Monday, July 16, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Will opening of land routes to Pakistan bring votes?

BOTH the media and the government are responsible for the euphoria over the Vajpayee-Musharraf summit. The government has even announced a unilateral rollback of duty on 50 items, 20 scholarships for Pakistani students, setting up of visa facilities at the border check-post and opening of land routes.

Till fundamentalism remains the mainstay of the Pakistan polity, there would be no agreement. Their stubbornness is clearly discernible from their insistence on Kashmir being the core issue and invitation for tea to the Hurriyat leaders disregarding Indian sensitivities.

The main constituent of our long-term policy should be a resolve to fight to finish. Our response should be unambiguous and clear. Our response to Pakistan’s insistence on making Kashmir the core issue was no better than the one on the tea episode till the External Affairs Minister cleared the pitch.

By announcing populist measures such as opening of land routes to Pakistan, aren’t we fishing for Muslim votes even at the cost of national interest?

I do not subscribe to the views that nuclearisation of both countries has made the conventional superiority of armed forces redundant. The next war will have to be fought under nuclear conditions. We, therefore, should not hesitate to cross the border in hot pursuit of the militants or strike their bases in hostile territory or to lodge a full-fledged war if the situation so warrants. Only then we shall have peace in Kashmir otherwise we shall continue to smoulder.



Govt ads & processed food

The Union Department of Food Processing Industries advocates through advertisements the use of processed food by calling it “healthy food”. This is highly misleading and amounts to misguiding the common man. Experts often warn against the use of “processed food”.

Processed food contains chemicals in the shape of emulsifiers preservatives, stabilising agents, synthetic colours and flavours. Most have a high salt content. Thus, eating of processed food can lead to obesity and hypertension. It can also aggravate asthma and bronchitis.

Since these foods are convenient to eat, they promote a sedentary lifestyle, which in itself is a breeder of a hosts of ailments, including coronary heart disease. Research points at numerous fatal diseases having their genesis in the excessive eating of processed food.

Such advertisements are issued only to promote the interests of the food processing industry.

Dr SUSHIL KANSAL, Ambala cantt

Medicine ads: Advertisements of various medicines appear in the media and customers purchase drugs without any knowledge of their side-effects.

As per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, no pharmaceutical preparation can be sold without a proper prescription of a registered medical practitioner. Companies sell such drugs naming them as over-the-counter products to enhance their profits.

Dr K.K. SHARMA, Dharamsala

Ads & values: After hoarding signs and newspapers, advertising moved to radio. Radio Ceylon’s Binaca Geet Mala was the most sought after commercial programme. All India Radio, through its Vividh Bharti Service, started commercials in the late sixties and it was a successful affair.

I remember Vividh Bharti Commercial Service announced from time to time that: “If you are not convinced with the claims of the product that means the qualities of the product so described do not match with the actual performance, please write to Vividh Bharti.”

That was the time when we lived in reality. Now where are those values? In today’s ads what we see, a man acts like a superman because of his favourite drink.

Another man is doing wonders because he wears a particular brand of under garments, a girl chases and overpowers a thief because she uses a particular brand of napkins and so on.

Is it not an unfair trade practice? Why can’t we have a properly evaluated commercial. After all what we see on our television screens leaves some impression on our minds, specially children. Please think. I request all like-minded persons to think on these lines and I request the authorities concerned to act in this direction.

J.P. BHATIA, Ludhiana


At PTU’s mercy

MANY students who have appeared in the B.Tech last semester examination of Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, have been offered visas for MS courses abroad, but cannot go unless they get a provisional degree. Students who have applied for M. Tech in Indian universities have been refused admission for not possessing a provisional degree.

The exam papers have still not been checked even one month after the examination. The result can be expected only in August. Many may lose one year for higher studies.


Quality or municipality?

The editorial “Dissolve the corporation” (June 29) reminds me of my visit to Jamshedpur on a study tour a decade ago. The administration of Jamshedpur town, including the civic services, was managed very efficiently by the Tata group of companies with the cooperation of other corporate houses. Labour unions were adequately represented. The ruling and opposition parties at Patna felt that they were being sidelined. A plan for constituting a municipal committee was announced. Almost the entire township raised its voice against the proposal and plastered the walls with the slogan “Do you want quality or municipality?”

We have seen the functioning of the elected municipal bodies at Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar. If at all they are in the news, it is for free-for-all, blocking of developmental work or dharnas. Efficient functioning of these bodies is by and large dependent on the civil servants appointed by the state governments. Shortly Panchkula is likely to toe the lines as per the decision taken by the Haryana Government. Is there a case for holding a referendum to take the citizens’ view whether they want a municipality at all. A similar exercise can be repeated in other towns as well after existing bodies end their terms or are dissolved, which some of them deserve to be.

Brig K.S. GREWAL (retd), Panchkula

The controversy

It is sad for an armyman who retired nearly 20 years back to read the controversy generated by Maj Gen K. Khorana’s letter and the rejoinders of Brig K.S. Kang and Multan Singh Prihar on the conduct of Brig Surinder Singh before, during and after the Kargil operation.

In the Army the term “passing the buck” is quite known. It is apparent that the “buck” stopped at Brig Surinder Singh’s lap. Leaving political leadership alone, it can easily be traced to have rolled down from the Chief of the Army Staff, General Malik to the GOC-in-C, Northern Command, Lt Gen Khanna (who boasted of evicting Pakistani intruders in three days) to the GOC of 15 Corps, Lt Gen Krishen Pal to GOC 3 Div, Maj Gen Budhwar on to Brig Surinder Singh, Comdr. 121 Mtn Bde, where the “buck” got struck.

It is pity that those worthies who are in the forefront to collect bouquets are not prepared to accept their share of brickbats. The moral fiber has withered of which we were so proud of in the Indian Army.

Brig K.P.S. DHILLON (retd), by e-mail

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