Saturday, January 13, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


Minions of Satan

Recently, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr Vidyasagar Rao, said in the Rajya Sabha that during the first 20 days (November 28 to December 17) of the Ramzan peace initiative, as many as 63 civilians (eight Hindus and 55 Muslims were killed and 183 injured in terrorist violence.

Pakistan-supported terrorist outfits have rejected Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee's offer of ceasefire saying that there is no Islamic injunction for cessation of hostilities in the month of Ramzan and have threatened to step up violence in the Kashmir valley. It was in this month that revelation of the holy Quran commenced. Yet the terrorists have no regard for its sanctity.

A hadith has it that “Shaitaan” (Satan) remains incarcerated in the month of Ramzan. However, his ruthless minions in the form of Pakistan-trained terrorists are at large to kill innocent peace-loving people.




Govt holidays

The Central Government Employees Welfare Coordination Committee recently announced holidays for 2001. Accordingly, the government employees will enjoy 17 general holidays besides Sundays and Saturdays, which means a total of 121 days in a year. In addition to these, there will be 26 restricted holidays. The committee made no mention of the summer and winter vacations observed by some privileged offices such as the Supreme Court and the High Courts where thousands of cases remain pending. A step-motherly treatment is given to the lower courts and the Posts & Telegraphs Departments which remain open on Saturdays.

Ever since the five-day week has been enforced, no government has given thought to how the work which is piling up has to be tackled. In fact all categories of employees are holidaying and agitating for more money.

It is time Parliament looked into the state of affairs. Is it not time to revert to the six-day week?



Indian agriculture

There was a report in newspapers recently that some knowledgeable persons are debating the possibility of raising India to world-class status in agriculture. It is apprehended that China may overtake us soon with its new agricultural policies, unless we wake up to the situation soon.

For a country like India with a billion mouths to feed, the focus should be on self-sufficiency and freedom from imports with the rider that the entire population should have 'food-security' at affordable prices. The Food Corporation of India, bursting at its seams with 40 million tonnes of grains which people cannot afford to buy, is hardly the model on which our agricultural policies should be based. This lack of purchasing power is not confined to the population in urban fringes but has also afflicted a sizeable section of our rural population which has been responsible for producing the 'surpluses'.

The problem in having a global perception in agriculture is that it can no more remain agriculture in the traditional sense. It gets transformed into 'agri-business' as has happened in the USA, with its highly mechanised farms with hardly any farm labour. This cannot be a model for us. Even in the USA, consumers are getting wary of purchasing farm and dairy products laden with pesticide-residues and other chemicals. Organic farming in the old traditional way is slowly gaining ground even at the cost of productivity.

Indian agriculture is beset with numerous problems such as dwindling ground water resources, soil erosion and lack of sufficient investment. The country loses 6000 million tons of topsoil every year due to erosion. It is also inexplicable why no big investment is being made in farming, especially when there is no tax on the profits.

Industry can and should, of course, reach out and globalise itself supported by the new policies of liberalisation but agriculture had better wait for more propitious times.

kangayam r. rangaswamy
Durham, NC (USA)



Help Pakhtoons

Any dialogue for peace and friendship with Pakistan will be futile. Rather, it will be a dangerous trap, as has been the Prime Minister's bus yatra which resulted in Kargil. Mr Vajpayee called it "a stab in the back". The NDA Government does not seem to have learnt anything from experience and is again yearning for peace talks with Pakistani rulers. The Jehad Council has refused to have talks with India and has threatened to continue armed attacks on security camps in Jammu and Kashmir. Talks with Hurriyat leaders are going to draw a blank. After all they are only 'mohalla leaders' and they are separatists.

A dialogue with Pakistan for peace and friendship will be futile. The only solution of the vexed Kashmir problem is the establishment of Pakhtoonistan and for that India should give all support to the Pakhtoons, as was promised by Gandhiji to Badshah Khan at the time of Partition in 1947.




Kashmiri Pandits

It is strange that in all the talks on the Kashmir issue the Kashmiri Pandits seem to have been totally forgotten. Furthermore the APHC is not and should not be considered as the spokesman of the people of the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir which is a multilingual and multi-religious state.

The so-called secular leaders like Mr Harkrishan Singh Surjit and Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav have often condemned the demolition of the Babri Masjid, but they have never uttered a single word against the expulsion of innocent Kashmiri Pandits from the valley. Why the secular leaders of the country remained silent when thousands of Kashmiri Pandits were thrown out of their homes for no fault of theirs?

Nothing substantial has been done for the Kashmiri Pandits because they do not constitute a vote bank for any political party. They are forced to live in humiliating conditions in different parts of the country, away from their homes. This unfortunate section of the people of Kashmir should also be heard.




Bus services

The Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation had been plying its buses on the Hoshiarpur-Berthin route for over three decades. For the last two years, the corporation had been plying its buses on this route via Gaarli and Bijhari. For some unknown reasons, this bus service has been stopped, putting the commuters to great hardship. This creates a difficult situation in the morning hours when there is no bus service on this route before 7.45 a.m.

Similarly, few years ago a bus service had been operating on the Deotsidh-Solan route during the early morning hours. This has also been stopped. It will benefit the public if this bus service is run via Berthin and Ghumarwin and is extended up to Nauni, where the Dr Yashwant Singh Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry is situated.

It is not known what prompted the authorities to discontinue these bus services. In all fairness, these should be restored at the earliest.

Bijhari (Hamirpur)


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