Tuesday, May 15, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Himachal’s pension policy

The Himachal Pradesh Government has declared a new pension policy for new entrants in government services linking pension with the EPF contribution of the employee, as a measure of economy to improve the financial health of the state.

Any person entering government service becomes eligible for pension after 20 years of qualifying service and 33 years’ service entitles him to maximum pension. But under the new policy, the government will have to contribute its share of the EPF from day one, which means that the financial burden will start as soon as a person is employed with the government. How can this arrangement relieve the state’s financial crisis?

Even during British rule, the pension of a government employee was never touched. In free India where the state cares for the welfare of the citizen, this step of the Himachal Government sounds illogical.

Government employees in Himachal Pradesh are governed by the Central Civil Service Pension Rules, and only the Central Government can alter the spirit of these rules. The decision of the Himachal Government to change these rules is neither justified, nor within its jurisdiction.

The people of the state have a right to know why this change has not been made in the case of pension being given to members of the State Assembly who earn a pension after a year or so as an MLA. The decision to squeeze the poor employees and spare the MLAs is discriminatory and biased.

Let us hope that good sense will prevail and the new pension policy will be reviewed and withdrawn.

R. K. RAI, Chamba


Sangat Darshan

The Chief Minister of Punjab is taking populism to a new height through his Sangat Darshan programmes. The Sangat may be happy with Mr Badal’s gesture, but it is of no help as far as the development of the state is concerned.

Every year, Mr Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister of Punjab, mentions four-laning of highways connecting Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Ferozepur, Patiala, Chandigarh and Bathinda, Amritsar and Jalandhar but so far the government has not been able to manage funds for this purpose. However, Mr Badal is distributing crores at these Sangat Darshans. This only shows how lopsided development can become when tempered with political interests.

At these Sangat Darshans, Mr Badal is usurping the roles of the bureaucracy, the administration, and planning and fiscal managers. By splurging scarce resource on projects which have not been properly evaluated or planned, he is harming the state’s development plans. The same money could be spent on projects which are higher on the priority list.

Mr Badal is the tallest political leader in Punjab, but his myopic wisdom can only be laughed at. He should remember that the voter is shrewd enough to take what is offered and yet not deliver when it comes t o voting. Instead of wasting public money on Sangat Darshans, Mr Badal should set his house in order.



Learning Sanskrit

The article ‘Sanskrit is not a “dead language” by Abu Abrham (Tribune, May 9) seems to be an effort to make Sanskrit unpopular. The writer thinks that efforts made to promote Sanskrit will kill the language. His assertion that anything that is made compulsory will invite resistance is not valid. If discipline is not made compulsory what will be the position of our educational institution.

If English is not made a compulsory subject, how many will learn this language? Making Sanskrit compulsory will not kill this language, rather it will promote it.

RAJENDRA, Ambala Cantt


While observing Railway Week (April 10 to April 16) the Indian Railways released advertisements reminding the public not to trespass railway tracks at railway stations to avoid accidents, and at the same time highlighting that “trespassing railway tracks is a punishable offence”, and that people should always use foot-overbridges to go from one platform to another. But people living on the western side of the railway platform at Kot Kapura are forced to trespass the tracks (Kot Kapura-Fazilka) to reach the platform for purchasing tickets and to board trains. Sometimes people have to cross the track, crawling under stationary goods trains, risking their lives.

On persistent demand of the local MLA and the public, Mr Digvijay Singh, Minister of State for Railways, had announced on November 2 last year that construction of a foot-over-bridge would start in a fortnight.

The railway authorities should take note of the minister’s announcement and start work on the foot-overbridge which still remains in the dreams of the residents.




Medical interns

Medical interns have to undergo one year’s practical experience in a government hospital after doing their MBBS. The interns spend up to 12 hours daily at the hospital and this period may be extended if there is an emergency. During the period of internship they are also on duty on Sundays and other holidays and can avail themselves of only three national holidays.

In the General Hospital, Sector 16, and the GMCH, Sector 32, the interns, except those who complete their degree from Chandigarh, have to pay a fee of Rs 20,000 at the time of enrolment and no honorarium is paid to them. Those who complete their degrees from Chandigarh are paid an honorarium. This discriminatory practice should be stopped, the fee charged from the students should be refunded and they should also be paid the monthly honorarium. Getting full days work from them without any payment violates human rights as well the law of the land.

In the interests of the interns and patients, their duty should not extend beyond eight hours daily and they should not be asked to work on Sundays and holidays. Fatigue and stress are bound to affect their efficiency and the patients will be the sufferers.

M.S. AULAKH, Chandigarh

Price tags

Manufacturers attach price tags to their products, indicating the maximum sale price. This price is always unrealistic and exorbitant and the retailers are allowed huge discounts. The term maximum sale price in itself suggests a lower price of the product. Moreover, the prices are raised every two or three months without any visible factor necessitating the increase.

The other disturbing feature is the levy of sales tax. There are many items which are exempted from sales tax and yet the traders add 11 per cent tax on the printed maximum sale price.

Cash memos are invariably not given, in spite of requests by the purchaser. And where a cash memo is issued, neither the product is described properly nor are the price and tax amounts indicated separately. All this leads to over-charging the consumer. There also are instances of the maximum sale price being rubber stamped or written on stickers.

Someone in authority should look into these malpractices in the interest of the consumer as well as the exchequer.

D.R. SOOD, Shimla


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