Friday, May 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Bow before Uncle Sam or ...

If the American perception changed after 9/11, the rest of the world is going to revise its notions after the war on Iraq. Ultra-unilateralism of Uncle Sam is there to stay notwithstanding the French and Russian moves to gear up defence ties. Writing on the wall is bold and clear: bow before big Bush or get ready for being amBushed. Day and night, we lend ears to threats to Syria, Iran, North Korea etc and about betrayal of France, silence of Saudi Arabia and settling scores with Russia. Some other sites are Somalia, Libya and Cuba.

Raison d’etre is giving way to raison d’etat. The ‘Sun King’ is rising this time not in France but across the Atlantic. George Bush cowboyishly admits that the weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq may not be found. Even then, the Pentagon has deputed 1,000 experts to discover WMDs. Astronomical rewards have been announced. Iraqi former Deputy PM Tariq Aziz has been provided green channel to spill the beans about WMDs. Tony Blair is appearing more loyal than the King. Bush does not care about alibi of WMDs. But Blair is equally determined to let the fate of WMDs be known from the horse’s mouth even by flogging a dead horse.

Hans Blix wants to go back to Iraq. But the intention of Bush Blair is that the UN inspectors may play footsie with the Iraqis thus spoiling the ‘victory’ in Iraq. Who cares about certification from the UN when the entire Iraq is in the lap? So many. Quislings are hovering over Iraq who earlier enjoyed safe havens in America. Four airfields in Iraq are going to be developed; an oil pipeline to Israel is in the pipeline. Defence understanding with Saudi Arabia is almost over and American forces are now shifting to the Central Command Headquarters at Doha. Saddam Hussein helped the Americans to get wind out of Islamic revolution in Iran. Fought a bloody war with Iran killing hundreds of thousands in 10 years with American weaponery and arsenal. The Saudi monarchy played Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War I. Now the fate of Saddam Hussein may be haunting the monarchy.


Destruction follows reconstruction. Bombs were targeted on high rise buildings. Even before the war came to close, construction contracts have been allotted to the American companies to the chagrin of Tony Blair. The war on Iraq did cost the Allies $20 billion. The USA and UK companies are expecting reconstruction work worth $ 100 billion. This amount would be recovered by getting the Iraqi oil at much lower rates than the international rates. Iraq is being preferred as a model to kickstart the American economy long fallen in the recessionary spiral. In the 19th century, quest for cheaper raw material paved way for creating colonies out of continents. Same quest is being revived. World may experience a new spate of arms race if not for creating colonies but for territorial survival. The Pentagon is going to harvest net profits. Diplomatically, the world is going to have power blocs as deterrents. The UN may provide a breathing space but it is losing sheen as a stabilising force.

SUKHDEV SINGH SOHAL, Department of History, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

Out of context

Apropos Prof Yash Pal’s piece “Understanding the Universe” (April 24), the answer to the question is contained in the first two paragraphs, whereas the matter written in the next paragraphs is altogether out of context. Electric energy is trasmitted at higher voltages to reduce the loss of electric energy in the form of heat energy. This fact is well-known even to +2 student, where as explanation given in the write up is not suitable. In one paragraph it is written that the masses of electron and proton are same. What a great blunder!

Everybody studying Physics or Chemistry knows that proton is 1,837 times heavier than electron. Apparently, the answer to the main question and the rest of the matter is not written by Prof. Yash Pal.

V.K. SHARMA, Shimla

Lemons for Rs 60 a kg!

The prices of vegetables at Palampur in Himachal Pradesh are sky rocketing. Lemons are being sold at Rs 60 a kg in the Main Market. This is surprising because at the Subzimandi, they are available for Rs 30-40 a kg. The distance between the Subzimandi and the Main Market is about 200 metres. Why, then, is this big difference in the price structure?

The Sub-Divisional Magistrate should look into the matter with a sense of urgency and bring down the prices of vegetables and lemons in the Main Market.


For lower tariffs

The new telephone tariffs announced with much fanfare lack imagination. The BSNL has lost the opportunity to opt for simpler and user-friendly plan consisting of, say, fixed monthly rental and telescopic tariff for the number of calls.

Ideally, for rural and urban exchanges, they could have charged rentals at Rs 50 and Rs 100 per month without creating confusion over the size of the exchanges which in any case has no relevance to the user. There need not be any free calls which are truly not free. The rate per call should not exceed Re 1, i.e. the same what one pays at the PCO. Accordingly, the rates could have been 100, 90, 80 paise for the first 200, next 300 and subsequent calls respectively or something similar to this.

Today, when knowledge and information hold the key to growth, Internet pulse could have been uniformly 10 minutes during peak or off peak hours to make telephone-based Internet affordable. To give the new tariff the customary socialistic hue, rentals from senior citizens, widows, freedom fighters, ex-servicemen, ex-paramilitary personnel, dependents of serving personnel, charitable and educational institutions could be waived.Now when the public sector monopoly in telecom has gone, the only means to retain the customer base would be by offering quality service and cheaper tariffs.

Air-Cmde RAGHUBIR SINGH (retd), Pune

No SARS awareness

The conflicting statements of the Union Health Ministry about India being declared severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) free is another sign of complacency on the part of the Indian government. The way the cases are being detected here, such statements cannot be taken at their face value.

The WHO list is, no doubt, credible, but declaring the country free from the virus at this stage is not at all understandable. Instead of isuing such statements, the government should concentrate on spreading awareness about the precautionary measures.

Unfortunately, none of the hospitals in India have been fully equipped to treat SARS cases. No awareness camps have been organised to provide information about this deadly disease. The specially designed masks are not available in most of the hospitals in the country. We receive maximum information about SARS only from satellite news channels and newspapers.

There is a need to telecast special awareness programmes and broadcast on all media channels to spread general awareness among the people on SARS. Dr. Habayth’s statement that precautionary measure should be scaled up need to be considered in its entirety to meet the current threat of SARS.

EKTA ARORA, Jalandhar


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