Friday, April 7, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Old tilt gone, euphoria misplaced

THIS refers to Mr Hari Jaisingh's article "India, USA and Pakistan: old tilt gone, euphoria misplaced" (The Tribune, March 31,2000). In international relations, there is no permanent foe or permanent friend — today's foe can be tomorrow's friend and vice versa. It is premature and meaningless to resume the process of a dialogue with Pakistan unless it completely stops trans-border terrorism or proxy war in Kashmir.

Pakistan cannot be confided in. India has been repeatedly wronged in the past by Pakistan. Despite the 1999 Lahore Declaration, Pakistan waged a war on us in Kargil and thereafter accelerated the pace of terrorist activity in Kashmir. In this way, the spirit of the Lahore Declaration melted away. It does not go without notice that while Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was leaving for Lahore on the historic bus journey last year, the terrorist had struck in Kashmir on the same day. How can such a rogue state be relied upon?


  I do not agree with the author's suggestion: India must find ways and means for the resumption of the dialogue with the ruling establishment in Islamabad, even if it may not like the stern face of General Musharraf". President Bill Clinton's sane advice to Pakistan's Chief Executive to stop terrorist acts in Kashmir and killings of civilians and honour the Line of Control (LoC) to create an atmosphere that is conducive to starting a dialogue on the contentious issues between the two countries — India and Pakistan — is well meaning.

Yet Pakistan has much to learn from its humiliating defeat in Kargil.

Bijhari (Hamirpur)

NEW REALITIES: US President did some plain-speaking during his recent visit to India and talked tough with Pakistan's military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf. The USA's old tilt towards Pakistan has gone, new realities have dawned upon the world's largest power on how the world's largest democracy should be treated.

But there is no room for euphoria on Mr Clinton's changed stance. Americans understand that a sound economy and widespread information technology hold the key to global supremacy. India is the second largest market after China. So it figures prominently in Washington's calculations. Mr Jaisingh rightly held: "President Clinton's new warmth towards this country needs to be seen in this light."

Mahatma Gandhi used to say that he was not against the Western people but only against their system which he called "satanic". Jawaharlal Nehru stressed non-alignment though with some tilt towards the erstwhile USSR. After all, the Russians stood by us through thick and thin in the worst days of our trials. We cannot push those memories down. We cannot be in the USA — rather the Western camp — which involves many obligations on our part. Above all we would be promoting the hegemony of the USA. Is this what we want to do? If not, there is no place for euphoria.

While a change in the US mindset is welcome, we must not always look to the white rich man for help. With a fairly high allocation of funds for defence, we must lace our army with the latest weaponry to be able to contain Pakistan on our own.


NO-DIALOGUE OPTION: Although the USA's tilt towards India is welcome and is valuable, there is no doubt that it is not the responsibility and duty of Mr Clinton to solve our problems with Pakistan. Ultimately, India itself has to tackle it. There is no doubt that Pakistan is feeling isolated now.

The writer feels unhappy with no-dialogue option of India. At the same time, it would be national insult if we go in for dialogue while Pakistan is busy in jihad against India, and continues to indulge in heinous crimes against the civilian population, the most recent being the massacre of about 40 Sikhs in Kashmir.


HP’s watershed projects

The Tribune report "Himachal to have watershed projects" (March 31) gives out that the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) will soon launch a Watershed development programme in Himachal Pradesh under the Watershed Development Fund. The report goes on to add that the programme would be implemented, inter alia, through the Village Watershed Committees (VWCs).

It seems pertinent to point out that the programme in question has been in operation in Una district of the state for the last several years but with exceedingly dismal results.

The causes responsible for the "gloomy mishap" are not far to seek; the crucial VWCs, constituted in a hush-hush manner, were overwhelmingly packed with vested interests/unscrupulous elements. Official supervision in the matter was, at best, casual and perfunctory, giving the impression that the officials concerned were hand in glove with the VWCs. Under the circumstances, slipshod/sub-standard works passed muster. Public complaints on the subject generally went unnoticed. Physical audit of the "works" was seldom undertaken. Little wonder, the funds, by and large, lined the pockets of vested interests — including the officials concerned and thus virtually went down the drain.

To my mind, a few earthen dams of the Chauhal/Dholbaha (Hoshiarpur district) type in the catchment areas of a district would yield much better dividends that what seem obtainable under the existing scheme of things.

Ambota (Una)

Polluters must pay

The Tribune editorial "Polluters must pay" (April 1, 2000) rightly supports the Supreme Court decision to punish the Directors of Mohan Meakins who have been discharging untreated industrial effluents into the Gomti river supplying drinking water to Lucknow city. The apex court ruling has sounded alarm bells for the industrial sector that has not so far attached due importance to the environment-related aspects.

More than seven years ago, the first Earth Summit held at Rio, Brazil drew international attention towards the urgent need of making this world environment-friendly. No lessons have, however, been learnt by the Indian industrial sector that still considers the expenditure on environmental measures as an extra burden and a dent in its net profits. Such an attitude needs to be changed — if not by freewill then by force.

No more the mighty rivers of India can be called sacred and pure when millions of gallons of untreated industrial effluent and toxic sewage is discharge into them everyday. Soon their waters will have to be declared unfit for drinking or bathing. The schemes launched to cleanse these rivers may further wash away billions of our rupees without bringing in any fruitful results.

It is said that "when the well is dry then we know the worth of water". Are we waiting for a similar situation to arrive, or shall we be wise enough to take corrective measures beforehand?

Today, the double-edged weapon of rapid population growth and precipitous environmental degradation is threatening to eliminate the human existence itself. It is time we took some real concrete measures to save the environment instead of just discussing it over fumes of steaming coffee.



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