Monday, October 2, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Of Indo-American relations

Prof Bhupinder Brar’s article, “Between India and USA: implications of being ‘natural ally’ (Sept 25), presents a refreshingly perceptive analysis of the emerging projection of the developing Indo-US relations.

While it has been nobody’s case that there shouldn’t be a closer cooperation with the USA to explore and strengthen “complementarities between the two States..., primarily economic and technological”, Professor Brar has justifiably cautioned against taking an unnatural jump from being the “natural leader” of the nonaligned movement to being a “natural ally” of the USA.

Before our pathetic attempt at “asking for recognition as a major global player” and the contradiction in “expect(ing)... our natural ally to declare Pakistan — an irksome small neighbour — a terrorist State and use its muscle power” is heartily laughted at by the international community, we must pause to understand “what sense does it make to declare the USA a natural ally?”

I believe the answer to this weighty question lies in the fact that the present dispensation in India, irrespective of the fact that “Mr Vajpayee is known for choosing his words very carefully ”, is banking too much on flaunting its achievements and inventing one where none exists! This came out in bold relief when the Pokhran-II tests were carried out in 1998 and Mr L.K. Advani and Mr M.L. Khurana were seen to go overboard with their statements of a “proactive” policy and the “hot pursuit” of Pakistan-supported militants, or “let Pakistan name a place, date and time of its choice and we shall meet it there”. Impressing Indian audiences seems to be the major concern of our leaders.


No doubt, President Clinton played a significant role in dousing the fires of the Kargil conflict. He has since advised both India and Pakistan to observe restraint along the LoC in Kashmir, but it could also be meant to protect its long-standing frontline State. And as Dr Brar cautions us: The world has become even more heirarchical.... All alliances are tactical and temporary.

Problems of handicapped

There is no gain-saying the fact that handicapped persons have to encounter a lot of problems in their day-to-day life. Though The Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, has since come into existence, its tangible impact is hardly to be seen. Rather there is little knowledge about this enactment even among the various government functionaries who are supposed to know about it. There is thus an urgent need to disseminate information about. The functioning of various institutions established under this Act for the welfare of the handicapped.

All the state governments should ensure wide publicity about various welfare schemes and measures espoused by them on a quarterly basis. There should be some administrative mechanisms, including Lok Adalats, for the redressal of the grievances of the handicapped at the state headquarters followed by monthly conferences at the district headquarters and the subdivision level.

Further, there should be prompt redressal of grievances of the handicapped. This can be possible in two ways. First, the grievances should be received in writing as well as orally on the phone, and the response/redressal should be time-bound. This arrangement can also be utilised by various beneficiaries of many other welfare schemes of the governments. Secondly, if anybody is found guilty of negligence in performing his duties, he should be suitably punished.

The Government of India would do well to prepare and issue a half-yearly newsletter containing the details of various welfare schemes adopted by the state governments, and ensure its free distribution as wide as possible.



Loot by legislators

Brig. B.N. Grant’s letter in The Tribune dated September 22 should serve as an eye-opener to many readers. He has simply enumerated the facts, available under the rules and that is perhaps the tip of the iceberg. There are skeletons in the cupboard, and a lot more below the carpet.

The privileges enjoyed by their wards are anybody’s guess — the money spent in the elections and all that follows. Remember the days when politics was service and sacrifice. That explains why 30 crore among us are still below the poverty line. For God’s sake, fear them. There is limit human patience.

Oil trade — new idea

The recent rise in petrol prices once again brings into focus India’s dependence on foreign supplies. As a member of the petorl industry for over 30 years, I would like to offer one, possibly new, suggestion to reduce the burden on the oil pool.

Currently we have four government-owned oil companies — IOC, HPC, BPC and IBP. They all compete with one another for customers in the same localities all over the country when marketing is no longer an issue. Each has its own regional offices and bulk depots. Each has significant overhead, high level management salaries, marketing, advertising and other expenses. This creates enormous redundancy for the same product sales. In effect, there is a quardrupling of costs in the same markets, wasting millions of rupees that could be used to further build our oil reserves.

Would it not make more sense to divide India into four “oil energy zones” with only one company responsible to manage its allotted zone? There zones could also focus on other important aspects of energy conservation. So, I ask our leaders: Why not explore this idea in more detail and analyse the cost benefits? It may prove to be significant from economic and security points of view.

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