Monday, May 22, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Kashmir: a realistic proposal

THE editorial “Unwise and impolitic” (April 25) has castigated the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Farooq Abdullah, for his so-called pro-truncation remarks: “We should retain what we have and let the Pakistanis keep what they have with them....”

This suggestion is not unwise and impolitic as the geopolitical situation only permits the existing Jammu and Kashmir territory to “make up a single state within the Republic of India”. I think by advocating that the Line of Control (LoC) should be declared as the permanent border between India and Pakistan. Dr Abdullah has not committed any constitutional impropriety.

It is true that the plebiscite proposition is no longer tenable because Pakistan did not fulfil the required conditions. But at the same time our resolve to regain the territory grabbed by Pakistan is not feasible despite “Pakistan’s attempts to cross the limits of international decency.” For India is only a marginal player in the international context. In this situation, “to ensure that Jammu and Kashmir would be with India in its entirety” is not realisable though “hundreds of people have died and are dying”.

  In fact, it is correct that India’s “sovereignty is not negotiable” but only over the areas under its control. Given our inability to recapture Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), our claim of sovereignty over it has become anachronistic. As such, Dr Abdullah’s suggestion is realistic, practicable and wise.

If the LoC is not converted into a permanent border between India and Pakistan, the only way to resolve the crisis is either the demise of Pakistan as a state or its voluntary or forced withdrawal from PoK. Evidently, both of these alternatives are beyond the realm of possibility.

So, if a negotiated permanent settlement is not accepted and followed, what is the way out in the context of persistent poverty and destitution within India and Pakistan? It is the political strategy of the ruling elites and classes of these two Third World countries to keep the Kashmir problem alive so as to manipulate and mislead their poor and marginalised people.

Professor, Department of Economics,
Punjabi University

ICWA: false charges

The contents of the editorial “Save Sapru House” (The Tribune, May16), prompted by a statement of spokesperson of the ICWA Employees Trade Union, are partisan. It is based on wrong facts and amounts to denigrating the image of an institution of international repute.

The Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) is a duly registered NGO. It is in no way under the control of the Human Resource Development Ministry or the Ministry of External Affairs or any other ministry or department of the Government of India. The allegation of “serious exploitation of employees by the ICWA management” is false.

The ICWA management is firmly committed to the welfare of its employees. In view of the case between the ICWA and the Union Urban Development Ministry pending before the court, the management is keen to increase its sources of revenue by subletting the vacant premises. Once that legal hurdle is over, the employees’ wages will be hiked.

The charge of “neither known academic achievements nor understanding of international affairs” against the ICWA President, as levelled in the editorial, is malicious, motivated and based on wrong facts. The present President of the ICWA is a past member of the Delhi University Executive Council, the highest controlling body of the university. He is currently the President of the Indo-Iraq Friendship Society and an author of many books.

The charge of the academic decline of the ICWA is also false. The factual position is that from 1976 to 1979 only 12 distinguished persons participated in ICWA programmes whereas in the 1981-1991 period 1220 persons and in the 1992-1999 period 2,493 distinguished persons took part in the programmes held under the aegis of the ICWA. More than 20 seminars and symposia have been arranged by the ICWA in the recent past.

The annual Indira Gandhi Memorial Inter-University Debate Competition has been held each year since 1986 in which 60 to 70 universities from all over India have been participating .

As for the ICWA library, over 26,000 books and journals have been added to the library since 1982. It is worth mentioning here that the ICWA library is meant for research-oriented studies and is not a public reading room. Recently a UN team from New York visited and appreciated the maintenance of the library and the UN Section.

M. L. Sharma
Research Associate,
New Delhi

PMT forms

The season of examinations for admission to various academic and technical institutions is on. Medicine along with its allied branches is one of the most important streams for which most brilliant students wish to compete.

During the previous years PMT forms used to be available well before the declaration of the result of the qualifying 10+2 examination. This year these forms are not yet available with Himachal Pradesh University. The university authorities have so far indicated many past dates for the issuance of the forms but a firm date is still not known. The prospective students and their parents are undergoing avoidable anxiety in this regard.

Earlier the cost of a PMT form used to be around Rs 150. This year it is understood to be around Rs 750. That is going to be too expensive, and the students belonging to poor families may not be able to buy the form.

Another connected hardship is that the university insists on the submission of fresh bona fide Himachali and caste certificates on the proforma attached to the prospectus. Attested copies of similar certificates obtained for an identical competition are not entertained. The convenience of the students and their parents lies in obtaining these certificates on a standard proforma available in the tehsil/district offices. The acceptance of attested copies of such certificates already available with the students will also save the attesting authorities from signing separate forms afresh every time for various entrance tests.

The process of attestation of the bona fide domicile and caste (s) certificate may also be simplified as far as possible to help students.


Ignoring Ayurveda

In his article “India & search for alternative medicines” Mr M.S.N. Memon (May 12) has correctly written about the stepmotherly treatment given to the Indian system of medicine — Ayurveda — by the government. It is mentioned that the WHO has given due recognition to the alternative system. Then why has the Indian Government not given due status to this system.

I wish the Government of India took this matter seriously and create a special budget for research on herbal medicines for the well-being of humanity. By encouraging Ayurveda we can save a huge amount of foreign exchange, and people from the side-effects of allopathic medicines.



Tigers: question of survival

The tiger is on the endangered species’ list, fighting for its survival. “Project Tiger” has failed to protect India’s national animal. Its poaching has not stopped. The generations alive today could be the last to see the tiger.

Once a common sight in India, tigers are now found only in their sanctuaries .

The situation is desperate, and realistic solutions have eluded Indian conservationists. Over the years, poaching and increasing encroachment on the tigers’ habitat by humans have caused an alarming decline in their population.

Wildlife enthusiasts are increasingly pessimistic about the future of the tiger. This feeling stems from the seizures of the endangered animal’s body parts. It is shocking to know that last year one such raid yielded 132 tiger claws. There is a sophisticated nexus, and trade routes are well established.

The problem necessitates coordinated national and international efforts by both governmental and non-governmental organisations. The law enforcement system needs to be strengthened to make the preservation programme effective.


Woes of Junior Engineers

Punjab has become the sixth state to grant gazetted status to Junior Engineers as decided at the Cabinet meeting on May 10. Mr Parkash Singh Badal has kept his promise by getting the proposal cleared from his Cabinet to grant Class II status to Junior Engineers in Punjab and designate those who have completed 16 years’ service as Assistant Engineers.

States like Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, Rajasthan and Assam have already declared gazetted status for their Junior Engineers, keeping in view the role played by these functionaries in the development of the state. It is hoped a notification to this effect will be issued by the Punjab Government without delay. JEs also deserve promotional scales after four, nine and 14 years of service as has been granted in the case of Subdivisional engineers.



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