Friday, April 21, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Punjab: populism is not dynamism

I ENDORSE the views expressed by Mr Hari Jaisingh in his article, “Populism is not dynamism: Punjab needs faster pace of growth” (14.4.2000). There is no doubt that the Akali-BJP combine in Punjab has failed to deliver the goods.

To a discernible observer, it is obvious that the Akali Dal has not been able to throw up a man of vision who could trail a new light on the political horizon of Punjab. The party, marked by internal dissensions and lack of clear direction, is at its lowest ebb. It has lost its democratic character. Tumults and traumas of the past decade have not taught any lesson to the Akali leaders.

It is not only the masses who are carried away by populist slogans and who bring leaders of questionable integrity and doubtful capacity to the helm of affairs media too has not played the desired role in this regard. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who had been in political wilderness for a number of years, managed to re-establish himself through undue projection in the media. The massive mandate in his favour given by the electorate was due to the anti-Congress wave in the state.


  The writer, while taking cognisance of the lacklustre performance of Mr Badal, still acclaims him as a “gentleman politician” and a well-intentioned person” who “continues to enjoy popular goodwill”. People of Punjab have not seen any visible evidence of Mr Badal’s good intentions having been converted into reality. There is a big dichotomy between his rehetoric and practice. He, more than ever before, stands far from the masses and has lost his goodwill. The onus of lowering the prestige of the Sikh institutions also rests on him. Apart from deep economic malaise there are daily reports of rampant corruption involving the high-ups in the state. People are on the horns of a dilemma as all political parties have failed them. There is a leadership vacuum in the state.

The Akali Dal’s coalition partner, the BJP, has used the alliance for its own self-serving ends. The BJP has not been able to spell out any political agenda for Punjab. It has not taken up any of the political issues of Punjab at the national level. In fact, the BJP has outwitted the Akali Dal in the game of politics.

People of Punjab are waiting for the rise of an enlightened, far-sighted and committed leader who would feel the pulse of the masses, take them out of the present mess and steer clear of the politics of opportunism and populism.

President, Institute of Sikh Studies

Decline of Punjab: A decade back Punjab was the most prosperous state in the country. Its per capita income was Rs 2,250 against Maharashtra’s Rs 1,670 and Gujarat’s Rs 1,590. Maharashtra’s per capita income today is more than 10 per cent higher than that of Punjab. Gujarat may also leave Punjab behind. Punjab has been a frontliner in the Green Revolution, in the White Revolution and overall development.

What has happened to this one-time prosperous state? Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s populism — free power, free water to farmers, the Anandgarh phobia, the celebration of the Khalsa tercentenary at a fantastic cost to the state’s empty treasury, etc. The event has been celebrated with reverence and piety by the people everywhere. The same reverence, devotion and dedication, and not money should have guided Mr Badal’s conduct at Anandpur Sahib. Gandhiji held extravaganza, pomp and pageantry as “synonymous with vulgarity”.

There are nearly 15 lakh educated unemployed youth in Punjab. Hopefully, a carefully prepared programme of extending industrial education such as setting up pre-vocational training centres is being adopted by the government as early as possible the need for which was felt by The Tribune as back as 1925.

The common man in the state has been craving for a reasonably good standard of living and wants the basic amenities like power, potable water and road. But in the case of the Badal-run government there is a wide gap between promise and performance.

The writer has rightly held: “Mr Badal has a historic opportunity to deliver the goods and put Punjab on the road to high growth and all-round development”.


Resentment among pensioners

There is great resentment among the Himachal government pensioners as their just and genuine demands have not been accepted by the government, in spite of repeated reminders.

Their main demands based on the Punjab pattern are fixed medical allowance (Rs 250 p.m.) for all without any option, old age allowance for senior pensioners after crossing the age of 70 and 80 years at the rate of 5 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively and one month’s basic pension as LTC after a gap of every two years.

The government has also been requested to set up a pensioners advisory committee on the pattern of SCOVA at the Centre and a similar committee in UP and Tamil Nadu for sorting out the problems of the retired people. Although the Himachal Chief Minister had given an assurance to a delegation of the Solan District Pensioners Association when they called on him on 10.4.1999 at Shimla that he would set up the proposed committee immediately, nothing has been done so far in spite of repeated reminders.

The railways has granted a 30 per cent concession in rail fare to senior citizens above 65 years of age. The Himachal government should also grant a similar concession in bus fares.


Crocodile tears

After the presentation of the annual budget in Parliament, there has been a steep increase in the prices of essential commodities like foodgrains, kerosene, diesel, cooking gas and urea. This has hit hard the small and marginal farmers besides other sections of society. The price hike in the case of the articles being supplied to the poor people through the public distribution system has a cascading effect.

The BJP allies have been raising much hue and cry over the subsidy cuts and the hike in the administered prices and showing lip-sympathy for the people. Shedding crocodile tears by these parties being in the government is nothing more than befooling the people.


Bill Gate’s policies

It has been reported that Microsoft has violated the law and attempted to monopolise the IT field, the Internet and the Web market.

This will definitely have an impact on the company’s image. Soon after the judgement the share value went down. That is the sign of its fragility.

This problem needs to be dealt with as early as possible so that there is no monopolising of the information technology field.



Some time ago a minister was informed of the shortage of drinking water. What was his answer?

“Drink mineral water!”



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