Wednesday, January 30, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Time to approve Bt cotton

Recent reports have highlighted a major inconsistency with regard to cotton farming in India — farmers of northern India have planted hybrid varieties while those in Gujarat somehow got access to Bt cotton. North Indian farmers have suffered huge losses running into crores of rupees while their counterparts in Gujarat, who were supplied Bt cotton have benefited immensely. After having personally visited some of the Bt cotton fields in Gujarat, I find no reason to deny farmers the right to compete in a global market with better seeds which will help them harvest better yields.

When farmers of other developing and developed countries already have seeds with inbuilt protection from the deadly bollworm, the action of the Indian Government in delaying and denying better seed material to farmers is comparable with depriving jawans at Kargil modern weapons to defend the country. Farmers need the latest tools to win the global economic war and Bt cotton is one such tool.

The official estimate is that the loss to farmers in Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan alone on account of the bollworm is a colossal Rs 1,363.61 crore. The affected area has been arrested at 4.53 lakh hectares in Punjab, 3.55 lakh hectares in Haryana and 2.85 lakh hectares in Rajasthan. The unofficial losses, since government statistics are based on the minimum support price and not the market price, are much higher.

Farmers know what is best for them and should not be denied access to a proven technology because of theoretical fears raised by those who know nothing about farming. The welfare of millions of poor is at stake: the government must act and act fast, before our farmers suffer more losses.



GND varsity

I was asked to receive the gold medal, and merit certificate (absentia) of my daughter who stood first in G.N.D. varsity in M.A. Economics, at present studying in L.S.E. (London). I took the authority letter after attestation of my signatures from the Principal of NJSA Govt. College Kapurthala and the Principal also instructed the university that the fee of Rs 100 was not chargeable in this case and the Registrar also gave his clearance for the collection of the merit certificate and the gold medal without the fee.

But I regret that the degree/certificate section acted just in a reverse order and, after keeping aside the Principal’s and the Registrar’s letters, told me to get the signatures attested again. Being an outsider, my plight could be imagined. Subsequently, I had to deposit Rs 100 also (vide receipt No. 15092 dated 15-01-2002).

I’m sorry for the state of affairs at the university and take it as a gross insult of the head of the Institute, the immediate boss, and humiliation of the parents of a gold medalist.

ACHIL ANAND, Kapurthala

Trauma of being single

The article “Spinster is just a word”, (Jan 16) made me sad. How can a woman write such a callous, cold description of single women when we keep talking about “empowerment of women.”

She talks about divorce as if it is the in-thing in the fashion world. Ask the divorcees, single mothers what trauma and torturous experiences they have undergone. Ask the parents of these women who, despite getting their daughters married, are still looking after them! Even if unmarried, ask these women if they are having a “rollicking time”.

Getting married is a serious proposition. It is not like buying a sparkly T-shirt, wearing it and then throwing it away. When the marriage breaks, the dreams are shattered to pieces. The experience of court trials, maintenance, mud-slinging, helplessness and sleepless nights are not a laughing matter.

Talking about luxurious holidays, getting face-lifts done as the writer has mentioned, I have a questions: how many women are doing that? Instead of appreciating that single women are trying to find a foothold in this male-dominated patriarchal society, the writer seems to think that they are having a great time.

Let me tell you, believe me, it is not easy to live a life of a spinster. I think Barbara is a happily married woman and can never comprehend the woes of single women. If she is on her own, she needs to change her perception. Sorry to say, but the write-up is disjointed, shows the feelingless, hard attitude of the writer towards single women and like me, it must have hurt others too.


Fund-starved varsities

This refers to “A don in two languages” (Jan 17). Chitleen K. Sethi’s interview with Prof Kapil Kapoor, concurrent Professor of English and Sanskrit at JNU, is a significant departure from the run of the mill stories carried in the media. The universities in the region would do well to follow the wise practice of encouraging the reading of classical texts in original in the undergraduate and postgraduate courses in humanities and social studies by including these as essential readings in the syllabi.

Being a privileged central university, JNU does not suffer from financial constraints like the fund-starved universities in Punjab and Chandigarh. The miserly approach adopted by the Government of Punjab, blindly followed by the UT Administration, is damaging the institutions of higher education in the region.

SATYA P. GAUTAM, Chandigarh

Jat power declining

Sarbjit Dhaliwal's report "A handful of families ruling Punjab" (Jan. 17) states that "big Jat Sikh landlords have kept a tight hold on Punjab's electoral politics since 1955, irrespective of the political parties". According to the 1981 census report, Jats are 66% of the Sikh population, the Dalits 12%, Ramghariahs 8%, Aroras 4%, Kambojs 3%, Sainis 2%, Khatris 2% and the remaining 3% are Brahmins, Rajputs, Ahluwalias and others. The Jats, theefore, dominate the Sikh politics.

The Kairon and Tohra families were never big landlords and became rich only after getting into politics.

The Jat Sikhs’ power is declining. Once they were the rulers of Lahore, Patiala, Faridkot, Nabha and Jind, but now they are confined to Punjabi Suba alone and that too not without coalition with the BJP or the BSP.

MANJIT SHERGILL, Ghal Kalan (Moga)

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