Monday, January 8, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



VRS and functioning of banks

The voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) in banks has been in the news. The enthusiasm shown by politicians, bureaucrats, unions and employees makes one believe that VRS is the panacea for all ills afflicting the banks. Lakhs of employees, who were not doing justice to the salaries they have been drawing, will run away with hefty amounts depending upon their salary and the length of service.

Unions, by adopting pressure tactics, have been able to extract an attractive package from the politicians and bureaucrats, who do not have to pay from their pockets. The common man who pays taxes to meet such doles has learnt to be at the receiving end. It is pertinent to get answers to certain questions.

Why was inefficiency allowed to continue in the system during the past 30 years? What is the guarantee that after VRS efficiency will improve and the customer will get better service?

Why was overstaffing allowed? What is the guarantee that after executing VRS, new recruitments will not be made? Work culture, which is directly related with efficiency, is not going to change as long as we are a democracy with coalition governments at the Centre.


Every partner in the government has only one agenda: to increase its vote bank by hook or by crook and no one is bothered about efficient working in government offices. In this situation, to hope that VRS will change the working of banks is an illusion.

It will be better to stay VRS and utilise this money, which will run into thousands of crores, for building roads and creating drinking water facilities in the villages.


Clinton’s gesture

Newspapers have published a brief report that Mr Bill Clinton has sanctioned one billion dollars for the construction of roofs over the heads of shelterless people in India. I hope the ruling parties, their leaders and other political bigwigs must have seen this small report and their conscience must have pricked them a little.

In independent India, more than 40 crore persons are languishing in slums and pavements and the leaders never tire of declaring that India is improving and getting stronger. The ruling politicians at the Centre and in the states rush abroad on the excuse of finding “foreign capital” to be invested in India, but in reality they go on pleasure trips along with their families at the expense of the poor public of India.

The states and the Centre have jumbo-sized ministries and hundreds of crores of rupees are spent on ministers who hardly render any useful service to the nation. Time has come for these so-called leaders of the country to search their conscience and adopt an austere way of life so that such purposeless expenditure is saved for making the lives of the miserable and under-privileged people somewhat worth living.

Not that these miserable sections do not work hard. Men and women of this section work day in and day out and yet they are unable to get two square meals a day. The system perpetuates abject poverty in a subtle way. This miserable way of life is ingrained in their minds by religious leaders promoted by the political class. They accept their miserable existence without a murmur.




Golden Forest

The registration of cases against the directors of Golden Forest India Ltd and sealing their offices have jeopardised the process of repayment to investors. In fact, the company was repaying the investors, in the form of land at market value because of its liquidity problem. Now the investors will not be able to get back their money till the offices are re-opened and the repayment process is put on the rails again.

Let us hope that better sense will prevail and the company’s offices will be reopened to enable the investors to get their money back in the shape of land which the company owns.

Jatwar (Ambala)

UNWISE INVESTMENT: The arrest of Golden Forest directors makes one think why, in spite of the risk involved, the investors put their hard-earned money in such an institution.

The most logical reason is the human desire to make quick money with little effort. The quest for the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow makes companies like the Golden Forest flourish and the only ones who get the pot of gold are the directors of the companies and not the investors.

The other reason lies in our false sense of propriety in our social relations. Nirad Chaudhary has rightly remarked that the moral courage to say “no” to a social relationship, when instead of giving happiness it becomes a source of trouble, is at the back of many unpleasant situations.

Most of us at one time or the other succumb to social pressures and invest in schemes only because we lack the courage to say “no” to a friend or a relative. We choose to suffer hoping against hope that perhaps this company or this scheme will deliver the goods. The public should wake up to the menace of such companies and invest their hard-earned money in a judicious manner.


Samba spy case

Four former Army officers, cleared by the Delhi High Court in the Samba spying case, have alleged that all the 50 accused were victims of the “whims and fancies” of some “vested interests” in the Army. Major Ashwani has further stated that two jawans, Aya Singh and Sarman Das, who were originally charged with espionage, were not tried for that offence, but were court-martialled for remaining absent without leave and dismissed from service. But they were reinstated in the Army a year later; an unbelievable episode.

Although the High Court has exonerated all the accused, and restored their military honour with full compensation of their monetary loss, the matter must not be allowed to rest here. Apart from restructuring the military justice system, the government must also investigate who were the officers responsible for this shameful act, and what were the vested interests they were trying to serve. Transparency dictates that the Army should do this on its own. It is surprising that the Army has remained silent on this issue.

BRIG. N.B. GRANT (retd)

Village roads

The programme to construct village roads launched by the Prime Minister on his 76th birthday deserves all praise from the villagers. But the criterion of a population of 1000 and 700 does not suit hill states like Himachal Pradesh. In this state the average population of a village ranges between 200 and 300.

So, this scheme will not be of any use to Himachal Pradesh unless the criterion of population is revised as far as the hill regions are concerned.

Rora (Palampur)

Migrant labour

Mr P.P.S. Gill in his report on migrant labour has highlighted the exodus of labour from the states which have a per capita income lower than that of Punjab, and has dealt with some future problems.

There exists no system to register the migratory labour and such persons are tempted to make Punjab their home in the absence of any rules governing their conduct during the stay.

Under the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) Act, 1979, a migrant workman is required to register himself in the employment exchanges of his “home” as well as the “host” state. This is followed by literate migrants whereas the illiterate ones obtain seasonal jobs through contractors.

The economy of Punjab is being affected by the migrant labourers and there are reasons to believe that social tension may emerge.

It will be proper for the NHRC now to formulate rules and regulations to ensure that the rights of the migrant labour are not curtailed and at the same time restrain them from the activities that may be harmful to the health of this land.

A visit to The Mall in Patiala in the morning would illustrate how migrant labour creates problems in the absence of sanitary arrangements for them. Such migrant labour has created this problem not only in Patiala but also at many other places in Punjab.

The district or local administration should take proper action for the registration of migrant labourers. What happened in Assam because of the presence of migrants is fresh in our minds.



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