Tuesday, March 27, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Eye-opener for riparian states

THE continuing deadlock in reaching a durable agreement over the equitable sharing of river waters by the four provinces of Pakistan (Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Baluchistan) has been thoughtfully analysed in article, “Impending water crisis and its lengthening shadow” (Syed Nooruzzamman, The Tribune, March 24). The travails of the farming community in these provinces facing an acute water shortage and drought conditions should serve as an eye-opener to our own feuding riparian states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra and Maharashtra.

It is a curious fact that although India and Pakistan, two sovereign States, have been at loggerheads over other issues like Kashmir, they were wise enough to conclude the historic water-sharing rights agreement in 1962, which is still holding.

According to this agreement, the waters of the Ravi, the Sutlej and the Beas go to India and the western rivers, the Indus, the Jhelum and the Chenab, are with Pakistan. Later, Pakistan built storage reservoirs at Mangla and Tarbela to serve during periods of water shortage and there were no disputes among the provinces in the early years, especially during the reign of Gen Ayub Khan.


Then Punjab started diverting significant amounts of water from the Indus to its own rivers, resulting in the souring of relations with the other provinces, particularly Sindh, despite a water accord ironed out by the Nawaz Sharif regime.

The lack of an enduring agreement among the provinces has resulted in the status quo with no new dams and reservoirs being built, and the old ones silting up, (as mentioned in the article). However, building a megadam like Kalabagh, as recommended by Pakistan’s experts, is certainly not the answer.

We in India know full well about the frequent interruptions and impediments to our own Sardar Sarovar project. Pakistan is very nearly bankrupt and will not be able to fund such large projects on its own. International lending institutions may, after initial dilly-dallying, agree to the building of smaller dams, as advocated by Gen Pervez Musharraf, but they will surely not give a green signal to a behemoth like Kalabagh, especially when environmental activists are breathing down their neck all the time.

The water shortage will be further compounded by the prediction of Pakistan’s weather experts that the catchment area of the Indus river system will suffer from low rainfall in the coming years. The jehad in Kashmir will then pale into insignificance before the civil war-like conditions that may develop in Pakistan.


Is it courtroom?

A new court of Additional District & Sessions Judge started functioning at Una (HP) a few months ago. As the court was set up without the requisite infrastructure, it has helped create a problematic situation. As a consequence, a Subjudge-cum-Judicial Magistrate posted at the station is forced to hold his court in a room sans even basic amenities — attached chamber/toilets, etc.

The courtroom in question has a single door for entry and exit by one and all — the judicial officer, his staff members, advocates and litigants. At time, the hapless judicial officer has perforce to rub shoulders with the litigants, criminals including.

Truly speaking, the plight of the judicial officer, reeling under the constantly nagging situation, is so miserable that it is to be seen, to be believed and properly appreciated. Under the circumstances, would it be too much to request the State High Court/government to forthwith intervene and “bail out” the harried officer?

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)

Cleansing the system

Every time a scandal or a scam is exposed, the opposition demands the resignation of the government, while the government remains firm in its seat. Neither the government nor the opposition feels the need for evolving a politico-administrative system that would eradicate any possibility of such scams and scandals. The MPs are more keen on making noise, stalling the proceedings of the House and finding short-cuts to power. Not even a feeble voice is raised for an honest and healthy debate in Parliament.

Under such dispensation, one cannot expect administrative efficiency. So not many people were surprised that a non-existent company carrying money to grease palms found its way through high security cordons to negotiate deals with politico-administrative powers.

At this moment the question is not of the resignation of this minister or that, nor whether the government should continue in office or not. More important is the cleansing of the system. The very survival of the democratic system is at stake. We need to come out of our mindset of treating politicians as the de-facto rulers of the country, who are more powerful and autocratic than the feudal lords of yesteryears.


Scandals & muddles

Mr T.V. Rajeswar in his write-up on March 20 has rightly pointed out that the scams, scandals, muddles, kickbacks and commissions in the shape of party funds are not the acts of isolated individuals. These are initiated and completed by a number of persons conniving together.

We are informed that in some organisations bribes are collected at a prescribed rate and that the money is collected by one individual who distributes it according to the share already fixed. The operation is carried out in such a manner that no one makes a complaint and if a complaint is made, it is disposed of in a prescribed manner and hushed up. Though scams and scandals are under investigation, their fate will be the same as we have been seeing since 1947.

We have inherited a system from the British and this system will consume most of the country’s wealth. The people are the real masters, but unless they are properly educated and trained, they will not be able to act like masters and the so-called public servants will remain the masters.



Exam system

Though much debate has been done on education reforms, it is unfortunate that most of it has remained confined to seminars and conference rooms. There is little follow-up action to these time-consuming and expensive deliberations.

The students deserve pity in today’s atmosphere of unhealthy competition. What is particularly appalling is the school level education and the system of examination.

By heaping unrelated facts and information, to the exclusion of all else that is practical in life, an undue stress is put on young developing minds.

The remedy lies in reducing this undue stress. This can be done by doing away with the annual examination system at the school level. Regular class teachers are sufficiently aware of the capabilities and the intelligence of each student. Even the daily progress of the student is known to the teacher.

Still if it is thought necessary to hold an examination, then a system of awarding grades should be adopted, not marks or percentages. It will allow the children to study regularly and at a comfortable pace throughout the year, without feeling the stress of examinations. Learning and studying will thus become a pleasure instead of mental and physical torture.


Foot & mouth disease

The Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) appears in India after every two or three years. Dairy farmers here are not scared of it as they are in other countries. They have learnt to live with this contagious disease. It is doubtful whether this disease can be effectively prevented with FMD vaccination in the way it is being done at present. The animals have to be dewormed before vaccination. The vaccine which is extremely fragile, has to be stored at a temperature between two and eight degrees Centigrade without breaking the cold chain.

If at any stage, from the manufacturing unit to the site of vaccination, this cold chain is broken, the effectiveness of the vaccine is lost. Vaccine with a broken chain becomes useless even at the required temperature. This is what happens in our field conditions and this is how this disease erupts.

Thousands of animals suffer from FMD every year but the outbreak is not reported to the Epidemiology Department of the state. The prime function of an epidemiolgist is to collect and send samples of the lesions of the disease to the nearest laboratory to know which strain of the disease has appeared.

This will help in the production of a vaccine against that particular strain. The role of an epidemiologist has not been encouraging in the prevention of FMD. The states need to gear up the working of their epidemiology laboratories to help preparation of an effective FMD vaccine.


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