Monday, August 4, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Why do women need quotas in Parliament?

THE debate over the Women's Reservation Bill outside Parliament now centres around how much and for whom. It has even spawned such bizarre proposals as double-member constituencies. The question 'why' is not being asked any longer.

Reservations are required when any section of society suffers discrimination because of existing practices and attitudes. What needs to be examined is: at what point does this happen and what kind of remedial measures are required. The lower castes suffer from this handicap the moment they step out of their homes. Women, too, are discriminated against in our society, but in their case this happens primarily within their homes.

The girl child is denied education and other opportunities for advancement in life. If she gets them, as her male counterparts do, then in her public life she has no major problem. Barring a few vocations, sex is no handicap. A female doctor, lawyer, administrator or clerk gets equal opportunities as long as she has the ability and qualifications. Very often discerning employers, in fact, prefer female staff.

Generally, a woman will not be barred entry into a temple, access to the village well or jobs on grounds of her sex. However, a family of shopkeepers will not let the female child attend to customers. Farmers keep daughters out of land inheritance, even if they have toiled on it as adolescents. Low-income families will send their daughters to do domestic cleaning and mopping, while sons study at schools.


The law is not the obstacle in such cases. Family attitude, including that of elder women in the household, is. And to correct this one does not necessarily need female law-makers. Even female foeticide is a problem within the family. Electing more women MPs will not solve it. The remedy for crimes against women is not getting more of them into the Lok Sabha. More female cops, yes. More women parliamentarians, why?


Regular check of transformers a must

Having been associated with the installation, operational maintenance and protection of transformers in the Haryana State Electricity Bard (HSEB) for over 33 years, I was shocked to hear about the death of seven persons and injuries to 27 in the transformer blast at Panipat recently.

Most distribution transformers get damaged due to unauthorised load extension by some consumers who do not get their loads extended by the companies. Moreover, they tamper with the protective equipment during the unscheduled tripping of transformers due to overload or short circuits in the low tension distribution system. The overload of distribution transformers and short circuits on low tension wires raise the temperature of the transformer oil in the tank beyond the permissible limit of 95 degree Centigrade. This leads to internal pressure in the transformer tank which is made of steel. Consequently, the splattering of highly combustible hot oil causes fire all around.

Such tragedies can be avoided if the SDO/JE/ Foreman carry out routine checks on overload and misuse of the protection equipment of distribution transformers. This would be possible only if the employees are imparted extensive training and are provided with proper testing gadgets. Regular supervision of the transformers by the Chief Electrical Inspector’s staff should receive top priority in the interest of public safety.

It is time big transformers were shifted to open places from the congested areas. The low tension distribution system should also be set right expeditiously.

H.S. SARWARA, Superintendent Engineer (retd), HVPNL, Panchkula

Costlier petrol

Apropos of the news item “Petrol dearer in Punjab” (August 1), the State Government’s assertion to realise more revenue as a result of the hike in the rate of sales tax in case of sale of petrol within the municipal limits of SAS Nagar is not based on facts and arithmetic calculations.

The hike in these areas should be based on a comparative study of the existing rates of petrol in the neighbouring states, as petrol in Chandigarh is Rs 30.66 per litre where as in SAS Nagar it would be Rs 33.04 per litre. This will, in fact, negate the efforts of the state government to raise more revenue, particularly in SAS Nagar. As the hike will discourage residents not to purchase petrol from SAS Nagar, the revenue collection from sales tax in this area will come down considerably. The government’s decision will force the residents to purchase petrol from Chandigarh.

If SAS Nagar is kept out of the purview of the hike, the people of the adjoining areas of SAS Nagar shall rush to buy petrol from SAS Nagar. But in that event too, the sales tax realised shall be added to the State Revenue whereas in the case of the residents of SAS Nagar purchasing petrol from Chandigarh due to cheaper rate, Punjab will lose revenue to a great extent. Therefore, the Punjab Government should review the decision in public interest.


Chandigarh's slums

The Chandigarh Administration’s initiative to remove encroachments despite opposition from some political parties was hailed by the general public. However, the politicians finally succeeded in halting the anti-encroachment drive.

Mr M.N. Sharma, a former Chief Architect of Chandigarh, in an interview to The Tribune (July 21), said that the administrators were fully aware of the problems of the city and the region and were doing their best. He said that slum-dwellers are one-third of the population of Chandigarh. The politicians who shed tears for them today would be in minority tomorrow and repent.

The UT authorities have been planning to rehabilitate the slum-dwellers for the last 25 years. In the process, slums are getting multiplied. Family planning has no meaning for the slum-dwellers. This is the main cause of their poverty. There is a liquor vend near every slum. A major portion of their earning goes for drinking and smoking.

Slums are also multiplying in Panchkula and SAS Nagar too — the satellite towns of Chandigarh. Here too, the politicians follow Chandigarh’s policy on slums. The hands of the Administrators of HUDA and PUDA are tied due to political pressure. They can’t take drastic action against slums. Human excreta and cattle dung are the ugly facets of Panchkula and SAS Nagar. But who cares? Votes are more important for the politicians.

T.D. KUMAR, Panchkula

The nagging question

This is the million-dollar question every common man is asking for the last 55 years — where are we heading to? In a recent report of UNDP on Human Development Index for 2001, India's rank fell three notches from 124 to 127. Despite globalisation and economic reforms programme and continuous GDP growth for more than 5 per cent, 55 years planned development could not provide basic amenities like water, electricity, sanitary facilities, employment etc. This is highly disturbing and requires serious reconsideration.

The need of the hour is to think tall, play a stellar role, focus on growth, fast development and creation of wealth by higher productivity and diverting the avoidable expenditure on jumbo cabinets, VIP security, burgeoning bureaucracy to growth projects so that the common man can be provided basic necessities of life. The holiday culture (201 holidays in a year) should be transformed into a work culture.



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