Saturday, October 21, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Cooperative autonomy

THE government has been following a policy of liberalisation since 1991. Controls and shackles have been removed from various sectors of the economy, enabling them to compete in the market and sustain themselves on their own.

In this scenario, it is paradoxical that the cooperative sector, which is crucial to the economy, still remains to be liberated. The contribution of the cooperative sector to the Indian economy is no less significant. The share of cooperatives in the institutional agricultural credit, fertiliser distribution, sugar production, etc, is quite substantial.

However, an attitude of cynicism has developed towards the cooperative sector. A dominant perception that has emerged is that the cooperative sector is inefficient and corrupt. At a time when corruption has become a national malaise, cases of corruption in the cooperative sector are highlighted out of proportion. As a result, the achievements of the cooperative sector do not get properly reflected.

One of the reasons for increasing government control over cooperatives has been that they have not been able to make their members competent, imbibing professional ethos.

In recent times, the government has repeatedly given signals to amend the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 1984, to give cooperatives autonomy as demanded by cooperative leaders.

The cheering news for the cooperative sector is that the Cabinet has given nod to the amendment of Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act. The political parties which have professed allegiance to cooperative democracy should ensure the smooth passage of the Bill.
New Delhi


Kudos to Yuvraj Singh

The performance of the Indian cricket team was by and large excellent although they could not win the ICC knock-out trophy. The inclusion of youngsters paid dividends. Vinod Kambli looked like a liability. Dravid should be selected only for Test Cricket.

It is not known when consistent all-rounder like Reetinder Singh Sodhi is available why Kambli is given the chance time and again.

It is time Reetinder Singh Sodhi, hero of the two previous junior world cups, was included in the team. Yuvraj Singh really became the hero during this tournament and he won the hearts of cricket fans.

Health in states

The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, Mr C.P. Thakur, while addressing postgraduate students and others (“Minister for reducing pressure on PGI”, October 13) at the 24th annual Convocation of the PGI, spoke much, but it all made pure platitudes, lofty promises and sermons. It was all a doctrinaire discussion.

Creation of a Medical Grants Commission on the lines of the UGC, shifting “health” to the Concurrent List, etc, won’t give the immediately-needed relief to the vast ailing population of India. Did we gain in education with its shifting as an emergency gimmick to the Concurrent List or did it not become no one’s baby — neither the states’ nor the Centre’s?

As one estimate has it, at least 104 million Indians are suffering from major diseases like malaria, leprosy, tuberculosis and other afflictions. According to Voluntary Health Association of India sources, 50 million deaths are caused by water-borne diseases in the country. About 25 per cent hospital beds are occupied by patients whose illness is due to polluted water. Another 18 million people die because of filariasis followed by TB (12.7 million), gastroenteritis (9.2 million), goitre (8.8 million), leprosy (2.8 million), malaria (2.1 million) and AIDS (one million).

What the ministry should aim at is to ensure that more primary health centres are opened at the block level, more hospitals at the district level and better-equipped hospitals at the state level. Institutions like the PGI in Chandigarh and the AIIMS in Delhi should be made referral hospitals.

The percentage of allocation for health in the budget must increase. It may be made mandatory for medical graduates to work in rural dispensaries before they are allowed to serve anywhere else.

Still at the top

I have been reading The Tribune, the oldest English daily of the region, for over the last four decades. From Lahore to Chandigarh, it has been a long history for the newspaper. Undoubtedly, the readers are emotionally attached to it. We can never forget its contribution towards the freedom struggle.

Today, some newspapers, national and regional, are leaving no gimmick spared to overtake it. Temporary readership can be motivated, but it is very difficult to snatch away the age-old readership. The Tribune has a reputation for unbiased views and its readers have implicit faith in it. That is why it has been here since 1881.

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