Wednesday, November 15, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Polio eradication problem

Encouraged by the eradication of polio in some Western countries as a result of their sustained efforts, the World Health Organisation decided to intensify the immunisation activities in other countries too so as to achieve polio-free status in the whole world.

With this end in view, like other countries similarly placed, India also stepped up its polio immunisation programme besides continuing routine immunisation against six vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) started in 1978 as an expanded programme on immunisation (EPI). Necessary inputs in cash and kind were made available liberally by various international agencies and new cobalt strategies were evolved and adopted.

It was hoped that the goal of total elimination of polio would be achieved by the end of the current year. Going by the trend of events, that does not seem to be happening as we are still far away from the finishing line. The deadline for the eradication of polio is, therefore, being extended further.

Obviously, there are weaknesses in the ongoing programme. May be, the vaccination coverage, though reported officially to be impressive, is still less leading to weak “herd-immunity” or the vaccine being administered at certain places is not potent enough to confer immunity due to the failure of the cold-chain at different levels. This becomes evident when a few children here and there suffer from the disease in spite of their being immunised earlier. It is unfortunate but it is a fact that the heat-sensitive vaccine is not being stored and transported by the field staff under optimum temperatures.

Unless all the deficiencies in the programme are removed, the eradication of polio will elude us for more time to come.



Grain in vain

Non-approval of the Antodaya Yojana (in which approximately one crore people below the poverty line are to get free of grains weighing 25 kg per month) by the Union Cabinet is unfortunate.

The Ministry of Finance argues that it will cost the exchequer millions to rupees and the Ministry of Food is unable to implement the scheme.

Recently the FCI had refused to accept the paddy of poor quality from the farmers of Punjab and Haryana and the Central Government intervened to relax the norms.

The storage of wheat by the FCI has already gone beyond its capacity.

What a nightmare for the country that the Central pool has an excess of grains but in vain. Now the Union Government’s decision to export the excess grains at comparatively cheaper rates in the international market is not going to fetch foreign currency to the extent that even the cost of the produce can be recovered.

Khambi (Faridabad)

Narmada Dam

Apropos of Dr Bhupinder Brar’s article, “Narmada Dam and nationalism: how to judge right from wrong” (Nov. 7), I congratulate the professor for projecting the issues in the right perspective.

The author has touched a sensitive chord, portraying the sentiments of silent millions of the country by underscoring the fact that “First, the Muslims of this country had to prove their patriotism. Then the Christians too in India were forced into an “agni-pareeksha”. Now the civil rights activists (Ms Medha Patkar and Ms Arundhati Roy) are being dragged in. Who will be next?”

Professor Brar has done well to highlight the overbearing tendency on the part of our responsible leaders on the question of demanding relief and rehabilitation for the Dam oustees.


Malady of corruption

It is a pity that no suitable official worthy of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award for Honesty has been found since 1997, when the Badal government announced the same.

Corruption is so much rampant in various departments of the administration that even if there may be some honest officials, the people would not believe that they are really so.


Rising prices

Faulty planning and unrealistic assumptions on the part of the government have led to the rising prices hitting the common man hard.

The argument that the rising prices are a necessary feature of a developing economy affords little satisfaction to the poor wage-earner.

Heavy industrial projects have been undertaken, whereas those already initiated have remained incomplete. New schemes have been ambitiously launched and those already started have been given up in the middle.

No coordinated effort has been made to combine the agricultural and industrial spheres.

The virtues of austerity and financial discipline should be less preached and more practiced. Extravagance has to be discouraged in all spheres.


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