Saturday, August 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Why two-child norm may not work in Haryana

I am in doubt whether the two-child norm will help Haryana as this has failed in states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh. The Supreme Court seems to be oblivious of the International Conference on Population and Development held at Cairo in 1994, of which India is a signatory. This Declaration seeks a human-centered approach to population issues with special emphasis on the role of women. The court has also overlooked Article 12 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women that provides for the right to all couples to decide freely the number of children they want to have.

So far states with a strong gender bias have already experienced a rapid decline in the female-male sex ratio in the wake of increasing incidence of pre-natal sex-selection, and consequent abortion of the female foetus. As compared to the National Child Sex Ratio of 927 females per 1000 males in the age group of 0-6 years, Haryana is lagging far behind with a corresponding ratio of 820 females per 1000 males.

Owing to the strict one-child norm, China experienced the “biggest human holocaust” as the “patriarchy” compelled couples to have a male child only. On a similar pattern, in Haryana (where gender bias has been prevalent since centuries), would it not be ironical to even think that parents would tolerate a female child at the cost of a male child?


When it comes to planning of a family, parents tend to become calculative. If a female foetus is detected, it gets eliminated with impunity and callousness. The quest for a “balanced family” (a son and a daughter) is already common with the urban couples. This will have a spill-over effect into the rural areas and has the potential to give impetus to more frequent sex-selective (female-male) termination of pregnancies.

So far, the Haryana government has not succeeded in eliminating the menace of female foeticide. I feel, an optimal balance needs to be struck between the needs of the country and those of the people who inhabit it, as the judgment of the Supreme Court will definitely accelerate the “silent mass massacre” of the fairer sex in lieu of controlling the rate of population growth.

Shipra Kaushal, Chandigarh

Quality power supply

THESE days we read many promises about quality power supply to consumers at an affordable price following the unbundling of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). In reality, however, the picture is different.

If it were possible to improve the quality of power supply through promises or fanciful proposals or schemes, then by now, the lot of power consumers would have been different. What is needed is an improvement in the work culture, methods of construction and the employees’ sensitivity towards the consumers’ requirements.

There is no mechanism which can conceive and establish a reliable distribution system to cater to the present and future power requirements. Sadly, distribution system engineering is still being done at the lineman's level. It only needs to look at the new works being executed, which can hardly ensure quality power supply. These works do not even meet the safety provisions. Punjab's Chief Electrical Inspector's Department, for instance, does everything else except enforcement of the Indian Electricity Rules.

Those who promise quality power supply to consumers should know the inputs required to improve upon the existing system. It is simply too much to expect from the power consumers that with structural changes in the existing set-up, the PSEB will usher in improved power supply.

Nirvair Singh, Patiala

Defer the decision

This is regarding the hasty shifting of Plus 1 and Plus 2 classes in schools which are not fully equipped to meet the quality education which the colleges are providing at present. This hasty decision will mar the career of the students. Schools, situated in towns and villages, do not have the infrastructure the colleges have. The colleges are fully equipped with laboratories and latest equipment. Their teachers are well-versed with the latest technological information. If classes are shifted to schools, the career of students will be in doldrums.

Moreover, the fresh construction of labs and the purchase of equipment and appointment of new teachers will entail a heavy expenditure which the government cannot bear at present. In addition, the infrastructure will be rendered useless, creating problems for the teachers already employed in colleges by the management.

I appeal to the authorities concerned to defer the decision. When the schools are fully prepared to deliver quality education, the decision can be implemented at that time. I suggest that the decision be implemented in phases. Arts classes should be shifted first, followed by Commerce and Science classes.

B.K. Sharma, Principal, DAV College, Dasuya (Hoshiarpur)

Tax on CSD items

The Punjab bureaucracy with a bright stroke is planning to achieve what the country's enemy could not do in the last 56 years. The withdrawal of privilege of exemption of sales tax on CSD items is bound to affect the morale of the defence personnel adversely, most undesirable consequences for a fighting force posted or likely to be posted in Punjab.

The state government must think right earnestly and withdraw sales tax on CSD items. There are plenty of avenues to reduce the government expenses to overcome the fiscal deficit rather than playing with the effectiveness of hard pressed defence personnel.

Air Marshal P.K. Jain (retd), Chandigarh

What ails Punjab Police

The news-item “Drunken cops kill boy in Patiala” (Aug 2) was shocking. The Punjab Police is known for its misdeeds. Highhandedness is found to be the most potent weapon in its hands to deal with any situation. As many cops are drunk even while on duty, they commit barbaric acts. Unfortunately, no DGP has tried to check this menace and refurbish the police image. Magsaysay awardee Kiran Bedi made tremendous strides in other police-related problems, but the root cause remained untouched.

Let Punjab’s new DGP, Mr A. A. Siddiqui, take the lead and make Punjab Police free from drunkards. Ultimately, this will not only restore the image of the police organisation but also make it people-friendly.

Karnail Singh, Ranjit Sagar DamTop

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