Pitfalls of centralised planning

Apropos of Paranjoy Guha Thakurta’s article “Foreign experts: Yes or No” (Sept 27), even though all the consultative committees of the Planning Commission have been abolished, the issue in question needs to be put in proper perspective. Even after 50 years of centralised planning, more than 40 per cent of India’s population continues to remain below the poverty line. The per capita caloric food consumption, the per capita power consumption in our country are all among the lowest in the world. A vast section of the population is still deprived of housing, sanitation and education.

Thus, our planning process, despite massive financial outlays, has not delivered. While some built-in handicaps such as India’s federal structure leading to economic indiscipline among states, leakages in the anti-poverty programmes, corruption, red tape and political expediency through freebies and subsidies have been stumbling blocks, the available expertise of our planners has been grossly inadequate to address India’s gigantic problems.

No patriotic Indian would wish that India compromise its sovereign decision-making authority to foreign experts. Nevertheless, I didn’t see any harm if a wide variety of internationally exposed talent was made use of the consultative groups, to review specific issues of the Tenth Plan.

V.B.N. RAM, New Delhi



Why single out Ravana?

Every year millions of people watch with interest the gigantic effigy of Ravana going up in flames symbolising the victory of good over evil. True, he kidnapped Sita, but it was in response to Lakshman’s brutal action of disfiguring Surpanekha (Ravana’s sister).

If we turn the pages of history, Ravana’s action was nothing when compared to the atrocities committed by Taimur, Nadir Shah, Mohd Ghazni, Changhez Khan and others. The massacre in Jallianwala Bagh, the harassment of our people by the French and the Portuguese regimes are shocking examples of brutality and torture.

Even today, we helplessly watch innocent people being killed by terrorists in temples and other holy places. There are hundreds of Ravanas in our country who are engaged in anti-national activities like corruption, smuggling and hoarding. Why, then, the effigies of these people are not burnt? Why are they not punished to act as a deterrent?

Our holy books describe Ravana as a great warrior, intellectual and worshipper of God. He had great respect for Sita. By burning the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkarna and Meghnath, we are doing great injustice to their memory, besides sowing the seeds of cowardice and timidity in our children. Instead of burning their effigies, we should celebrate Dussehra in a manner that will help inculcate among us the spirit of obedience, tolerance, brotherhood, justice, patriotism and respect for elders and women.

Major M.L. BATURA (retd), Karnal

Recognise domiciles

The State Institute of Education, Chandigarh, is well recognised by the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE). It is run by the UT Administration just as the DIETs of Punjab government are controlled by the state government. But those who completed ETT from this institution are not considered for employment by the Punjab government.

Moreover, even though 15 per cent seats are reserved for Punjab domiciles, this rule is followed more in its breach than in practice. Domiciles who have completed ETT from this institution have been denied recruitment on the ground that the course offered by this institute is not recognised by the Punjab government.

I appeal to the Punjab Chief Minister, the DPI (EE) and Project Director, Sarv Shikhya Abhiyan (Punjab) to consider Punjab domiciles who have completed their ETT diploma from this institution in the next recruitment drive.

DALJIT SINGH, Govt Sr. Sec. School, Kiratpur Sahib (Ropar)

In the thick of it all

Apropos of Ajay Banerjee’s article, “Never too late: Post-offices have found new modes of survival” (Oct 1), the writer has overlooked the fact that the postal life insurance and rural postal life insurance fetch huge revenues for the department. It will have to go in for sincere marketing of its products for survival. There is a big challenge for the department from the Internet, telephones, particularly mobile phones. There is also urgent need to improve the quality of services.

The Himachal Pradesh government has agreed without any guarantee to hand over the sale of its Subordinate Selection Board application forms to the Postal department. But the proposal has not been implemented. The Department of Posts is already having an agency to make the application forms of Union Public Service Examinations and Passport forms available. It will earn more revenue, if the SSB applications are also sold in the post offices.

R.S. HAMDARD, Hamirpur

Helping elders

The editorial “Old gold” (Oct 2) deserves careful consideration by the government and society. The special measures suggested in the editorial deserve to be implemented immediately.

The NDA government should not have reduced the interest rates for senior citizens who mostly live on them. For interest, interest on the Monthly Income Scheme of Post Office has been slashed from 13.25 per cent to perfect. Similarly, the interest on fixed deposits of bank has been cut from 13-14 per cent to 6-7 per cent. This has hit senior citizens very badly.

K.K. BHARDWAJ, Patiala

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