Monday, March 12, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Observing National Safety Day

The country goes through the annual ritual of observing National Safety Day on March 3 every year. The Union Ministry of Labour issues instructions to hold exhibitions, seminars, and group discussions to promote safety consciousness in industry and among the workers. These instructions and efforts have produced little results. The situation with regard to the protection of workers’ lives and limbs remains alarming. According to the International Labour Organisation, one worker dies of occupational injury or work-related sickness every three minutes. Four workers are hurt while at work every second. The Third World countries continue to reel under occupational hazards in the absence of proper safety measures. In India, in spite of the Government’s resolve to make suitable laws to provide protection to the workers, work-related accidents abound, grievously hurting or killing thousands of workers every year. The Bagdigi mine tragedy is the latest example.

Small industries on which a developing country has to rely for employment opportunities and meeting its needs of essential goods, take a heavy toll of workers. The proliferation of chemicals poses a special problem. These are facts which a country like India must remember on an occasion like “Safety Day” and act promptly to eliminate the dangers.


The I.L.O’s remark that the world of work is a dangerous place, and that in spite of the progress made, the odds in the battle against the hidden and all too apparent hazards are still heavily weighed against the worker, apply to India more than to any other country.

K. M. Vashisht, Mansa

Mandatory army service

All political parties have supported the Prime Minister’s decision to extend the ceasefire against the terrorists in Kashmir. Our media have been publishing almost reverential interviews of terrorist leaders, without questioning their motives or ideas. During the Kandahar hijacking, our English media continued to wield its influence on even the so-called nationalist leaders. The common man is too busy to pay attention to such issues. The lives of our jawans and officers seem to have no value for the ruling elite.

The Indian armed forces are tolerant to a fault. Military leaders in any other country would have ensured a pro-active right of reprisal against the terrorists. Ours come out as passive, pushover men content with going through their tenures.

The only way to change this is to introduce mandatory military service with no exceptions. When the sons of the elite face terrorist bullets like a common jawan, the politicians will learn fast.

Ashutosh Fotedar, New Delhi



A Baisakhi gift

While dedicating the Ranjit Sagar Dam to the nation, the Prime Minister suggested that Punjab and Haryana should sit together and solve the inter-state disputes. He was obviously hinting at the SYL project on which crores of rupees have been spent, but not a drop of water has flowed in the canal.

It is generally believed that the Sikh community is not allowing water to flow into this canal. The community should clear itself of this blame. One good opportunity has been lost. A year ago when the Sikhs were celebrating the tercentenary of the Khalsa, crores of rupees were spent on the celebrations. If only the opening of the SYL canal had been announced on the occasion, it would have created a very good impression throughout India. What could not be done then should be done now on the occasion, of Baisakhi which falls in April. The Sikhs are known for their large-heartedness and generosity and they should not let go this opportunity to show this virtue. The people of Haryana will receive this Baisakhi gift with gratitude and will remember the occasion for ever.

Dalip Singh Wasan, Patiala

Ranjit Sagar Dam

The commissioning of the Ranjit Sagar Dam is a matter of rejoicing for the country and particularly for Punjab. But it is painful to note that at the dedication ceremony by the Prime Minister, no mention was made of those engineers and workers, who have laid down their lives during the construction of the project.

On such occasions, it is normal to utter a word of praise for the workers who have made a contribution to the completion of the project. But the live telecast of the ceremony looked more like a political function.

No doubt, the Chief Minister deserves to be complimented, but at the same time the contribution of the engineers and workers should not have been ignored. The tendency to politicise everything needs to be curbed.

P. L. Sethi, Patiala

Offensive verses

India must remain a vibrant, secular and peaceful democracy. For this, religious harmony and understanding is a must. We all need to do our bit to bring this about. I am a secular Hindu married to a Muslim.

There is nothing in any Hindu text which is directly threatening or offensive to non-Hindus. But in my personal contacts, I have noticed that many Hindus are scared of certain parts of the Koran and the Bible. There are some verses in the Koran that call upon the faithful to slay the unbelievers and idolators wherever they find them. Some other verses talk about using any means to convert a non-Muslim nation into a Muslim nation. Similarly, the Ten Commandments talk about a jealous God who dislikes other gods and prohibits idol worship.

These verses may have been justified in their times, but in a multi-cultural society they create apprehensions and fear. May I request my Muslim and Christian brothers to drop these inciting verses? In turn, they may ask Hindus to remove any offending parts from their scriptures.

Subhashini Ali, Lucknow

Pressure from outside

India and Israel are fundamentally in a similar situation. Both face determined, armed and aggressive adversaries causing destruction in their territories. Both are internally squabbling and bickering democracies, lacking a majority government. Both face external pressures over their security policies.

But there is one difference. The Bush Administration is in complete agreement with Israel regarding its policy of no negotiations under fire.

But the USA always insists that India should hold a dialogue with Pakistan and its terrorists. Outsiders can dare put pressure on us because the Indian Government has shown that it does not value its citizens or its sovereignty.

If our government starts attaching value to the lives of our citizens and our soldiers, if our government starts retaliating suitably to every Pakistani terrorist attack, others will begin to understand us.

Nobody meddles with a self-respecting nation willing to defend itself. Look at Israel, China or even Pakistan.

Ravinder Balain, Chandigarh

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