Tuesday, May 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



An eight-point agenda for Punjab Govt

If the Chief Minister really wants to take Punjab out of the present mess, the following crucial issues have to be dealt with:

1. Immediate restoration of high offices to persons of intelligence and competence i.e. technocrats for the electricity board, academicians for universities, honest bureaucrats for all public posts and so on.

2. Immediate overhauling of the police department (The state can do with only one DGP) and removal of the so-called wealth-factor associated with every post.

3. Hand over all service utilities to private parties for their efficient handling. Imagine a private bus owner is able to generate profits enough to buy a new bus every year, whereas in case of the PRTC the situation is reverse.

4. Close down all educational shops either affiliated with Punjab Technical University or other universities, which are playing havoc with young Punjabis.

5. Save the young ones, especially in rural Punjab, who are spoiling their lives by taking drugs.

6. Launch a transparency and accountability movement in all departments to set example for other states and regain the lost faith of the common people.

7. Shift to online governance for fast and quick decision-making in all key areas.


8. Have a special focus on the working of highly lucrative departments such as Irrigation, PWD etc which are one of the main reasons behind a common man’s distrust in the government.

We all know that these are testing times for the new government but it has to succeed, otherwise we may be heading for a total collapse.


The Indira canal

The Rajasthan canal, now called the Indira canal, came into existence during 1964.

The total length of this canal is about 118 km. At present it is under the control of the Government of Rajasthan. The land along this canal is very fertile, but no afforestation works had been done with the result that the land is being encroached upon by people. If this area is transferred to the Punjab Forest Deptt for afforestation purposes, there will be more greenery. It will also create employment for local labour and increase the forest cover as per the national forest policy.

S.L. CHAWLA, Kotkapura


Defence matters

I wish to draw your kind attention to the letter (April 29) by Maj Gen K. Khorana (retd). Gen Khorana has alluded to a sitting MP writing about defence matters, especially about the forced retirement of Air Marshal M.S. Sekhon. That MP is me. He says “the MP has obviously missed out on the fact that all soldiers, sepoys to Generals, look forward to being on the battlefront during a war.”

I do not agree with the General. I quote only two examples for the General’s satisfaction. One was Lt Gen Kaul during the Indo-Chinese war in 1962 and the other Maj Gen Naranjan Prasad during the Indo-Pak war in 1965. General Prasad took the Indian forces to the Bata Shoe Company on the outskirts of Lahore in 1965. He developed cold feet. He was cashiered for this cowardice as the Indian troops could have entered Lahore.

Maj Gen Khorana then chides me by saying that the Western Air Command located at Delhi is a peacetime posting. I disagree. With Indian and Pakistani forces facing each other eyeball to eyeball on the Indo-Pak border, the Western Air command is on a battle alert situation and cannot by any standard of logic be called a peacetime station.

Maj Gen Khorana then accuses me of communalising and politicising Air Marshal Sekhon’s forced retirement. I agree that I did not say anything about the dismissal of the Chief of Naval Staff. I found merit in it. However, about the “removal of a Corps Commander of an elite strike corps,” I wish to tell the General that I specially spoke to certain defence correspondents. But the Press did not carry my observations. Perhaps most newspapers think that my statements are not in the interest of the nation. I criticised the Union Defence Minister for rebuking the present Army Chief in public. I do not consider defence matters as holy cows and shibboleths which cannot be commented upon by lay men like me.

I would like to assure Gen Khorana that politicians like me would like to insulate the soldiers. But the General sweep Bofors, Tehelka tapes, coffins, World War II jeeps and other scandals under the carpet? I would like to remind the General that all soldiers are not good and brave and not all politicians bad and meek.



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