Friday, July 28, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Changing federal equations

APROPOS of Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article, “Changing federal equations: new parameters in relationship” (The Tribune, July 21), to think that the Constitution that fulfilled the needs of this country for over half a century is perfect and universal for all times to come is not fair. The Constitution of a nation is for the use of its people, and not the other way round. Any review, revision, amendment or reform in it should not be viewed as blasphemous.

In the early post-Independence era, the immediate task before the leaders of this country was to keep the nation together keeping in view the upheavals and uprisings in certain areas. Frequent tinkering with the articles of the Constitution would have made it all the more confused and confusing. Of course, in meeting the day-to-day hassles, the Constitution has been amended several times. But one has to appreciate the vision and foresight of our Constitution makers that it has served our needs so long.

Maybe our Constitution has become outdated and antiquated that the demands of decentralisation and devolution of economic and other powers by certain state governments are coming up. The Centre has already constituted a Review Commission to go into the provisions of the Constitution. It is a harsh reality that committees and commissions are set up, but their recommendations are rarely implemented. The reports gather dust in offices. The Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State Relations has met the same fate. It is a sheer waste of our national resources and a huge burden on the public exchequer.

After a careful study and debate in Parliament, either the recommendations should be accepted and implemented or rejected never to be opened again. The reports of the commissions or committees should not be merely of academic interest.

Bijhari (Hamirpur)


QUESTION OF BALANCE: It is true that the relations between the Centre and the states should be thoroughly revamped. There have been occasions when the Centre has stepped into the jurisdiction of the states, leading to unsavoury situations. Thus the separation of the powers of the Centre and the states is essential to prevent confrontation.

More recently and quite convincingly the best approach of the decade has been the efforts to create a balance between the Centre and the states. If the states become independent and powerful, there are chances of secession. If the Centre becomes powerful, the states loose their identity.

The Chief Ministers desire the Centre to remove the chink that has come to the fore during the last 52 years. The Centre must come forward to strengthen the weak areas.

The pertinent question is: how to create a balance between the two?


Seeking cheap popularity

“Admiral joins Narmada Andolan”. This was the heading of a shocking news item in The Tribune of July 18. I am sure the Admiral must have been compelled to take this step on seeing the plight of the dam site oustsees, or on being moved by the loss of flora and fauna as and when the dam is built. But it seems there is no such feeling in the Admiral’s heart in regard to the sufferings of millions of humans and animals in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh where even drinking water is not easily available.

These Andolans are started by certain people to gain cheap popularity at the cost of development. They should be dealt with severely as they cause heavy over-runs in the cost of national projects.

Hats off to the people of Himachal Pradesh who suffered in order to bring prosperity to the people of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan when the Bhakra and Pong dam projects were built. If Himachal too had people having an anti-progress nature, these states would have remained deserts, and there would have been an acute shortage of electric power in the Northern Grid.

Amned (Hamirpur)

India & Shanghai-5

Mr Swaran Singh’s article (“India and Shanghai-five”, July 24) appears to be driven more by ideological thinking than by India’s strategic needs. It is true that India needs an effective voice in Central Asia, and this can be accomplished by joining the Shanghai forum but why do we need to join the Russia-China alliance?

An India-Russia-China coalition, if materialised, would be counter-productive to New Delhi’s strategic needs, for such an alliance is likely to be dominated by China, which is working overtime to increase its sphere of influence in Central Asia. An enhanced Chinese influence in that region, which India regards as its strategic neighbourhood, would be detrimental to India’s future strategic calculations.

To safeguard its interests in Central Asia, India should join the Shanghai forum, but for a broader regional alliance it should look towards Japan, not China. An India-Japan alignment would make strategic sense for both countries. Taiwan, too, might become a party to such a coalition, if it were to decide to resist unification and opt for independence. Other states wary of China’s newfound assertiveness, including Vietnam and Russia, might also be attracted to such an alliance.

Gants Hill (Essex, UK)

Attacks on Christians

I am seriously concerned at the role played by the media in furthering tension between the majority and minority communities. We expect the media to play a mature role and ensure objective reporting.

Prior to the present series of news report on “Attacks on Christians”, the media was sensationalising the purported atrocities on the backward classes. Just to give an example — it was common to read in bold headlines, “Six Harijans killed” and then followed in a very fine print “in a fire which gutted a number of houses”. Similarly, every incident of murder, robbery, theft, etc, where the victim is a Christian is published by the media as “Attack on Christians”.

It is this kind of reporting which is causing tension. I do not say that there may have been an old case of deliberate communal intent, but the media is painting in communal colour every incident, to the delight of our nation’s detractors.

It would be much better for the media to carry out investigative journalism by deputing talented and dedicated journalists to go into the depth of the charges and counter-charges being made by one community against the other and bring out an authentic report supported by facts and figures.

This should probe the charges of conversion against the Church by inducements — admission to schools, medical/hospital care, food and clothing, jobs, etc. What is the source of these funds?

Similarly all the recent incidents where the victims have been Christians should be investigated and it should be brought out as to who is behind these developments.

New Delhi 

Dreaded diseases

THE public has been advised enough, through the media, about the prevention of the diseases like AIDS, Hepatitis-B and Hepatitis-A. It would be in the fitness of things if people are educated about the symptoms of these dreaded diseases for which there is no treatment.

Education about symptoms is very desirable as what to talk about laymen, even most doctors are not aware of this aspect. They know only certain tests to detect these diseases.


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