Saturday, November 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Privatisation and public sector maladies

Mr H.K. Manmohan Singh in his article “Privatisation of public sector — is it fair to ignore ordinary people’s interests” (Nov 2) has referred to an interesting observation made by P.L. Tondon recorded by P.N. Dhar in his book “Indira Gandhi, the ‘Emergency’, and Indian Democracy” which reads as under: “when the management of a steel-making enterprise has to run large housing colonies, clubs, schools, polytechnics, hospitals, temples, colleges, waterworks, lighting roads, sanitation, bus services, shops and cooperatives it will inevitably have less time to concentrate on its main function — to make steel”.

This is a fact that social overheads like hospitals, schools and civic amenities like water and power supply arrangement, lead to over capitalisation of a number of public enterprises. Apart from the financial burden due to recurring maintenance costs, these social overheads divert the attention of the managements from their primary function of production and distribution to the problems of municipal administration. I work in a large enterprise of the Punjab Government and I bear testimony to the fact that the bulk of prime time of the management is lost in making house allotments, filing suits for eviction of shops and attending to people with grievances with deficient maintenance responses. These areas are also breeding ground for nepotism, corruption and other malpractices. Such responsibilities should be transferred to civic organisations. Less corruption will mean more production as corruption inhibits the worker at the ground level from giving his maximum output.


I do agree with the observation that corruption in the public sector spawned a mafia culture and also gave rise to organised labour and staff unions following predatory policies. Having been in the public sector for over two and a half decades, I say with a great sense of responsibility and humility that the cancerous growth of corruption has been increasing by leaps and bounds and no attempt had been made to check it. No sane man can withstand the pressure of mafia groups who wield enormous clout. He has no option except to fall in line.

To those who are beating the drums of privatisation I submit that unless this basic malady is checked, no system is going to succeed. It has been said by ancient saints and sages that where basic intentions are evil, the results can never be good. Privatisation is a self-befooling exercise and may help to divert the attention for some time from the basic issues. The top priority of the reforms agenda should be to tackle corruption and underplaying its importance would be fatal to any planning process.

S.C. CHABBA, Ropar

Teachers on contract

The step of appointing teachers on contract can wreck our higher education. Talented persons already shy away from the teaching profession. When they know that they are going to be exploited on low salaries with long hours of teaching overcrowded classes whose students are admitted indiscriminately to swell the number for money, subjected to capricious codes and browbeaten by managerial overlords, they are not likely to feel particularly inclined to accept contractual jobs when the mighty and secure civil services, the opulent corporate sector and the money-minting medical profession are beckoning them.

You say in your editorial that the system once attracted talent from the overseas. Then what went wrong? The subversion of the system by vested interests, who had neither aptitude nor concern for academic values. They filled our educational institutions with me who from a lecturer to a Vice-Chancellor secured their positions not purely on merit.

When the system worked well earlier, the professors used to hold permanent, not contractual, tenures. Our IITs and IIMs, which are respected as model educational institutions in and outside the country, also have permanent teaching staff.



Kidney racket

This refers to the letter by Navdeep Singh Khaira (Oct 28) Criticism directed at me is totally ill-conceived. No where and never had I, even by implication, "tarnished the entire community of doctors". However, I do maintain that a mafia headed by some doctors and supported by some politicians has organised an illegal but flourishing kidney market in Amritsar. The worst victims are the poor donors whose kidneys are "purchased".

In many cases even those who receive kidneys become victims of connected malpractices. If some choose to call efforts to expose this racket as "rabble-rousing", that won’t dissuade me from doing my duty as a committed social activist.


Kalam & kids

APROPOS the news item “Kalam justifies N-weapons”, I think President Kalam should not have talked about weapons of mass destruction at a function held to celebrate Children's Day. It was an inopportune moment to talk of weapons of mass destruction. The same thing could have been said on another occasion.

On October 31 President Kalam attended Indira Gandhi's death anniversary function. I have no objection to anyone observing Mrs Gandhi's death anniversary, but for the Republic's President to do so was highly unusual as Mrs Gandhi had ordered "Operation Bluestar" and committed a genocide of Sikhs. She had earlier promulgated the Emergency, thus throttling democracy and sending thousands of freedom-loving citizens into prisons.

The President also gives a peace prize, which carries a big purse, named after Indira Gandhi. I do not consider Mrs Gandhi to be a person of peace and hope that in future the President will not give an award for peace named after her.



Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |