Tuesday, October 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



SSIs & Punjab’s disturbing industrial scene

This refers to the write-up “SSI units and Punjab’s disturbing industrial scene” by Chander Mohan (Sept 24, 25). The write-up is indeed timely and thought provoking. In this connection, I have a couple of observations and comments to make.

1. The status of SSI units in Punjab in the conventional field of engineering and assembly, say of cycles and sewing machines of Ludhiana, is no worse than that of optical and scientific industry of Ambala in Haryana. As pointed out by Chander Mohan, this is mainly because of the old mindset of entrepreneurs of SSI units. They have not kept pace with the fast-changing global scene during the last decade or so. In today’s world, emphasis is on high quality, customer service and low cost of production. But our SSI fellows are still living in the bygone age of government subsidies with a low level of production, using outdated technologies.

However, the labour-intensive SSI units in Haryana of handlooms in Panipat and utensils in Jagadhari are doing pretty well thereby generating a fair amount of employment and exports. Likewise, Punjab should concentrate on sports goods industry of Jalandhar as there is still not much competition in the neighbouring states.

2. In order to replicate the success story of PTL, the PSIDC in the late seventies and early eighties without much foresight and homework, went out of the way to set up a whole lot of public sector companies in Mohali in the field of electronics and telecommunications. But PSIDC officials failed to realise that all cannot measure up to Chander Mohan’s dedication and professionalism. Besides the Sunrise industry of electronics and computers is entirely a different ball game. It is a fast changing and highly R&D dependent industry, thus totally unsuited for the government sector. So things started turning sour soon enough.


Now it is learnt that almost all the electronic companies of Punjab in Mohali, numbering more than a dozen, started with great gusto by the PSIDC and the PSEDPC are either already closed or on the verge of it. Some of these industrial units involving crores of investment and hundreds of employees include Punwire, Punjab Communications, Punjab Display Devices, ESPL, Punjab Semiconductors, Punjab Electronic Components etc.

Haryana, on the other hand, through Hartron went in for a promotional approach of development of the electronics and computer industry in the state. Not a single public sector unit was established. At Hartron, it was strongly felt that the government’s role is to facilitate entrepreneurs and set up infrastructure for the industry. With funding from UNDP and DOE, Govt of India, a wide range of modern infrastructural facilities like R&D and test centres, precision workshop, specialised industrial estates like now famous electronics city, Udyog Vihar, software and hardware parks and a pollution-free belt over a stretch of about 50 km on the Delhi-Jaipur highway were established in the Gurgaon region.

As a result, the Gurgaon belt is today one of the fastest growth centres of the country for software and business processing outsourcing (BPO) business like call centres, back office operations, transcription services etc. The Gurgaon belt generated Rs 3300 crore of exports in software and BPO business alone during last year and the same is estimated to go up to Rs 10,000 crore by 2008. Incidentally, Punjab’s share of software and related services from Mohali was only Rs 50 crore last year.

But nothing is lost yet. Punjab still has a chance to catch up. With the availability of a number of good R&D and educational institutions and a high level of entrepreneurship, Mohali and Chandigarh can become a thriving centre for knowledge-based industry like software and BPO business in a couple of years if concerted efforts are made in this direction. Incidentally, in India the BPO is projected to grow up to a $ 17 billion industry generating more than one million jobs by 2008.

Dr K. S. BALAIN, former MD, Hartron, Sonepat

We deserve justice

The Centre has failed to accept the demand of elderly soldiers for one rank one pension because of paucity of funds. The authorities concerned are fully aware of difference of monthly pension between pre-and post-1996 pensioners. We sincerely hope our respected leaders will give due consideration to our genuine demand.

I fervently request the government to reduce the difference of monthly pension between pre-and post-1996 retirees. The difference should be in hundreds and not in thousands.

Besides elderly pensioners of the Defence Forces above 75 years of age should be given free transport facilities (railway and road transport) all over the country. This segment of the society should be given exemption of Income Tax up to Rs 1.5 lakh per year. They should not be asked to submit Income Tax returns.

I hope the authorities will consider this request sympathetically. The old age factor needs due consideration at this juncture.

MAJOR D.C. KATOCH (retd), Amb (HP)


Salman Khan ad

Should Salman Khan get away with anything?” asks Mr B. R. Lall in his letter (Oct 1). The obvious answer is “No, not at all”. But who will ensure this when the Chief Minister and the Health Minister of Delhi consider him the only fit person, out of a population of 100 crore, to spread the message of polio drops and get him photographed with them in the advertisement published in a leading daily of the Capital on Sept 29.

The car incident took place on the night between 27th and 28th, Sept. There was thus enough time to get the ad corrected. But apart from it, how could his previous exploits be ignored? When water chokes, what should we drink to stop choking?


LPG cylinders

Almost all things sold commercially come in different sizes. LPG and cement, both necessities of life, come, for the domestic consumer, in containers of inconvenient size. Senior citizens like me find it not only difficult but also risky to handle either.

In the case of cement, whenever less than a full bag is required, as is often the case to carry out petty repairs, the retailer not only charges much more, but also the quality often leaves much to be desired. If a legal provision exists for the supply of these items in smaller containers, it should be enforced; if it doesn’t it is time to make one in the interest of the people in general and the elderly in particular.

S.C. GUPTA, Rohtak

Bathinda Shatabdi

Shatabdi Express from Bathinda to New Delhi has badly affected the running schedule of 335 UP Ambala to Bathinda passenger train. The train used to leave Ambala Cantt at 6.20 a.m. Its timings have been changed to 6.10 a.m.

Again, this train gives way to Shatabdi and Inter-City Express, both trains from Bathinda following each other with a time gap of half an hour, and thus reaches Patiala after 8.40 a.m. It takes more than two hours to cover 54 k.m., thus putting hundreds of commuters (office-goers) and the general public to inconvenience. Can’t the railway authorities make a better arrangement for the commuters of 335 UP and 1 UP so that they could reach offices on time?

R. C. KOHLI, Ambala Cantt


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