Tuesday, April 4, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



HP remembers T. N. Kaul

NEXT to the state of J&K, where T.N. Kaul was born and brought up, he liked Himachal Pradesh, which resembled the Kashmir valley geographically and climatically. He, therefore, decided to make Himachal his future home. When he was India’s Ambassador to the United States of America during 1972-76 he selected a place — Neri Kotli — near Rajgarh in Himachal Pradesh where he purchased land, constructed a house and planted an orchard. It was a remote place, situated at the base of a mountain. He named his land as Tapovan and the house as Hermitage.

In-between his diplomatic and other assignments he used to stay at Tapovan to try his hand on manual work, concentrate on intellectual pursuits and subject the body to yogic exercises. Temperamentally, he was a simple and selfless person with an amiable nature. A well-wisher of others, he always took great pains in helping people. Thus he earned the gratitude of the people for his benevolent deeds, of which the following are some examples.

  1. During his ambassadorship in the USA, he got Rs 16 crore sanctioned from the World Bank for establishing the Horticultural Produce Marketing Corporation (HPMC) in Himachal Pradesh. This programme led to the creation of various infrastructural facilities like the Fruit Processing Plant at Parwanoo, the construction of horticultural roads in Himachal Pradesh, the establishment of fruit grading and packing centres in the state, besides developing cold storage and marketing facilities in Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Calcutta.

2. He got financial help from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the construction of hospital buildings and the purchase of equipment for primary health centres at Rajgarh and Hamirpur.

3. He was instrumental in getting the first horticulture university of Asia (Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan) sanctioned from the Government of India for Himachal Pradesh. He further favoured the university by accepting the request for acting as a member of its board of management to guide its destiny.

4. For the welfare of the local people he got the Fagu school upgraded to a high school. With financial assistance from the World Bank, the Rajgarh-Haban road was got widened and metalled; a community hall and a knitting and tailoring centre was established at Neri-Kotle for the training of women of the surrounding villages.

5. He organised a cooperative society — the Rajgarh Cooperative Canneries Ltd, Halonipul — near Rajgarh with a capital investment of Rs 16 lakh contributed as shares by the members. This cooperative society was started to utilise the surplus horticultural produce of the farmers and sell the same as value-added products in the market. He was the president of the society, and the unit had started production.

Despite his 87 years, T.N. Kaul was quite active, agile, happy and humorous. Once I told him to exercise restraint in climbing slopes in his orchard to avoid the danger of slipping down, to which he promptly said:

Jawani ka dil hai
Burhaape ke pug hein
Uchhalna bhi wajib
Phisalnaa bhi wajib

The people of Himachal Pradesh remember and respect him as a fatherly figure for his noble qualities of head and heart, and all that he did for them till the last breath of his life.

Chambaghat (Solan)

Curse of corruption

In his article “Growing curse of corruption — the cause & the cure” (The Tribune, March 18) Mr J.L. Gupta has aptly summarised the existing sad state of affairs in this context when he says that “gold has become the goal and with gold you can lead a man by the nose” and that resultantly we have a society where vice and not virtue prevails.

He has still struck an optimistic note by saying that there are some men with morality even in a predominantly amoral society and that their existence makes public virtue an attainable ideal.

While spearheading a crusade in my own sphere of activity, I have found that exposure of the corrupt and the crafty has only earned the enmity of these wrongdoers and their friends for lifetime. Nothing more than this has been achieved. The matter has not been taken to its logical conclusion by the competent authorities.

The result is that the fence-sitters, whom the author describes as the cowardly corrupt, take a cue from this inaction in such seemingly proven cases of outright theft and dacoity of national wealth, and try to shed their timidity. Why not? Wisdom lies in pursuing an activity which involves low risk, high profitability and added esteem.

I agree with the view that Wang Jianye was rightly paraded in streets for having taken 9,00,000 pounds in bribes and then was shot dead as he was an obstacle in the “progress of economy”, and that every corrupt man in India too should meet this end.


Fuel under fire

The hike in the prices of LPG and kerosene is condemnable on many counts. At the very outset, this post-budget hike came during the recess period of the Budget session, which speaks of the lack of confidence and conviction on the part of government to face the people’s representatives boldly on an issue which is directly linked to the survival and decent living of the common man. Secondly, the argument of the growing pool-deficit to unmanageable limits is a lame excuse to underplay the political and bureaucratic mismanagement and inefficiency.

If some of kerosene meant for PDS finds its way to Bangladesh or to the business community to run their “gensets” during powercuts or even to the unscrupulous petrol-pump owners who adulterate the diesel in bulk, is this not a case of inefficiency and lack of political will to set things right ? If the funds collected from the poor people in taxes are wasted on the “feudal” lifestyle of our “corrupt and criminal” political leadership, why should not the common man grouse at every such hike in prices which will only add to the mismanagement of the economy and further breed corruption and inefficiency ?



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