Wednesday, October 18, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



State’s role in new economy

ABOUT a dozen Chief Ministers wooing IT czar Bill Gates in Delhi recently perhaps marks a new chapter in Indian economic development. First, it is a sign that the federal-state balance is being restored. Originally, all industries, excepting a few of national importance, were in States list.

As Mr N.A. Palkhivala has pointed out, by a constitutional fraud of declaring even industries like lipstic as of national importance, the Central Government appropriated virtually the entire gamut of industries from the states. Now the state governments are coming into their own, and competition between states is proving to be to the advantage of the public.

The second reason is that many of our grassroots politicians, at state level, have sensed the importance of India’s enormous advantages in the new area of intellectual capital, and the potential for an economic revolution, particularly at the village and semi-urban areas which have been neglected so far. The impetus to agriculture and service sectors like marketing, transport and telecommunications will generate literally millions of jobs and self-employment opportunities in hitherto neglected rural and semi-urban areas of the country.

IT industry alone is not enough. It is essential that simultaneously the state governments should encourage study of English (the internet language), Sanskrit (the language of the computer), regional as also foreign languages for globalised communications; give a fillip to primary and technical education, and upgrade engineering colleges to IIT level; concentrate on providing a first-class infrastructure of roads, toll highways, ports and airports; a non-monopolistic market-sensitive telecommunication system and, above all, an efficient and transparent government administration.


The list is incomplete without the promotion of a strong work ethic, and consequent reduction of public holidays and an agreement among all political parties to call a complete “bandh” on all “bandhs”.

India missed the first industrial revolution based on physical capital; it cannot afford to miss the second industrial revolution based on intellectual capital.


State of education

MR K.K. Khullar’s “State of education in India” (Oct. 6) was thought-provoking. Education and literacy alone can pull India out of the vicious circle of poverty, social strife and economic imbalance that have resulted in a near collapse of our value system.

We have 242 universities, 8,000 colleges and the largest number of primary schools in the world. We inherited from our rulers 18.33 per cent literacy in 1951. In 40 years we moved to 52.11 per cent in 1991 (Census figures).

Even in smaller countries such as Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Laos and Myanmar, literacy was reported in 1996 at 84.1, 92.00, 83.9 and 81.5, per cent. According to the Asia Week’s latest list of vital signs, there are only seven countries more illiterate than India — Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Combodia and Egypt.

The noted author, C.H. Spurgeon, writes: “Lamps do not talk, but they shine. A lighthouse beats no drums; it beats no gong and yet far over the waters, its friendly spark is seen by the mariner”.

It is time our politicians, educationists and of course, the Human Resource Development Ministry’s bara sahibs, heeded the Supreme Court’s observation linking education with fundamental rights.



Women power

THIS has reference to “Women’s activism — a lost cause” by Neelu Kang (October 8).

The cries for emancipation of women gave way to women activism and the revolution began but sustenance, commitment and dedication are the needs of the hour.

Women activism may not have reached the pinnacle of success but it is surely on the ladder of success endeavouring and making efforts to bring a change in the orthodox Indian society. Yes, even ushering in the 21st century has not changed our society. It still remains orthodox, especially in the way it treats the women. Woman, the paragon of virtue, is expected to do her duties as custodian of the honour of her family. But does she get the honour and respect which she deserves?

The first and foremost aim of women activism should be to make women aware of themselves, their rights and powers. Every woman whether working or a housewife should be ready for the change. Society cannot be changed until the woman herself agreed to change.

Women activists need the support of people to bring about social changes effectively. Media is of vital importance in this context. It can create awareness among people and provide space for serious analysis and thoughtful comment on the relevant and serious issues relating to women.





propos of Rajnish Wattas’ write-up “Kaun Banega Veerappan?” (Aug 30), we Indians from the great middle class are master imitators, sycophants and highly snobbish in our day-to-day life.

So much hype, hullabaloo, euphoria and hysteria have been generated by the great Indian middle class and the English media about the TV show “Kaun Banega Cororepati” and the anchor Big B. KBC is similar to the popular American Show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” and even its sets seems an exact imitation of the American show.

As is usual with the great Indian middle class, “Kaun Banega Crorepati” jokes are being widely circulated and the advertisement industry has lost little time in cashing in on the current TV race.


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