RSS should not meddle in politics

RSS supremo K.S. Sudarshan’s admiration for the authoritarian attitude is evident in his praise of the late Indira Gandhi. He wants to be free to talk the way he likes but if BJP President L.K. Advani refers to M.A. Jinnah’s singular, secularist speech, he is hauled over hot coals.

Even Mr Advani’s clarification is swept under the carpet. His remark was a veiled advice to Pakistan to follow the secular path. But call it the spirit of the changed times, that instead of raising eyebrows, the leaders of that theocratic state only felt pleasantly surprised!

The RSS should take a cue from the unexpected reactions to Mr Advani’s speech from foreign quarters. Politics is not the RSS forte and it is not capable of appreciating the diplomatic nicety involved here. It would be better for it to leave the political arena free for leaders like Mr A.B. Vajpayee and Mr Advani.

Seeing RSS top guns gunning for these leaders every now and then, as if they were kids, is indeed unseemly and sends a wrong message to the electorate. The Sangh Parivar stalwarts need to be reminded of the old Sanskrit adage which says that even your son has to be treated on a par with yourself when he steps into the sixteenth year.




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Hooda’s blunder

While the common man pays bills honestly, wilful defaulters are being rewarded with the waiver of power bills. In future who is going to pay the bills?

Instead, the government should have given regular and honest electricity consumers a one-time waiver for one full year so that the trend of wilful defaulting is checked.

State Electricity Boards (SEBs) should be autonomous; otherwise politicians will continue to milk the power boards for political gains. Haryana Chief Minister Hooda could have invested the Rs 1600 crore he has waived for setting up a nuclear power station in the state — that would have been a progressive step.

Dr SATISH DAHRI, Nahoni, Ambala

Trains to Udhampur

Rail traffic is minimal at the new Udhampur railway station, serviced only by one long-distance train and two local shuttles. It is necessary to consider running additional trains up to Udhampur. I suggest the following:

(a) A new eight-coach passenger train should be started this year when the Chandigarh-Morinda rail link is operational, to connect Kalka to Udhampur via Ludhiana and Jammu. At present, the two cantonment areas have no rail link.

(b) The existing Kashmir Mail should have a five-coach section, which should continue the journey from Jammu to Udhampur. It should return to Jammu to rejoin the main rake.

(c) The Pune-Jammu Tawi Mail likewise should also have a five-coach Udhampur section. These smaller rakes can be towed by shunting engines, whenever there is a shortage of the heavier diesel engines in this section.


Petrol price hike

The sudden hike in petrol and diesel prices by the UPA Government has thoroughly exposed its timidity on petroleum pricing. Oil companies have been bleeding since November 2004 as crude oil prices moved up from $40 to $59.

To pretend that keeping the retail prices of petro-products below their actual costs insulates the economy from rising global oil prices, is the deception of the worst kind. This has led to economic inefficiency. The government loses taxes, and interest rates face upward pressure as resources are sucked up by the petro-majors to subsidise consumption.

The rational thing to do is to free up pricing and retailing after slashing import duties on refined products and to harmonise them with the import duty rate on crude oil. This will boost efficiency and competition and certainly moderate retail prices as well.


Amarnath pilgrimage

The improvements being introduced for the past few years for helping the pilgrims going to the Amarnath cave shrine are welcome. With the on-foot travel distance having now been reduced to just about 10 km, even the busiest of people can afford the trip. The availability of helicopters has further reduced travel time. The constitution of the Shrine Board has raised the people’s expectations for more improvements. The following measures are suggested to further assist pilgrims:

1. The new route from the Baltal side involves a descent and climb of 1000 metres each across the Amaravati river gorge near Sangam. The construction of a two-kilometre bridle path on the eastern face of the hill, or a rope-way over the narrow gorge, can save the yatris from avoidable fatigue.

2. Helicopter flights cost Rs 10,500 to Rs 12,500 from Baltal or Srinagar. More companies should be allowed so that the cost comes down.

3. There should be a 40-kilometre circular road from Chandanbari to Baltal via Sheshnag, the Mahagunas pass, Panchtarni and Sangam.

K.L. NOATAY, Shimla


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