Cementing the bond of friendship

Like the Indo-Pak Punjab games held in Patiala in December, 2004, the ongoing cricket series between India and Pakistan can also play a vital role in cementing the bond between the two nations.

During the match at Chandigarh, it was nice to see Pakistanis, camping at the cricket stadium of Sector 16, having flooded the Sector 17 plaza. They were mobbed and surrounded by locals and shaking hands with them. They talked in chaste Punjabi, joked and laughed as if they were nationals of one country.

In fact, it was difficult to distinguish between Indians and Pakistanis. When I greeted a person and said “welcome to India”, pat came the reply that he wasn’t a Pakistani but only wearing the Pathani suit and had come from Kurali in Ropar district.

If we cannot distinguish between the people from two sides, why is there a border between the two nations? I wish India and Pakistan become one nation in future and grow together prosperously.

ANTAR SINGH KOHLI, Accountant-General (retd), (Punjab), Chandigarh




For sometime, India and Pakistan seem to be coming closer through cricket matches or people-to-people contacts. But all this is just temporary. Pakistan is not a reliable partner whose external policies change like that of weather.

Whenever India tried to improve relations, Pakistan stabbed it in the back. The Lahore Declaration was followed by the Kargil conflict. Again, when peace was on the move, Pakistan-supported terrorists attacked Parliament House and created a war-like situation.

I do not know how long Pakistan’s goodwill gesture would last. For, it has not closed the terrorists’ training centres. Neither has it given any assurance in this regard. Fundamentalists play a major role in Pakistan politics and the ruling elites use every opportunity to defame India at international forums like the UN and the World Bank.

A military general is ruling Pakistan today. For him, war is an easy option than peace. So, India should tread with caution.


IMR falls in HP

The ICDS programme is being implemented in all blocks of the state. (“Preventable deaths). According to the Director, Social Justice and Empowerment, Himachal Pradesh, in 72 ICDS projects, 7,354 Anganwadi centres have been set up. At present about 3,05,000 children (in the age group of 0-6 years) and 70,000 pregnant and nursing women are benefited.

Owing to this expansion of the ICDS, the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) has come down to about 30 per thousand of children in the ICDS area. The coverage is restricted to about 40 per cent of children population at present due to less Anganwadi centres sanctioned by the Government of India.

According to SRS-2002, in HP, the IMR is 52, child mortality rate 13 and neo-natal mortality rate 31. The immunisation percentage in the state for 2003-04 is 97.6. In the state, the percentage of institutional deliveries is 42.20 per cent and 8 per cent deliveries are assisted at home by trained birth attendants. The post-natal care coverage is 78.2 per cent in the state.

Owing to the World Bank-assisted UDISHA project of the ICDS, the backlog of training of Anganwadi workers has been cleared in the state. Of the 7,321 Anganwadi workers now, over 7,000 are trained. Only the recent appointees are untrained.

Strategies like exclusive breast feeding for six months, supplementary nutrition distribution at Anganwadi level, regular health check-up of pregnant and nursing women/children, distribution of iron folic acid tablets to women and children through Anganwadi and health centres, visible improvement in child and women health have been noticed.

B.D. SHARMA, Director, Information & Public Relations (HP), Shimla

Pappu in Tihar Jail

This is in response to the editorial “Well served, Pappu” (Feb 16). It takes only a grain of rice to know if the pot is cooked or not. Though the shifting of Pappu Yadav to Delhi’s Tihar Jail was a right step, what about others of his ilk who are being treated as guests in prisons all over India?

If a criminal like Pappu Yadav is given special treatment in a US jail, the whole unit of the jail officials responsible for this would be dismissed from service. The criminal who bribed or coerced the jail officials for looking the other way would also receive further jail time as his punishment. If the US Supreme Court has anything to do with it, it would expect the President to ask for the State Governor’s resignation or dismissal for letting such a serious lapse happen. In the US, a Governor is the head 
of the state.



Subverting democracy

It is true that the ‘Aya Ram, Gaya Ram’ phenomenon has spread its tentacles to every party (“MLAs on wheels: New dealers in democracy”, editorial, Feb 21). The elections in the country have become a farce and a fraud on the citizens of India. If the voter votes for a person, the leader is bought by money power. And if the voter votes for an ideology, it gets compromised in an era of coalition politics.

What happened in Goa is, once again, a reminder what the misuse of democracy can produce. Unless there is a systemic overhaul of the democratic institutions, the power-hungry politicians would leave no stone unturned to subvert democracy.

RAJIV BHALLA, Chandigarh


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