Tuesday, April 8, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Bonanza for Punjab MLAs

APROPOS the news items “Profligacy, Punjab style” by PPS Gill (April 2) and “Rs 8.5 cr bonanza for MLAs (April 3) regarding the decision of the Punjab Assembly to enhance the allowances of the legislators and ministers, six-fold in many cases, we wish to place on record our strong condemnation of the way the Punjab ministers and other representatives are enjoying added privileges at the cost of the taxpayer.

The most outrageous is the fact that the income tax on their income has also to be paid by the state itself, as per the news. Is the state of Punjab so rich that it can afford to pay its masters in such rich doses? Still more intriguing was the complete absence of discussion. Not a single dissenting voice was heard, while the Bill for the inordinate increase was adopted in a breathtaking hurry.

The Punjab Government has all along been raising a hue and cry that the previous regime had left the coffers empty. If the coffers are empty, why this indiscriminate raising of expenditure? We wonder what these legislators are doing in the Assembly for the people except devising ways how to sell the interests of the state to the private parties and, in the bargain, line their own pockets. It is a tragic irony that the masses are crying for pension, salaries, jobs and these few hundred people decide to raise their own salaries and allowances which are to be paid by the people.


The government has recently expanded its Cabinet. Political expediency apart, the government seems to be a complete alien to the austerity measures it is making other people observe so religiously, cutting down on the staff and grants.

We express deep shock and indignation at the way the legislators are behaving — playing ducks and drakes with public money, while keeping colleges, schools and hospitals starved of buildings, medicines, staff, salaries and grants, and making the average citizen pay increased fees, taxes, bus fares, telephone bills etc.

N.K. GOSAIN, J.S. ANAND, Bathinda

Bomb now, build later

The world felt intrigued when George Bush Jr. made his intention to attack Iraq known. Was it unfulfilled wish of his father to annihilate Iraq or the desire to control the oil-rich region? So many theories about the method in madness were floated. But now, it seems, we are arriving at the truth. The latest press reports speak of the “bomb now, build later” business strategy adopted by that old shopkeeper Uncle Sam.

In the name of freedom of the Iraqi people from their dictator Saddam Hussein, the Americans have done what they are best at — camouflage business interests of their country in sweet ideological capsules. So at the end of war, the Iraqis would be presented with a fat bill for the services rendered to them. In all probability, this must have been done to the Afghans also.

But they seem to be in a hurry to divide the spoils. So, the unseemly public controversy between the USA and the UK has presented to the world the expressionistic image of wolves fighting over a carcass. The Umm Qasr port rehabilitation contract has been awarded to a US firm much against the wishes of buddy Blair. Hence, the pious appeals by the UK and the fence-sitter France to let the reconstruction activity be handled by the Iraqis themselves.

But the Americans do not seem to be in a mood to oblige. They have even found the obscure clauses in the international law which allow them to use money from Iraqi oil sales to meet the cost of reconstruction. President Bush cannot be faulted on this account. After all, the economy back home which is in a terrible state, has to be lifted. Even if one does not go by the stray revelations provided by natives like the one in the form of a full-page ad by Dr Matthias Rath reproducing his open letter to President Bush, linking the war to saving the pharmaceutical industry of America (published in some dailies on March 23), there are clear indications that the USA looks upon the war as a business venture that will open up opportunities and bring in profits for its industries of all types. The world be damned if this war creates further tension and trouble, the US arms manufacturers would still rake in billions.


Others to follow Punjab

The Punjab law-makers will be miles ahead of their counterparts in Haryana and several other states and these states are sure to follow Punjab.

The pay hike came at a time when a high profile World Bank mission team was in the state capital to discuss reforms. While there is no money for development, there is plenty for the elected representatives.

I request the Governor of Punjab to reject the government’s decision to go all-out in order to please the MLAs without bothering about the state’s financial health.

Dr NARESH RAJ, Patiala

Keep ’em in check

The delightfully forthright editorial “Austerity, Punjab style” (April 4) misses a vital point: the desirability of allowing legislators the unique privilege of enhancing their own pay and perks.

In a democratic system of governance the relationship between the “electors” and the “elected” is the one that exists between the master and the servant. Isn’t it strange that the elected representatives of the people should enhance their own salary and allowances whenever they so choose, the electors viewing the curious antic as mute spectators?

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)

Of wits and women

This refers to the letter “Gender equality — their style” (April 2).

Mark Twain, who observed that “women, can’t live with them, can’t without them”, also observed in his autobiography that “A thoroughly beautiful woman and a thoroughly homely woman are creations which I love to gaze upon, and which I cannot tire of gazing upon, for each is perfect in her own line”.

Jean Paul Belmondo, a French film actor, also believes that “women over thirty are at their best”. However, he regrets to add: “but men over thirty are too old to recognise it”.

Speaking of the love of women, Lord Byron in Don Juan says: “Alas! the love of women! it is known/To be a lovely and fearful thing”. Elsewhere in Don Juan he adds: “There is a tide in the affairs of women,/which, taken at the flood, leads — God knows where”.

Nevertheless, this Byronic riddle finds a solution with Jane Austen when she says: “ A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment”.

Amoz Oz, an Israeli writer, believes that “the very existence of two distinct sexes” is the root cause of “multiplied agony in the world”. Sir Winston Churchill, however, was soft when he said that “ there can be no winner in the battle of sexes”.

George Eliot has a fair and equitable approach when she writes: “I’m not denyin” the women are foolish: God Almighty made ‘em to match men’ (Adam Bede).

All said and done, in the words of G.K. Chesterton, “there is a road from the eye to the head that does not go through the intellect”.

Deepak Tandon, Panchkula

Traffic jam at Beas

This refers to the letter “Traffic jam at Beas” (April 4). I really feel sorry for Ms Aswant Kaur Gill, who became a victim of a traffic jam at Beas. A road is being laid on the main bridge over the Beas river. Because of this, traffic from Amritsar to Jalandhar is diverted to the narrow bridge.

Being a regular visitor to the dera, I know that the timing of satsang on March 30 was 9 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. and Ms Gill is complaining of a jam at 5 p.m. Sevadars of the dera are deployed on the G.T. Road to ensure a smooth flow of traffic.


NBC, not CNN

Apropos of Amita Malik’s column “Worse than Doordarshan”, I notice a glaring error which must be corrected. I have no idea how that could have been made. Peter Arnett had joined NBC after retiring from CNN. It wasn’t CNN which fired him, but NBC. It is on all websites. How careless of Amita Malik not to see it!

Rebecca Kurian, e-mail

US calculations fail

Apropos of Harwant Singh’s “The allied race to Baghdad’ (April 4), it is not surprising that the US calculations of a short, effective and “welcome” war have all gone awry and it has created uncertainty and unpredictability. Mr Bush’s “war against terror” stands completely derailed. So whatever be the outcome of Iraq War-II, for Pakistan it has turned out to be an opportunity to encourage and support terrorism in Kashmir.


Amitabh, you too!

Amitabh Bachchan has reportedly said in a news item emanating from Mumbai that he has the highest regard for the Sahara chief. “If he asks me to mop the floor of his office, I’ll happily do so.” It is a pity that the super star has degraded himself so low by using such words publicly.

Such flattering words were also made by Giani Zail Singh for Indira Gandhi when Gianiji was elected the President of India.

Moral: Sky is the limit for sycophancy!

D.V. JOSHI, Bartana (Zirakpur)


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