Punjab’s growth dilemma

Sarbjit Dhaliwal's report “Southern states line up for Punjab rice” (Nov 6) highlights the development dilemma facing Punjab.

Punjab was incorporated into a national development strategy called the Green Revolution in the 1960s to achieve food self-sufficiency. This strategy was necessitated to fight the food crisis of 1964-65 and the political use of PL-480 food aid made by the US to influence the Indian foreign policy.

The rise in per capita income in Punjab following the Green Revolution was then used by the Central government to deny adequate public sector industrial investment in the state to achieve another national objective — reduction of regional inequalities.

Public has, therefore, become locked into an agriculturally-oriented development path which has converted Punjab basically into two-crop agrarian economy based on wheat and rice. Not to diversify Punjab agriculture because of the national need to keep Punjab as a national food basket fits in with the Centrally-directed national goals.


  PRITAM SINGH, Oxford Brookes University Business School, Oxford (UK)

Of democracy and peace

During a briefing at the White House together with visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the main drift of US President Bush's reason for preferring democracy for all Middle Eastern countries was his strong belief that people in a democracy do not want war and they always root for peace.

If that is the case, how did a democratic country like the US elect a President who has no hesitation in declaring war on other states? At least his own case does not support his deeply committed doctrine of democracy and peace.

A similar case can be made of Israel. It is routinely touted that Israel is some special country in the Middle East, as it is a vibrant democracy. However, we have seen its people, who should, as per the Bush Doctrine, root for peace, but have chosen Ariel Sharon, for his life-long "achievements" around war and terror. For his crimes, his own judicial commission found him guilty and forced him to be sacked.

How does democracy in the US and Israel promote world peace, when their chosen leaders manifestly do not believe in peace and are ever ready to shed blood of the innocents?


Cultural dress code

Because I am also a Sikh and wear turban as a daily routine, I feel that all those Sikh students who wish to wear turbans while going to schools in France should be allowed to do so. For, it is not a representation of religious fanaticism but a compulsive cultural dress code.

While a very limited section of people, of different faiths, wear their religious symbols in their day-to-day life, every male Sikh, including sceptics and non-believers, with unshorn long hair ties turban as a part of his routine daily dress, supports my assertion fully.

Once this piece of evidence is made known to the French lawmakers, whose concern for checking the rise of religious fundamentalism that ultimately leads to unwarranted parochialism should be appreciated, there is no reason that it would not allow Sikh students to wear turbans.

BALVINDER, Chandigarh

Blame it on god

A stampede, of all places, on the railway station in New Delhi, the capital city of the country, killing five persons and injuring many others (Nov 14)!

If only our leaders and bureaucrats talked a little less and worked a little more to put in their honest penny's worth of contribution, we would be a much better and safer lot.

Incidentally, some time ago, Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav had held Lord Vishwakarma responsible for a rail accident. Pray, which god/goddess he would blame now for the present tragedy?

S.C. KAPOOR, Noida

Yasser Arafat

This has reference to the editorial and the Oped page article on the late Yasser Arafat. Indeed Arafat, the dreaded terrorist of the Sixties and Seventies, transformed himself with time.

His dream of an independent Palestine could not be accomplished in his lifetime, a setback for millions of Palestinians. But his firstly violent and then non-violent approach in the larger interest of his community made him a hero.

No wonder, he was awarded, well deserved whatever his critics might have said, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his transformed ideology and not for his past one.

VINOD TULI, New DelhiTop

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