Wednesday, December 13, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Fresh look at Constitution

THE Constitution of a country expresses maturity, wisdom and calibre of its makers. It must help in the growth of the country materially, spiritually and militarily. It should bring in stability. It should help to generate economic growth over a period of time so that the lower strata of the population feel that their lives have been made more comfortable, easier and worth living. All the necessaries have been made available to them in reasonable measure. Thus a spirit of dedication and devotion towards the country is generated and every person should be prepared to make the sacrifice of his/her life if the need so arises.

It should not be a plaything that the legislators amend it whenever they decide to do it at will.

We have to examine whether the Indian Constitution, which was adopted in 1950, has been able to make the country economically and militarily stronger and stable. How far has the common man benefited; whether he is more well off. The answer is woefully depressing. In spite of slogans on removing poverty, we have more poor people than we had in 1950. Militarily, the country is not so strong as to be able to integrate Jammu and Kashmir with it. A small country like Pakistan has made the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir miserable.


I suggest certain points to be included in the Constitution. The British model of parliamentary democracy should be retained, as during the last 50 years people in India have become familiar with it and its working. The American system need not be adopted. But the President and the Governor should not be merely decorative pieces. They have to be made active and participating in the running of the administration.

There should be a unicameral system of legislature at the Centre and in the states. The experience during the past 50 years is clear that the Upper House has served no useful purpose. It is just like a backdoor through which political parties make their representatives sneak into the House to serve their own interests.

To have Upper Houses at the Centre and in the states means a burden of several hundred crores of rupees every year on the public exchequer. Such a big amount can be utilised in providing basic necessities of life like drinking water, health care, primary education, removal of filth and dirt, etc. It is highly shameful that even after more than 50 years of Independence these basic necessities are not available to more than 50 per cent of the total population of India.

The number of Ministers in a state Cabinet should in no way be more than 15 per cent of the total strength of the House. Here the Ministers mean a Minister of Cabinet rank, Minister of State and a Deputy Minister. No Parliamentary Secretary should be appointed.

Article 370 in respect of Jammu and Kashmir should be immediately scrapped. No special status based on caste, backwardness, region, etc, should be given to any state.


Exploitation of children

As in the past, this year also on November 14 Children’s Day was celebrated in the various schools in Chandigarh and all over the country. In a message Prime Minister Vajpayee said, “Children the world over are the greatest human resource. The prosperity and the strength of a nation depends largely upon the health, well-being and education of its children. It’s true, but we cannot ignore some realities. Even after 53 years of the country’s Independence the position of children in our country is far from satisfactory. As we know, the birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru is celebrated as Children’s Day because Nehru really loved children. But today there is no man like Nehru. Nehru’s values have been forgotten in today’s world of materialism and Children’s Day has become a day for some cultural programmes, distribution of sweets and holidaying.

Child labour still continues in our country, and children are exploited. The number of child labourers is continuously rising. More than 6 crore children below the age of 14 years work in fireworks, carpet, bidi and match box industries. They fall prey to various diseases like chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis, asthma, skin and eye ailments, etc. Children working in various offices, shops, dhabas, etc, also face exploitation at the hands of their employers.

It is really a shame that many families in India for their survival depend on whatever their children collect from the heaps of grabages.

However, the Central government has stopped the employment of children below the age of 14 years as servants after the efforts made by the National Human Rights Commission. Earlier, it was mentioned in the notification that no government servant would employ any child below the age of 14. But there is not even a single word about any kind of punishment. This makes the notification absolutely meaningless. But I want to draw the attention of the Central government towards those children who are still working in various offices, industries, shops and dhabas and are being exploited.

We should remember that if children don’t receive proper care and attention, the future of our country will be dark. Strict action should be taken against those who indulge in child labour. Indian law prohibits the employment of children in heavy industries and houses but not in cottage industries, restaurants and the agricultural sector. Employment of children in these sectors should also be stopped.



Spelling names

The middle "Dropping names" by Mr Lalit Mohan (The Tribune, October 21) was very interesting. The Americans have a peculiar accent. So, if they mispronounce our names, it is perhaps pardonable.

But what is not pardonable is — if our name is misspelt — not in a foreign land but here in India, not of an ordinary citizen but that of a top-most VVIP, not by less-knowledgeable individuals but by government departments, not once but many times over.

I have noticed with disgust on the TV screen a number of times our Prime Minister's name being spelt as "Atal Bihari Vajpayee" instead of "Atal Behari Vajpayee" on the name plates displayed on the desks from where he is shown addressing important official functions. Newspapers continue to publish name with Behari and not Bihari. Definitely one of the spellings is incorrect.

In the official supplements put out by some of the Central ministries in the newspapers in the month of October to highlight their achievements in the past one year, the Prime Minister's name under his photographs was given as "Atal Bihari Vajpayee".

Even the message from the Prime Minister on Children's Day on November 14 issued by his own secretariat ended with his name spelt in the same manner.

wg cdr c. l. sehgal (retd)


Beauty monopoly

Reeta Faria was crowned Miss World in 1966, Ashwariya Rai in 1994, Hayden in 1997, Yukta Mookhey in 1999 and Priyanaka Chopra in 2000. Sushmita Sen was crowned Miss Universe previously and Lara Dutta has been crowned Miss Universe recently.

It appears that God has given the monopoly of beauty, talent and vital statistics only to Indian girls, and they are on top of the globe as compared to Western girls.

Despite its funny side, there is some force, logic and cogence in Jaspal Bhatti’s suggestion that a CBI inquiry should be held (The Tribune, Dec 3). There appears to be something fishy, suspicious and mysterious in this matter.


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