Friday, February 23, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Managing a messy polity

Mr Hari Jaisingh in his article “Managing a messy polity” (Jan. 12), has rightly said that India is ruled by populism, parochialism and chaos. Even after 53 years of independence, India is still seen as a land of poverty, disease, squalor, casteism and other socio-economic correlates of poverty.

India continues to be a badly mauled economy, a divided society and a resource-depleted polity. Still 230 million persons live below the poverty line which means that there are 36.1 crore poor persons, a figure that equals our total population at the time of independence. The economic chasm between the rural and the urban sectors has widened. Our planning has widened regional disparities. Even there have been serious disparities in the post-green revolution period.

The country has fallen into a cesspool full of politicians who are not only corrupt but also diabolical. Democracy is there but there is also rampant murder of democratic values.

Only an apocalyptic approach can rid our economic and socio-political structure of its ills.



Dampening initiative:
No one can deny that a high degree of professionalism, coupled with honesty and sincerity, is the key to good governance. Status quoism adopted by most of the bureaucrats speak of their lack of ingenuity and initiative. But initiative gets dampened when the minister at the head does not see eye to eye with him in executing a policy. Ministers siding with encroaches and speaking vociferously against their fellow ministers are instances that dampen the initiative of bureaucrats. Honest and sincere officers with initiative are hurriedly transferred simply because their sincerity of purpose and professionalism are not relished by the encroachers.


Petty politicians: Our politicians have failed to address the problems of the common man. They are interested only in winning the election. Once elected, they forget the people and spend the next five years in the comfort of five-star hotels. At the time of elections, they curse the ruling party and promise the moon. When they come into power, they implement the policies of their predecessors. The ordinary men and women have lost faith in them.

As far as our bureaucrats are concerned, they have made it a point to maintain an “honourable distance” from the ordinary men and women. Sometimes they are seen openly siding with those who have wealth and muscle power.

According to Vohra Committee’s report, there is an obnoxious link between the politicians, bureaucrats and the anti-social elements. The politicians have scuttled the findings of this committee. Our rulers have stopped thinking about problems like poverty and unemployment. Not a single leader has been able to rise above partisan considerations and address the entire nation like a selfless and honest statesman. In the absence of effective national leaders, the bureaucrats shape the destiny of this country.


Quake-proof houses

Search and relief operation in Gujarat is now by and large over. We have now to address ourselves to the task of rehabilitation and building houses, commensurate with the aspirations and expectations of everybody in the rural as well as urban areas.

I am one of the survivors of the earthquake which destroyed Quetta (now in Pakistan) on May 31, 1935, and which claimed about 25,000 to 30,000 lives.

Even two years after the earthquake shocks, of mild intensity were felt in Quetta, sometimes up to six or eight a day. Yet we felt safe because the houses built could withstand the shocks. The walls were made in two parts — the brick masonry portion was about seven feet high and the rest was covered and fortified from outside with iron sheets with wood panelling inside. Roofs of corrugated iron sheets were laid on triangular wooden beams so designed as to slip and fall outside and not on the inmates in case of a tremor of strong intensity. These houses satisfied all the conditions of a quake proof house.

Our engineers, architects and technologists should be able to design and develop a suitable design, with better specifications and make them structurally more sound and elegant, with all the modern technology at their command.

M.L. Kathpalia, New Delhi



Precautionary steps

The Himachal Cabinet has taken a welcome step not to allow construction of buildings beyond three storeys and to drew up an extensive disaster plan as certain areas of the state fall in the seismic zone.

The government should also lay emphasis on following specifications with regard to construction and material used in the buildings.

Himachal Pradesh already suffered a lot during the 1975 earthquake in Kinnaur district. The worst affected were buildings constructed by government departments. The loss could have been more had it been a densely populated area. It is, therefore, high time the state government ordered a detailed analysis of the specifications of the buildings already constructed by its agencies in Shimla and other places. Samples of the material used in these buildings should be tested in laboratories. All possible measures should be taken to reinforce the buildings if these are constructed with sub-standard material or these should be demolished and action taken against the guilty officers and contractors.

G.C. Chadha, Bhambla (Mandi)

Haryana employees

It is painful to note that government employees in Haryana had to resort to a strike for three months, only to have a Supreme Court order implemented. The Haryana Government, instead of implementing the judgement, victimised the employees by adopting methods such as arresting them from their houses at odd hours. The services of over 60 employees were terminated. The employees have not been paid for the strike period so far.

The Haryana State General Categories and Backward Classes Welfare Sangh deserves praise for creating awareness among the employees about their rights. It is a matter of national concern that we continue to follow the policy of reservation which was provided by the framers of our Constitution for a limited period of 10 years. All over the world now the stress is on talent, merit, and excellence and the talk of reservation sounds hollow.

The Haryana government should win the hearts of its employees by taking back the dismissed employees and giving them salaries for the strike period. The employees on their part should put in their best to clear the backlog of work in the shortest possible period.

r.p. sharma, Mohali

Police-public cooperation

A lot has been said about police-public relations. But the result has been deplorable. Most of the policemen consider themselves to be the rulers. The politicians take themselves to be the masters of the force. The poor complainant and the aggrieved person seeks the assistance of stooges of political leaders to have due action taken by the police on his report. These stooges get their palms greased by the aggrieved persons. There should be no need of such middlemen if approach to the police is made easy. Weeding out of such elements should be the first duty of the authorities.

Next comes the registration of cases freely and fearlessly. Speedy investigation and disposal of cases is in no way less important. For this, the cooperation of the public is essential. But the public shirks from this duty. Information about crime should also come from the public which they hesitate to pass on to the police.

The working of the police and cooperation of the people are inter-dependent. If we lack in this, the structure of police-public cooperation will collapse. The old infrastructure of chowkidars, dafedars, and lambardars was better than the present system of panches and sarpanches who pretend to be the political bosses at the grassroot level. If police-public cooperation is to be achieved, both should drop their ego and work in unison for the overall welfare of society.

jaidev suman, Ferozepur Cantt



Pension cut-off date

The recommendations of the sub-committee for the pension cut-off date in the case of Punjabi University teaching/non-teaching employees were placed at a Syndicate meeting held on 23.2.2000. The item was discussed at length on certain points. The pension scheme was implemented on 1.4.1990.

The university afforded one more chance to the employees for their coverage under the pension scheme in July, 1995, and its cut-off date was 1.1.1990. The last date for opting for pension was 11.9.1995. In order to go through the pros and cons of this matter, the Syndicate constituted another sub-committee. It is a matter of great regret that the sub-committee adopted a lackadaisical attitude and recommended 23.2.2000 as the cut-off date, which is the chosen date and without its locus standi.

Evidently, this is a stepmotherly treatment to those who retired between 12.9.1995 and 22.2.2000, because they have been left high and dry.

A few retirees submitted representations several times to the Vice-Chancellor for looking into the legitimate demand to fix the pension cut-off date in accordance with the relevant ordinances and precedents but to no avail.

The Governor of Punjab (the Chancellor of Punjabi University) should look into the gravity of the situation soon.


VRS in government

The VRS in Punjab which is awaiting sanction by the Cabinet is something to be welcomed by most government employees. The payment of retirement benefits and long leave to enable the employees to set up their own ventures are steps worth appreciating. However, to lessen unemployment among the qualified youths, the government should be willing to provide them with jobs matching their qualifications if their parents opt for retirement under the VRS.


Why migrate ?

It is an irony that people should feel threatened, demoralised and insecure in their own homeland, whether it is Kashmir, or Punjab some other place. In the face of the barbaric acts of the militants, the Kashmiri Pandits had to flee from their homes. They are still languishing in tents, leading a miserable life.

Now the militants have targeted the Sikhs. The attack on Sikhs in which 36 innocent lives were lost, had not faded from our memory when there was yet another attack in which six Sikh youths lost their lives. It is understandable that the threatened community should plan to migrate from J&K. But the battle is not lost. By leaving Kashmir, they will be fulfilling the nefarious plans of the separatists which no Indian wants.

Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir should join hands and support the security forces in combating terrorism. The government should suitably arm them so that they can defend themselves in case of a sudden attack. There should be no reason for the valiant Sikhs ever to think of leaving their homes. The government has to review its decision regarding the unilateral ceasefire. The step has been mistaken as weakness and has emboldened the militants. The government should act ruthlessly and ensure the safety of every Indian.

vijay bhardwaj, Parwanoo


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