Tuesday, November 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



SGPC poll and self-inflicted nemesis

What is happening in Punjab on account of the SGPC presidential election is nothing less than the “hijacking” of the Granth and the Panth. It is worse than the murky politics that was responsible for fuelling the Bhindranwale phenomenon.

The message from Patiala, Chandigarh and Amritsar is that the Sikhs are a people at war with themselves. This is mainly because they are unable to sift chaff from grain. They are unable to reorder and reinvent their traditions.

The sordid happenings of the past few months are symptomatic of a deeper malaise in the community. The SGPC that they are fighting for has become a symbol of the misuse of the Miri-Piri principle in Sikh ethics. Even in modern times there can be a case for religion and politics, purifying and empowering each other. But what we are seeing is the misuse of both by whoever or whichever formation happens to be in power.

There is hardly a voice in Sikh religion and politics, as they stand today, against the evils of caste, human rights abuses and ecological devastation. Sikhs advertise in the matrimonial classifieds of newspapers for life-partners on the basis of caste. They apply to get into the Army on the basis of caste. They even construct and manage gurdwaras for particular castes. Moreover, many Sikhs like to combine the suffix Singh with the name of their caste or gotra, and yet they are (or pretend to be) rather sensitive about their identity.

Punjab and the Sikhs have allowed the Green Revolution not only to shrink the watertable and poison the soil, but also to contaminate the social, religious and political ethos. Today there is no “lassi” to be had at Chandigarh railway station. And, as for the smart, fashionable Sikhs, they are busy carving out golf courses out of agricultural and forest lands or helping the desi and angrezi thekas to hit the jackpot of intoxicating success.

No, for the Sikhs this is not their finest hour; instead it is proving to be a self-inflicted nemesis for them.



Why no green belt?

Patiala has the Baradari Gardens, Chandigarh the lake, the Rose Garden and other green covers, Ludhiana has a Rose Garden, Amritsar has Ram Bagh Garden, Kapurthala and Sangrur, have their own lovely green belts. Alas, Jalandhar is bereft of any such gift from the civic authorities. Why this step-motherly treatment to Jalandhar?

The Gana Farm has three blocks. The bigger block has been developed. The other two blocks are still available. The smaller block (about 12 acres) out of these two may kindly be spared as a green belt. The authorities should gift the small block either to the Municipal Corporation, Jalandhar or the Forest Department, Punjab, to nurse it as a green belt. This will provide relief to the residents.

V.I.R. Sharma, IAS (retd), Jalandhar

Beware of loan givers

Some finance companies advertise regularly in the loan columns of newspapers and those who approach them for a loan are charged Rs 250 or more as file charges and Rs 2,500 plus Rs 2,000 as verification and travelling charges. After the visit of their agent, they issue a loan approval letter and ask for a further amount of more than 1 per cent of the loan amount as legal search and valuation charges. After receiving this amount, they go on delaying the disbursement indefinitely on one pretext or the other.

G.S. SIDHU, Sangrur


Unsafe eye-drops

In India laws govern the safety and quality of allopathic eye-drops, but no rules or standards apply to their ayurvedic counterparts in spite of the fact that the market is flooded with ayurvedic eye-drops these days as people believe that ayurvedic drugs do not produce any adverse effects.

A magazine published bimonthly by the Consumer Education and Research Society, Ahmedabad, has come out with startling revelations. Eight widely sold brands of ayurvedic eye-drops —Bhawsars, Itis, Itone, Jiwadaya Netraprabha, Nayan Bindu, Netra Sudarshan Ark, Netra Sudha and Ophthacare — were tested for sterility against specifications laid down by the Indian Pharmacopoeia as the Ayurvedic Formulatory of India, an authoritative book recognised under the law, does not list eye-drops.

Ten samples of each of eight brands were tested and four out of the eight brands were found to be contaminated. It is common knowledge that anything non-sterile can adversely effect the most sensitive organ — the eye. But in the absence of specific laws governing the safety and quality of ayurvedic eye-drops, no action can be taken against those manufacturing non-sterile eye-drops.

I suggest the Drug Controller General of India should formulate a law to force the ayurvedic manufacturers to ensure the supply of only non-sterile eye-drops in public interest.

Dr AJAY BAGGA, Hoshiarpur


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