Wednesday, January 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Need for a war on corruption

The arrest of three Directors of the Health Department in HP has initiated an impromptu discussion on corruption. The beleaguered trio — Dr K.S. Sohal, Dr S.R. Chauhan and Dr K.S. Rana — were found guilty of financial misappropriation and seeking illegal gratification in the process of government purchases.

Indeed this has brought immeasurable ignominy and the department has suddenly been caught in the irretrievable mess caused by lost credibility. True, corruption is rampant in other departments as well, but that doesn’t make any plausible explanation of squandering of public money.

Unless the political establishment has those protective hands, only impudent adventurists will embark upon money-minting manoeuvres. Honest officers have that feeling of haplessness before the dictates of their political masters. And though both are beneficiaries, only officers are guillotined when scams come to the fore and political bosses remain in the background.

The Health Department requires the mandatory atonement and before any other officer is booked under the Anti-Corruption Act, all officers having pending cases against them should be removed from the key posts and given inconsequential assignments till they are absolved of the charges. Unless this is done, the department will remain vulnerable to further loss of face. Indeed there are quite a few officers who live for self and pelf and can be a source of embarrassment any time in future.


As for corruption, the media, law-agencies and intellectuals should start a war against corrupt practices at high places, not for the sake of sensationalisation, but for cleansing society. And if this is to be given a shape, the real genesis of corruption has to be traced. Invariably it boils down to the system of governance.

Do we have enough time to contemplate and evolve a long-term strategy for curbing corruption? Do we have enough courage at the personal level to check those in the front line of corrupt practices and, more importantly, do we have the real will to bring down corruption to the zero level?


Going abroad

This is to highlight the legalisation/verification procedure of certificates/documents in the Consulate General of the Netherlands and problems it poses for individuals going abroad for higher studies. The process takes four months and before the documents can be legalised, they have to be verified by the Consulate General. It proceeds as given below.

The candidate is required to fill a form to initiate the process giving his particulars, family details (both maternal and paternal) etc and submit, as applicable, marriage certificate, divorce certificate, death certificate and birth certificate.

In case of the birth certificate the individual first has to obtain it from the municipal corporation of his birthplace duly signed by its Commissioner and then get the signatures of the District Magistrate, the Home Secretary and lastly, by the Ministry of External Affairs.

Once everything is submitted, including a fee of Rs 5,500; a long waiting period starts for the applicant, which is full of anxiety, especially for those who have already enrolled for courses abroad.

Please note here that in case of certain embassies, the applicant does not have any right to call up and enquire about the progress of his file. It actually turns out that when the embassy gives the green signal, the person has already missed about one or two months of his/her studies. Hence he/she either has to cancel his study plans or apply again next year and hope for the best.

I request the embassies to revise this process and treat the cases of those going for studies abroad as urgent.


New Year resolutions

We should make a New Year resolution to keep the environment clean. We can decide not to burst crackers anywhere. The burning of garbage should be avoided. All such acts as cause air pollution should be given up.

The second resolution should be to avoid making any kind of noise which disturbs others. The use of loud-speakers should be stopped at all places. The high level of noise plays havoc with one's ears and ruins the atmosphere for study by children.


Housing woes

Official agencies have monopolised the housing sector. If some people join hands to organise a house building society and purchase land, the society cannot be registered unless the departments concerned give clearance.

PUDA acts more for earning profit. The poor do not have enough money to buy developed plots at PUDA’s prices. If people depend upon official agencies, they have to wait endlessly for plots.

Investment in housing can increase if impediments created by the official agencies are removed. Cooperative house building societies should be encouraged.

KARTAR SINGH, Chandigarh


Q: Expand SAARC.

Ans: Seeking Amity And Refusing Co-existence!

K.J.S. AHLUWALIA, Amritsar

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