Saturday, March 3, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Purposeless ceasefire

No purpose will be served by extending the ceasefire in Kashmir, unless a purposeful dialogue is started with the parties concerned. Since the ceasefire began a couple of months ago, the government has not spelled out anything about the extent to which it is ready to go on the issue. It has not even been able to make up its mind on how many Hurriyat leaders are to be given passports to visit Pakistan.

We have pumped thousands of crores of rupees in the valley and have been fighting the insurgents with no sign of their being pinned down. Rather, the militants now seem to have the upper hand. Thousands of lives have been lost. It is high time all this should end. The government must take some positive measures to solve this bleeding problem without wasting further time by merely extending the ceasefire.


Hopes belied: In the third week of November , the unilateral ceasefire had generated a wave of excitement and enthusiasm. The common man in the region had looked forward to a life of peace. Political leaders were hopeful of forcing Gen. Musharraf to control the ‘jehadis’ or face the possibility of isolation in the international community.

But all these hopes have been belied. Gen Musharraf seems helpless with no control on the fundamentalist forces. The terrorists, with little concern for human life and no clear goal, have become as much a problem for Gen. Musharraf as they are for India.

Secondly, the people, who had hoped for peace returning to the region, are disillusioned with the unilateral peace process. The lack of support from the Hurriyat Conference and the Hizbul Mujahideen has made the situation more gloomy.

In this situation we must make it clear that the ceasefire is neither our compulsion nor an end in itself. If we can pursue a unilateral peace process in the face of a hostile opponent, we are also capable of taking other bold steps.



The bubble bursts

The drop in NASDAQ stock exchange of almost 60 per cent in less than one year has sent shock waves among Internet technology and ‘dotcom’ companies all over America. A large number of these companies, based in the Silicon Valley and Bay area of California, are either owned by NRIs or a majority of their IT specialists are from India. Over the past 10 years, Indian IT graduates, carrying their MIS and MBA degrees from Indian technical universities have been arriving in the USA in large numbers. Their H1 visas are restricted work permits. If you lose a job due to any reason, you have only 60 days to find another employment in the same field. Otherwise you have to leave the country. Permanent residence is granted only when you receive your Green Card and that takes up to six years.

Due to the sudden drop in the general economy of the USA and particularly the doom in the technology sector, a large number of these young specialists, who have migrated from India to the U.S.A., are finding themselves out of the job market. The situation is so grim that even 24-hour notices are becoming common. This has also affected the compensation packages for new job openings. Just a year ago, an IT graduate with three years’ experience was offered between US $ 60K to $75K per annum whereas now the going rate has dropped to between US $40K to $45K and even then there are hardly any new job openings.

As a consolation, the telecommunications technologies and wireless sectors are still doing well and a smart ‘technic’ immediately changes horses and heads in that direction. This is a warning to aspiring computer specialists and IT graduates in India to ensure that they do not leave their well paid jobs in India and run for this dream world. The other alternative is to get a permanent landed status in an upcoming technically advanced country like Canada and then move on to anywhere in the world instead of being forced to return to India at short notice.

ASHOK SHARMA, Vancouver, (Canada)

Get them to India

It comes out of an anguished mind after reading the edict issued by the Taliban about the destruction of ancient statues. The Taliban is a brute force and does not deserve the heritage so very important to the rest of humanity. I suggest that all the figures and statues be brought to India and preserved here to be returned to a sensible government if any comes to Afghanistan in the near future.



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