Friday, December 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Himachal needs new 
development ethos

ON reading "Himachal: A grassroots revolution in the making" (Dec 22) by Mr Hari Jaisingh, I was reminded of a public lecture by a former Governor of Himachal Pradesh, Ms Rama Devi in New Delhi early this year. Among other things, she highlighted two aspects of the State that had left an indelible impression on her.

First, she did not come across any woman or child begging in the State. This she attributed to the cohesive and compassionate community life that, unfortunately, was fast disappearing in other parts of the country. This despite the fact that poverty was widespread in the state.

Second, Ms Rama Devi noticed the increasing empowerment of women. She attributed this to the major role being played by the Mahila Mandals in Himachal Pradesh.

As a Himachali, I feel Mr Hari Jaisingh has earned the gratitude of an average person in the State by exhorting the establishment to prepare, and then implement with sincerity, an innovative blueprint for "real" development. Himachal Pradesh, as he rightly points out, has been singularly lucky in having distinguished and well-intentioned Chief Ministers, right from Dr Y.S. Parmar to Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal.


An area, which deserves utmost attention, is a strategy for providing fresh water for drinking and irrigation. Unlike in the rest of the country, it is becoming extremely difficult to meet the increasing requirement owing to the difficult hilly terrain. There is a crying need for protecting and preserving the existing natural springs and "bowdies". In fact the management of this natural resource must form an integral part of the fresh water strategy in the State.

It is surprising that UNICEF did not include Himachal Pradesh in the nation-wide extensive survey on fresh water challenges released early this year.

swaraj chauhan
New Delhi

NOT EASILY ACCESSIBLE: The assessment of development activities in Himachal Pradesh made by Mr Hari Jaisingh is not all-inclusive. The author has given an account of what he saw at some places in Kangra. Certain areas of Himachal Pradesh are not easily accessible — the terrain is so diverse and difficult. The problems of the people of those regions differ from those of the people of the mid-hill and lower-hill areas.

The district of Lahaul and Spiti and some parts of Chamba remain cut off from rest of the world for about six months in a year during the winter season. The proposed tunnel to the Lahaul valley can go a long way in linking this valley with the rest of the world throughout the year. This will add a new dimension to the lives of the people of Lahaul.

Of the administrative structure in the Pradesh, the Panchayati Raj system is the most unwieldy. Two of its organs — the Panchayat Samitis and the Zila Parishads — have become a burden on the state exchequer. There should be only village panchayats. The local MLA can easily look after the development activities in his or her constituency. The money spent on the honorarium and salaries and other perks and allowances of Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad members and their office bearers can be utilised on development works.

The pay bill of the H.P. employees exceeds the state's income. By tapping the remaining hydro-power potential, the state can generate sufficient income to become economically viable.

The Government must curtail the top heavy administrative set-up. A poor state like Himachal Pradesh cannot afford the burden of a huge administrative setup.

iqbal singh
Bijhari (Hamirpur)

ROADS POORLY MAINTAINED: Himachal Pradesh does need a new development ethos, policies that are dynamic and futuristic and a vision to maintain the ecological balance. But what one sees in parts of Kangra to which you have alluded is development that is neither dynamic nor futuristic.

Roads in this region are poorly maintained. And whatever maintenance is undertaken is washed away by the rains. Hardly a new road has been constructed that could shorten the distance between any two places. What used to be bridle-paths and tracks were widened a little and metalled to give them the semblance of roads. At every half a kilometre or so, along the highways one sees boards proclaiming 'road under construction'. The only visible change is a new coat of paint that these boards occasionally get. The Jwar-Mairi road which was completed about 20 years ago is still 'under construction'.

The causeway at Nakki near Pragpur was partially washed away about 10 years ago. Reconstruction began about three years ago and at the present pace of work, it may take up to five years to complete.

Not far from this point, a culvert was damaged about five years ago. While the repair work went on slowly, another culvert had its approach road damaged. The repairs seem to continue indefinitely. Considering the pace of work on the improvement of the Kiratpur-Anandpur section of the highway in Punjab, repairs to these culverts should not have taken even a month.

Mr Hari Jaisingh is right in suggesting the development of tourism in Himachal. But what can you expect from the administrators by way of planning for the future when they show scant regard for the present. What comes to mind here is the construction of the High Court building in Shimla. The structure has deprived the tourists of a magnificent view.

The suggestion for development of horticulture is pertinent. To this can be added the raising of better varieties of mangoes. What apple is to the people of Shimla and Kullu regions mango could well be for the people of Kangra. But the suggestion for improving the village-level economy through cottage industry is unpromising. Activities such as weaving, pottery, carpentry, basket making etc are caste-based occupations which do not attract today's youths who, are inclined more towards jobs that come from being educated. The improvement of dairying could be a more promising proposal.

It is said that if you can dream it you can also achieve it. The very thought of a railway line to Dharamsala, Kullu, Manali and beyond seems audacious. What if it is planned and accomplished. That would mean tourists travelling in comfort and troops moving safely to our northern borders.

rajender sharma
Mairi (Una)



Scholarship held up

I passed my M.A. II (Political Science) Examination, in April, 1998, from Khalsa College for Women, Civil Lines, Ludhiana, and topped in Panjab University. However, even two and a half years after passing the examination, I have not received the national scholarship money for 1997-98 awarded to me on the basis of my performance in the BA examination. According to the college authorities, they have not received the necessary sanction from the DPI (Colleges), Punjab. But the DPI's office maintains that the sanction has been sent to the college.

Repeated reminders to the DPI (Colleges) and the Minister for Higher Education, have not yielded any result.

antar jyoti ghai

Entrance exam

The MD/MS entrance examinations of Baba Farid University are to be held in the fourth week of January 2001. Our batch joined on April 28, 1998, and if these examinations are held before April 28, we will not be able to sit in the PCMS category because of the condition of completing three years’ rural service and one years’ of our career will be wasted.

Therefore the remaining period should be condoned and we should be allowed to sit for the examination and save one precious year.

dr sham sunder goel

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