Hold liquor auctions afresh

Captain Amarinder Singh’s government in Punjab has committed a fraud on the public in the recent liquor auctions in the state. This needs to be probed. The auctions should be scrapped and held afresh in a transparent manner in full public view so that citizens get an opportunity to exercise their right to participate in the auctions without fear.

A major fallout of encouraging this monopolistic trade mafia is that it eliminates competition, leaving the consumers, the manufacturers and the government at the hands of the mafia. The poor consumer has to pay through his nose for substandard liquor. Ponty Chadha will dictate terms to all and sundry.

Higher prices encourage parallel illicit distillation and bootlegging resulting in revenue loss to the government, health problems to consumers and hooch tragedies. The manufacturers are pushed around and forced to accept unfair terms.

The government’s guiding principle should be to generate optimal revenue while ensuring quality, some sense of affordability and competition, employment generation and consistently sustainable and healthy growth of trade.





The editorial “Stink of liquor auction” (March 10) raises questions about liquor auctions held in Punjab. As long as the liquor is allowed to be sold under the aegis of state licensing regulations, the state government should ensure that optimal revenues are mobilised for the state exchequer and, at the same time, genuine and hygienic liquor is made available to the consumers at competitive prices.

It is elementary principle of economics that when a monopoly is granted under a state licence, it enables the licencee to make usurious profits in addition to raising suspicions about the nexus between the liquor barons and the ruling politicians. In addition, there is trespassing of competition law, particularly regarding the abuse of dominant position. Now even the State Election Commission has expressed its skepticism regarding the transparency standards in these auctions.

The bottomline is that the needle of suspicion in the entire episode is clearly pointing towards the nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and a particular syndicate. Therefore, the entire exercise appears vitiated.

R.C. KHANNA, Amritsar

Pitfalls of democracy

I have read H. K. Dua’s front-page editorial “People must assert” (March 1) and the readers’ response in these columns. But almost 50 per cent of the voters cannot read the names of the candidates and political parties printed on the ballot paper.

A majority of those who have read the editorial may not go to the polling booth on the D-day. Why should they? They have no means to verify the antecedents of the candidates chosen by the political parties’ high commands sitting in New Delhi or in state capitals, whose only criterion for selection is the winnability of the candidates. A voter has no right except to stamp on the election symbol only once in five years or earlier.

An educated and thinking person, unless deeply involved in politics, is not expected to exercise his/her right to vote unless a procedure for negative voting is introduced in the system as recommended by the Election Commission. Alternatively, when less than 50 per cent of the registered voters in a constituency turn out for voting, polling there should be considered invalid.

Dalip Singh Ghuman, Chandigarh

Sonia’s origin

The Congress has to face the broadside of Mrs Sonia Gadhi’s foreign origin. Besides, her Achilles’ heel is that she is a dynastic product. However, if dynastic issue were to be viewed as her sole weakness, then no political party could be exempted from this.

Basically, the electorate is at fault as it has readily submitted to accept dynastic and professional politics. Unflinched loyalty to one’s country is a relative ingrained factor, whether one is a native or foreign born. Who can forget the treachery of the infamous Jai Chand, ruler of Kanauj, a native, inviting Mohammed Ghori, to invade Delhi and in 712 AD, Dahir, ruler of Sind, being betrayed by his Prime Minister, a native, during the Arab invasion?

Mrs Sonia Gandhi is an Indian citizen and has identified herself fully with India. So, if the Congress wins the polls and elects her as the leader, she should be accepted as the Prime Minister with grace. If she fails, then in a parliamentary system, she could be easily replaced. The argument of her foreign origin is a specious contention. Elections should be fought on the plank of development, removal of unemployment, progressive programmes, etc. Let the electorate be accepted as the final arbiter.

V.I.K. SHARMA, IAS (retd), Jalandhar

Honour the upright student

Apropos of the editorial “Criminals as teachers” (March 13), what rightly shocked the writer was “the report that a plus two student, who refused to cooperate in copying by a VVIP’s ward, was stripped by certain teachers on examination duty at a school in Bathinda”. The editorial characterised these teachers as criminals and demanded that they be treated as such. All this was welcome. However, as regards the VVIPs, the editorial only called that VVIPs patronising criminals should also be exposed.

In my opinion, these teachers were either afraid to displease the VVIPs in question or they wanted to be in their good books to get undue favours from them by helping their wards in copying. Alternatively, money power must have been used. I was thus of the opinion that the VVIPs in question were bigger culprits and our demand should be that they too should be treated as such.

I wrote a letter to the Chief Minister on March 14 regarding this matter and released it to the Press. The student who had refused to cooperate had shown his correct moral values and also plenty of courage. I had, therefore, suggested in my letter that this student must be suitably honoured.

SATYA PAL DANG, Chheharta (Amritsar)


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