Saturday, August 26, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Disinvestment or distress sale?

THIS has reference to Prof Balram Dogra’s forthright article, “Disinvestment or distress sale? — A case for restructuring PSUs” (July 31). He comments with deep anguish that “the national consensus on the public sector is being sought to be disturbed without adequately developing the alternative model of development”... and goes on to observe with a rare sensitivity that “we can save thousands of crores of national wealth from going into private hands...let us stop listening to the advice of those who owe more than Rs 50,000 crore as (unpaid) debt to the nationalised banks and their supporters”!

What is more, these people defaulting not only on repayment of previous loans but also on payment of taxes due from their enterprises and crying hoarse against allowing subsidies in social sectors would go on merrily pestering the government for more and more loans at lower and lower interest to buy the disinvested PSUs and also ask for all sorts of concessions to run these sick (sic!) units. With the result that it becomes a saga of squandering scarce national resources all along the line. One wonders whether such a derailing of the national economy has been mandated by the electorate to any political party, whatever our present rulers may say about the NDA manifesto!


One of the valuable suggestions made by the author that “an all-India council on PSUs headed by the Prime Minister should be constituted (and) this council should include the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the representatives of the selected PSUs (and ) trade unions, management experts, professional managers and academicians in the field” deserves unstinted and unbiased consideration.

His observation that they (PSUs) have been pillars of the Nehruvian model of development of the country...and laid the foundations of industrialisation as well as ushered in the Green Revolution” only reminds one of the dichotomy in the stand taken by the National Democratic Alliance. On the one hand they question the achievements of the Congress Party in their 45 years of rule; on the other, they are out to undo what has been built in the country in first 40 years after independence — in the name of reforms and liberalisation, without making any concrete contribution by way of new projects. This reminds us of the telling comment of a frustrated wife to her inept husband: You shuffle and reshuffle your cards a lot but are seldom able to deal them out. One fervently hopes that our present rulers won’t let down their dutiful wife, the electorate.


Exploiting women

It is disheartening to note that the exploitation of women is increasing day by day in our country. There can be no real development without the development of the women. It is a matter of serious concern that even after 53 years of country’s independence, women in our country are not secure.

Every year, International Women’s Day is celebrated with enthusiasm. Seminars, workshops, cultural functions etc are organised by social organisations, and political parties. Unfortunately, these turn out to be mere formalities. Every seven minutes a crime is committed against women in our country.

Schemes for the development of women should be implemented properly and sincerely. They should be educated and made aware of their rights, so that they acquire a respectable position in the society. Women should actively participate in politics to strengthen the democracy. Though they have achieved some success at the panchayat level, their presence in Parliament is disappointing. They have poor representation even in state assemblies.

The government should provide training to women to make them economically selfreliant. Complaint centres at state and district headquarters should be set up so that women could report the cases of harassment. The Government should take strict action against those who exploit women.


Army uniform

There has been a discussion in The Tribune over the wearing of army uniform by the private security men of some government/private establishments. Many of such security men wear olive green, khaki or black uniform (black worn by the commandos and national security guards). Not only this these security men put on metallic badges of rank, which is even more offensive.

Mr G.S. Aujla, IGP, Jalandhar, has done well in issuing directions to the district police chiefs to curb this tendency.

Some people are having the disposal army jeeps, with tactical markings intact. As per the Transport Act, 1988, a private vehicle cannot have even colour of army vehicles. But everything in this country is going on against the law.

The Supreme Court and High Courts cannot take all the responsibility on their shoulder. Those who are meant to enforce the law must act to curb such transgressions.


Punjab industry

The Punjab Government has been shouting at the top of its voice about promoting industry but its bureaucracy and corrupt officers are sufficient to cast doom on industry and misery on Punjabi people.

Take the case of simply storing a solvent or diesel in industry. The DC is to issue an NOC letter to allow the factory to store chemicals. DC office has unnecessarily involved about six to seven departments and it takes about six months to get a certificate. At all places one is required to grease the palm of clerks to push the file. About 30 people in different departments are to be contacted (bribed). There is a demand of Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 from these sharks to give an NOC letter.

The total cost of bribes to DC office and Explosive department offices add to about Rs 45,000. The files are simply not cleared without this money. It takes more than 10 months on an average to get a permission to store the essential chemical.

Interestingly, for storing 20KL of diesel in a factory, the company spends about Rs 1 lakh on installation and a staggering Rs 45,000 in “commissions”.

The case is no better for getting any approvals from IBR inspectors and Pollution Control dept. The industry is totally fed up and one is at a loss to know why no social or religious body creates any fuss about this type of open exploitation.

Soon Punjab will lose its entrepreneurs to other countries and the Punjab Government would have to be satisfied with its big fleet of sarkari servants with nothing to do; as nobody who has any self-respect, can work in this state.


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