Deplorable status of Dalits

In his article “Dalits’ place in private sector: Ensure equality of opportunities” (March 12), Justice Rajinder Sachar has rightly examined the deplorable social status of Dalits. He has held the caste system responsible for this. Surprisingly, the fruits of development are yet to reach Dalits. By the writer’s own admission, 49 per cent of the agricultural labourers are Dalits. They have been denied justice and dignity. And they command no respect as they are landless.

Admittedly, poverty is the main reason for the continued humiliation and neglect of Dalits. They are unable to defend their constitutional rights due to poverty. They are still treated as untouchables and are barred from entering into religious places despite legal protection under the Constitution. Justice Sachar has examined the plight of Dalits in India vis-a-vis the minority group members in the United States. The US has earmarked federal funds meant for local public works to be used for procuring services of supplies from the commercial organisations owned and controlled by the minority group members. The suggestion for incorporating similar provisions for Dalits in our country, keeping in view their population ratio, is worthwhile.

All political parties and the governments at the Centre and in the states should make sincere efforts to clear the backlog of jobs in the services. Dalits’ empowerment is long overdue and there is need for a comprehensive strategy to make landless Dalits landowners. In a democratic country like ours, social justice should be the main concern of the government.

HARBANS LAL MEHMI, Special Secretary to Revenue Minister (Punjab), Chandigarh



Of specialist doctors

The Punjab government’s Health and Family Welfare Department has formulated a policy to post doctors according to their specialisation for the benefit of poor patients. However, in a field like forensic medicine, which deals with medico-legal and post mortem work, the government is doing exactly the opposite.

Till now, the forensic medicine area was handled by medical officers with no specialisation in the field. As a result, the quality of services being rendered by these doctors is below average and contrary to the legal requirement.

The government does send doctors on deputation for doing MD in forensic medicine. After their completion of the degree, their services can be utilised by the government by posting them at district headquarters where most of the medico-legal work is done. The specialists can render quality services in this important field. As a first step in this direction, the government should create district-level forensic medicine posts. As such experts were not available earlier, this area was neglected. Now that specialists are available, the government should make best use of them by posting them at district headquarters to improve health services.

If specialist doctors are not assigned work in tune with their specialisation, the very purpose of sending doctors on deputation to do MD in forensic medicine will be defeated.



The Kashmir Bill

In a seminar regarding migrant labour recently, I had pointed out the laws passed in Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan disallowing outsiders from settling in the states and had projected a requirement of similar laws for Punjab. One of the speakers tried to brush it aside by saying that the laws in Himachal Pradesh need to be changed.

Now in the light of the Kashmir Daughter’s Bill and the hue and cry raised against it, I have a similar point. Is it not a fact that in Himachal if a man marries a girl from outside the state, she can own land in Himachal as a Himachali? But if a Himachali girl marries a non-Himachali man, her husband cannot own property in Himachal. Isn’t it biased and discriminatory? How is it that such a discriminatory law is okay in Himachal. Rajasthan and Himachal have no separate Constitution and ought not to have had such laws. Where as Jammu and Kashmir have constitutional rights to make the law in question. Yet we are upset. This appears to be wrong.

A.P.S. Jhabalia, Chandigarh

Why this bias?

Laxmi Pandit had to return her Miss India-World crown. The utility or futility of beauty pageants and fashion parades in a poor country like ours apart, why should married and unmarried women be treated differently particularly when no such distinction is made among males on the basis of marital status? Isn't it also humiliating for a winner in an international beauty contest to be deprived of the right to stay with her family and friends, and visit her home for a year?

Wg-Cmdr S.C. KAPOOR (retd), Noida

Film stars in politics

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, there is a beeline of film stars to join either the BJP or the Congress. They fail to understand that after the initial welcome, they would be turned into pedestrians of the political world.

A leading actor once said that more and more film stars should join politics today. But in a country where heir apparents and dynasty dominate the political scene, where is the space left for film stars? Also these parties have no ideology or political philosophy. Moreover, where do you find honest and dedicated youth in today’s politics? I feel the youth should apply for vacancies in the film industry. The BJP may help create jobs in the film sector.


Tagore’s medal

The theft of Rabindranath Tagore's Nobel Prize medal and other valuables depicts the lack of security in the Shantiniketan museum. It is a very shameful incident for our nation and its pride. It is the responsibility of the government to maintain and protect the museums well. Otherwise, let it hand over them to some private security force.

Handing over the case to the CBI is not the only solution to recover Tagore’s medal and other valuables. This task should be given to private international investigative agencies so that we can restore our nation's pride soon.


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