Thursday, August 31, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Life expectancy in India

DURING the past 50 years global life expectancy has increased by 20 years to its present level of 66. In India, life expectancy was just 23 years in 1901. It took 95 years to bring it to 62 in 1996. The real challenge for society today is to take care of the aged and make the best use of their wisdom which they have acquired over the years.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) report has rightly said: “Old age is not an affliction but a great opportunity to make use of the resources acquired over the course of life. Old people can be an asset to society.”

Moreover, providing alternative economic and social security support to the elderly is not only a necessary social welfare measure but it is also essential to stimulate the acceptance of small family norms. Family is the best place for elderly people because they get a chance to interact with the people of all age groups.

They can be happy and make their contribution in running the family. There can be the problem of generation gap in the family but even then the elderly feel more secure and less constrained in their home.


In 1950 there were about 200 million persons aged 60 and above in the world. This figure now stands at 550 million, and is expected to reach a billion mark by 2020. In India, the percentage of the aged is still 6.8 which accounts for 56.7 million people, but it will rise to 76 million by 2001, representing 7.7 per cent of the population.

While ageing is a natural process, its onset can be delayed by having an active life. The elderly are more prone to diseases of hypertension, heart disorder, diabetes, arthritis etc. The best way to avoid health-related problems is by leading an active social life. Moreover, “one is as old as one thinks one is”.

On “Ageing: exploding the myths”, a WHO paper lists a few directions, which, if followed wholeheartedly, can lead to active and healthy ageing. The list is as follows:

(i) Smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol should be avoided.

(ii) Young girls and pregnant and lactating women should get balanced nutrition and healthy diet.

(iii) Babies should be breast-fed for at least four months.

(iv) One should exercise regularly. This would include simple things like walking, climbing stairs and doing housework.

(v) Consume a diet high in fibre and low in animal fat and salt.

(vi) Keep your weight in check.

(vii) Stay involved in your family and community work, a club or a religious organisation.


Implications of quota

I am very happy to read the editorial on the subject of reservations carried on August 25 and appreciate your courage to tell the truth at a time when there is none to do it.

There is a lot of brain drain due to this policy and the apparent development in India in the eyes of the world is not due to any positive thinking.

How long can a house survive honourably where a talented member is not duly respected and cared for.

Separate institutions for SCs/STs are neither possible, as suggested, nor can they serve any purpose. Normal studies with other general category students but with extra-time classes in the same institution free of charge with the free book” facility can better serve the purpose.


Ill-treating a fine officer

The abrupt replacement of Mr T.R. Mahajan, Director-General of Police (DGP), Himachal Pradesh, by the state government sometime ago continues to rankle in my mind. I feel the matter is too serious to be pushed under the carpet. It warrants public discussion.

A very fine officer ever to grace the police establishment in the state, Mr Mahajan was accessible to one and all — the rich and the poor alike. His nice professional ways were to be experienced to be believed and appreciated. As DGP, he was delivering the expected goods fairly and squarely.

The retirement of Mr Mahajan was just a few months away when he was unceremoniously shifted from his key post and virtually “side-lined”.

It passes one’s comprehension as to why the transparently upright officer — who was doing remarkably well — could not be allowed to continue in the post for another few months and retire as DGP in the normal course of things. Pray, is it the way to treat an excellent officer at the fag-end of his brilliant professional career? Isn’t the government guilty of a mindless antic, to say the least?

By the way, does not the gloomy incident hold an unmistakable warning to the younger “knight-at-arms” to beware of the “wiles” of the glamorous but deceitful “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”? More importantly, would the guys heed the warning or just allow history to repeat itself?

Ambota (Una)

Sales tax uniformity

Bandhs, strikes, demonstrations, protests, gheraos, etc, with or without any purpose (what to say about public interest!), are among the few gifts of democracy which we are “enjoying”. The petrol dealers’ strike in Chandigarh, which has now ended, caused great inconvenience to the public.

The cause for the stir was said to be uniformity in sales tax. We had been reading in the media that so many trade unions and associations throughout the country had been struggling hard for many years to make sales tax uniform. Especially Chandigarh had been enjoying this privilege (only 0.5 per cent sales tax on petrol) possibly because it is the home of influential people. This was at the cost of their brothers around Chandigarh for the last four decades.

Now the rates are uniform and the oil companies are in the process of eliminating this extra 4 per cent CST within two months. Moreover, petrol is not the only item. There are many others on the list.

It will be appreciated if sales tax is reduced in the whole country not only on petrol but also on other items when global recession is playing havoc and consumers and traders are suffering.


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