Power reforms with a human face

The power reforms in India have been on the anvil since 1991 when independent power producers were allowed to set up mega projects with counter-guarantees by the Centre. After the failures of these power projects, trifurcation of the State Electricity Boards (SEBs) was started with the World Bank's help. Subsequently, to speed up the reform process, the Electricity Act, 2003, was passed by Parliament. But these reforms failed to cheer up the consumers specially in the rural India.

After the enactment of the Electricity Act, 2003, the SEBs are being unbundled, separating generation, transmission and distribution into separate companies. The transmission company shall not indulge in the purchase or sale of power and instead shall only wheel power from the generator to the distributor.

Punjab has been the only state in the country where the SEB could come out of red without resorting to unbundling and internal reforms. The PSEB could make a profit of about Rs 70 crore in the last financial year. Its financial problems were not due to its integrated structure but due to irrational tariff structure, theft of power and excess manpower.

The government's policy to encourage expensive independent power producers had an adverse impact on the average power tariff. Blind privatisation of the power sector will not help the common consumers. What is required is reform within the state sector. There is a need to review the Electricity Act, 2003, in the present context where reforms need a human face.

V.K. GUPTA, Ropar



The first non-English writer

Dom Moraes (1938-2004), who passed away recently, was son of the legendary editor and author, Frank Moraes. He was born in a Goan Roman Catholic family. The only son of his parents, he had an excruciating and insecure childhood as also adolescence for reasons of his mother's frequent bouts of insanity, which were a persistent nightmare for the growing child. This is very well revealed in his autobiography, "My son's father".

Dom Moraes began writing poetry when he was just 12, precocious and gifted child as he was. At the age of 19, his first book of poems "A beginning" was released. This won him the prestigious Hawthornden Prize in 1958. Dom Moraes remains till date the first non-English writer and also the youngest to have won it. This won admiration and approval from poets such as W.H.Auden and Stephen Spender.

Dom Moraes will ever remain an Indian who, deeply influenced by Dylan Thomas and the Surrealistic School, wrote Anglo-Indian poetry, which is highly personal, with a persistent confessional tone. Its recurring themes are loneliness and insecurity, from which escape is sought either in the erotic fantasies or in self-probing of a tortured soul. In one of his love poems, he says: "I have furnished my heart to be her nest". Again, he writes: "I shall be he whom you will never find/ Except in me". His imagery, strong and sensuous as it is, stamps him as an essentially India poet.

He was an accomplished essayist, "the first true stylist" in the sub-continent. In all, he wrote 23 books. Finally, "the ink runs out", and Dom Moraes, a literary phenomenon of our times, makes his adieu, proving Christopher Morley (1890-1957) right that "Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it".




Haryana’s VCs

Jawaharlal Nehru once said that if everything is well in the universities, all would be well in society. Gone are the days when the Vice-Chancellors were appointed on merit. The post is now a prerogative, in most cases, of persons who devote their time and resources to please the powers that be.

In Haryana universities, there is no settled law to appoint a Vice-Chancellor. After the resignation of Lt-Gen Bhim Singh Suhagy, VC, MDU, Rohtak, academics are worried about his successor. There should be a public debate on the mode of selection of VC. The present system of leaving this onerous task to the whims of the government or the Governor, susceptible to political pressure from the Centre and compulsions of survival, is extremely dangerous.

Quite often, inefficient and unworthy people have been appointed as VCs overlooking experienced, competent and deserving academicians. The result: financial scandals, favouritism, nepotism, falling standards, intrigue, groupism, leakage of question papers and mismanagement.

Senior faculty members of universities should prepare a panel of names for the post of VC from amongst the best university professors who proved to be good researchers and efficient administrators. If non-academics like university officers, retired military personnel, IAS officers or politicians are appointed as VC, it will defeat the very purpose of a university.

To facilitate the smooth process of selection of VC, the high-power committee should advice the government in the final stage. This should consist of the Chief Justice of the High Court, UGC member, eminent scientists, technologists, industrialists, administrators and men and women of letters who are respected and unapproachable.

Dr S.P. GUPTA, Professor of Physics, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra

Costlier prospectus

The B.Ed prospectus of Panjab University, Punjabi University and Guru Nanak Dev University is priced at Rs 400. This is prohibitive and will dissuade many aspirants with meager financial resources. A prospectus should contain basic information and a set of application and such other forms. Why should a sheaf of papers cost Rs 400?

I feel the prospectus should not cost more than Rs 50. I request enlightened citizens and NGOs to raise their voice against costlier prospectus.


Out of compulsion

Mr J.L. Gupta's middle, "Wait and see" (May 26) was an amusing piece. The writer seems to be blissfully unaware of the fact that most people in India do not wait to get treated for their ailments out of choice but out of sheer compulsion. More than 57 per cent of patients in India either sell their assets or borrow money to get treated. Thanks to a redundant health delivery system in the public sector and the prohibitive cost of treatment in the private sector, good and quality treatment at a reasonably less cost is simply beyond the reach of the common man.

M.K. BAJAJ, Yamunanagar

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