Saturday, May 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India



Preparing for poll

Time has come when we should be preparing for the next general election. The voters of India have discarded family rule and they do not tolerate party dictatorship. The third alternative is that of alliances. In the next general election, the political parties will predictably divide themselves into three groups, one led by the Congress, the second by the BJP, and the third by the Leftists. We do not expect new entrants in the political field. Some big bosses may, however, bring in their sons, daughters or wives.

The Election Commission should see that these three groups field their candidates in each constituency and secondly, they should declare their ‘shadow cabinets’ before the elections. This will give the people the choice of at least picking the ministers. The political groups should give complete details about each designated minister — his qualifications, his experience, his expertise, his age, his character, his health and his will to serve the country.

If the ‘shadow cabinet’ system is adopted by the political groups, it will enable the people to make the right choice.



Colleges fees

The Punjab Government has done well to postpone any hike in the tuition fee and other charges in government colleges. But is the government aware that private aided colleges have already increased the fees and admission charges by over 22 per cent.

These colleges have charged amounts varying from Rs 6500 to Rs 7500 from each student during admissions in the first week of April this year as against Rs 5300 to Rs 6000 last year, an increase of Rs 1200 to 1500.

Further, admission charges, ranging from Rs 4500 to Rs 5500, are demanded under various heads. This fee is demanded every year even from the old students of the college. There is no justification for this.

Since the government gives full aid to private colleges, it should also control their fee structure. It should instruct the private aided colleges to roll back the fee-increase and refund the extra amount already charged or adjust it against future tuition fees.

WG CDR C.L. SEHGAL (RETD), Jalandhar


Border tension

It is easy to be hawkish and escalate tension on the borders. It is easier still to bring in the factor of religion to explain the bizarre event that took the lives of 15 of our BSF Jawans in a horrible manner. Peace is always more difficult to ‘wage’ than violent conflicts. Let us thank God that wisdom has prevailed and the tension has been defused by diplomatic activity.

But, as usual, India is locking the stable after the horse has bolted. Both governments must now resolve not to allow such a situation to develop again. Steps necessary to achieve permanent stability on our eastern borders must be taken, including the formation of a high-level joint committee to settle disputes and laying a hot line for the Prime Ministers to contact each other instantly, when required.

One troubling question remains. The martyrs were not unarmed civilians. They were uniformed men. How did 15 of them get ambushed, captured and killed en masse?

Another troubling question. Is Bangladesh suffering from an inferiority complex with reference to its big and powerful neighbour that gives that nation an uncontrollable, neurotic urge to show off?



Ominous signs

More than the Indians, our neighbouring countries are aware of the present pathetic state of India. We dwell on past glory of bravery and heroism and can do nothing but whine when we are pushed over. Not that Mr Vajpayee cannot rise to the occasion and teach the Bangladeshis a lesson. It is just that his government is supported by allies who make up the numbers. There is not much freedom for him to take strong action in any area.

We have reached a stage where our Jawans are slaughtered and hung with their hands and legs tied to a post like pigs and the country watches without any murmur.

As for the allies of the BJP, they care only for their states and issues that affect their vote banks. When it comes to national issues, they remain silent and display utter indifference. Let us remember that there will be no West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu or Bihar without a unified India.

Those who are slowly occupying Kashmir and parts of the North-East today will reach Andhra Pradesh and Bihar tomorrow. Let us not think that what is happening in Meghalaya has nothing to do with the rest of India.


Porn sites

The arrest of a 16-year-old schoolboy by the Delhi police for pasting pornographic material and vulgar messages and cartoons on his website should be an eye-opener. The IT Act has no rules to punish Internet buffs who enjoy surfing lascivious material on the net. Surprisingly, most of these surfers are adolescents. The so-called cyber cafes are doing brisk business as more and more youngsters, even children, throng these places, lured by the attraction of titillative material.

The IT Act does have rules to punish publication or transmission of pornographic material on the web, but still there are more than 10,000 active porn sites available to the juvenile cyber buffs.

Formerly young students used to visit bookshops to buy story books, fairy tales, general knowledge and quiz books. Things have now changed and school children are seen browsing for new porn or chat sites.



Palaces of Punjab

It was sad to learn from a Tribune report about the deteriorating condition of the royal palaces of Punjab. These regal buildings are an asset and part of our cultural heritage.

The government should have put these majestic buildings to better use such as converting them into palace hotels.

The historical Quila Mubarik in Patiala should be saved from destruction and the Moti Bagh Palace restored to its former glory and turned into a palace hotel. The National Sports Institute, currently housed in Moti Bagh Palace, can be housed in a complex built for this purpose.

The Jagatjit Palace in Kapurthala also needs to be saved. The Sainik School can be housed in another building specially designed for this purpose.

S. SINGH, on e-mail

H. P. finances

Himachal Pradesh is once again in financial straits (The Tribune, April 26). Successive governments have managed to steer through their tenures with sirens and red lights on their motorcades on borrowings and grants. The voter does not realise that Himachal has a heavily indebted, almost bankrupt government. Instead of bailing out the state through big-brotherly grants, the Centre should adopt a policy that gives the state an opportunity, but there should be a clear warning that a state that borrows beyond its capacity to repay will be put under President’s rule.

The Chief Minister has managed yet another grant from the Centre (The Tribune, April 27) and the Cabinet has decided to travel all over the state “to expose the disastrous fiscal policies of the previous Congress regime.” Will anyone explain how the present policy differs from the previous policy and what the present policy is?

The Cabinet should meet, not for a couple of hours stolen between tours, but seriously discuss the problem and find a solution.

L. R. SHARMA, Solan


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