Wednesday, October 16, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


Why no challans for bad roads?

JUST as many, if not more, accidents occur due to poor road conditions as due to faulty driving and poor vehicle maintenance, and yet while the public is fined and prosecuted for the alleged omissions in driving and vehicle-maintenance, no action is taken against the people responsible for poorly maintained roads.

Roads, even national highways, are dug up for pipe or drain-laying, and remain in that condition of disrepair for months. Potholes caused by rain are not attended to for long periods of time. At places speed-breakers are put up which act as vehicle-breakers. The ones at the railway-crossing near Jabli on NH 22 and the PAP complex at Jalandhar on NH 1 are the examples. Sand and stone-crush cause havoc to tyres.

The police need to be told that they are there to check, and if necessary, to prosecute all those who fail to maintain roads, vehicles and driving skills. This objective cannot be achieved by enforcing standards on the public and privately-owned vehicles alone. State-owned vehicles and state-paid drivers are as much and as frequently involved in accidents.

All the roads are state or municipality-owned and yet not a single J.E. or municipal official has ever been fined or prosecuted. It is high time accountability is enforced on those who fail to keep roads in good driving condition.

L.R. SHARMA, Jalandhar



Extorting ‘rahadari’

I was on my way to Chandigarh from Ambala late in the evening. Suddenly, the car in which a Himachal-based family was on its way to Shimla was stopped and five-six persons alighted from a Sumo. The Himachal-based family was carrying a few gift items for the marriage of their daughter, who was also with them.

“Why have not you paid ‘rahadari’?” they asked. “Aghast, the Himachali fellow replied that he did not understand this term ‘rahadari’. One of them explained that in Punjab whenever a person carrying purchased items crosses an octroi check-post, he is required to pay “rahadari”. “We have put up the board. Don’t waste our time, pay Rs 1,000 as the penalty.” When we protested, he said they had taken on contract the octroi check-post by paying Rs 2.5 crore. The Himachali fellow managed his release by paying Rs 500. No receipt was given.

Does the law permit the contractors or agents hired by them to carry out searches of bags and vehicles like this and then extort money? Even in the case of sales tax and excise, only designated officers with identity cards can carry out searches and the penalty has to be deposited on specified counters.


A matter of insecurity

Repeated assaults of Pak-trained terrorists in the country clearly show that our government has no strategy to make life fear-free for its citizens. Since the VIPs are always protected by the security rings, so what is the need for making the common man secure? Since the wards of most of these VIPs are well settled in Western countries, why should they bother about the ordinary Indians?


Question papers

The other day I had a chance to have a look at the question papers in the subject of environmental education for all examinations held so far by Panjab University. I cannot resist the temptation of commenting upon the same publicly with the sole objective of doing something to preserve the fair name of our university. The subject of environmental education is compulsory for all those who intend to be a P.U. graduate in any faculty (B.A./B.Sc/ B.Com./ B.A./BCA/Hons. School system). It implies that about one lakh students appear in this paper at one stage or the other of their graduation.

It was shocking to see the quality of these question papers (so-called objective type). The paper-setters neither seem to know how to frame an objective-type question nor seem to be aware of various types of objective type of questions such as multiple choice, assertion - reason, matching type and constant alternative (true/false) type. All the 50 questions in each question paper were of the same multiple choice type where one of the four options was “None of the above” and another invariably was “Both A & B”.

It reflected poorly on both the knowledge and skills of the paper setters themselves. We must bear in mind that the quality of question papers too is vital for putting a check on deterioration in our education system.

Prof R.C. CHANDNA, Dept of Geography, PU, Chandigarh

Forced to flee India

Whenever one politician or the other holds forth on the need for attracting foreign capital and reversing the brain drain, I cannot help feeling a sense of dejection because my personal experience in this regard has been extremely negative.

My son Rajnish Kaushik, an expert in instrumentation and electronics, made his fortune in Thailand and Singapore. The love for his homeland brought him back to India. He wanted to set up a software firm but was made to run from pillar to post by various officials and ministers. His dream to set up a model school was shattered equally rudely. The end result was that this only son of his 75-year-old parents left for the USA.

Similar has been the plight of my youngest brother, Mr Rishi Ram Kaushik. He retired as Chief Engineer from the ONGC while his son, Sushil Kaushik, did his BE (Elect) from IIT, Varanasi. Since he was not found fit in India, he too was forced to start a firm in California which is flourishing.

Do you think such people are going to advise anyone in the USA or wherever else they happen to be, to head India-wards?


A glutton’s prayer

“Middles” are interesting, especially when penned by wordsmiths like Amar Chandel (Oct 5). Yes, all elders counsel their youngsters to thank the Lord for the bounty placed on the eating mat/table before partaking of any of the dishes. My parents prayed so themselves and counselled us to do so. A reluctant follower of this ritual, in addition to being a glutton of sorts, I seldom thank the Lord, but the cook.

K.L. NOATAY, Shimla


Govt: India’s economy is looking up?

Common man: Yes, towards heaven. Only God can save it!



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