Monday, December 16, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Driving on GT Road: good in Delhi & Haryana, intolerable in Punjab

Driving in Delhi is no longer a bad experience, the introduction of CNG has certainly reduced the level of pollution on the roads. Earlier, halting at the traffic lights in Delhi used to cause irritation to the eyes and choking due to diesel fumes. This is no longer there. However, the best thing that has happened is the taming of the killer buses of Delhi to the left lane of the road, marked as the bus lane. This single act has made driving in Delhi much easier and safer. Two-wheelers do still make a nuisance of themselves at the traffic lights by weaving in and out of lanes. The three-wheelers also stick to the left of the roads or the centre lane. The traffic police is generally visible and effective at all difficult and dangerous crossings or bifurcations of the roads in Delhi.

Cross the Delhi border, and the Haryana roads, though not too good at places, are still safe and the traffic police is visible at all towns en route. The traffic police of Haryana has certainly made the Grand Trunk Road safer for driving by having recovery, first-aid posts, and having the traffic police road patrols at places en route and displaying the emergency telephone number all along the highway. The traffic is orderly Haryana Roadways buses and trucks drive in the centre lane, leaving the right lane for fast traffic, as it should be on a highway. The Chakervati Lake Complex is an excellent place to halt for refreshments or food, and in addition toilets are clean and useable. Haryana Tourism has done a commendable job at this place. Panipat still remains an old battlefield to be negotiated at one’s own risk and it requires one to slow down considerably. Otherwise driving on the G.T. Road is a safer and enjoyable experience, kudos to the Haryana Government and the police.


The moment one crosses the Ghaggar river bridge into Punjab, there is a sea change in the quality, tone of traffic, and the surface of the road. The road up to Sirhind is good and the drive is fine. Thereafter it is poor. The Rajpura bypass has been very well made. However, what strikes one while driving on the GT Road in Punjab is the absence of the traffic police, very little or no sign posting and aggressive driving by private buses on the right of the road. I presume most of these private buses are owned by MLAs or ministers and no one dare check them.

The fact remains, they are a menace to all those driving on the road and need to be controlled, by making them drive on the left or centre lane of the road. Driving through the cities of Gobindgarh, Khanna, Ludhiana and Phagwara is a nerve-racking experience with the traffic police hardly visible at the cross-roads except in Phagwara, and the scooterist/cyclist shooting across the road, crosses it before you. Even the scooterists drive at full speed and compete with cars to overtake the slow-moving traffic, little realising the danger they expose themselves to in this act of overtaking the slow traffic.

Traffic in Punjab needs to be improved drastically. The traffic police must be effective in all towns, sign posting and road signs must be installed. The traffic police must have traffic road patrols as in Haryana. The emergency telephone number to rung for first aid, police and recovery must be displayed on the highway at regular intervals. Then only can we consider Punjab as a progressive state of the country, over to the Chief Minister and the DGP of Punjab for action to improve the traffic.

Lt Gen KAMALJIT SINGH (retd), Gurdaspur

Decision sans debate

This refers to the current debate on whether university and college teachers should be appointed on contract. The fear that the government intends it to be no more than a pseudo debate has been confirmed after Mr Surinder Singla’s expression of the government’s thinking on the matter (Dec 2).

How can a representative government form its opinion even before the debate has been concluded? Is the debate meant to be only a safety valve to allow dissent to be voiced and dissipated? Has a decision been already “adopted”?

It is unfortunate that education should be regarded as just another “business”. Most private schools take it as business. The result is their managements bleed both teachers and parents to fatten themselves. There are thousands of exploited, underpaid teachers. Has this, or any previous government for that matter, spared a thought for them?

Ever since the mid-seventies, no new posts have been created in the aided colleges to meet the demands of rising enrollment. Consequently, the saga of exploitation is being repeated in colleges. The temporary teachers have no security of career. Are they for that reason better at teaching and research?

A teaching career in university or college requires the highest academic degrees and practically means the closure of all other avenues. If one has to act as a waiter or shop attendant in between one’s stints as a teacher and is yet expected to build on one’s knowledge and pedagogical skills in the prevailing Indian situation, one would indeed need to be a god or a devil.

Mindlessly importing ideas and practices from America does not speak well of the political leadership, if it may still be described as leadership. It should lead the people towards excellence, not lead them into chaos and destruction. The real issue is not the contract but the objectives that would be served by the change in the system of recruitment.

Dr RAJESH K. SHARMA, Hoshiarpur

An alternative: The idea of teachers on contract, ostensibly, has been mooted to arrest the falling standard of education. It appears to be based on the assumption, apparently wrong, that all teachers turn non-performers with the passage of time.

To keep pace with the rapid advancement in science and technology and medical sciences, the teaching syllabus in these subjects undergoes frequent changes. Resultantly, what is taught today is entirely different from what the teachers had learnt some years ago. Thus left with only stale knowledge, due to no fault of their own, the science teachers find themselves outdated in their subject, in which they were once fully proficient.

Blissfully, non-science teachers do not suffer from any such handicap. On the contrary, with every passing year, their grip and mastery over their subjects is strengthened.

The “teachers on contract” move is designed to replace teachers with freshers on the expiry of the contract period. As an alternative, it may be more advisable to update the knowledge of the existing teachers, especially those in the science stream, by introducing in-service refresher courses for them. Older teachers who are unwilling, unable or unfit to undergo a refresher course may be advised to take the VRS route to make way for fresh entrants.

Wg Cdr C.L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar


Small savings

Under the present set-up in Himachal Pradesh the Deputy Commissioners are given money to promote small savings. No such fruitful activity is undertaken. Instead the money is spent on personal benefits like the appointment of daily wagers to be used as domestic servants, vehicles for own use and purchase of personal articles. In some of the districts the award money is in crores. The Chief Minister should order the transfer of this money to the state exchequer.



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