Are we fighting a losing battle?

THE death of yet another engineer in Bihar, after Satyendra Dubey, is cause for major concern. The official-contractor nexus and its criminal dimensions are so all-pervasive in the country that they are not confined to Lalooland. I would like to focus on four problems.

First, the process of procurement and allotment of tenders is being massively manipulated and hijacked by contractors in big projects while the work on the ground is executed by the inexperienced local subcontractors. Huge kickbacks at the time of allotment and thereafter regular monthly bribes facilitate this open loot of public money and poor quality of finished projects.

This kind of squandering of public trust was unimaginable in Iraq (where I had served for four years) or in any other country. Secondly, the voice of a few conscientious officials pleading for sanity is stifled by the mafias operating in almost every government department. I have faced the situations Satyendra Dubey had met with and I wonder how I have managed to survive.


Thirdly, the machinery meant for tackling corruption lacks teeth. My complaints against the well-entrenched corrupt people have not been looked into even after decades. In some cases, the corrupt mafia managed to get me reprimanded by the authorities for bypassing the code of conduct by writing letters directly to the chief executive of the state. Who will pursue such losing propositions? And finally, even quasi-judicial forums in the construction industry like arbitration tribunals have been hijacked and the government is mostly a loser.

S.C. CHABBA, Ropar

PM on open borders

Apropos of the editorial “Open border” (Dec 15), Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s call to South Asian nations to organise into South Asian union is timely and relevant to the demands of globalisation and aspirations of the people.

All nations in this region have common problems — poverty, hunger, starvation, unemployment, smuggling, terrorism and drug trafficking. These can be effectively tackled by building bridges of mutual trust and developing effective coordination through a pragmatic and rational approach.

Let us be optimistic on having open borders and single currency. The successful functioning of ASEAN and EU prove that there is need for a strong political will coupled with enlightened decisions by those at the helm. Mr Vajpayee’s call for EU-style South Asia with single currency and open border is not a pipe dream but can be a reality.

There is growing awareness that increased economic integration is the only route to prosperity and peace. Already much damage has been done due to mutual wrangles and mistrust. It is time to dispel doubts and dark clouds. The dawn of South Asian union can usher in a new era of peace in the region.

Prof K.L. BATRA, Yamuna Nagar


Mr Vajpayee’s proposal for open borders and single currency in South Asia is laudable. He, however, seems to think that he lives in Europe or North America where democracy and human rights exist next to India. In Pakistan, a military dictator rules the nation with an iron hand. China crushes dissent. Both nations have border disputes with India. Bangladesh and Myanmar have human rights problems. Nepal, perhaps due to its close ties with India, remains the best. In South Asia, India is a model for democracy. The rest are but thugs.

New Delhi will perhaps have more in common with New York than Lahore. Why should Mr Vajpayee bend backwards to appease terrorists? How will open borders help India now? India is essentially living in the final frontier of the civilised world. Should it be foolish enough to open its economy and border to the terrorists?


A murky affair

THE whole affair of Daler Mehndi is becoming murky. The Patiala police have given him a clean chit but the former Senior SP says that the evidence was overlooked. The whole investigation is punctured like a water bubble after all the hype created by the media and the government.

Daler was painted as the biggest catch in the human trafficking case. Police hounded him all over India, giving an impression that the state government was doing a sincere and wonderful job. But the sudden about-turn gives credence to rumours of all kinds.

For a common man, every player of this game looks innocent and guilty. Who and why the whole affair was messed up? Who is the gainer? Only Daler can clear the mess for which he needs lot of guts.



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