Monday, July 30, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Political indifference to martyrs’ families

IT is heartening to the morale of the dependents of defence personnel who had laid down their lives for the country that the Punjab Government has granted them some recognition by way of nominating a few of them to the PCS (Executive) and the Punjab Police Service.

However, this recognition has a catch in it. Only those dependants have been considered where the date of casualty is 1.1.1999 and after. The only exception being, eligible dependants (by way of educational qualifications) of all gallantry award winners, irrespective of the date of casualty.

I wonder why the Punjab Government has taken such a partisan view of the matter, more so when at this time the dependants of battle casualties whose date of casualty lies before 1.1.1999 are a dejected lot due to the lopsided attitude of the Punjab government? They too deserve nomination to the PCS and the PPS in case they are eligible.

Were those soldiers, who laid down their lives for the country before 1.1.1999 fools? Did they ever think of what would become of their families before they went to battle? Are they to remain propaganda tools in the hands of politicians to be used when elections approach?

PUNEET KAUR, by e-mail


Autonomy for J&K

The Union Home Minister is quite right (July 26) to reject the notion of outright autonomy, albeit the pre-1953 position for Jammu and Kashmir. A full-scale autonomy is a luxury only rich countries can afford. In a poor country like India such a model of governance is likely to set a dangerous precedent for other states.

A federal structure with a weak Centre is working well in the USA and Germany for these countries are rich and prosperous. In poor countries, however, a federal structure with a strong Centre stands a better chance of working. And once the process of economic development attains sustainable momentum, devolution of power to states can be considered. This is precisely what has happened in Britain.

The United Kingdom, consisting of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, was conceived nearly two centuries ago. The country started off as a unitary state with a strong Centre. Today it has a powerful economy. Having achieved economic success, it is now going through the process of devolving power to its constituent units.

Devolution, it seems, follows, not precede economic success. Any attempt to allow devolution to take precedence over economic development would be tantamount to putting the cart before the horse.


Rights: On July 25 we saw on television the Home Minister explaining that the people of J&K would lose certain rights if the pre-1953 autonomy were to be restored. This despite the fact that the demand for the restoration of the autonomy comes from the very same elected representatives of the people, whose existence is supposed to show the world how truly democratic things are on our side of the LoC.

On the same day, we also saw the crowds that poured out for the funeral of the pro-Pakistan militant commander Masood, who was wanted by our security forces. Should it not make us wonder how much the people of the troubled state care about these rights which we consider as being too precious to be taken away by agreeing to what their elected representatives want?


Loss of public money: why?

Every other day we read about the removal of some unauthorised encroachments in and around Chandigarh which results in (a) law and order situation (b) waste of national resources in the form of material and manpower which were used in original constructions and (c) colossal use of public money and official manpower.

Surely there must have been someone responsible to make sure that these encroachments had not taken place in the first instance. When public money is wasted in such a way, we, the public, have the right to know if any action is ever taken against those erring officials. Will the authorities concerned let the public know?

COL S.S. BHATIA (retd) Chandigarh


Why PU medical test

The letter “PU medical test” (July 26) gives me the privilege to dispel doubts that very many inquisitive students raise about the ongoing medical examination at the Panjab University Health Centre.

The medical test is not to determine students’ eligibility for admission to various courses. Nor it is a source of generating revenue for the university, else the students would not have been advised to bring a medical report, if they so liked, from any government hospital. How much can the university make from Rs 28 per head after paying for the doctors’ fee and laboratory tests, if required.

Quite often, it is students’ first-ever exposure to a formal medical check-up in terms of their height, weight, eyesight, blood, urine, etc. It is on the basis of this examination that such common problems as over-weight, under-weight, poor eyesight and malnutrition come to light.

There is a close relationship between height and weight: right height-weight ratio is a very important factor in the well-being of a person. Gain in weight can be a pointer to, say, renal disease, hepatic disease, or thyroid deficiency (hypothyroidism). Loss in weight, likewise, might be due to hyperthyroidism, tuberculosis, worm infestation. Recording of weight and height is therefore, considered just as much routine part of a clinical examination as taking blood pressure or testing the urine.

Chief Medical Officer, PU, ChandigarhTop


A racist comment

“Racism is as old as the very existence of the whites” is from “British media racist, say Asians” by Reeta Sharma.

That is by definition a racist statement. Indeed, I hope that you will instead continue to fight extremism, racism and violence regardless if it is performed by “whites”, Hindus, men, women or any other category, and refrain from dangerous generalisations against a whole “race” or people.

“China, India, Rwanda and Turkey were also named in the report which said that across the world hundreds of millions of indigenous people and ethnic minority groups were victims of racism.” (From BBC Online 25/7)


The truck accident

Apropos the truck accident killing 47 persons on July 23, people have scant regard for safety and legality of travelling in trucks and tractor-trailers, especially for religious congregations and political rallies.

All political parties indulge in large-scale transportation of human cargo providing sanctity to this illegality.

The DTO and the traffic police maintain a very lax attitude towards such infringements. When so many people and so many political parties violate the rules with impunity violations become an acceptable norm.

The only way to passenger safety is through firm implementation of the passenger transportation laws. Whether it is the economic compulsions of people, instant rallies of parties or religious congregations, the law must reign supreme. Only then we can hope to bring some sanity to our chaotic transportation system. All vehicles carrying passengers without a valid licence must be impounded and heavily fined.

M.S. BHELLA, Bathinda

Special interest

Senior citizens aged 60 years and above have been allowed a special rate of interest up to 1 per cent on their bank fixed deposits. But most of the senior citizens park their savings in post office schemes like Kisan Vikas Patra, National Saving Certificate, National Saving Scheme-1992, Public Provident Fund etc. The Finance Minister should also allow an additional rate of interest of at least 1 per cent on their deposits in the post office small saving schemes.

R.K. JAIN, President, Senior Citizens Council, JagadhriTop

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