Friday, April 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Campaign against corruption: will CM stand up to the challenge?

A crusade against the corrupt, and that too by a Congress Chief Minister, sounds like a fairy tale coming true. The mind is not inclined to believe the evidence of the senses. Perhaps it is a Maharaja’s instinct for governance that is asserting itself and bringing cheer to the terminally disappointed people of his state.

Capt Amarinder Singh will need to persevere long in his efforts if any meaningful consequences are to follow. The people are with him but there is fear that his enthusiasm may soon be exhausted. However, if he manages to crack a few more closets of the high and mighty, he will not only earn the profoundest gratitude of the people but also restore their faith in the rule of law.

The people of India are looking for a hero who can slay the demon of corruption. But this demon, like Raktabeej in Durga Saptashati, is capable of reproducing itself. Hence the Chief Minister will have to look beyond the dramatics of the crusade and consider the imperative of raising such institutions as can afford a permanent check on corruption. The right to information and a whistle-blowing act could be among the components of such an endeavour.

Years of opportunism and mean manipulation have gravely undermined and devastated the state of Punjab. Only a statesman can begin to rebuild it. Let us hope the current Chief Minister will stand up to the challenge and redeem this land of the Gurus.



War heroes

Apropos of the news item “Assured jobs to kin of war heroes" (April 19), while I am glad that due recognition has been given to soldiers, the cutoff date fixed as 01/01/1999 is a grave injustice to the soldiers who had laid down their lives before 01/01/1999. Terming soldiers killed after 01/01/1999 as “war heroes” and denying the same status to soldiers killed before 01/01/1999 is indeed shocking.



BT cotton story

As a cotton grower for the last 25 years, I am deeply concerned about the future of cotton cultivation in India, particularly in Punjab.

The most important problem is the spraying of spurious and adulterated pesticides. To control the American bollworm, a farmer sprays the crop more than 20 times in a season with an expenditure of more than Rs 5,000 per acre. The input costs are going up each year and the per acre yield is coming down. The farmer has landed in deep debt, resulting in suicides.

The introduction of BT is the only solution to the cotton tragedy. It has been successfully grown in Gujarat last year. The climate is most conducive in our country and it should do well. The 20 per cent insect refuge area to enable the bollworm to feed on. I would like to say here that due to small land holdings the farmer in Punjab is growing numerous other crops along side cotton, on which the American bollworm feeds. Therefore, there is no need for any such refuge. It is required in countries like the USA where large tracts of land are covered by one crop. According to PAU experts, the cotton pollen will not transfer foreign genes.

We certainly would like to know as to which lobby pushed Monsanto technology in India and also whether there is any Indian technology available. I think we need also to know the lobby which has been trying to stall BT cotton from being approved for cultivation in India all these years.

My only hope: BT cotton succeeds and brings cheer to the cotton farmer.

GURPREET S. SEKHON, (ex-Chairman), Forest Development Corporation, Punjab

When a chief turns a thief

This refers to the notorious case of Mr Ravi Sidhu, PPSC chief. The common man, who has never seen so much money, is simply stunned. It is beyond one’s imagination that one’s lockers could be so stacked with currency notes. How I wish that all the lockers in all the banks are sealed nation-wide and then are opened by the owner in the presence of the officials of the Vigilance Department. I am sure many more lockers filled with dirty black money would come to light. If all the money thus stacked is brought out of lockers, the government might get into a comfortable position to give tax relief to those who pay taxes through their nose.

What Mr Ravi Sidhu has done is perhaps unpardonable. It is not only that he himself has been proved to be corrupt, but he has created a vicious circle of corruption. Those who have given lakhs to get jobs, why won’t they make crores? What incentive or future is left for the hard working, intelligent and the dedicated youth? No wonder the brain-drain. Thanks to our corrupt officials.

Mr Ravi Sidhu and the like do not necessarily need to much money, nor do they use it or can really use it in their life time. It seems to be some psychological disposition, some Midas-like mental sickness, whereby the patient just wants to amass wealth. Whatever it is, it is extremely shameful and unfortunate.


Punish the beneficiaries: The news not only completely exposes the “corruptness” of the Indian bureaucracy, but also shakes our faith in the validity of such examinations as conducted by the PPSC and of their result, and puts a big question mark on the posts allotted to “the more than hundred beneficiaries” (including the daughter of a sitting judge) who bribed Mr Sidhu with handsome amount. Mr Sidhu has been caught, and caught red-handed. Good! But what about “the beneficiaries”, the ones who tempted him and greased his palm?

A sinner must not go scot-free. But those who stimulate the sinner to sin, and thus get the benefits are greater sinners, bigger offenders, and hence must also not go scot-free. The beneficiaries who hijacked the chances of other deserving candidates must also be exposed and punished. Why mention only “one daughter of a sitting judge”? Who were the others? They are the bigger culprits and must be brought to book. An exemplary punishment to both the receiver and the giver of bribe money can act as a deterrent to the future offenders who would think a thousand times before accepting or offering bribe.

N. K. OBEROI, Chandigarh

Appointments: Now as corruption by Mr Sidhu has been fully exposed, what about the appointments he has made? Those applicants who deserved and failed because of lack of money should be compensated. Mr Sidhu should answer what compelled him to burn the records of PPSC selections made by him. Fresh information can be collected from those who were at the receiving end at that time.

It is suicidal to give awesome power into the hands of a single person. Do we really need a Public Service Commission? People still have faith in the UPSC, which is doing a fine job. Officers for the Punjab Government can be recruited through the UPSC or selections through the PPSC should be made transparent.

G. K. S. SIDHU, Barnala

Badal to blame: It is a matter of anguish that corruption had been going on for the last several years and the Badal government remained mum on the matter. Corruption under the last government perhaps surpassed all records.

Major NARINDER SINGH JALLO (retd), Mohali

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