Monday, January 20, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Making democracy affordable

The Opinion page of The Tribune (Jan 7) carried three interesting write-ups. The letter written by Dr Kuldip Singh of Hoshiarpur reminds us that we have “failed to blow the conch against the fraud repeatedly committed” on us. The editorial on “Clueless Congress” talks of the “obituary of the Congress”, which, according to me, will record the fact that the Congressmen failed to learn any lesson from the communal partition of the country. Satya Prakash Singh wants that “the rich pay for the (education) system’s survival” and thus lets the PM escape with his government’s refusal to provide funds for the universal education enshrined in the Constitution.

The government at the Centre and in the states have no funds for education, for health services, for road-building, for agriculture and cattle development, for power generation, for making fuels available at reasonable prices to Indians who have much less per capita income than others in the world. In fact, the governments can no longer afford to pay for any of the public utility services.

But then can we afford this democracy? Why have State Assemblies when these Houses cannot undertake any welfare scheme except under Plans that are funded by the Centre? Why not have Parliament alone which would be an affordable democracy after we have done away with the state assemblies? Why should the people of India spend beyond their means, even if it is on democracy?


Kuldip Singh is correct when he says that following, “Parliament’s dictate that a politician does not need any educational qualifications,” we could come to be subordinated to assess and criminals, and that “the intelligentsia has to shed cozy cocoons” and lead the masses.

And for God’s sake, no more states! Ram Vilas Paswan’s cries for Telangana are nauseating. Do we have a law under which we can prosecute Cabinets that create states without having money for them?

L.R. SHARMA, Jalandhar

Hapless widows seek justice

Surinder K. Dhupar has remarked in the letter “Justice delayed” (Jan. 4) that “18 years is a long time to circumvent the evidence.” It is absolutely true, particularly when the person proceeded against is a powerful political leader.

Recently, a Delhi court acquitted a political leader. Mr Sajjan Kumar, and 12 others on the ground that the prosecution had failed to produce enough evidence. The case against Mr Sajjan Kumar was registered in 1990. Such an inordinate delay was certainly fatal.

In fact, the then Union Home Minister, Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao’s studied indifference towards the bestial violence, the late Prime Minister, Mr Rajiv Gandhi’s ruthless remarks that the earth shook when a big tree fell, the displaying of Indira Gandhi’s body surrounded by some hoodlums shouting slogans like “Khoon ka badla khoon sey lein gey” on television, and failure of Parliament to condemn the most heinous genocide and mourn the deaths of its victims showed that the culprits and their aiders and abettors would not be punished.

The hapless widows have been demanding justice for the last 18 years. Yet the culprits have not been punished. I want to remind them of the verse: “Qareeb hai yaaro roz-e-mahshar chhupey ga kushton ka khoon kyoonkar/ Jo chup rahey gee zubaan-e-khanjar lahoo pukaarey ga aasteen ka” (The Day of Judgement is near. The blood of the slain people could not be hidden. If the tongue of the sword remains silent, victims’ blood on the slayers’ sleeves will cry for justice).



Contract appointment

I have read Prof Virendra Kumar’s “Of regular & contract teachers” (Dec 29) with immense interest.

The prime question to be addressed is how to bring in the talented teachers who would really teach the students to make them serve society. For me it does not matter whether it is a long-term regular appointment, or a short-term contract appointment.

However, under the rotten conditions of today, if it is not possible to select the merited candidates on a long-term basis in the first instance, the short-term contract appointment may serve the purpose because the pressure of termination of service at short notice is bound to make them work, and if a teacher continues to do his assigned job with dedication, there seems to be no reason not to continue with his services on a regular basis. Professor Kumar’s views merit our consideration in this perspective.

K.C. SHENMAR, retired I.G. (Punjab), Chandigarh

Working parents face a problem

The concern of the Punjab & Haryana governments regarding the protection of children from the cold wave by closing the schools is laudable but this concern disregards the problems of working parents. With the fog-forced closure of schools, there is no alternative left for working couples except to exhaust their casual leave quota or take children along with them to their workplaces, which is professionally unacceptable.

The governments should keep in mind this problem and either refrain from declaring such unscheduled holidays or give simultaneous holidays to the working mother with no casual leaves deducted for this period.



Excluded from honour

In the recent well-publicised bash for diaspora the Government of India has chosen to give awards to those it considers have made India proud by their achievements in the countries they have adopted. It has, however, come out that the ex-Prime Minister of Fiji, Mr Mahendra Chaudhry was consciously excluded, while some other Fijians were honoured. I am shocked at this perversion. It is even being publicly acknowledged that Mr Chaudhry has been excluded at the instance of some Indian businessmen settled in Fiji on the ground that recognition of Mr Chaudhry would annoy the Fijian authorities.

If true, it is a shameful surrender to the business lobby and a total let-down to the brave Mr Chaudhry, who is waging a valiant fight for the rights and dignity of labour and peasantry not only of Indian origin, but also of Fiji.

RAJINDAR SACHAR, Chief Justice (retd), New Delhi

Ensuring accountability

I am a strong votary of the view that teaching profession should always be kept outside the pale of commercial transactions. “Education” is not a commodity that can be sold or purchased. A contract appointment cannot, in my own view, instantly convert a non-academic into an academic. Moreover, the function of higher education, especially at the level of university, is essentially to produce persons who could be truly productive or creative in their own right.

In his article “Of regular and contract teachers” (Dec 29) Professor Virendra Kumar has, however, raised a critical question in the light of his own experience that needs our serious attention. He has specifically asked: “how come the same set of teachers, teaching almost the same group of students in two different sets of service conditions, perform differently, both qualitatively and quantitatively.”

What is evident from his poser is that it is not the contract that converts a de-merited teacher into a merited one. Contract is just only a means to impose discipline from outside so that the person who has chosen teaching as a vocation of his life realises his commitment. “This is what is politely sought through contract appointment,” says Professor Kumar, and to this extent, I entirely agree with him. The magic of contract, as the learned author rightly says, merely “commits a person committed to his professed profession.” In fact, this is the mode of appointment, which is practiced in very many prosperous countries of the world, and we should have no hesitation to try it in India for injecting the much-needed element of “accountability” in our ailing system of education.

S.S. KUMAR, Fellow, PU, Chandigarh

Condom and AIDS

Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj has decreed that the “C” in the anti-AIDS campaign shouldn’t stand for condoms. She further stated that such ads encouraged sex, rather than discouraged the spread of AIDS. One would like to ask Mrs Sushma Swaraj: what is wrong with having sex provided it is safe?

She doesn’t realise that of all the mortal diseases like cancer, cardiovascular, strokes, GBS, MSS, TB etc, the only preventable disease is AIDS, which can be prevented by safe sex. It is hoped that she realises that India has the highest percentage of AIDS in the world after Africa. While the other countries openly advertise in all forms of the media and even in schools and colleges the use of condoms, our I & B Minister has ruled against it, instead of being in the forefront for its use.

Brig N.B. GRANT (retd), Pune

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