Saturday, July 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Kashmir on the boil again

THE Kashmir issue is on the boil once again; it has been so for times without number. Kashmir is indeed heaven on earth, with the enchanting beauty of its mountains, the wondrous waters of its rivers, lakes and chashmas, its tall trees, its fruits and other blessings — the most romantic dream of a tourist.

It was the glory of Nehru that he was always touring all over the country helping the masses to think along correct lines and creating the right atmosphere. Had he been alive today, he would have released his propaganda barrage in Kashmir. He would have convinced the Kashmiris that Pakistan, which claimed to be their best friend, had proved their worst enemy, by destroying their peace for decades, killing their tourist traffic — a gold mine — stopping their normal progress in a hundred fields by making their homeland a centre of four wars (1947, 1965, 1971 — which they lost disastrously — and Kargil). This is besides the ongoing proxy war.

Thousands of Kashmiris have been killed with or without war and the flow of gold into their land stopped by constant disturbances.

The Kashmiris were beginning to realise this fact and the local support for their "war of liberation" dwindled into a trickle, but Pakistan sent hordes of mercenaries, some from its own land but more from Afghanistan, etc, to fight on behalf of the Kashmiris.

In their heart of hearts, the Kashmiris desire nothing more than peace — which they have not known for generations — and the return of their good old days of tourist glut. They are not enamoured of rivers of blood.

O God, save us from our friends. The latest resolution of the Kashmir Assembly is of the same strategy. It is meant to embarrass India, give a talking point to its enemies, resurrect the long-forgotten proposal for plebiscite — more dead than dodo — and create all-round confusion.



Combating corruption

I read Mr M.G. Devasahayam's "Combating supply-side corruption" (June 26) and wonder whether Mr N. Vittal's "Fifth Pillar" can go beyond mere tokenism and is not reduced to any other "ideal scheme on paper", though there is no reason to doubt the seriousness and sincerity of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner.

In India, at least, it is neither corruption nor mismanagement that ever topples the governments nor does it ever inspire people to come out on to the roads. We all know that no government fell at the disclosure of the Bofors scandal or the Bihar's Fodder scam nor did any ministerial heads roll after the detection of the securities scam.

What has happened at the recent disclosure of cases of corruption in the handling of Orissa's cyclone and Gujarat's drought? Nothing except a few expressions of shock and disbelief at man's brutalisation by the venom of corruption!

Every government promises to ruthlessly root out corruption from public life, but with the passage of time corruption has grown more widespread and stronger. Why? Because we do not have any definite and effective redressal mechanism against corruption.

Whatever anti-corruption schemes we have are either slow and ineffective or too cumbersome to follow, and invariably result in the further harassment and financial loss to the aggrieved.

The ground reality is that the non-acceptance of a "demand for bribe" will result in the delay and harassment, while the amount of the bribe, if paid, would have been less than the loss of interest because of such a delay. Secondly, by complaining against the person demanding bribe, one starts a lengthy process of enquiry, during which time even the due payments of the complaints are withheld. Naturally, not many people have the will-power to bear such a loss, harassment and delay only to follow a principle, howsoever ideal it may appear to be.

In fact, our official attitude against corruption is tilted in favour of the corrupt and not towards the innocent and the genuine. Why else have we not been able to complete enquiries and punish the guilty in so many scams and scandals? While the enquiry goes on for years, nay decades, the corrupt people keep enjoying a luxurious life on account of the wealth of corruption.

If the CVC is really serious about eradicating corruption he must come out with a fast, pragmatic and effective redressal mechanism of public complaints of improper payments. One small piece of advice: let the Vigilance Department introspect whether the enquiries in corruption cases pending with them are moving at the desired speed.

New schemes and additional institutions sometimes only add to the hassles without solving any basic problem. Has one ever noticed that many of our Consumer Forums, with regard to the disposal of cases, have been reduced to any other civil court, taking years to decide cases which involve no more than a few thousands rupees?


GND Varsity's rural college

With reference to the write-up of Mr Bharat Bhushan Dogra, "GND varsity's first rural college" (June 18) has been opened at Niari village.

As per the write-up, the Vice-Chancellor of the University at Amritsar says that the "admission to plus one class would be made from the current academic session." The minister of Higher Education, Punjab, says that youths "would be able to get jobs after the completion of their basic education."

Basic education refers to primary education which is imparted in schools, and higher education refers to the education being given in post-secondary institutions, colleges and universities. Higher education constitutes the top-most stage and is concerned with the process in more advance phases of human learning.

On the one side, there is no secret that almost all the Indian universities, including Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, are facing financial crunch these days and, on the other, this university has opened a college in a village to impart secondary education. However, secondary education can be imparted better by schools than universities.

Neither the university registers the students of plus one class nor conducts their (students) examinations. It is unnecessarily entering into the Board of School Education's sphere.



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