Monday, June 19, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Population and education

APROPOS of Mr Anurag’s article “Population, education and empowerment” (The Tribune, June 12) it is true that the increasing population of India has upset the applecart of progress in every walk of the country’s life. In over five decades after Independence, despite all-out efforts to control the population explosion, the results are not very cheering. I fully endorse the author’s view: “Imparting education to all should be seen as an exercise in value addition.”

Being a teacher in a rural area school, I find that there are a substantial number of girl students in plus one and two classes. The male-female student ratio in these classes is about 50:50. In some institutions, it is even 45:50. These ratios present a heartening trend so far as the number of girls receiving senior secondary education is concerned.

Another encouraging trend in women education in recent years is that in the results of various classes of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and other states’ Boards of School Education, the girls have outshone boys in the merit lists as well as in overall pass percentages.

More stress will have to be laid on primary education. But primary education of girls should be given special emphasis and made universal. Their education can go a long way in changing the country’s social and economic spectra for the better.

Child labour is a stigma on the very face of our nation. Child labour is more common among the nomadic tribes in our country. To dissuade child labour, some concrete steps will have to be taken. Firstly, the government and non-government organisations should carry out a census-type operation all over the country to locate the children of the wide variety of nomadic tribes, who are homeless or have no permanent homes. These children are unfortunate to get even primary education in the absence of permanent hearths and homes. The need of the day is to start residential schools for such children on the lines of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas in our country.

The rise in population can be checked by enacting laws. Where persuasion fails to deliver the objectives, punishment is the only alternative, as the saying goes: “A nod to the wise, and a rod to the foolish.”

Bijhari (Hamirpur)


Unfair to pensioners

This refers to Mr Raj Kumar Verma’s letter (June 13). The issue raised by him has since long been decided by the Punjab and Haryana High Court allowing with cost a writ petition of Mr K.G. Walia, a former Deputy Secretary, and five others challenging the exclusion of special pay for purposes of calculating the pension at the revised rate.

The petitioner’s counsel took the plea that the payment of pension was governed by statutory rules. The Haryana Government has excluded the special pay from the consideration for calculating pension through executive instructions and without amending the rules. Secondly, the approval of the Central Government as required by Section 82(6) of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, had not been obtained which was mandatory. Therefore, the government’s instructions were illegal.

Mr Justice M.R. Agnihotri quashed the impugned instructions regarding the special pay and further allowed interest on arrears from the date of retirement to the date of actual payment.

Consequently, the Haryana Government rescinded its earlier orders substituting thus: “The emoluments for purposes of calculating retirement benefits would be the same as under Rule 6.19 (c) of Punjab Civil Services Vol. II”.

As a result, the pensionary benefits were revised, including special pay. Over and above the interest at the rate of 18 per cent had also been allowed from the date of retirement.

In view of the position explained above, it would be in the fitness of things if the Punjab Government allows the inclusion of special pay for purposes of calculating various retirement benefits to its pensioners lest they are left with no other alternative than to seek the redressal of their grievances in the court of law like their counterparts in Haryana.


Kargil issue

Commenting on Mr Nawaz Sharif's recent statement that the military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf, secretly masterminded the Kargil operation and he was not aware of the it till the fighting actually took place, it has been rightly remarked in the editorial "Pakistan's Kargil problem" that "Who will believe that such a powerful Prime Minister as he was had no idea of the military engagement of such a vast scale"?

While some former Pakistani defence officers, immediately after the humiliating withdrawal of troops, described the Kargil operation as a disaster for their country, Mr Sharif has only now frankly admitted that "Kargil was the biggest debacle after the 1971 war with India."

Yet instead of learning any lesson from it and initiating a process of peace, he continued to adopt a belligerent attitude towards India and threatened to create many more Kargil-like situations. He never condemned the massacres of innocent people by Pakistan-trained terrorists.

Reacting to Mr Sharif's address to the nation after the withdrawal of Pakistani troops from the Kargil heights, former Army Chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg unequivocally declared that the ousted Premier was given briefings for hours on the Kargil operation by the Army and the ISI at their respective headquarters and he approved the same.

Even General Musharraf in an interview told Time magazine a few months ago that Mr Sharif was very much aware of the Kargil operation. He withdrew his troops only when Pakistan lost global goodwill.

China told it not to escalate conflict with India and the US President exhorted him to do so and resume diplomatic talks set in motion by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee during his historic Delhi-Lahore bus ride.


Wheat auction and FCI

The policy of the Central Government on foodgrains is framed every year and is changing every month, is full of lapses and mismanagement at the level of the FCI.

When there is surplus stock, the government is thinking to export wheat to other countries. But it would be at a much lower price, as the prevailing international price of wheat is less than the Indian price by more than 30 per cent. Thus the country would lose a substantial amount by exporting wheat.

Now the government has decided to auction the wheat stocks lying with the FCI. This will create a new avenue of corruption at the FCI level, and the government will gain nothing.

Policy-makers should decide the policy in a practical way and not theoretically. Why does the government not give wheat to the consumers at the price at which it would be getting if they export wheat? There should be an open sale of wheat and that too without any quantity restriction. Everyone should be allowed to purchase good quality wheat from the FCI at the export price. By this the Indian public will receive foodgrains at cheaper rates and the government will lose nothing, and the storage problem will be solved.


Blood transfusion

This refers to the news-item “Patients given untested blood” (June 15). The report is not true to the extent that private nursing homes are giving untested blood to patients. Though it is true that private nursing homes do manage blood in emergency situations from sources other than the licensed blood banks, it is not true that this blood is not tested for HIV or hepatitis-B infections.

Private nursing homes have to resort to this practice of procuring blood from unauthorised centres in emergency situations because it is difficult to get the required quantity of blood from the government- run blood banks, and the patient in emergency may die before the blood arrives from these banks.

Till the services at the government-run blood banks are improved considerably, private nursing homes have no alternative to transfusing tested blood usually taken from attendants to save the life of patients.

(Dr) K. L. GARG

BBMB plants’ capacity

With reference to the news item ‘‘BBMB to augment power capacity’’ (June 1), I think your correspondent has not cross checked the expected future addition in the generation capacity of the BBMB power plants. The figure 324 MW is grossly misleading. It is impossible to achieve this level.

The BBMB management should find out as to how such inflated and baseless additional capacity due to augmentation in future was published in the Press.



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