Saturday, April 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India



Closure of colleges

First, there was an announcement of the opening of a new B.Ed college at Bathinda and then the Minister for Higher Education announced that all B.Ed colleges will be closed in Punjab.

Nearly 6,000 government teachers retire in Punjab every year and the B.Ed colleges in the state have only 4000 seats. In the last three years, thousands of teachers have retired but these posts have not been filled. Instead, it is planned to close B.Ed colleges and recruit untrained and unqualified persons as contract teachers.

Instead of recruiting graduates and post-graduates who have undergone specialised training in teachings, the government is planning to appoint untrained under-graduates on contractual terms. The reason is stated to be the lack of funds with the government.

The plan to close down B.Ed colleges is also attributed to the alleged unemployment among B.Ed teachers. The unemployment has been caused by the correspondence courses which have given B.Ed certificates to nearly 70,000 persons.

In fact, the number of vacancies is more than the number of B.Eds turned out by the colleges. Moreover, unemployment prevails in almost every field because of the reluctance of the government to fill vacant posts. Does it mean that the government will also close down medical colleges, engineering colleges, and polytechnics? By this logic, any college can be blamed for unemployment and closed. This attitude is causing unrest among the educationists.

R.P. ASIJA, Abohar


PSEB tariff

The Punjab State Electricity Board has adopted several practices which are wholly against the interests of the consumers. One such practice is to bill the consumer for a minimum amount which is a multiple of the total power load allotted to him. Under this system a person who consumes fewer units for any reason, is victimised.

This practice of billing a consumer a minimum amount can be justified to some extent if the power supply remains uninterrupted. But when the board imposes long and frequent power cuts and resorts to load shedding, the practice of imposing a minimum consumption guarantee becomes ridiculous. How can a person consume his minimum consumption quota when the power lines remain dead for most part of the day? Why should he be forced to pay for power units that he cannot consume? The situation has been worsened by the judicial system that gives immunity to the electricity board from litigation against it in the lower courts. Another practice which calls for attention is the way the minimum charges are calculated. A consumer whose sanctioned load is 11.1 kw, has to pay at a rate which is a multiple of 12, since the board does not like calculating in decimals.



China and USA

Contrary to the views expressed in your editorial of April 5, the Bush Administration, in my opinion, has been right in treating China as number one enemy. China continues to pose a serious threat to peace and stability in South-East and South Asia.

China invaded India in 1962 and occupied a large chunk of its territory, which it still holds unlawfully. It remains committed to propping up Pakistan as a medium sized military power by supplying to it missile and nuclear technology. It continues to harass Taiwan by its aggressive postures. It remains in illegal possession of a large chunk of Kashmir territory which Pakistan “donated” to it in 1964. It continues with its policy of demographic dumping — forcefully moving out the indigenous population in order to make way for the Han settlers from mainland China — in Tibet and Xinjiang.

A decade ago China’s economy was smaller than the collective economy of South-East Asia. Today, it is almost twice as big, thanks largely, though not entirely, to the most favoured nation status bestowed upon it by the USA. A militarily and economically strong China will be a threat to the peace and stability of Asia. That is why the USA must withdraw its most favoured nation status from China.


Animal diseases

It is a pity that disease control in animals is in a state of despair. Even after 50 years of independence we have not been able to establish an effective disease control network. There are hardly any laboratory diagnostic facilities available to field veterinarians and they have to depend on their clinical judgement. Apart from the foot and mouth disease, there are many other diseases which are causing a heavy loss of livestock. Animal husbandry and agriculture are the main sources of employment in the rural areas. These sectors are providing employment to almost 60 per cent of our rural population. But in the face of such diseases, coupled with the government’s apathy, the farmers get frustrated. The government has already accepted the WTO norms and it will become increasingly difficult for our farmers to face global competition. There is urgent need for attention to this in the emerging scenario. The government must put more emphasis on disease control among domestic animals and enhance production so as to enable our farmers to compete globally. There should be a well-established network of laboratories along with an epidemiology wing in animal husbandry departments. More emphasis has to be put on prevention of disease rather than control after an outbreak. Education of the farmers should be given more importance so that they can adopt dairy farming as a commercial activity.

K.K. SHARMA, Dharamsala


A demand to get the ‘Kohinoor’ back from London is being articulated for some time. It came to the limelight once again a few months ago when a member raised the issue in Parliament.

The origin and history of this world famous diamond are shrouded in mystery. There are different views about its origin and its antiquity. It is said that its original name was ‘Samantik Mani’ and it was Nadir Shah who gave it its present name, when he got hold of the diamond in 1739 after defeating the Mughal emperor. Maharaja Ranjit Singh got it in 1813 from Shah Shuja, a former king of Afghanistan, and his Queen Wafa Begum.

There is an extremely revealing letter lying in the National Archives, New Delhi, that has a mention about the gifting away of the ‘Kohinoor’ by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, before his death. A copy of this letter was brought to Bhubaneshwar by the State Archives some time back, where it is available for scrutiny. This letter was written from a camp near Khaibar on July 2, 1839, by the Political Agent, while he was on a mission to Khaibar. It is addressed to T.A. Maddock, the Officiating Secretary to the Government of India. It mentions, inter-alia:

“.... During the last days of His Highness (Maharaja Ranjit Singh) declared to have bestowed in charity money jewels and other property to the supposed value of fifty lakhs of rupees. Among his jewels he directed the well-known Coh I nur diamond to be sent to the temple of Jagannath. He observed that no one carried away with him his worldly wealth and that such a bequest would perpetuate his name....”

It is obvious that the bestowal and last wish of the Maharaja were not honoured and the ‘Kohinoor’ remained with his successors till 1849, when Punjab was annexed by the British. In December, 1849, the Governor-General received the ‘Kohinoor’ and sent it to England to be presented to Queen Victoria and the presentation took place in1850.

The accepted custom is that a wish expressed by a dying man is honoured. It is also an equally accepted practice that an offering made to God, whether physically or in the mind, cannot be taken back or the decision changed, as such an offering is irrevocable. Had these practices been followed, today the ‘Kohinoor’ would have been with Lord Jagannath in Puri in Orissa.

K.J.S. CHATRATH, Koraput (Orissa)Top

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