Saturday, October 6, 2001, Chandigarh, India



Many pay bribe to join Army

Many readers may be shocked to learn that at present 90 per cent of the recruitment of jawans in the Army is against under-the-table payments and the prevailing rate is anything between Rs 50,000 and Rs 80,000 in the Amritsar area.

What one has seen in Tehelka is just the tip of the iceburg. Corruption in the Army at the officer level has assumed menacing propositions and this fact is known only to those who deal with the Army in connection with supplies and recruitment.

I head a unit in the border area of Amritsar and my information is based on the experiences of workmen who are virtually mad to get an Army job. In the present situation, when industry is in bad shape, the wages that a workman gets are not even 25 per cent of the salary and benefits available in the Army.

Coupled with this, a constant sense of insecurity dogs workmen owing to the uncertain position of trade and business. Parents willingly pay large amounts to get their sons a permanent job with a lucrative salary.

But this has its negative effects. Those who are fit but cannot arrange bribe money have to face disappointment, whereas those who arrange funds, even if not 100 per cent fit, find themselves in. When one gets a job by paying a bribe, his sense of commitment is not 100 per cent and this particular aspect can make a difference in the battlefield.



Tax private schools

Private schools are being given undue benefit by exempting them from paying income tax. The income of these schools runs into lakhs, if not crores, of rupees. A meagre part of this amount is spent on paying the salaries of the teachers and upkeep and maintenance of the infrastructure and the rest is pocketed by the owners.

An ordinary public school, which can have 1000 to 1500 students at a given time, charges a monthly fee of Rs 500 to Rs 1000 per student.

Money also comes from donations and funds (building fund, sports fund etc), which these schools demand from time to time.

They also rent out their premises for various functions and, therefore, make a good profit.

Some schools have started their own buses and charge exorbitant rates from students.

They get hefty commissions from the book sellers and garment merchants as they often force students to buy books and uniform from a particular shop.

The point to be noted here is that the total expenditure incurred by them in running the school is only about one-fourth of their total income. Since these schools are run like any other commercial enterprise, I suggest that income tax should be levied on them.



Posers on Gill

Mr. R. N. Prasher in his letter (Sept 26) has agreed “that was the time when three-fourth of the Punjab police was amassing wealth under the shelter of terrorism.” This has raised a few questions. Will he like to think over them?

Question 1: How is he so sure that the likes of Mr K.P.S. Gill were not making money or benami properties like other policemen?

Question 2: If he credits Mr K.P.S. Gill with the peace in Punjab through his men and tactics. Then Mr Gill is also responsible for all the misdeeds of his men, right?

Question 3: Mr Gill never took security cover provided by Punjab policemen. What are the reasons of his mistrust in his own force? I could not agree more with the views of Monika Marwaha (Sept 17) when she wrote: “They question the role of judiciary and human rights activists in the turbulent times , allow me to ask what they too were doing then? Falsifying all the judges, human rights activists, men-of-letters and public sentiments without intelligent and rational reasoning exposes the writer’s actual motives. It’s high time we Indians wake up, have a large framework of thinking and stop falling prey to vicious alignments brought up by pseudo-intellectuals.” With this I rest my case.


Library rules

This has reference to the letter “New library rules”, (Sept 22) in which the writer has tried to defend some reported rules of library that would restrict, in the name of disciplining the teachers, the academic freedom of a teacher who has the right to refer to a book at any moment of time. In any case teachers are bound to return the library books which are not given to them as departmental freebies.

In case he is so concerned about the “disadvantage to other potential users” of books in a college library, not a public library, meant strictly for students and teachers alone, one may ask that why books are issued to library and administrative staff who are supposedly not their authorised users?

However, by asking this I am not favouring that the books should not be given to the library and administrative members of the staff. In fact books, being meant to be read, should be made available to as many people as possible, and made to be used (irrespective their wear and tear, the seemingly sole concern of most of our librarians) as extensively as possible. It is sad that many of our book-loving babus, like the letter writer, remain concerned only about the upkeep of books and about disciplining the teachers. No wonder one can confront a large number of dust covered books, particularly encyclopaedias, in our libraries that remain untouched even years after they are acquired.

And I can vouch for it that in my teaching career of more than three decades I have never heard of a single instance where a teacher has not returned any book in case the same has been required by any other teacher or student.

BALVINDER, Chandigarh

It’s Virgin

Recently, I had the misfortune of travelling to London by Virgin Atlantic Airways and was appalled by the quality of its in-flight service.

The most annoying aspect of the flight was that the cabin crew continued to treat European passengers more favourably than their Indian counterparts. They made no attempt to welcome Indian passengers and displayed minimum enthusiasm towards their need. I asked for whisky and soda and was promptly told that I have to drink my whisky with water, as soda is not served in the Economy class. When I complained that Air India and British Airways do serve soda in the Economy class, I was rudely reminded that I was travelling by Virgin Atlantic, not by Air India or the British Airways, and have to drink whatever is available on the aircraft.

I have travelled to London by Air India on many occasions. There may be many things wrong with our national carrier, but as far as the quality of in-flight service and the behaviour of cabin crew are concerned, Air India is second to none.


Courts sans toilets

The dearth of toilets at the Bathinda district courts has been troubling the public for many years. Visitors answer the call of nature in open spaces. The problem is serious particularly for women.



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