Monday, January 22, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



“Sugar melts in PDS”

Your Editorial entitled ‘Sugar melts in PDS’ (Jan 12), though makes an interesting reading, is self-contradictory at places.

You have opined that sugar mills thrive by exploiting sugarcane farmers on the one hand and the consumers on the other. In support, you have cited a figure of Rs 190 crore as being the amount due from all sugar mills in the country. This is out of a total payable cane price of Rs 10,900 crore and includes disputed amounts as well as those uncollected by the farmers which can be deposited with the State authorities as per prescribed time schedules. The following points need to be noted.

The above figures relate to the state advised cane price, which has no legal binding as per decisions by several High Courts. The only legal price is the one statutorily fixed by the Government of India and the additional cane price payable thereafter, again as per the Sugarcane (Control) order issued by the Central Government. There are no arrears against this. Further, that no country in the world fixes the price of raw material sugarcane and/or beet in the manner as aforesaid. Everywhere, sugarcane price is paid out of sugar price realisation based on sales in a staggered manner.


In contrast, Indian law provides for payment of cane price within a period of 15 days from the date of supply of sugarcane irrespective of sugar sales. Thus payment to the farmers is primarily based on the credit made available by the banks who seem to be too scared to meet the requirement, notwithstanding your surmise that ‘profits keep rolling in’ to the sugar mills.

In the Indian context, the mechanism of sugar releases is a carefully designed system with the primary objective of ensuring a steady level of sugar price, protecting the interests of sugarcane farmers on the one hand and the consumers on the other. It is true that if the system is broken today with an extreme glut of sugar, the prices which are already ruling at levels way below break even, would virtually collapse. But will that really serve long term consumer interest?

S.L. Jain
Indian Sugar Mills Association
New Delhi

Temple issue

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee deserves praise for the courage to express his candid opinion on the contentious Ayodhya issue thus: “The wrongs of a medieval past cannot be righted by a similar past cannot be righted by a similar wrong in modern times”. While observing that the status quo at the disputed places of worship at Kashi, Mathura, etc. must remain undisturbed, he remarked: “Far from indicating Hindu society’s weakness, this will show the strength of our national ethos of tolerance and religious harmony”. All sane people of secular temperament will agree with him.

It is true that construction of Ram temple is an expression of national sentiment. But there is also no doubt that demolition of Babri Masjid was a historic blunder. There must be a peaceful solution of the issue, i.e., either in accordance with the judicial verdict or through an amicable agreement between the two communities.

In case any organisation tries to create law and order problem, the government must take vigorous steps to restore peace.


New HP districts

The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, is reportedly toying with the idea of creating four new districts in the state and, for that matter, has asked the bureaucracy to study financial implications of the proposal.

Mr Dhumal’s “brain-wave” on the subject seems timely, worth giving a practical shape the sooner the better.

Experience shows that a small administrative unit district is easier to manage and is undoubtedly better-administered. (given, of course, a reasonable administration). Una and Hamirpur districts of the state provide glaring/pertinent examples — unmistakably showing how the size of a district materially affects the pace of its development.

The area comprising the said districts, it may be recalled, formed part of Kangra district earlier. The other public hardship apart, the pace of development in the area under the then dispensation was painfully slow. However, it (pace of development) picked up appreciable momentum after the twin smaller districts were carved out of the unwieldy Kangra district some twentyfive years ago.

Chronic financial crunch afflicting the state would, of course, pose a serious hurdle in the matter, as the editorial “New Himachal Districts” (Jan 17) pertinently points out. But then where there is a will there is a way.

Tara Chand
Ambota (Una)

Un-Islamic act

This refers to your editorial ‘The attack on Farooq’ (Jan 16). The dastardly attack on Farooq Abdullah by the Mujahideen is not just outrageous, it is also one more unislamic act of violence perpetrated by Pakistan against India. Whatever be Pakistan’s internal compulsion to deflect public attention from the misgovernance and a shattering economy. India must safeguard her security interest and public life at all cost.

One really wonders why should India be soft towards those killers of innocent civilians and those who spurn our offers of a peaceful solution to bilateral problems. It is ridiculous, if not shocking, that the Hizbul chief Salahuddin wants to see more ‘tangible proof’ of India’s sincerity behind the unilateral ceasefire. Are they the guardians and votaries of peace? Ironically on the one hand Hizbul and Hurriyat talk of initiating the peace process and on the other keep up their nefarious terrorist activities.

It is really time that India displayed its strong stand against militancy not just in words and warnings but in deeds, lest its peace offers are treated as cowardice and political compulsion.

International opinion and support will come India’s way as many countries are already fed up with the fast spreading menace of state-sponsored terrorism. Above all self-defence is not an offence but it is our sovereign right.

Ved Guliani


Army Generals

This has reference to the write-up, “An assessment of the battle of Longe Wala” by Thakur K.S. Ludra, apparently a retired army officer (Jan 13). As per the writer the generals let down the troops and the junior officers in each war that India fought.

Such utterances about the army top brass are bound to affect the faith of our countrymen in the efficiency of our army and tend to lower the esteem of the generals in the eyes of the troops besides shaking their morale. Such observations can have very dangerous implications for the army and the nation.

I must say that the remarks made by the writer about our generals are highly surprising, misplaced and uncalled for. Nobody should spread baseless canards about the army, much less an ex-army officer.

All promotions beyond the rank of a brigadier are to be cleared by the political leadership, but it is not true that only those officers are promoted who “conform to their ideas” as made out by the writer. Normally for one top slot there may be 3 or 4 aspirants, all possessing top merit and almost same level of assessment ratings, from whom the political leadership selects one.

It is, therefore, clear that those selected for the high post possess desired merit and competence in all respects. Only the creamy layer reaches the top, politics or no politics. So the nation should rest assured that our generals are fully competent to lead our great army.

Wg Cdr C. L. Sehgal (retd)

New Himachal districts

It is a fact that carving out more districts in Himachal Pradesh is a luxury the government “should not even think of at this stage” (Jan 17).

The practice of dividing and sub-dividing the states and society as a means to cheap popularity and chair, is being increasingly resorted to in complete disregard of the known grave consequences of the process. The quality of administration depends on the calibre of the administrator and a will to administer efficiently and selflessly and not on the size of the state or the district.


Car financiers

The liberalisation and globalisation started in our country about a decade ago has opened doors to multinationals to establish business units in India. One such sector is automobile and its car segments has been flourishing since then.

In addition to bank and financial institutions, registered private finance companies are authorised to finance vehicles. The rate of interest, processing charges and EMI on this varies from case to case. Regarding repayment of loan, these financiers have agreements with the buyers and take advance cheques for total number of EMIs and present the cheques on due dates. Of late, in certain cases, the cheques were bounced due to non-availability of funds in the account resulting in higher recoverable debt. To recover the debt through legal process is very time consuming. Even in the case of Consumer Forums, the decision is awarded after two or three years of filing the application.

To get rid of this problem, the private financiers have been hiring musclemen to get the money back. These musclemen engage in manhandling, beating, terrorising activities and forcefully snatch the vehicles from the owners, sometimes at gun point also. Now the recent strategy adopted by them is to kidnap the men and release only after the balance money is arranged and paid by the members of the respective families. Now these financiers, in their group of musclemen have added retired police officials and relatives of politicians who by using their influence and connections threaten the defaulters and do anything to get money back.

Such a strategy is totally against the law. No one is allowed to take law in his hands. When the provisions under the law are available to deal with such offences, why are they allowed to follow this illegal method?

A. P. Bhardwaj

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