Policy on J&K: No entrenched
mindset please

External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh’s statement on Jammu and Kashmir is alarming. It smacks of an entrenched and archaic mindset, a revival of failed diplomacy of his old times. After all, we are carrying the burden of his party’s mishandling of the Kashmir issue which has caused so much loss of life and agony.

Apparently, Mr Natwar Singh already had his spokesman in Mr Kapil Sibal, the Union Minister of State for Science and Technology, when the latter advised General Musharraf to take a cue from the Sino-Indian model during his press conference, which was shot down by the General in no unclear terms. Mr Singh should have been discreet. He would do well to come down to the ground, as his old Cambridge grooming and bureaucratic credentials will not help meet the challenges in Kashmir today.

We are not in the Indira era but in more troubled times. We lost our initiative way back in 1971. No two opinions. The General was shunned by the BJP initially but better sense prevailed over Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He met the General and started the dialogue.

The BJP just had no options or alternatives. So does the Congress now. General Musharraf needs no advisers from India as to how he should operate. If what is reported is true, then we are only putting our foot in our mouth with mindless innuendos. We seem to have a penchant for futile rhetoric.

If we help to pull the carpet from under the Pakistani General’s feet, we too may fall with him for odds are heavy against us in the Valley, considering our inability to break from our status-quoist psyche. Let us, therefore, move on with the process of dialogue.

Maj-Gen A.P.S. Chauhan (retd), New Delhi



For a clear-cut policy

In his article “Looking back on Kargil war” (May 29), General V.P. Malik (retd) has done well to highlight the need for further improvements in the modernisation of the Indian Army. However, the role of the government in having a clear-cut national security policy needs further emphasis.

After the successful Kargil war, we have had full one year deployment for Operation Parakram, ready to strike in January 2002. We did not, despite the enemy being highly unprepared. Why? Not because we lacked pro-active capability but the government restrained the Army. That led to the Army returning after one year with a whimp. We perhaps lost a grand opportunity of solving the Kashmir issue once and for all.

The new government would do well to have a comprehensive and clear-cut national security policy in place. Either we do not mobilise on such a large scale, and if we do, we must mean business.

MADHU R.D. SINGH, Ambala Cantonment

Fillip to peace effort

Apropos of Himmat Singh Gill’s letter “Of Punjabi and Punjabiat” (June 1), commenting on the recent World Punjabi Congress held in Chandigarh, a “world” conference does not mean that the whole world is to be invited. There are always limitations in organising such big events.

“Punjabi will die if we make it just an Indo-Pak literary event” is a childish comment. The writer should know that languages do not die or develop because of such conferences. They die when parochial outlooks debar them from growing through absorption of influences of other living languages and let them steeped into the past traditions. In this regard, we need not elaborate the living example of English language.

Even if the World Punjabi Congress, to which I too was not an invitee, failed to rope in more literary names, organisations and countries, it did give a fillip to the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan. And this must be appreciated.

BALVINDER, Principal, Govt College for Boys, Sector 11, Chandigarh

Starved of news

Converting the Metro Channel into DD News Channel has not gone well with most viewers in the country. Previously, news was telecast from the national channel of Doordarshan. The programmes of the DD News Channel are not clearly visible without a cable connection. In most rural areas, either the cable connections are not available or the poor villagers cannot afford the cable facility. Those who did not have cable connections felt the pinch of not receiving news, opinion polls, exit polls and the election analysis during the Lok Sabha elections over their TV sets.

It would be in the fitness of things if, as before, more news bulletins are telecast over Doordarshan’s National Channel. Alternatively, the signals of DD News Channel should be made available in all areas of the country for the benefit of viewers. After all, it is the right of every Indian viewer to watch the news bulletins telecast over Doordarshan. One hopes the new government led by Dr Manmohan Singh will promptly solve this problem.

IQBAL SINGH, Bijhari, Hamirpur

Harness rain water

Fast depletion of underground water is cause for concern for both the government and the people of the state. The low water table has forced the people to go in for submersible pumps for drinking and irrigation purposes. The day is not far when tubewells will dry up and deep wells become source of brackish water turning the granary of India into a desert. People should be made to understand the hazards of wheat-paddy rotation and excessive use of underground water.

In the prevailing circumstances, the state government should waste no time to involve the people to harness rain water at the village level. On the average, 10-15 borewells for every rural unit will suffice to raise sweet-water table. To cover all the 12,500 villages, it will cost the government Rs 150 crore. To overcome financial crunch, the project could be executed in phases.

Col. KULDIP SINGH GREWAL (retd), Patiala

Costlier milk

These days everyone is concerned about the prices of petrol and LPG but not about the costlier milk and milk products. The days is not far when milk would be out of reach of the common man. To keep it within the reach of the poor, the government should import milk powder so that it could as least be used for preparing tea. The presence of synthetic milk in the market is a result of the high price of milk. The other way to bring down the milk price is to giver subsidy on the feed and related inputs for dairy farming.

V.K. SHARMA, Shimla

Course in tightrope walking

Unfortunately, no insurance company has a scheme under which the public life of anyone can be insured against an abrupt close. In the absence of such a ”safety-net” for his use, the only advice which can be offered to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for running the government successfully is to take an advanced course in tightrope walking. The course, however, must include rigorous workouts over a sea infested with sharks of all varieties.

Of course, the earlier NDA government had no dearth of identical hazards to cope with either, and yet stayed the full term in office. But Dr Manmohan Singh suffers from another serious handicap too. He has to work with a Chief whom the courtiers have raised to the level of what may be described as dictatorial royalty. And as is well known, no system can work with more than one centre of power.

All in all, the best than can be done is to wish Dr Manmohan Singh ever so much luck: indications already are that he will need plenty of it.



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