Saturday, March 15, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Making accidents happen

There are enough distractions on Indian roads that make them the most unsafe in the world. Last year there were 65,000 recorded fatalities due to road accidents. More than twice that number were seriously injured or maimed. Many accidents go unreported.

Adding to the many distractions are radio broadcasts. I have always maintained that a music system in a car is very distracting but a necessary evil in this day and age. The content of a broadcast can be additionally disturbing and distracting.

There were four of us in a car listening to the car radio on the way to work. The phone rang. All four reached for their cell phones, including the driver, breaking his concentration and taking his mind off the road. Thousands of other drivers must have done the same.

Actually no cellphone had rung. It was the radio, airing their programme “Hello Chandigarh”. At peak traffic hour, the radio keeps repeating the ring of a phone. Nothing could be more distracting. Is it really necessary?

Then there is the choice of music. Its boom boom bang bang!. Nothing soft and soothing for the nerves. At 9 in the morning, on your way to work, every car is a mobile disco. The drivers get charged up. Ideal for road rage.

Corporate houses now have piped-in music in their offices. H.R.D. (Human Resources Development) psychologists have recommended that when the staff come in to work, soothing music should be played in the morning. In the afternoon, after lunch when the human system may be fatigued and has slowed down, music with a faster tempo is recommended.

— H. KISHIE SINGH, Chandigarh


Accept the challenge

Apropos your editorial “A powerful challenge”, I understand that the expert committee had members drawn from NCAER, World Bank, Member (Operations) PSEB, a former Adviser to the Union Ministry of Power, the Chairman of the Central Electricity Authority, among others.

But the PSEB engineers are saying this is a fraud committee.

These PSEB engineers have made us suffer for years and now are trying to protect their jobs and pockets, probably the illegal money they earn, they feel they will lose. The only opposition to reforms will come from corrupt officials and those consumers who steal electricity.

We must accept and succeed in this powerful challenge.


A hasty report

Your editorial “A powerful challenge” rightly stated that it is very easy to constitute expert committees, but hard to accept their advice. The Rajadhyaksha Committee on power sector reforms submitted its report in 1980 which suggested that restructuring of SEBs be done to clearly demarcate responsibilities of individuals so that centres of accountability could be identified ensuring reasonable spans of control.

The committee recommended that the distribution of functions would be highly decentralised with General Managers in charge of zones being treated as profit centres who in turn would delegate powers to divisional and sub-divisional managers, who would then be held accountable for results.

These recommendations have been gathering dust for two decades necessitating the constitution for the Haldea Committee.

The committee was constituted in December 2002 and has submitted its report only in three months. The committee had on it only one technocrat and was stuffed with experts in other fields. Even the views of renowned power engineer of Punjab like N.S. Vasant were not sought. The whole exercise was a hasty and non-transparent one.

The committee has not analysed and detailed the ills afflicting the power sector and the PSEB and as such has not considered the question as to whether the reforms could be undertaken within the present structure of the PSEB.

The changes suggested by the committee do not go well with the socio-economic ground realities which require-input of electrical energy to sustain the agrarian economy rather than achieve only commercial objectives.

The need of the hour is to see reasons for the dismal state of affairs of the PSEB. A thorough public debate is essential before undertaking any measure for irreversible changes.

— S.C. CHABBA, Ropar

Wooing voters

I had gone to felicitate a newly elected M.L.A. As he revelled in his victory, he castigated his opponents and spoke all about unfair means adopted by them. Distribution of hard cash, household goods, blankets, TV sets and pouches of hard drinks now constitute well known tools to find favour amongst the electorate. What actually startled me was the revelation that one of the aspirant hired the services of sex workers to entertain supporters.

By catering to the base instincts of voters, even if one gets elected, he is unlikely to contribute anything positive which will make society at large a happier human abode.


Provocation on border

This is in context of the hullabaloo and the critical situation created by some of the Indians on the border on March 2. Indians enjoyed their cricket victory over Pakistan with full enthusiasm along with the local MLAs. I happened to witness the happenings which took place there. A poor aspect of the show was that people on this side of the border abused the people on the other side. Stones were thrown at each other. Many got injured. Drums were beaten, making the atmosphere tense.

Victory and defeat are inseparable parts of life. The need of the hour is the reconciliation between India and Pakistan. Kudos to BSF jawans who controlled the situation which otherwise could be quite provocative.


‘Rasta roko’ culture

Of late it has become a routine “tamasha” of blocking roads on any or every issue. The unruly people take positions on the road and create traffic jams, little caring for the inconvenience caused to the public.

The case in point is a “sit-in” on the Chandigarh-Panchkula road for two hours on March 4 when traffic was at its peak, thus causing harassment to thousands of office-goers, businessmen, schoolchildren, doctors and patients. An unfortunate part was that the police was looking helpless.

Such acts are symptoms of the hollowness of our system, gross indiscipline and contempt of law and order. Whatever the drawbacks of our democratic set-up (vote-politics and irresponsible “netas”), these unscrupulous elements do not deserve any sympathy and should be sternly dealt with and charged for lawlessness and creating disturbance.

— J.K.MAGO, Panchkula

Don’t beat about bush

For greater good of the world community, the only apparent solution to the Iraq problem is: don’t beat about the bush, simply beat the Bush!

Incidentally, if I were “that S’damned Hussein, I will think twice before destroying my missile options, for it is absolutely clear that heads or tails, Bush is set to put Hussein to torch. Is it not suicidal to compromise on one’s country’s defence?

— VIVEK KHANNA, Panchkula

Hooch tragedy

Unlike a natural calamity or an unforeseen accident, the hooch tragedy at Patiala some days ago, where the victims were anything but innocent and lost their lives mainly because of their own fault, did not qualify for any ex-gratia payment. Wasting public money on such cases is not justified.

Instead, I think that both the sellers and the consumers of spurious liquor should be held equally guilty of the crime as in the case of bribe, and proceeded against accordingly to curb the social evil.

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

Vulgar songs

What are the censors doing? Vulgar songs and dances are telecast on private channels showing obscene gestures and fare bodies. Songs like “kanta laga” should be banned.

— INDU AURORA, Amritsar


Let down by varsity

How a political revenge can spoil the career of students is evident from the step-motherly behaviour of Punjabi University towards the students of M-Tech (IT), Guru Gobind Singh Institute of Information Technology (GGSIIT). The university, which started the course through this institution with front-page advertisements 2001, is now against continuing the course.

The first year exams were conducted very late by the university in August, 2002, the result of which has still not been declared by the university. The university has also lost the legal battle as the Punjab & Haryana High Court, in its order in the mid of January, 2003, asked the university to declare the result within a month and conduct the next year exams in time, but this did not change the university’s attitude.

Can a university reverse its decision so easily and that too after admissions to a course have been made? What is the fault of the students who have registered for the course? Should people start ignoring admission notices of Punjabi University?

— Students of M-Tech (IT), GGSIIT, Punjabi University, Patiala


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