Wednesday, February 7, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Stability and responsibility

IN his message to the nation on the eve of Republic Day, the President while commenting on the Prime Minister’s suggestion to give a fixed term to the Lok Sabha, emphasised that the fathers of the Constitution had stressed the importance of responsibility over stability and uniformity. Should it be taken that responsibility has no relevance to stability?

It has become clear that stable governments with able leaders are more responsible than unstable coalition governments. In a democracy, the importance of the people’s verdict cannot be denied. At the same time, the nation cannot afford frequent elections. Unstable political conditions have hampered the growth of trade and industry. Disruptive, separatist and terrorist forces have become active and criminal elements and the underworld have struck deep roots due to the ineffectiveness of unstable and weak governments at the Centre. The states are demanding greater autonomy, thus sowing the seeds of a loose confederation.

With the recent trend of hung Parliament and coalition governments at the Centre, regional groups governing the states are visualising a different non-federal political system in India. This will give rise to a loose confederation and not a tightly knit union.


Besides, the regional parties or groups have a unified command structure and a share of power in their own states. A move against the prevailing political system is taking shape as regional groups push for more fiscal autonomy and a liberal economy. In the long run, we are heading for a situation where the Centre will be reduced to the position of a coordinator of various states. Ways have to be found to tackle this problem; otherwise, the party ruling at the Centre shall have to bow to the demands of state bosses.

In order to give a powerful constitutional hand to a minority or a coalition government, a fixed tenure, may be of a short period, without the fear of being dethroned, is required for effective and constructive governance. Otherwise, the coalition partners belonging to regional parties or groups will blackmail the government for their own motives, even against the overall national interest.

R. P. MALHOTRA , Panchkula

Pilgrim’s woes

I visited Maha Kumbh on January 24 for a dip at the holy Sangam.

I was shocked to see the poor arrangements made by the Government. The impression created by the media was totally incorrect. Those having no access to the Maha-Mandleshwars and pandits were charged heavily for the shelter. Others were forced to sleep in the open on cold sand. They had to urinate and defecate in the open and cover the filth with sand. Rikshaw-pullers and tonga drivers were charging exorbitantly for carrying passengers from the railway station to police barriers. Vendors demanded Rs 12 for a cup of tea. I took shelter in a Gurdwara called Niranjan Akhara which accepted whatever the pilgrims paid.

M. R. VERMA, Chandigarh

Material from Kumbh

Only recently, the Government raised temporary structures — shelters, tents, toilets etc — at a cost of crores of rupees for the facility of millions of pilgrims at Allahabad on the occasion of Kumbh. Now the festival is over and these structures will be demolished and scrapped.

If these are dismantled carefully, this material can be transported to Gujarat to provide temporary shelter to earthquake victims. To do it speedy, the task can be assigned to the Army which can be relied upon for tackling such situations without loss of time.

M. S. Lamba, Ludhiana

Local call facility

The Telecom Department has created many problems by giving the “local call facility” within a radius of 200 km. Lines in every city are getting choked and it is becoming difficult to call people in the same city.

Mobile phones are the worst affected. Yesterday, I had to try about 10 times to get a city number. I had to contact three persons and had to use the mobile more than 30 times to get the numbers. The Telecom Department should review and modify the scheme.

R. S. DHILLON, Kapurthala


Punjab’s new problem

THE earthquake in Gujarat should make us think of the disaster which Punjab may face in the near future.

Punjab has never been a major paddy producing area. But today, it is contributing about 42 per cent of the rice to the national pool. To do this the state is pumping out over 14 MAF of sub-soil water through 17 lakh tubewells every year. The extraction of water is much more than its replenishment and this is resulting in a vacuum under the earth’s crust. Experts point out that now Punjab lies in the seismic-risk belt and even a small shock can turn the ‘land of five rivers’ into a desert.

Experts, politicians and bureaucrats should sit together and find a solution to this problem before we face a disaster.


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