Monday, May 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Economic crisis in Punjab

I WISH to focus attention on the deteriorating economic condition of Punjab. This is due to industrial sickness. There is overall recession in the market all over state. The rural as well as urban areas were badly hit at the time of terrorism. The losses suffered during the militancy period by industry in general have not been recovered even after the end of those difficult days due to the world-wide recession.

The Union Government has introduced a compromise scheme through the Reserve Bank of India. It is no doubt very appreciable, but the banks are not adhering to the same, resulting in its failure. It is surprising that banks have refused to accept the scheme drafted by the Reserve Bank of India while adhering to all other circulars/guidelines.

Industries are being auctioned on the orders of debt recovery tribunals because small units could not repay their loan in time. This is no solution as this way business/industry will vanish, and industrial infrastructure will be destroyed.

  Besides, in the days to come there will be an acute unemployment problem in Punjab. One may evaluate the situation by having the figure of surrendered electricity connections from the Punjab State Electricity Board in the past one year. There is also need to bifurcate NPs of SSIs and large industrial units as both should not be lashed with the same stick.


Efficiency in banking system

It is unfortunate that the Reserve Bank of India has reduced the savings bank interest rate from 4.5 to 4 per cent, although the Customer Service Committee which it had appointed (Goiporia Committee) had recommended an increase! The proper course of action was to increase operational efficiency in the banking system by the application of modern technology, human resources development and creative management.

The Goiporia Committee recommendations such as the reduction of holidays to 15 would have, increased efficiency to some extent. They are not implemented although the RBI and the Indian Banks’ Association and unions were represented on the committee.

It is surprising that neither the RBI, the statutory guardian of the depositor interest, nor the Indian Banks’ Association has taken steps to eliminate the costly distortions in the system such as 1 per cent extra interest to bank employees and ex-employees, the removal of the non-performing asset status to thousands of union leaders who are technically “released” from bank work and whose travelling and other expenses are taken care of by banks.


Pak minister snubbed

Mr Javed Jabbar’s interview as part of the BBC’s programme “Hard Talk”, shown on PTV on April 11, was neither convincing nor beneficial to the military regime with regard to its legitimacy problem.

Like any “loyal” Minister Mr Jabbar tried his best to sing the official tune, but the opposition was stiff and could have become embarrassing for him.

(a) “63 per cent of the people supported the coup”, retorted Mr Jabbar, but he was appropriately snubbed by the host. Had she pressed on to enquire whether or not those 63 per cent had ever organised large-scale anti-government riots, movements, strikes or demonstrations, or was the State of Pakistan on the verge of a civil war on October 12 as it was in July, 1977, Mr Jabbar would perhaps be in deep trouble.

(b) “Corruption” was never a reason for the takeover. As we are told, it was for the “preservation” of an important institution of the State, and that’s that. If we are to believe Mr Jabbar then by inference he is suggesting that perhaps apart from playing a constitutional role during the tenure of the previous government, the military was unnecessarily dabbling in civilian affairs.

(c) The “District Governments” idea he was so gloating over is, in fact, a “constitutional experiment” which is still at the drawing board stage. And if it has slipped Mr Jabbar’s attention, the idea lacks a national consensus and has several flaws, and would probably meet the same fate as did the concept of “basic democracy”.

(d) Though he tried his best to evade a direct reply regarding general elections, it was obvious that he meant not in the near future.

Mr Jabbar should thank his stars that the regular host of the show, Tim Sebastian, was not there to greet him, otherwise he would have had to tuck his tail and run....

Lahore (Pakistan)

Official vehicles’ misuse

As per the extracts of the CAG report published in The Tribune on April 24, ministers, bureaucrats and senior officers in HP are misusing the vehicles supplied by UN agencies.

Such misuse of government vehicles by ministers and senior officers as well as by chairmen/vice-chairmen and other staff of all public sector undertakings in HP is very common and the main cause of the present bad financial health of the state. Nothing has been done to check such misuse, which goes on unabated in spite of bringing the same to the notice of the Chief Minister.

It is suggested that instead of supplying vehicles to individual officers in each department, some vehicles are kept in pool in each department and supplied to officers for their official tour on written requisition to the authorised officer. Unless this is done, the misuse of vehicles will go on unchecked causing a huge financial loss to the government.

Alternatively, to prevent such misuse it will be better to sell off the present fleet of vehicles to the individual officers at book value who should maintain the vehicles themselves and charge TA according to the prevalent rules.

IFS (retd)

Entrance tests

The decision of Punjabi University to scrap the entrance tests for postgraduate courses is welcome and commendable.

The system of entrance tests is most illogical, to say the least. A lot of money and time are wasted, and parents and students undergo extreme tension. Whoever invented and introduced this procedure did a great disservice to the nation. This system has served only vested interests.

Panjab University, Chandigarh and other institutions should also discontinue the practice of entrance tests immediately. If at all in the case of some selected courses an entrance test has to be conducted, 50 per cent of the seats should be filled through the merit obtained in the university/board examination and the balance through entrance tests.



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