Wednesday, May 14, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



How Punjab gains in Indo-Pak trade

Apropos of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s new initiative to boost bilateral relations with Pakistan, both countries now share a new enthusiasm for regional trade. Trade between India and Pakistan started in January 1975 following an agreement. In 1982, a list of 40 items was approved. In 1983, the Indo-Pakistan Joint Commission was set up. It is a fact that Pakistan can get raw materials and other items 25 to 40 per cent cheaper if imported from India. The transaction cost of business will come down heavily.

Against the official trade between the two countries worth $ 250 million, unofficial trade volume is as high as $ 4 billion, 16 times more. India increased trade with China thrice within three years by normalising relationship. Both Pakistan and India will get a revenue boost through custom duties if unofficial trade is channeled through official routes.

Punjab has felt the most impact of terrorism as imported from Pakistan. Now with the prospects of trade between the two countries looking bright, Punjab should have a fair share in it. Punjab is basically the home of the small-scale sector. There is a lot of scope to export engineering goods to Pakistan. Punjab has very heavy rolling capacity for steel items. Whenever trade with Pakistan opened up in a limited manner, rolled products were exported to Pakistan.

Moreover, Punjab’s entrepreneurs have developed range of products in the automobile sector which are exported to advanced countries in large volumes. The range of agricultural products have lot of scope. Already India is exporting through illegal channels stainless steel utensils, cosmetics, alcoholic beverages, ayurvedic medicines, cotton items and confectionary items.


Last time when trade talks opened between the two countries, small-scale sectors of India and the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Traders and Cottage Industries had trade dialogue. Apart from the trade of goods, Pakistan can export power to India. Private producers have created spare capacity in the power sector in Pakistan. There have been disputes on the power rates although rates there are much cheaper than in India. Punjab and other northern states can benefit on this front as well.

The Punjab Government should prevail upon the Union Government to ensure that in the trade dialogue with Pakistan, Punjab’s entrepreneurs are also closely involved. In fact, Punjab’s small and medium scale sectors should have exclusive dialogue with their counterparts in Pakistan.

P.D. SHARMA, President, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Punjab), Ludhiana

Dynastic politics

In her article “Bleak future for dynastic politics” (May 6), Ms Sushila Ramaswamy manifested the murky aspect of Indian politics. The writer rightly views that our politics has become puppet in the hands of dynasties and the whole politics revolves round these dynasties.

However, as a student of political science, I don't agree with the view that dynastic and aristocratic rule is becoming a thing of the past. It can be possible only where democratic values and institutions are flourishing well but not in India. For, our leaders and people lack democratic obligations. They give precedence to self-interest over national interest and a strict adherence to democratic beliefs. At any time, our leaders can sacrifice national interest for the sake of their narrow interests. The family factor is becoming powerful day by day in our state and national politics.

Badal and Barnala in Punjab, Abdullah in Jammu and Kashmi, M.Karunanidhi in Tamil Nadu, Bal Thackeray in Maharashtra, Mulayam Singh Yadav in UP, Om Prakash Chautala in Haryana, Lallo Prasad Yadav in Bihar have all given berths to their families in politics. In addition, leaders of the Telugu Desam Party and the BJP are enjoying the fruits of their predecessors. Sons of the late Madhavrao Scindia and Rajesh Pilot sons have joined politics after their fathers’ deaths. There are lots of examples in Indian politics which prove that the forthcoming leadership will be from the ancestry of our present leaders, competent or not.

It is the demand of the 21st century that the pattern of dynastic politics should be shown the door. and it is only possible through educated electorate. So the teacher-intellectual community and the mass media — print and electronic — will have to play an active role in our society otherwise the world's largest democracy will be farmed into a dynasty.


Holidays galore

By applying two or three days leave, one enjoys ten days leave in one go. This can happen only in a country like India. Quite often such occasions arise as in last month. Government work is at a standstill and cases pile up in courts.

Of 365 days in a year, 104 account for Saturdays and Sundays and 28 for holidays. This implies that for 132 days, i.e one-third of the year, there is virtually no official work. In the case of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, in addition to these holidays, summer vacation takes away about one month and winter recess about 15 days. Thus nearly for half of the year, the Supreme Court and the High Courts remain closed. Surprisingly, lower courts have to work on Saturdays, though they enjoy summer and winter vacations. If this is the position, how will the Chief Justice of India help resolve the problem of huge backlog of cases piling up in all the courts day by day?

Lt-Col P.S. SARANG (retd), Chandigarh

Lecturers’ woes

Over 370 lecturers were selected by the Punjab Public Service Commission in January-February, last year. However, no appointment letters have been issued till date. The government is silent over the matter. Regrettably, there has been no recruitment of lecturers letters for he past seven years and, at present, nearly 700 posts are lying vacant in various disciplines in government colleges. There is no point in making selections, if appointments are not to be made.

Repeated representations and memoranda in this regard have failed to move the authorities. How much more time will the Punjab government take to appoint lecturers?


Need for IIT & IIM

Prof V.S. Ramamurthy, Secretary, Science and the Technology, Government of India, while attending the convocation of Guru Nanak Dev University, said that the Centre has decided to raise national investment in science and technology to 2 per cent of GDP. Let us hope that the Centre will establish one IIT or IIM in Haryana and Punjab to fulfill the long-standing demand of the students of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab.

The Chief Ministers of these states should raise this demand collectively instead of making petty demands for transfer of Hindi-speaking areas or Punjabi-speaking areas to their respective states. There is no IIT or IIM in this part of the country. Sadly, there is no such demand from any political party in the regard.



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