Friday, September 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Vajpayee’s American yatra

THIS refers to Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article, “Vajpayee’s US yatra: factors behind Clinton’s warmth”, Sept 22. The Indian Prime Minister’s visit to the USA has revealed difficulties of long standing which the US-Pak friendship had earlier created. It is heartening that everyone knows the actual facts now. After long years of undisguised unfriendliness, the White House is showing a natural and proper anxiety to have the strain relieved. That should not, however, mean going back to the pattern where good-sounding words gave an appearance of agreement and friendliness.

Agreements of a limited scope from time to time may be practical and advantageous. But a lack of agreement should not frighten us so much that we cast reason and experience to the winds and revert to the policy of seeking agreements merely in words in order to have a pretext for relaxing. We should never make concessions or alter our position merely because the USA gives us promises or merely because we want a facade of agreement, irrespective of whether there is reality behind it.

It would, of course, be rash to predict that the present situation will continue indefinitely. Every instrument has its own distinctive possibilities and, in order to get the best results, has to be used with skill. The USA cannot do everything for us. Its uses are limited by its nature, but it can be, and should be, a cornerstone of Indian foreign policy. As rightly said by Tennyson:


There lives more faith in honest doubt,
Believe me, than in half the creeds.

Vivek Singh mar Giran

Realism as mantra: During President Bill Clinton’s first term Ms Robin Raphel, a notorious India-baiter, would question Kashmir’s accession to India, calling Kashmir a disputed territory. Today Washington has come closer to reality. It has seen Prime Minister Vajpayee’s peace overtures like the Lahore bus yatra as also Islamabad’s Kargil treachery.

Is there a sudden change of heart in the US leadership? Certainly not. India today is the biggest market for the USA after China. It is a power in Asia along side Japan, China and Indonesia. Pakistan is breaking. Sindhis, Baluch and Pakhtoons have Started questioning the hegemony of Punjab. They have started crying hoarse: “Azadi le ke rahein gay ”.

India has at least 20 per cent following in the American Congress. It is emerging as an economic power in the region with the nuclear status in addition. With the warmth shown by President Clinton — so also by Mr Al Gore and Mr George Bush — India can now reasonably bank on American help to become a permanent member of the Security Council.

American warmth notwithstanding, we must not commit the mistake of putting all our eggs in the American basket. We should not marginalise our relations with Russia, an old and time-tested friend. Nor should we leave economic matters to the market forces. With a billion souls to look after, with hunger and starvation on hand, with insurgency to tackle in Kashmir and the North-East, India is sitting on a valcano. The failure to manage it all can explode into social and political anarchy. And if we fail no one, including America, would come to our help. Realism, not idealism, should be our sole mantra.


Successful journey: Mr Vajpayee’s trip to the USA has turned out to be more successful than anticipated in the context of both countries. The optimism generated by the Vajpayee yatra will remain symbolic.

Ever since Osama bin Laden’s threat to USA, which marked a paradigm shift in terms of attitudes against Pakistan the USA has been determined to rein in Afghanistan’s Taliban.

The unity of purpose shown by America and India on terrorism has further isolated Pakistan and its idea of solving international problems with the philosophy of jehad.

Umed Singh Gulia

The question of NPAs

I read the report “Half of NPAs due to priority loans” that appeared in The Tribune on Sept 19. Mr Anjan Roy of FICCI has very categorically clarified the concepts of NPA, substandard loan, doubtful loan or loss loan and other terminologies used in banking parlance. He has also rightly observed that 70 per cent of the NPA is the element of interest and panel interest because of the unrealistic interest policies of the banks.

The guidelines issued by the government for the recovery of NPAs are very harsh and discriminatory inasmuch as all NPAs are required to be treated at par — whether it is “sub-standard” or “doubtful” or “loss”, and also whether it is prior to 31-3-97 or thereafter.

Since most of the NPAs are the amounts of accumulated compound interest over the extended period of time, the majority of the defaulters are not in a position to bear the heavy burden of interest. They are passing through a period of tremendous financial turmoil and are on the brink of their financial ruin.

In order to mitigate their sorrows, it is not only an imperative need but absolute necessity for the government to come to their rescue by evolving a “Special Amnesty Scheme” for a waiver/reduction of interest to help them to settle their accounts amicably by way of compromise.


Role of DCs

This has reference to the letter of Prof Tara Chand, “the role of DC” (The Tribune, August 11). While I agree with some of the suggestions made by the worthy writer, I differ with him on the question of maturity and experience. To my mind, the criteria for choosing a Deputy Commissioner, irrespective of his/her age, should be the courage, charisma, competence, calibre to withstand pulls and pressures and his ability to take up the problems of the downtrodden and defence personnel and their families.

The maturity and experience are the products of these qualities.

Women Deputy Commissioners have proved their ability to manage even a large district like Kangra with utmost dedication.

Jalari (Hamirpur)


Punishing a rapist

Mr Dalip Singh Ghuman, author of “Punishing rape case accused” (The Tribune, Sept 13), has done well by expressing his indignation over the decision of the High Court to take a lenient view of the case in which two accused persons kidnapped, raped and murdered a six-year-old girl. The Tribune’s decision to allow these human sentiments to be aired should also be appreciated.

Rape is the most obnoxious crime. But when the victim is a six-year-old child, any decent human being will run out of vocabulary with which to condemn this act.

The High Court decision has shown the green light to paedophiles. They are the most dangerous and cunning criminals. Even the hardened criminal class does not like them. In British jails, these persons are so disliked for their inhuman act, even by other prisoners, that they have to be locked up in separate cells.

Southampton (UK)

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