Saturday, December 22, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Why there is no demand for Punjab wheat

Mr K.S. Chawla’s report “Grain stocks worth Rs 25,000 crore rotting” (Dec 13) states: “What is intriguing is that Jammu and Himachal are getting rice from Uttar Pradesh even though the godowns in Punjab are full of rice. Moreover, Punjab has locational advantage for both States and the cost of transportation is less.... The cost of the rice stocks is estimated at about Rs 8,000 crore”.

Really, there is nothing intriguing about it. Some of us had warned through articles in the media that the policies of the government of Punjab and GoI would lead to a situation in which no State would like to buy Punjab rice and that would hit Punjab economy including agriculture in a big way.

More than once, paddy brought to the mandis got damaged to some extent because of untimely rains etc. Rice from such paddy could not be as per specifications of the FCI regarding discolouring, broken rice etc. It should have been clear that such rice would be purchased if its price took into consideration its actual quality but not if it is sought to be sold as if the quality had not suffered because of rain, etc.

Of course, growers especially poor and middle peasants should not have suffered on account of natural factors and for no fault of theirs. What should have been done was to fix the price as per actual quality and compensate the peasants for losses by giving them equivalent financial relief from the relief department of Punjab government and with the help from the Centre. Instead of this correct course, the easy way of paying for paddy full support price as if its quality had not suffered at all results in the dilution of the quality of rice. Obviously, other states would not buy that at prices fixed on the basis of original specifications.


As for wheat stocks, Mr Chawla’s report says “Wheat stocks are not being moved out of Punjab because there is no demand for the same”. The question, however, is as to why there is no demand. Reasons, in our opinion are as under.

One, wheat production in some states which used to buy Punjab wheat has substantially increased and thus the demand has gone down. For instance, this has happened in West Bengal which no longer needs Punjab wheat.

Two, under the WTO agreement, India was bound to import a certain quantity of wheat and it did so even though it had more than what it would need.

Third, despite much noise about it, diversification of agriculture in Punjab has not been brought about. The government has not been able to assure Punjab peasants as to new crops for which it would be in a position to ensure them remunerative prices.

And fourth, surplus wheat stocks could have been got rid of had the Punjab government evolved a proper policy of “wheat for work”. This would have helped people below the poverty line, create suitable infrastructure and towards reducing wheat stocks. This has not been done.

It is to be hoped that the new government in Punjab after elections in February-March 2002, will go into the whole matter deeply and evolve policies which will remedy the situation on the stocks and avoid the present mess.

SATYA PAL DANG, Chheharta (Amritsar)

Teachers’ plight

Apropos of the letter “Teachers’ strike: show them the door” (Dec 15) we think the writer has given vent to his wrath without any rhyme or reason. He says that teachers get more salary than an IAS officer or the one serving in a private company, perhaps he is unaware of the perks and privileges of the bureaucrats. The people he talks of get salaries in five figures, even more than Rs 1 lakh per month.

There is no teacher who takes only five periods a week. The ill-informed writer must know that a teacher has to take at least four periods a day. In case of a single man department, he has to take five periods a day and that too of classes having around 100 students.

The case of private coaching centres has nothing to do with the teachers in private colleges. Regarding the contractual appointments of teachers, one fails to understand how it will be beneficial to students. A teacher, who is worried about his own security, can never concentrate on his work.

Why grudge good salaries to teachers. Why expect a teacher to live from hand to mouth as he has been living in the past. The writer himself seems confused over his own contention against whom he is writing — against govt teachers, against private college teachers, against the Punjab Government or against whom? The Punjab Government is contemplating cut in grants to privately managed colleges. It will result in further increase in fees for no college management is rich enough to pay salaries to the staff from its own resources. So one should read the writing on the wall instead of criticising for the sake of criticism only.

J. P. Garg, B. R. Grover, G.K.S. Sidhu, S. D. College, Barnala

Opposition parties

While the whole world is today united against terrorism, Opposition parties in India keep hammering the government with the charge of negligence. They do not realise that this not only demoralises the common man, they make India a target of ridicule of other countries who think that even such grave situations are taken lightly by the Indian leaders.

Immediately after the attack, Ms Ambika Soni of the Congress made a spectacle of herself before the television cameras accusing the government. Instead of fighting against such elements shoulder to shoulder with the government, actions and utterances of the Opposition leaders display utter lack of unity within the country. In an emergency like this, the Prime Minister, irrespective of the party to which he belongs, should be the only spokesman of the country.

Today, banners proclaiming, “United we stand” are displayed in every nook and corner of America, instilling a renewed sense of patriotism among the Americans. Didn’t even Al Gore, the defeated presidential candidate in the last election, say that in the present situation, he backs the leadership of President Bush? If Indians cannot lead others, at least they can learn from others. The earlier the better.

M. K. BHATNAGAR, Modesto (USA) On e-mail



Sexual harassment

Apropos the report “Sexual harassment...” (Dec 12), if such shameful things can happen in a university like GNDU, one can imagine the condition in privately run schools and professional colleges.

Why don’t people who indulge in such malpractices think about their own sisters and daughters, who too may be working in the same circumstances somewhere else? People found guilty of such behaviour should be punished heavily and publicly so that others can learn a lesson.

If such disgusting activities are not checked strictly, a day will come when parents will be afraid of sending their daughters to schools and colleges, which instead of imparting moral values are becoming the places for immoral activities.

At the same time, the potential victims should learn to resist the very first advances of their seniors and teachers, because the ladder of moral values has slippery steps. You must tread with firm grip. Once slipped, you’ll keep slipping and there will be no coming back. Losing moral values for the sake of career is no bargain.


Consumer Forum staff

The pay, allowances and honorarium of the employees were revised from 1.1.1996. However, Punjab has forgotten to revise the pay/honorarium of the Consumer Forum members. They are still getting what they used to get in 1986.



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