Thursday, November 2, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Maltreatment of senior citizens

THERE was a time when the presence of senior citizens in the family was treated as a grace of God and they were given full respect. They had a command over the total affairs in the family.

But in the last two decades, things have changed radically. The joint family system is fast turning into a nuclear family system. Now the kids of the house even do not recognise their grand-parents since they had hardly any interaction with them.

Family members had deserted many senior citizens on various pretexts. They are tortured mentally and harassed to a great extent that forces them to leave the house of their sons and move to old age homes or take shelter in temples, sarais or gurdwaras. They only need love and affection of their children and a little time to spend with them. Mostly, they are literally thrown out by their children after grabbing the money and property in their custody. Painful stories of senior citizens are published in the papers every third day.

At the fag end of their lives, they are not in a position to fight legal battles against their family members because of lengthy and time-consuming legal process, besides physical and financial problems. They are not in a position to rehabilitate themselves. The government must take immediate steps for their rehabilitation and ensure monthly financial assistance from their family members.


One year of NDA ministry

This refers to Mr T.V. Rajeswar’s article of October 24 (“One year of NDA government: Vajpayee provided cohesion.”). Despite the occasional problems caused by restive allies obsessed with their state-level politics, there is little doubt that Mr Vajpayee’s present term has been far more secure than his previous one which he had lost by a solitary vote. For one thing, his coalition is numerically more secure and for another the Opposition to the rule lacks focus.

During the past year the Prime Minister has emerged more confident and more in control of the irrepressible coalition partners and is certainly more assertive. His stature and personal charm are, of course, assets, but he is altogether a different Prime Minister in his third stint.

Also a great help has been TINA — not a lady, a course, but an abbreviated form of “There Is No Alternative”! With a weak Opposition and his personal charisma, he really has few things to worry about. The Opposition has not even attempted a no-confidence motion against his government, which it usually does to show the government in a bad light.

Even within the BJP, there appears to be a total surrender to Mr Vajpayee. Despite differences on issues like the CTBT or economic reforms, the BJP has fallen in line with the government’s thinking. And the Prime Minister has dropped enough hints that he does not want to carry the Sangh Parivar baggage.

In foreign policy, the significance of India being on good terms with the USA and Russia is too obvious to be dismissed, since it underlines a stature which was absent except in the very early days of the Nehruvian period. There was much hype about his US visit and the red carpet welcome. This was followed by the visit of Russian President Putin to India. Vajpayee deserves full marks for the improvement in Indo-US relations despite the sanctions.

However, on the economic front the slow-down appears to mar the performance of the NDA government. The RBI has had to cut its estimates of the GDP. The common man was hit during the year by the subsidy cut and the recent petroleum price hike.


OPINION POLL: This is with reference to “One year of NDA government”. The BJP can draw immense satisfaction that a recent opinion poll has indicated that the people of India are willing to go with it if an election is held tomorrow. The party, on the socio-economic front, must go all out in its endeavour to take along minorities and deprived sections of society. There are jarring notes from the opposition and other concerned quarters. Their apprehensions must be addressed convincingly.

On internal security front, particularly in J & K, the Centre should act boldly and crush mercenaries ruthlessly in order to safeguard the integrity of the country. While the doors for talks within the ambit of the Constitution are open, the government must ensure that the saboteurs do not enter from the back doors.

As far as the Indian economy is concerned, it is not the MNC, WTO, CII, etc, that should be allowed to dictate the agenda. The Indian economic agenda is to be evolved keeping in mind the poorest of the poor. The government must come clean on issues like liberalisation, privatisation, globalisation and disinvestment of PSUs.

The cases of PSUs like ET&T and Modern Food Industries Ltd have raised doubts that extraneous factors rather than economic ones are behind the closing down of ET&T and selling out of Modern Food Industries to an MNC.



Petrol use

The recent hike in the prices of petroleum products has caused further inflation. Since this is a commodity which our country imports, another hike cannot be ruled out.

It is an admitted fact that the major avoidable consumption of petrol is by politicians and bureaucrats.

Ministers with two to three vehicles pay weekly visits to their constituencies. Such visits do not serve the public; rather it becomes a burden.

Where there is train facility; use of vehicles must be barred in the interest of the nation.


Oil: some suggestions

Apropos of Brig (retd) Hardit Singh’s “How to reduce oil expenses” (Oct 13), I wish to add a few more suggestions. Ministers and officials who are entitled to free transport should be given a fixed transport/travel allowance and loans. For local transport staff buses should be provided.

Those who need to travel by air, should also be given only fixed allowance.




Nobel politics

THIS year’s award of Nobel prizes for Peace and Literature to Kim Dae Jung and Gao Xingjian, respectively, has yet again called into question the credibility and fairmindedness of the selection committees.

On many occasions in the past, Nobel Peace/Literature prizes have been given to dissident leaders/writers set on a collision course with their governments in the name of ‘human rights’, ‘democracy’ etc as also to those who are perceived as promoting and portraying the multifarious interests of the western world, its way of life and culture.

A number of distinguished personalities with far greater contribution in the field of letters, peace and communal harmony worldwide — Gandhi, for example — have gone unnoticed.

Nobel prizes are not always what they appear to be — well-deserved and based on merit. Yet they are over-rated because of their long standing, the media hype they create and the money they offer to the awardees.



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