Monday, April 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


Time to amend the Constitution to fulfil Sikhs’ aspirations

THIS has reference to your report “Sikhism favoured as separate religion” (April 3). You have earned the gratitude of the entire Sikh community by properly focusing the recommendation of the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution as regards the separate identity of the Sikhs. This is the culmination of a century-old struggle waged by the Sikhs which was often misinterpreted as separatism by the vested interests entrenched in our polity.

It is now for the Central leadership to sincerely follow up this recommendation with the desired amendment of the Constitution so as to fulfil the Sikh aspirations and to allay their fears and apprehensions of being diluted as a separate religion. The effective presentation of the case before the Constitution Review Commission by Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman of the National Minorities Commission, also deserves appreciation by all sections of the Sikh community.




A political exercise

The outcome of the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution has been disappointing. When this body was set up, the general expectation was that a serious thought transcending routine political prejudices would be given to the Constitution, but from what has come to be known of its deliberations, it appears to be clearly a political exercise of the nature we are too familiar with. The recommendations do not bear the imprint of thinkers or visionaries.

Consider, for instance, the recommendation to have job quotas in private sector. This is an extension of political oneupmanship prevalent in our country at present. But does it stand in the face of a critical examination? We know that this nation committed itself to the new economic order during Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao’s regime. Successive governments furthered the agenda of liberalisation and globalisation. The full benefit of this regime depends upon two requisites — one, putting an end to the license-inspector raj so that foreign companies move in; and two, raising the quality of indigenous products and services so that we can compete with foreign stuff.

Now, if the private sector is to have reservation for SC’s, ST’s and BC’s what will happen to our claims to liberalise economy? How will such a step tempt the MNC’s? Similarly, if quality is desired, how can we ensure it with substandard raw material or talent? Defining efficiency as camouflage for private prejudices, as the commission has done, is simply political rhetoric which has been instrumental in keeping the economy backward so far. Are we going to put the clock back again?


Who will catch the big fish?

Five years ago, the Akali government began its crusade against corruption right from the word go. History is repeating itself. The previous now Congress government lost on account of corruption charges. The Akali government promised to eliminate the same and started by announcing case prizes for “corruption catchers” and vigilance raids to catch the corrupt. There used be raids in government departments in the mornings and also just at the end of lunch-time to catch absentees and late comers. After five years, they also had to go on the same corruption charges.

How has the present government started? By mass transfers, vigilance net against PPSC Chairman, catching some employees from Ludhiana for being absent from duty and the arrest of one or two policemen in Faridkot. What relief these steps will bring to the general public? Will the corruption level go down? Will the level of governance improve? Appointments, postings and transfers are the other tools of corruption. It is said that the present Chief Minister is a clean man. It is good that such a person is at the helm of affairs. We should wish him best of luck. Good and corruption-free governance is the need of the hour. But can corruption flourish in society without the involvement of people at high places? If yes, who will catch the big fish?




IT sets an example

Congratulations to the Income-tax Department officers for having kept open their offices even on holidays in the last week of March. This practice is indeed too good which will promote discipline and show good results.

This should inspire the other government offices/departments to reduce wastage of precious man-hours and observe minimum holidays. India is not rich enough to afford too many holidays.

S.K. HANS, Jalandhar

Unconvincing response

Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia’s reply is unconvincing. It appears to be the reaction of a guilty mind to charges of serious moral turpitude levelled against him (April 1). Mr Hari Jaisingh’s advice to him (March 29) was very appropriate and timely which seems to have irked him no end.

He claims to be enjoying the literary status as a writer and a poet of international standing. His lack of appraisal of his degenerated reputation belies the sensitivity and self-respect a poet laureate should be imbued with. He was definitely a political appointee. Flaunting his literary achievements in support of his merit does not entitle him to the post of a VC which office should have had strictly gone to an eminent educationist and a teacher which he certainly was not.

His amorous reputation was well known in the affected circles of girl students and used to be discussed in whispers but it was only this brave girl Saru Rana who came out courageously against the atrocious behaviour of Dr Ahluwalia who has pulled down the reputation of Punjabi University by his autocratic and ad hoc methods of biased mismanagement.

I don’t know what he is trying to prove by sticking to the office of VC in the status of a virtual prisoner in the VC’s official residence, since the students won’t allow him to enter the office premises of the administrative complex.

The moral turpitude cases registered against him will not be decided by courts even during the remaining period of his tenure — May 14, 2002. Another man in his shoes would have gracefully resigned.

May the light of wisdom soon dawn on him so that he decides to extricate himself from this hellish existence sooner than later.

B.S. SANDHU, Patiala

Give us pension

This has reference to the report on facilities for the War Decorated in Punjab. We, in Himachal Pradesh, have been asking for matching facilities for the War Decorated and my general secretary has met the Chief Minister a couple of times.

We have taken up the request through some ministers also. Since 1999, the War Decorated i.e. the awardees of Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra and Vir Chakra have been receiving Rs 1500 as pension every month in Punjab.

Though the BJP ex-servicemen cell has been blowing its trumpet, this has not been given to us till date in Himachal Pradesh. This government has decidedly not honoured the War Decorated. We lost our past president Wg Colr. I.J.S. Parmar, VrC recently and the Chief Minister did not find time to condole the family of this national hero. He was entitled to a ceremonial funeral which too he was deprived of.

Will this government give us our dues? Our heroes are not finally well off. In fact, they cannot make their both ends meet. This small pension equivalent to the freedom fighters of the state would go a long way to make their last days in this world respectful and they will die in comfort.

I take this opportunity on behalf of the War Decorated of Himachal Pradesh to request the Chief Minister to give this small but well deserved pension to the War Decorated as in Punjab.

Maj General NARRINDER SINGH, Shimla

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