Tuesday, May 1, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Cut in rate of interest on PPF

A lot has been said about the cut in the rate of interest on PPF and other small savings. The PPF is a 15-year contract between the government and the depositor. Is it not a breach of trust if one party changes the terms of the contract arbitrarily without the consent of the other? One could understand if the change was made applicable to new subscribers, otherwise, to a layman the decision seems illegal. Someone should throw light on this aspect and clarify the position.

Socially, it is a blow to senior citizens, especially the non-pensioner retirees. Instead of giving relief to the aged, the government is digging holes in their meager resources.

The cut in the rate of interest on small savings will adversely affect small savings which have been adding to the funds for development and welfare works. Since saving will become unattractive, people will start spending more.


Municipal bodies

Recently the Haryana Government changed the name of its Local Bodies Department to ‘Urban Development Department’ or ‘Nagar Vikas Vibhag’. This decision is a clear encroachment upon the autonomous character of the municipalities, and affects the spirit of the liberty granted to them by the 74th constitutional amendment. No doubt, the primary task of the municipal bodies is the development of urban areas, but we must remember that the municipal administration is the administration of local affairs by the local people themselves through their elected representatives. Thus the municipal government is fully autonomous and independent in its day-to-day working. By naming the department Urban Development Department, the municipal bodies have been made part of the state government. This affects the autonomy of the municipalities.

Moreover, there already exists the Haryana Urban Development Authority (H.U.D.A) which has been constituted to ensure speedy development of the urban areas of the state. Thus the change of name has created confusion in the minds of the people. The name that the state government should adopt is ‘Department of Municipal Development’, which would safeguard the autonomous status of the municipal bodies.



Six-day week

The Kurukshetra University Non-Teaching Employees Association is up against the introduction of six-day week in the university.

It no doubt hurts to have a benefit given in 1994 withdrawn in 2001. But the employees should consider that this was not their “due” but an undue benefit given for reasons best known to the then authorities of the university. Almost all universities in India are following the six-day week schedule.

Secondly, the public, and particularly the academicians, should appreciate that a university is a community of scholars — senior (teachers) and junior (students). The administration (non-teaching employees) is a service agency for the teachers and students. Imagine the situation if the teachers and students go to their classrooms on Saturdays but the non-teaching employees — those who have to clean the class rooms, or fetch pens, pencils, paper etc are absent.

The non-teaching employees allege that the teachers work for six months in a year. But in a five-day week, the non-teaching employees do not work even for six months in a year. You may count 52 Sundays, 52 Saturdays, 33 days of earned leave, 15 days of casual leave, 20 days of medical leave and 25 gazetted holidays. The total comes to 197.

Moreover, it is inappropriate to compare non-teaching employees in a university with government employees. Those who were Assistants in government service in 1980 are still Assistants whereas several persons who were Assistants or Deputy Superintendents in the universities in 1980 are now Assistant Registrars and Deputy Registrars.

The universities are autonomous organisations. Autonomy should mean work hard and achieve more.



Cremation of jawans

No political leader has questioned the government or the BSF authorities why the bodies of BSF soldiers were not handed over to their families. If this was not possible, then the families of the soldiers could have been taken to the site of the cremation. Had this been done, their wounds have been healed to some extent.

Further, instead of probing why the BSF failed to guard the borders and protect their men, politicians are asking the Prime Minister to resign. The opposition should ask the government to find out from the BSF authorities why and where they had failed in their duty. The guilty at all levels need to be punished.

This incident is similar to one at Kargil where the Army was caught napping, but the lessons apparently have been forgotten.



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