Monday, March 26, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Actions of people’s representatives

The men in spotless dhoti-kurta, masquerading as messiahs of the teeming millions, have done it again on the floor of the Tripura Assembly. Visibly dissatisfied at the brouhaha they reportedly created there, certain members of this section went on the rampage and allegedly hurled eggs and shoes at the Speaker, thus denigrating the prestige of such a high office recently. The savage act of these so-called people’s representatives has surpassed all parameters of decency, decorum and demeanour.

It seems we have learnt no lessons from our glorious past even after attaining Independence for more than half a century. Our far-sighted Founding Fathers had envisioned a secular State, which they hoped would provide a proper platform to the people of this country to air their grievances through their elected representatives. The glorious traditions and rich conventions cherished by them have been thrown to the winds. They should learn to rule from their rural cousins ruling the roost in panchayat samitis, zila parishads, etc. These representatives of the people at the grassroots level conduct the proceedings of their Houses in a cordial atmosphere, at best refraining from any such stigmatising act of vandalism as might tentamount to gross misconduct and breach of contract.

What to speak of the state assemblies, even the apex law-making body — parliament — more often than not turns out to be a place of pandemonium with the elected representatives resorting to cheap gimmicks, using obnoxious language, exchanging obscenities without qualms, pelting shoes, tomatoes and even eggs, unaware of their being watched on the TV screen across the globe. Instead of thinking of effective ways to solve people’s problems, they block the proceedings of the House.

Now is the time to tame these people misusing in the corridors of power.

RAMESH K. DHIMAN, Chandigarh


Disappointed pensioners

The Budget presented by the Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on March 19 is a hopeless and most disappointing document for the State government’s pensioners numbering more than one and a half lakh.

More than three years have elapsed since the fourth Punjab Pay Commission report, containing 10 major recommendations concerning pensioners, was submitted to the state government. However, despite repeated assurances given to the pensioners’ delegations by both the Punjab Chief Minister and the Finance Minister regarding the early implementation of the long-pending recommendations, nothing has been done so far. The stony silence of the Badal administration on this issue is deplorable. It has left the pensioners high and dry on this issue.



Farmers’ woes

Some time ago Dr G.S. Kalkat, through his article, “Challenges before farmers: need for radical policy changes”, explained the anatomy of Punjab’s agriculture — agriculturally the most advanced state of India. When Punjab’s economy is in doldrums, the fate of other states can easily be imagined.

The increase in food production has enabled the economy to sustain the high growth trend in the gross domestic product. The growth rate of foodgrains production has been markedly lower in the nineties compared to the eighties. Aggregate production has increased by about 26 million tonnes since 1990-91 as against 52 million tonnes in the eighties.

Punjab agriculture is based on rice-wheat crop rotation which reflects the character of a stagnant economy. Punjab — in fact, India as a whole — is essentially an area of small farmers. In India, about 1.10 crore families are engaged in agricultural operations. Most of the farmers, roughly 65 per cent, own lands which give them negative returns.

Dr Kalkat, while suggesting remedial measures for the ills of agriculture, has mainly impressed upon the support price, the storage capacity and diversification in horticultural crops. Sugarcane and herbal crops are equally important. It would be better for the welfare of the oppressed peasantry if the total agricultural trade is passed on to the farmers, eliminating the middlemen’s role. Secondly, the farmers should be protected against WTO attacks. When in the USA subsidy to a mere 90,000 farmers is said to have increased by 700 times since 1996, why should the Indian farmers be deprived of such subsidies till the total agricultural trade is taken over by them?


HP engineers

It is encouraging to note that the Himachal Pradesh Government is taking interest in harnessing the hydro-electric potential of the state. This will enable the state to become prosperous in addition to solving the power problem of Northern India.

However, in its endeavour to achieve this aim, the Government has failed to safeguard the interests of its employees, particularly the engineers of the State Electricity Board. Previously, engineers of the board used to be taken on deputation on projects executed in the Central sector. But now, leaving aside private agencies, even Central Government agencies like the NHPC and the NJPC are not taking engineers and other employees of the board on one pretext or the other. Even engineers who are promoted in the HPSEB and are on deputation with the NJPC are sent back. This has caused stagnation in the HPSEB, especially among the engineering cadre.

The HP Government has failed even to protect the rights of Himachal employees serving in the NJPC, despite agreements. The HP Government should put pressure on the Central Government or the private agencies to take engineers and other employees of the board either on deputation or on absorption basis and there should be clear agreements which should include clauses for participation or deputation during the construction as well as the maintenance stage of all projects.

The HP Government should also ensure that all agreements made in the past regarding Chamera, Koldam and Parvati projects are fully implemented.

SOM NATH, Nangal Township

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