Promoting Indo-Pak trade ties

The confidence building measures between Pakistan and India should be trade-driven. Free trade between Pakistan and India would be beneficial for both countries and their people. Besides, short distance (through the Wagah border instead of the Dubai-Singapore route) would help reduce freight cost, ensure quick delivery and short inventory.

Restoring trade activities between the two countries would also help boost their economies. As India and Pakistan have no language barrier, both can introduce modern trade practices and latest fashion needs.

Pakistan needs the route to Bangladesh because it wants a market for dates, rock salt, yarn and cloth. More important, India’s 150-million-strong middle class will be available to Pakistan. For example, while Zinetac, a patent medicine for acidity, is available in India for Rs 7.20 (10 tablets), the same costs between Rs 80 and Rs 150 in Pakistan.

At the same time, both countries should resolve their political disputes through dialogue. A great opportunity lies ahead for the South Asian countries once India and Pakistan move forward to develop trade relations.

— Afzal Rahim, Islamabad, Pakistan



Fiat on loans will hit reforms

Union Finance Minister Jaswant Singh should not have directed public sector banks to lend loans below 9 per cent interest to farmers. His directive is regressive and would affect banking reforms. Further, advising banks not to insist on “collateral securities and mortgaging the land” of farmers as security for the loans is most unfortunate.

Even though the measures suggested by Mr Singh are noteworthy, one cannot lose sight of the developments following “directed lending” and “loan melas” in the past which eventually turned into large non-performing assets of public sector banks. The need of the hour is to follow a “cautious approach” rather than indulging in election gimmicks. Let us hope that the measures announced by Mr Singh will not add up to the banking sector’s huge NPAs, which have crossed Rs.1,00,000 crore.

— Satish R. Murdeshwar, Pune

An eye-opener

Apropos of your editorial “Playing with health” (Feb 6), I fully endorse your views. The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) report unequivocally endorses the findings of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). The JPC in general and its chairman, Mr Sharad Pawar, in particular deserve applause for upholding the truth. The report is bound to cause embarrassment to the Centre which went out of the way to give Coca Cola virtually a clean chit.

I fully appreciate the positive role played by The Tribune in suitably highlighting the issue. The nation must be warned about the inherent dangers of consuming dangerously toxic materials in the name of “good quality products” sold by these unscrupulous multinationals in India. Now the government should pursue the JPC report to its logical conclusion.

— Prof Salil Kumar Uppal, Chandigarh

Punish the guilty

This has reference to the report “Two needles removed from girl’s stomach”
(Feb 1). How could the doctors be so careless? The guilty should be awarded exemplary punishment to act as a deterrent. The doctors should be more careful while performing surgical operations.

In any case, the aggrieved parents should be paid adequate compensation. The money towards the payment of solatium should be recovered from the doctors and not from the government which is not at fault.

— R.K. MITTAL, Moga

Praising Aishwarya

Apropos of Wg-Cdr S.C. Kapoor’s letter “Aishwarya’s unique persona” (Jan 29), I was both amazed and amused. Amazed because superlative epithets were used and choicest encomiums showered on a woman, launched by multinationals to sell their products in India and whose major qualification being beautiful, which is literally skin deep. Some of the descriptions like “...paragon of dignity, modesty and virtue...” and reflecting “the lofty traditions of the Indian womanhood” are too much to digest.

Indian beauties claim Mother Teresa to be their god-mother and pledge to serve the destitutes and the downtrodden a la this saint after winning the title. Who they actually serve and whose values and traditions they uphold need no comment here.


It’s a non-issue

I read with keen interest Mr K.N. Bhat’s two-part article “Sonia can’t be Prime Minister” (Jan 26 and 28). In all democratic societies it is the achievement that matters and not birth. Therefore, Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s Italian origin should be a non-issue for a functioning democracy like India.

The Supreme Court has already upheld her election. The law won’t prevent her from becoming the Prime Minister, if the Congress wins the Lok Sabha elections and if the Congress Parliamentary Party elects her as the leader of the single largest party.

True, as a foreigner, Mrs Sonia Gandhi suffers from a handicap, but handicaps are meant to be overcome. No one can deny that she has done more than what can be reasonably expected to erase her handicap, but her critics give her no credit for that. This is grossly unfair.

The ridiculous part is when her Italianness is supposed to be a justification for a reactive Hinduness sponsored by the BJP and its allies. This signifies a bankrupt ideology and inherently contradicts the fundamentals of democracy.

— K.M. VASHISHT, New Delhi


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