Earlier in Forum

What the new government should do
May 2
7, 2004




THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Manmohan SinghFORUM
What the new government should do

Give us power round the clock

Corruption is the largest barrier to our growth. Dr Manmohan Singh has a clean image, but what is important is that his other colleagues should also follow him.

As much as 70 per cent of our population lives in villages and is dependent on agriculture. Therefore, 70 per cent of our investment must be in rural development and agriculture, including food processing. This will generate employment opportunities for the rural people and make India a major exporter of agriculture, processed food and dairy products.

Electricity generation is one area towards which we would like our government to pay special attention. By 2015, we must be self-sufficient in electricity generation and be able to provide 24-hour electricity without any interruption in both rural and urban areas.

Our present education system is totally flawed. The government, municipality and panchayat schools are in a poor state. The allocation of funds is meagre. This needs to be enhanced substantially.

We also need to continuously build our defence forces. Technology upgradation, self-reliance in high-tech weapon systems, security based on missile defence system, credible nuclear deterrence and capability to absorb first nuclear strike with minimum causalities must be included in our defence planning. We need to increase our budget allocation for defence for up to 3 per cent of the GDP.

Lt Col AMARDEEP SINGH BHATIA, Jalandhar

Be connected with the grassroots

The tasks for the new government are quite well cut out.

Improving agriculture comes first. It could be achieved through easy farm loans, comprehensive crop insurance, better management of water and power, encouraging investment in food storage and processing industry and bringing the fruits of biotechnology to the grass-root farmer.

Next would be human resources development. This would mean a healthy dynamic and productive population. It would involve creation of more jobs, retaining existing ones, making education cheap and more jobs friendly. Health, hospitals and social security would become very much part of this endeavour.

Creating a transparent, corruption-free and efficient environment for economic reforms, privatisation, promoting FDI and Indian industry should be another priority. Investment in infrastructure should increase, in both private and public sectors. Improvement of relations with neighbours and big powers like the US, the EU and Russia should continue.

Defence will not improve unless we have modern and competent forces capable of facing hostile neighbours and internal insurgencies. Indigenous capabilities and import of hi-tech weapons and equipment will have to go together.

EVELEEN KAUR SIDANA, B.Tech (II), Electronics; on e-mail

Limit the number of parties

The new government should take the following actions on priority:

1. Pass a law limiting the size of family to two children.

2. Amend the IPC to make justice time-bound, with substantially enhanced pun ishments for all offences. Restrict the number of appeals.

3. Inculcate national character in the masses by top officials setting a personal example.

4. Amend the Constitution to limit the number of political parties to three or four. Independents candidates should be allowed in the fray. It should lay down retirement age for active politicians to 70 and ban criminals from filing nom ination papers.

5. Make the public sector and the police more accountable.

6. Reduce government subsidies on all articles. Abolish free electricity.

7. Abolish reservation for SC/ST/OBC.

8. Curtail government spending. Try to provide drinking water, education and healthcare to all from the money thus saved.

9. Revamp income tax collection. Charge higher tax for high-income slabs.

10. Try to resolve border disputes with China, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Lt Col ABHAY RISHI (retd), Mani Majra, Chandigarh

Improve judiciary

The new PM should help India improve her judicial system and ensure that cases do not drag on for too long.

RAJDEEP SINGH CHAUHAN, Patiala

Resolve Kashmir issue

Dr Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet should resolve the Kashmir issue and nuclear issue with Pakistan at any cost. There should be more concentration on investment policies, unemployment matters and foreign policy.

ASHISH DUA, Ludhiana

Funding for education

The government should ensure appropriate funding for education (at least 5-6 per cent of the GDP). This single act can help improve the quality of life of millions of people.

Maj Gen P. K. SAIGHAL (retd), New Delhi

Concentrate on development works

Dr Manmohan Singh should:

  • He should concentrate on development works rather than agreeing to the unreasonable demands of the allies.
  • He should try arrest corruption, which is rampant in politics and government offices.
  • Instead of putting pressure on the salaried class, he should devise ways to collect taxes from evaders.

AJAY JAIN, Patiala

Revert to old interest rates

The safe, sure and reasonably remunerative earning through bank deposits was a perpetual opportunity for the common man. However, drastic cuts in interest rates in recent years have eroded this opportunity for the people in general and senior citizens in particular. Not only it has added to the miseries of those who depended for livelihood mainly on this source, banks have also been deprived of the huge inflow of funds which the government could have used for development works. Dr Manmohan Singh should rise to the occasion to reverse the process of interest rates.

N.L. GUPTA, Jalandhar

Widen tax base, promote tourism

The new government should give us the following:

  • Revival of agriculture: 65per cent of Indian population depend on agriculture, which contributes 30 per cent towards our national income. However, contribution and reforms in the agriculture sector have slowed down in recent years. Against the target of 4.5 per cent of the GDP, the achievement was 1.8 per cent only last year. The new government should take steps like introduction of second Green Revolution without regional disparity; rainwater harvesting, watershed management, strengthening of rural credit.

  • Expansion of the tax base: Barely 0.2 per cent of Indians pay their taxes and hardly 15 per cent of national income is obtained through taxes, whereas, in Britain, 35 percent, and in the USA 23 per cent of the national income is obtained through taxes. Tax evasion, costs Rs 200-300 crore every year. The new government should work towards expanding the tax base by introducing VAT, recommendations of the Kelkar panel and increasing the base of service tax.

  • Promotion of the tourism sector: India is bestowed with scenic beauty. The government should improve the conditions of international airports, railway stations and provide the nation with proper transport facilities to increase the tourist inflow.

DEEPTI UPPAL, Chandigarh

Adopt good economic models

Dr Manmohan Singh, being an economist, should run the government on the basis of successful economic models adopted by China and Japan. There should be complete participation of government in infrastructure development. At the micro level, more stress should be on home-based work culture. Every member of the family should work according to his or her capabilities.

Black money should be wiped out from the country by routing all transactions through banks. On the revenue front, every person should contribute in form of taxes according to his or her income. All wages should be given in the form of cheques or through banks. Loopholes for big business houses to hide income should be plugged.

BALJIT SINGH SANDHU, VPO Kot Khalsa, Amritsar

Debar criminals from politics

The government should debar criminals and corrupt politicians from entering Parliament and state Assemblies, which are the sacred platforms of Indian democracy. This may be possible by bringing electoral reforms. Most Indian voters do not know how to choose a candidate. The minimum qualification to exercise the right vote should be matriculation. The government should immediately initiate deliberations on controlling and bringing down the population growth rate.

Only professionals should be involved in the policy making and the role of bureaucrats should be minimised and laid down clearly. Mahatma Gandhi had also advocated this soon after the Independence, but it has not been done till today due to vested interests. S. K. MITTAL, Sundernagar (Mandi)

Bring social security for the poor

One expects Dr. Manmohan Singh's government to provide us with a responsive, spirited, law enforcing machinery; social security for the economically deprived, the aged, the infirm, women and children; equal employment opportunities for all; affordable and efficient healthcare system; and a socio-political environment where all citizens, irrespective of where they come from, feel that they are safe.

A minimum standard for dignified lifestyle for all Indians should be ensured. Governance at the grass-root level is a shambles. People in the countryside as well as the deprived sections in the urban areas are crying for basic facilities. There is a dire need for responsive governmental machinery capable of addressing the people's problems. Speedy, affordable and impartial dispensing of justice is another area that needs to be looked into.

Development and the ongoing reforms must acquire a human face.

AMAR NATH WADEHRA, Honorary Flying Officer (retd), Panchkula

Arrest corruption for better India

If corruption could be arrested, India could be one of the greatest nations in the world. We have everything a country can wish for, unfortunately, corruption is in abundance. It is a cancer that has kept our country on the sick bed for so long.

STEESH C. SOOD, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Adopt one-child norm

In order to restore the health of our nation, the government should implement the policy of one family, one child. There can be no service greater than this.

K.K. SHARMA, Udhamgarh (Dist Yamunanagar)

II

The govt should implement the policy of one family, one child strictly. However, if it is forced by other external or internal pressures, it can exempt people falling in certain categories for some years. The policy should be implemented strictly and honestly.

S. K. GUPTA, Jalandhar

Fulfil promises

The new government should carry out promises it made to the deprived sections of the society. It should not repeat the mistakes of the NDA Government, which ignored the ground realities.

SHIFALI, Kapurthala

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