Friday, March 2, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Triumph of faith and spirit of service

THIS refers to Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article “Triumph of faith and spirit of service — beyond Chowk Mehta Punjab faces real challenges” (The Tribune, Feb 23). Punjab has triumphed over the dark days of terror to usher in an era of peace and prosperity.

It is shocking that during the blood-soaked years, Pakistan had succeeded in winning over the Punjabi youth to spread terrorism. A majority of the misguided Punjabi youth has now returned to the national mainstream.

The Kashmiri youths who have taken the path of militancy should learn a lesson from Punjab. Kashmir has always remained an example of communal harmony. The alienated Kashmiri youth should return to the national fold. This will defeat the wicked designs of Pak-sponsored terrorism perpetrated through mercenaries.

Terrorism has been defeated in Punjab. It will not succeed in Kashmir either. It is only a question of time.

IQBAL SINGH, Bijhari (Hamirpur)Top


State of drift: Mr Hari Jaisingh has rightly observed that Punjab today is in the grip of a religious fervour and that militancy is a thing of the past. What is required today is that the religious fervour should yield place to political fervour.

But at present Punjab seems to be in a state of drift. This has been so because of the lack of political will. At the present juncture, we need political management of the sterner type.

No doubt, Punjab is facing a major agricultural crisis. The Green Revolution has created a host of problems such as imbalances in the economy, wide disparity in the distribution of income, reduction in employment opportunities, social tension in the rural areas, uneven progress, unproductive expenditure by affluent farmers, growth of capitalistic farming, high land prices etc. We are lagging behind states like Andhra and Karnataka in the field of information technology. Besides, there are the problems of red tape, corruption and administrative slackness.

We have to guard against terrorism, obscurantism, exploitation and such other abuses. The people have to be immunised against demagogy and power should not captivate our politicians. Our politics should be manned by political specialists of long standing and honesty.


Mobile community: The Sikhs have decided to be a part of India and that is why they did not opt for Khalistan when it was offered to them in 1947. The decision was wise because they have a cultural, religious and social heritage common with the Hindus and many of them had matrimonial relations with Hindus. Pakistan succeeded in creating militancy in Punjab and the Sikhs suffered considerably because of this. But the Sikh community as a whole was not participating in terrorism and that is why it ultimately failed. India is a vast country and this community is well-established wherever it has gone. Sikhs outside Punjab are more prosperous and are not willing to return to their parent state. Such a mobile community cannot be confined to a particular region or state. It is correct that militancy died its own death in Punjab and that is the triumph of faith and the spirit of service.


Agricultural crisis: The bitterness which had grown between Hindus and Sikhs during the days of terrorism has vanished. But it is a matter of great pity that the state is caught in a major agricultural crisis. Farm output is declining and the farmers are living on doles and subsidies. The state is not in a position to supply free water and electricity to the farmers but vote bank politics prevents the government from changing the system. People are paying heavily for water and electricity, but the farmers are getting these free of cost. A gulf has been created on this issue.


Onus on Govt: The onus is on the Badal government to use its ingenuity to tackle the challenges that the state faces.

Out of power, the Akalis vociferously raise ticklish issues concerning the state, and demand their solution. Once in power, they forget to do what they preach. They should get rid of this weakness.

The government has often asserted that it has fulfilled all the promises it made to the electorate but this claim is debatable. It also talked of giving the state an administration like that of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, but in reality the administration does not show even a semblance of the great monarch’s rule. Rather the common man feels suffocated. The Akali rule of the late seventies was the best, enjoyed and appreciated by all and sundry.

The Badal government should act to prove itself equal to the challenges so that the people feel proud of it.


Bury the bluestar : Mr Hari Jaisingh has rightly said that the memories of how and why Punjab was caught in the blood bath are best forgotten and we should draw the right lessons from history.

In this background we should see how far the demand of the Punjab Human Rights Commission Organisation (PHRO) to set up a commission of enquiry on Operation Bluestar is justified. The concern should be how to obtain freedom for those who are still in jail.


Save Kashmir:
Immediately after capturing PoK, Pakistan started settling non-Kashmiri Pakistanis in those areas. China not only conquered Tibet militarily, but also ensured its permanent loyalty by moving ethnic Chinese into Tibet. History shows that settling a land with friendly people is the best way to guarantee its loyalty.

It is now clear that Pakistani terrorists are not only winning the war of weapons (because of the unilateral restraints on the Army), they are also winning over the Muslims through force and indoctrination.

The Indian government must order our Army to actively hunt down the terrorists. The government must initiate an emergency plan of settling in Kashmir lakhs of armed Indians from other states. After all Kashmir is a part of India. So why can’t other Indians settle there?

Article 370 must not be allowed to become a hurdle. If this is not done now, Kashmir may be lost, and other states might follow. Mr Vajpayee will be held accountable.


Rescheduling vacations

Increasing the number of teaching days especially of the plus one and plus two classes, by rescheduling the vacations is a welcome step taken by the Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education and the state Education Department.

In the present scheme of vacations, plus one and plus two classes are getting very few teaching days and their syllabi remain mostly unfinished.

Objections have been raised to the rescheduling by certain organisations of teachers on the ground that small children of the lower classes cannot reach school during the rainy season. If that is so, then the present system may continue for students of Class I to Class X and the new schedule of vacations should be made applicable to plus one and plus two classes.

VIKRAMJEET SHARMA, Mundkhar (Hamirpur)

Rebuilding Gujarat

The Gujarat government should give a tax holiday to the quake-affected people for a decade, not charge them for local telephone calls and charge nominally for other types of calls. They should be given railway and air travel concession, free or concessional supply of electricity and water, free schooling for their children with scholarships and free or concessional house-building material, agricultural tools, food and medicines. Gujarat will surely tide over the crisis and rebuild itself in a few years’ time.



Pensioners’ plight

A number of concessions are allowed to the senior citizens above the age of 65 years. 

The Fourth Punjab Pay Commission which submitted to the state government its report regarding pensioners on Feb 20, 1998, recommended old age allowance for pensioners at the age of 65 and 75 years at the first and second stage respectively. At present, this benefit is allowed to them at the age of 70 and 80 years.

Though three years have passed since the report was submitted, the Punjab government has been dilly-dallying in implementing this key recommendation. There is no point in setting up a pay commission if its recommendations are to be ignored in this manner. The pensioners now expect a fair deal in the budget proposals.



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