Monday, December 24, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Making education a fundamental right

The issues raised by Mr L.H. Naqvi and Mr T.R. Sharma in their thought-provoking articles entitled “Education as fundamental right” and “Criminal neglect of primary schools” respectively (Dec 8) converge on two points: how to bring those children to schools who are the wage-careers of their poor families; and how to provide meaningful education to them in the present set-up?

My conviction is that unless we make ‘Right to work’ too, a fundamental right — Sarv Siksha Abhiyan launched by the Government to provide 8-year schooling to all in the age group of 6-14 by the year 2010 won’t cut much ice. Haven’t we failed on this front for the last 50 years? (our first target was to achieve it by 1960).

If we are really serious about wiping out illiteracy and poverty from our country we will have to control population and provide employment to all. Budget allocation for health and education will have to be enhanced substantially in all of our future plans; and at the same time drawing off the public money, as at present, in the form of huge salaries paid to non-performing functionaries will have to be checked. For instance, teachers in government schools are very well-paid but their output is insignificant. Why? Because of the lack of work culture, lack of motivation, lack of supervision and so on.

We need Shastri/Manmohan Singh type of policy-makers and Patel/Kairon type of administrators to set things right. A serious debate on the issue involved (as suggested by Mr L.H. Naqvi) deserves immediate consideration.

Our media is quite powerful and can play a positive role in this matter. See, how cricket has gone to the grassroot level simply because of the wide coverage given to it by the media! Why cannot we utilise it for educating the masses?”

K.S. KAHLON, Patiala


Vijay Diwas: broaden the invitee list

The Western Command observes Vijay Diwas every year and the function is essentially for the serving officers and a few retired officers. The Western Command may broaden its invitee list and include officers who fought in the 1971 war in Bangladesh. Only a few retired officers (in fact, the same people) are invited every year. Broadening the invitee list would be appropriate as it would enable the proper salute and respect to martyrs from serving and retired officers. This would, in fact, be a noble gesture.

In this connection, may I also state by way of an example that my father commanded a brigade in Bangladesh and fought four brigade level operations. The Madhumati Road in the Cantonment commemorates one such victory of the brigade alone with another formation, but he has never been invited to the Vijay Diwas. This is something surprising as he is settled in Chandigarh.

The Western Command may broaden the invitee list for the only major victory the Army ever had or it can rotate the list. This shall be a befitting gesture.

DINESH K. KAPILA, Chandigarh

Bitter experience

The report “He gets work done like a bulldozer” examines the contribution of the Financial Commissioner-cum-Secretary, PWD, towards the construction of roads in Himachal Pradesh. In this context, please allow me to narrate my bitter experience.

The link road to village Mailan, within the parish of the Kumarsain sub-division of PWD (in Shimla district), which has been under construction for the last over two decades, is still far from complete, what with potholes, collapsed retaining walls, the gradient too steep for loaded vehicles to ply, and rain water flowing on the road itself in the absence of proper drainage. Whatever work is carried out, it is washed out in the monsoon, frittering away scarce public funds.

The haphazard construction of the road and the damage caused to my adjoining orchard were brought to the notice of the local Executive Engineer, PWD, on July 24, 1999 and subsequently a representation was handed over to the then Minister. Regrettably, all my efforts, including a request to the Chief Minister, have drawn a blank.

Incidentally, the compensation promised for the apple trees which were cut to enable the road to be built is nowhere in sight though the relevant details were collected some years ago.

I request the Financial Commissioner-cum-Secretary, PWD, not to hold up the execution of what is a minor project (length under 2 kms over easy terrain).

D.C. CHAUHAN, Melala (Shimla district)

NAC in periphery

Intellectuals, political leaders and residents of Chandigarh and the adjoining areas have discussed the formation of NAC for four villages in the periphery of the city. The announcement of NAC was made by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on the long pending demand of the people of these villages.

It is a fact that red line-firni of the villages in Punjab has not been extended for the last three decades. During this period, the population in the villages has increased by more than 10 times forcing the residents to shift outside the earmarked red line. Despite demands by villagers to extend the red line-firni, little has been done in this direction. On the direction of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the PUDA came into action and started demolishing the constructions outside the red line. Some thought needs to be given to the present condition to extend the red lines to accommodate the villagers falling outside the area.

Over the years, the Chandigarh administration has been busy in rehabilitating migrant labourers occupying prime government land in the city. After getting dwelling unit, they sell it and move to another place and encroach upon government land. This process has been continuing and would never come to an end. These jhuggi clusters are the assured votebanks of the political parties. Hence, leaders ensure that jhuggis are not demolished until suitable site has been provided to them.

Those who are unable to get a suitable house in Chandigarh for financial reasons or otherwise, preferred to buy a small piece of land in the periphery area and constructed houses in the area now falling under the NAC limits. On one hand, the Chandigarh administration has been providing free land to jhuggi dwellers, though not entitled and on the other, the PUDA has been demolishing houses constructed by the people. This will not be justified with over one lakh people who have constructed houses in this area. The NAC once formed will reduce pressure on the city as many residing on rented houses may find houses within their budget and move to this area. 

A.P. BHARDWAJ, ChandigarhTop

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