Tuesday, September 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Limitations of caste-based politics

There is a change of guard in Uttar Pradesh. I am not ready to buy the theory that Ms Mayawati and Mr Mulayam Singh are as different as cheese and chalk. Both are basically caste leaders who of late have come to appreciate the serious limitations of caste-based politics.

As a consequence of the realisation of their limited strength, they are no longer opposed to political alliances. Mr Mulayam Singh lays claim to the inheritance of the famous legacy of Chaudhary Charan Singh whereas Ms Mayawati claims to be the lone fighter against the Brahminical hegemony in India along with Mr Kashi Ram. Both represent the upward mobility of the backward castes and the Dalits. This is a fact that Ms Mayawati struck alliances with the BJP many a time in order to keep Mr Yadav out of power. Even then, I would say it is a great wonder and potent sign of the resilience of Indian democracy that she became the Chief Minister of U.P. thrice.

To the surprise of many in this country, despite being a vocal critic of communal forces, she does not mind forging temporary alliances with them. The ideology of the BSP conceptualised as “Manuwad” hinges on unpredictable tactics. In other words, the ideology of BSP leaders is subject and subordinate to the opportunistic tactics they adopt from time to time. Despite this serious drawback, they are immensely popular among the Dalits of India, particularly North India. The phenomenal rise of Ms Mayawati in Indian politics has mentally inspired the Dalits of all states to stand up against social discrimination and oppression. Moreover, they want to assert themselves now politically also.


In a poor state like U.P., where owing a bicycle is a sign of comparative wealth, the common people will expect a lot from Mr Yadav. Within 25 minutes of assuming office, he withdrew POTA against Raja Bhaiya, an MLA from Kunda (Pratapgarh district). I support the argument of The Tribune editorial “The speed with which Mr Mulayam Singh ordered the revocation of POTA charges against the notorious lawmaker gives some clue about the political company he keeps” (August 30). But at the same time, he ordered the clearance of dues of cane growers amounting to Rs 1,340 crore in the State.

I notice a clear-cut paradox in these announcements. I perceive some fundamental change also in his functioning style. I think that the main beneficiaries of Mr Yadav’s rule (which may last six months or a year) will be the prosperous farmers, landlords and traders. As Ms Mayawati claims, he has not come to power with the help of the BJP, but a splinter group of this party is supporting him. In my opinion, he is slowly and slowly moving towards the elite of U.P. He has lost his old sheen as a radical leader of the poor and the weak.

Dr R.B. YADAV DEHATI, Fatehabad

Toll tax barrier

The toll tax barrier for the collection of toll tax from all four-wheelers has been installed at Tunu Hatti instead of Katori Bungalow, which is the entry point on the Pathankot-Dalhousie road where the border of Himachal Pradesh begins.

When one has to visit a place between Tunu Hatti and Katori Bungalow, he has to face the toll tax collectors.

While coming back it becomes difficult to convince them that the visit was within Himachal territory as nobody would agree to it and there is a lot of unnecessary harassment to the vehicle owners. They have to part with money also.


Colour-coding of plants

A sensor can give crops just the amount of water they need. The same approach can be applied to plant feeding. Each of the three main nutrients required for plant growth — nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium — could induce a specific change in leaf colour when it is in short supply. Nitrogen deficiency tends to result in a yellowing of leaves, low phosphorous turns them purple/ blue colour, and a shortage of potassium makes their edges brown.

A sensor can also detect the nutrient needs of the plant by checking the colour of its leaves, then it is possible to avoid over application of fertilizer common to modern agriculture. In the case of nitrogen-based fertilizers, such reductions are crucial, not only in increasing efficiency of crops production, but also in reducing the amounts of nitrous oxide, a harmful green-house gas.

Dr S.P. GUPTA, Reader in Physics, Kurukshetra University

Doctor in custody

This refers to the report “Doctor in custody not suspended” (Aug 27).

The Civil Surgeon is reported to have said that “the authority of suspending Dr Devgun was with the Health Secretary”. However, he said the Health Department had not got any intimation. I would like to know from the Civil Surgeon that, when he along with the Principal of the Medical College, Amritsar, could visit the accused doctor in custody without the Health Department informing him of the arrest, why could he not take the initiative to inform the Health Secretary after getting a report from the police?

Be that as it may, some other issues of great public importance are involved in this matter. According to two schemes of the Government of India, all cancer and T.B. patients are to get medicines free. Cancer patients needing radiation should get that free in Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital attached to the Govt. Medical College, Amritsar. No money is charged above or below the table.

In Govt. T.B. Hospital, however, the situation is just the opposite. Even poor patients have to pay though their nose. Patients are even directed to buy prescribed medicines from chemists’ shops just outside (and inside) the hospital.

A former Head of the T.B. Hospital started a factory to manufacture some T.B. medicines in the name of his son. It needs to be investigated as to who all are partners or share-holders in the factory.


PTU fees

The Vice-Chancellor of PTU says that “people often level charges without sufficient information and his survey has found that the fee in Haryana and Rajasthan is between Rs 40,000 and Rs 42,000 per annum. From this year it is around Rs 45,000 in PTU”.

I humbly draw your attention to the CET-2003 “Information brochure” issued by PTU wherein the “fee structure” for the first semester is about Rs 39,000 and it is Rs 25,000 for the subsequent semesters. This, I feel, is contrary to the statement of the V.C.

S.N. KAUL, JammuTop

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