Friday, January 26, 2001,
Chandigarh, India





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Grassroots revolution

MR Hari Jaisingh must be complimented on his thought-provoking article "Grassroots revolution in making Himachal needs new development ethos" (The Tribune Dec 22 ), pinpointing some chronic problems of Himachal Pradesh and suggesting a way out from the unhappy situation.

The state's administrative set-up has, over the years, grown too bulky, especially at the top.

The state heavily depends on Central assistance just to keep the unwieldy paraphernalia going. Of late, the government has been increasingly resorting to reckless "borrowing" in a bid to keep the "show" afloat. That the state happens to be financially poor, its rich hydel and tourism potential notwithstanding, is the most ironic part of the story.

Tara Chand, Ambota (Una)

Simple lifestyle: It was a surprise to learn that Prof P.K. Dhumal, the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, is leading simple life and is living in his ancestral mud cottage in Sirmaur district.



 

Mr Hari Jaisingh has rightly pointed out that Himachal has limited revenue and limited funds for development and it depends on central assistance. But I feel Himachal Pradesh can become a rich state if it fully exploits its hydel power potential. But political will seems to be lacking whether it is a government led by the BJP or the Congress. When in power they all look alike.

Subhash C. Taneja, Rohtak

Exploiting hydel power: Going through the article, one felt that Mr Hari Jaisingh was coming to grips with the grassroots realities of Himachal Pradesh. He has administered a gentle rebuke to the establishment for its failure to meet the people's demands and to exploit the hydel resources of the state.

Himachal Pradesh has many projects to exploit its hydel power potential under process in coordination with the neighbouring states. Himachal Pradesh needs to be more discriminating and practical than it has been so far to exploit its hydel power potential.

Unfortunately, Himachal Pradesh has tried to follow the Western pattern of constructing hydel power projects and in the process has failed to get the desired result. What Himachal Pradesh must learn from the West is to privatise education and some of the hydel power projects.

Himachal's major task is to see that the gains which were expected from the hydel power projects are realised. The state government is constantly looking for new hydel power marketing strategies and wants to evolve a new framework to lure states that lack the natural gift of hydel resources. This must be a target-oriented plan and we must find new markets for our energy.

Umed Singh Gulia, Gohana

No spectacular change: The Editor of The Tribune deserves thanks for sparing some time for a visit to Kangra at the time of panchayat elections. He has rightly pointed out two areas where development is wanting hydel development and tourism. He has also seen electioneering for the panchayats. The knowledgeable people whom he met have said that no concrete result will be visible in the near future. One cannot be optimistic in this regard as most of the persons elected to the panchayats are only literate and not educated. Since the functionaries are not educated, they cannot keep pace with time and cannot deliver the goods.

Things will not see a spectacular change. We need honest and dedicated persons to develop the water resources, afforestation, horticulture, and agriculture for economic uplift at the grassroots level.

Rikhi Dass Thakur, Hamirpur

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Visit other areas too: Mr Hari Jaisingh's tour of the Kangra Valley is an honour to the soldiers' district of Himachal Pradesh. His assessment that the soldier Chief Minister is easily accessible is true. According to Col (Retd) R.C. Prashar, a former Station Commander of Manali unit, Prof Dhumal is a symbol of Soldier's pride and is a gentleman politician.

But the Chief Minister needs to exert his authority to stop political pollution by undesirable persons who have entered the corridors of power through the backdoor.

A war widow of the Ist World War who had once presented a silver medal to the Chief Minister at Jalari says that the Chief Minister should visit the place where he was presented with a medal in 1996 and see why the link road has still not been repaired.

I appeal to The Tribune Editor to tour also this part of the state and meet a cross-section of the people to know the position here.

Multan Singh Parihar, Hamirpur

Mixed Farming: Mr Hari Jaisingh has appropriately drawn attention to Dr Parmar's concept of development through mixed farming and three dimensional forestry.

Dr Parmar started implementing the scheme after his visit to Germany and the results are there for everyone to see. Today Bagthan and it surrounding areas sell their horticultural and agricultural produce in Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi and the surplus milk is sold to Milkfed.

After Dr Parmar, successive governments have shown little interest in the people's welfare. The State Electricity Board is popular with the politicians because it provides funds to the government by mortgaging the state's assets. Heavy losses incurred by the board are, indefensible.

Tourism is a better proposition even though it will benefit the state or the urban business community and promises nothing to the villagers. It will be better for the state to revert to mixed farming in a big way and not to invest in grandiose power projects.

L.R. Sharma, Solan

Finding Employment: Financial crunch has been the major hurdle in the way of development and social welfare work in Himachal Pradesh because a sizeable part of the revenue is spent on salaries. The suggestion that by tapping its hydroelectric power potential the state can mitigate an employment does not hold good as presumed by the writer.

At present, some major hydro-electric projects are being executed by the private sector and in such projects a majority of the staff and technocrats are from outside the state and only a handful of Himachalis have been given employment.

As far as the establishment of agro-based and food processing units is concerned, the survival of such units seems doubtful in today's competitive market unless the state and the central governments come to their rescue.

The majority of farmers in Himachal Pradesh possess uneconomical land holdings and very few have the surplus to sell in the market. Even they do not get a good price.

The literary rate has increased but a majority of Himachalis have to go to other states in search of employment.

The writer's warning that big industries are likely to play havoc with environment is worth considering but at the same time the state government will have to encourage environment-friendly industries and get a commitment from the firms that they will give employment to bonafide Himachalis at all levels.

M.L. Pandit, Barsar (Hamirpur)

Wanted right leaders: I endorse the view that Himachal politicians and bureaucrats do not learn from their mistakes and do not wish to think of the future. Their outlook, which ought to be comprehensive, is myopic.

Himachal has an enormous hydel potential which ought to be exploited fully.

For that a visionary leader is required which Himachal does not have at present. Gone are the days when leaders like Dr Y.S. Parmar believed in simple living and high thinking for the welfare and development of the state. Today's leaders are a far cry from men like Dr Parmar.

Now promises are made only to be forgotten conveniently. If the Himachal Government girds its loins to develop the state, nothing can prevent it from doing so. Only a strong political will and determination is required.

The writer has rightly emphasised that by adopting a new forward-looking dynamic approach to development, Himachal can become a model state. But for that a work culture and development ethos have to be created.

Tarsem S. Bumrah, Batala

Why extend Samjhauta service?

After five days of talks, India and Pakistan decided to extend the train service Samjhauta Express between their countries for the next three years and upgrade the facilities.

The Indian media has also reported that the train has become a pipeline for ISI agents. The Intelligence Bureau estimates that there are about 35,000 ISI agents in India. Certainly dozens more are getting in every day.

Has Pakistan agreed to stop smuggling fake currency into India? If not, has India found a way to prevent it? Before extending the train service, did the Vajpayee Government make sure that the train will not be used for sending ISI agents? Why is the Government allowing the enemy to speed up India's destruction?

Jayant Sangolli, BangaloreTop

 
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