Thursday, April 5, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Woes of Himachal Pradesh

The Himachal budget for 2001-02 is shocking, to say the least. Half the budgetary amount is proposed to be raised through market loans. Instead of resorting to this unprecedented measure, the state should think of living economically, cut its wasteful expenditure and improve its tax collection.

Another way proposed by the government is downsizing the establishment. A cut of 15 per cent will be made in five years. It will be appropriate to suspend all recruitment and promotions, till a study of the actual staff requirement is made by a competent management institute.

All promotions and recruitment should be stopped in the HPSEB, where the employee-consumer ratio is seven times the reasonable staffing requirement (Tribune, Feb 24). Theft of electricity needs to be stopped but a strong political will is needed for this purpose. The involvement of politicians in power theft is widely known.

The Government is contemplating merger of many corporations. This will be a welcome step. However, there are organisations such as the HPTDC, HPMC, HIMCU, which are anachronistic in this age of privatisation. These should be sold off or wound up. The Government packaging unit falls in the same category. Similarly, Himurja can be made a cell of the HPSEB. Trifurcation of the HPSEB is not a matter of the employees’ pleasure. It is essential.

Resolute efforts are needed to pull Himachal Pradesh out of its financial woes. An immediate ban on promotions and recruitment is the simplest of the steps. But the Government has not cared to impose even this ban, nor has it constituted a committee to assess its optimal manpower requirements. Can more complicated and difficult steps be expected from the Government?

Ashok Sood, Chandigarh


Gandhiji & Bhagat Singh

Ms Reeta Sharma, in her piece “What if Bhagat Singh had lived?”, has given an account of the martyr’s evolution — first as a freedom fighter at the tender age of 16 and then as a revolutionary in the shadow of his “mentor, friend and brother” fighting against racial discrimination in San Francisco, USA.

By a not-so-queer coincidence, Mahatma Gandhi’s own baptism in the fight against British imperialism was spurred by racial discrimination in another part of the globe. The two shining stars on our horizon in the 1920s shaped up differently, because of their training and temperament. But it would be an attempt to revile the memory of our heroes to presuppose that they were out to destroy each other instead of their common adversary. A hasty conclusion has been arrived at by Dr Rajiv Lochan that “it is quite obvious that Gandhiji perceived both Subhash Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh as political threats”.

Had Gandhiji been so sacred of threats to his leadership or life, he could have gained any official position in independent India. Instead, he chose to work for Hindu-Muslim harmony in areas worst affected by communal riots and also moved about without any security guards.

Even if it is accepted that “Gandhiji did not utter a word to bargain for Bhagat Singh’s life”, it cannot be denied that pleading for a life sentence would only have compromised the spirit of sacrifice of our revolutionaries.

J. N. Narang, Chandigarh


Shady deals

Top NDA leaders have been trying to defend those involved in the Tehelka exposures, but have failed to come up with convincing arguments. Mr Bangaru Laxman accepted currency and wanted the rest in dollars. He was not asking an Indian businessman for funds for the party. Nor was Ms Jaya Jaitly doing so. The deal, whether real or fictitious, cannot alter the nature of the crime. The point is whether those involved in the exposure deliberated about helping the imposters in striking a defence deal or not? Mr Advani has not appreciated the role of Mr Laxman but has added that the money has duly been credited to the party’s account. Thus, in a way he justifies donation for his party even if the security of the nation is compromised.

The PMO has come under a cloud and persons like the chief of the RSS and that of the Shiv Sena have demanded the removal of Mr Brajesh Mishra and Mr N.K. Singh. But the Prime Minister is adamant. This approach is neither in favour of the NDA Government nor of the country.

Maj Narinder Singh Jallo (retd), Mohali

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