympathy over the massacre of 35 innocent Sikhs by Pakistani-backed militant organisations. Mr Clinton also spoke boldly without any reservation in Islamabad and expressed his concern over the tension on LoC.

The arrest of one militant is a significant achievement. The killing of four other militants also denotes that our security forces will be able to unearth the deep-rooted conspiracy of Pakistan to cause communal tension in the Valley.


Training camps: Mr Hari Jaisingh has rightly stated that “the priority in this regard has to be smashing of the training camps run by Islamabad in occupied Kashmir areas as well as inside Pakistan.” Terrorism fully bloomed in the eighties — firstly in Punjab and thereafter in Kashmir — and is still continuing unabated. Before that, Naxalism had spread its fangs in some of the Indian states. Naxalites are still actively operating in some parts of the country.

Mr Bill Clinton’s visit to this country, it is hoped, would pave the way for peace in the South-Asian region. Demonic blood-letting will not serve any purpose. Surely, the signing of the document “Vision-2000” between the two countries — India and USA — is diplomatic victory for both.

Cross-border terrorism has inflicted untold suffering in Kashmir. The Hindus (Kashmiri Pandits) have already abandoned their hearths and homes for safety in other parts of the country. The other day, terrorists made the Kashmiri Sikhs of a village their target of attack, killing 35 male members of this community on the occasion of the US President’s visit. Mr Clinton’s remarks over these killings have generated some hope against terrorism.


Our biggest failure

Among many important points touched upon by Mr Hari Jaisingh in his concluding piece on the millennium debate (March 12) the one that has struck me the most is his observation about the importance of assessing both our successes and our failures.

In the olden days, the kings used to have paid critics in their durbars to criticise them. Now this job is being done by the Press, free of cost. But, unfortunately, unlike the kings, the present day rulers are not responsive to the criticism, howsoever constructive, and refuse to learn from their mistakes.

With every passing year since Independence, the image of our ruling politicians is sliding down day by day and has perhaps already reached its nadir. In my opinion they are a total failure.

Wg-Cdr C.L. SEHGAL (retd.)

PM should seek mediation

This refers to Mr Hari Jaisingh’s weekly feature (Frankly Speaking, March 17) which focused mainly on the strengthening of Indo-US ties. The Kashmir issue is becoming explosive day by day due to unabated acts of terrorism. It is a pity that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is not seeing reason in getting a third party to help in breaking the Kashmir stalemate, as bilaterism in resolving the issue has failed.

It has been proved beyond doubt, that at present Mr Vajpayee is helpless in resolving the 50-year-old Kashmir dispute. In a one-day cricket match, a disputed decision is referred to a third umpire for final decision. Then what is the harm in taking the help of a third party for defusing the Kashmir situation? Even if Mr Vajpayee rules the country for another 10 years, this dispute would persist. India is spending 38 to 40 per cent of its budget on defence only, due to the Kashmir issue. Earmarking Rs 1300 crore more in this year’s budget for defence is proof of how the Kashmir dispute is harming India’s economy.


Diploma engineers’ woes

Though we are the backbone of every engineering department, we, the diploma engineers, throughout the country, more so in Punjab, are not given our due. There are promotional avenues for us.

Most of the diploma engineers retire as junior engineers and only a few go on to become assistant engineers and only a handful get the rank of executive engineer.

Rules should be amended to enable them to reach the rank of superintending engineer. The step will go a long way in utilising their talent to the fullest and give them a sense of fulfilment


Fuel under fire

The editorial “Fuel under fire” (March 24), pleading that the abnormal hike in prices of LPG and kerosene should be “rolled back”, echoes the feelings of the average citizen on the subject.

Ambota (Una)

Three-party system

Much has been said about the proposed review of the Constitution. It is difficult for the common man to understand what the government means by a “review” of the Constitution when it has already issued guidelines to the commission that it should suggest changes without altering the basic structure.


Himachal hills

Having passed the best part of my life (1950-1986) in Himachal Pradesh I read S.P. Sharma’s article “Mindless Growth” (March 25) with concern. No place in today’s Himachal Pradesh — Shimla, Solan, Mandi, Chamba etc — is even a pale shadow of what these beauty spots were in the 60s and the 70s. They have all fallen prey to the ambitions — rather nefarious planning — of politicians. A curve on way to Mr Virbhadra Singh’s Holy Lodge was widened at heavy cost to enable vehicles to reach his house when he was the CM.

A time was when only the cars of the Governor, Goc-in-C of the Western Command and the Civil Surgeon could ply on the restricted portion of the Mall. The Chief Ministers and Ministers were seen walking on this portion till the 60s at least. Today, all and sundry ply their vehicles on this one-time prestigious, neat and clean road of the hill queen of the country.

I was amused to read Himachal Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal say “the Town and Country Planning Department had been ordered to take strict action against those violating the building laws”. Will the Department be able to stop unauthorised additions and alterations to the Raj Bhavan, to a minister’s house near the HP Bhavan, High Court building, house of the Sessions Judge at Kaithu et al?

Solan is facing total disaster. On restricted roads like the ‘Palace Road’ no vehicle was allowed. But today there is heavy traffic on this one-time “calm” road. Will the CM/DC Solan see that this nuisance is stopped?

Manali which was until recently a little beauty spot, a valley of environmental fragrance, is today a city of hotels which has turned into one of the most polluted towns in the state. All highways which had green hills have today become a “concrete jungle” after trees have been felled by the rich and the influential.



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