Slow ride to a distant destination

The inaugural of the bus service from Amritsar to Nankana Sahib by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is symbolic of a slow ride to a distant destination, beyond the reach of an average Sikh. For the last few decades, we Sikhs, seem to be travelling all the time as if in a circle but getting nowhere, because the powers that be seem to have lost their direction.

The bus to the Mecca of the Sikhs, though most welcome, has started its journey after a long time. It has taken years of pushing and cajoling of the government to get this journey underway. Even now at Rs 2,200 for a return ticket for a 50-odd km to and fro, it surely is not a journey that a common ordinary Sikh can make.

With a restricted frequency of operations, the ridiculous requirement for one to travel all the way to New Delhi to obtain a visa and thousands of the Sikhs from all over India wishing to undertake this religious and sentimental trip, I doubt whether the Sikhs have gained much.

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One wonders what Capt Amarinder Singh and others are very happy about when beyond a handful of government officials and a few genuine pilgrims, in essence, very little has been achieved.

If the Centre is really serious about the bus service, visa offices in Amritsar and Lahore need to be set up immediately. If the railways could open their operations between Munabao and Khokrapar, why a simpler process of bus travel from Amritsar to Nankana Sahib cannot be implemented in a regular and systematic manner on a long-term basis?

Furthermore, there should be no need for the SGPC or the government to exercise any control over the pilgrims desirous of making an exclusive trip to Nankana Sahib (and nowhere else on this trip), once they have obtained their single entry visas in Amritsar.

Maj-Gen HIMMAT SINGH GILL (retd), Chandigarh

Of gifts and dowry

There is a lot of misunderstanding on gifts and dowry. Gifts are not limited merely to the parents-daughter relationship but can also be exchanged in any relation, unbound to any occasion. Gifts are not obligatory; these are given and taken with pleasing hearts.

However, dowry is relationship bound between parents and daughters as also with the daughter-in-law’s family. Dowry is arranged and given under some obligation. If it is given under compulsion, it is, certainly, bad.

I strongly admire the idea of exchanging gifts, but condemn the dowry menace. Sadly, well-qualified, modern and respectable people do not endorse the anti-dowry movement today. Those who demand dowry prove their lust for money and inhuman attitude.

The dowry menace can be tackled only by a positive change in the attitudes of today’s boys and their families. A revolution is also needed in the thinking and lifestyles of the girls and their parents.


Medical bills

The government has reportedly decided to include medical reimbursement above Rs 15,000 in a year in the annual income of the employees and tax the same as salary in case of medical treatment taken from private hospitals.

However, if the treatment is taken from government hospitals, the reimbursement amount, if any, will not be added to the salary for taxation.

This decision is unfair as even if an employee submits bills from private hospitals, he gets reimbursed only at government hospital rates. The instructions should, therefore, be reviewed and clarified by the government and Income-Tax authorities.

JAGVIR GOYAL, Chandigarh

Teachers on watch

The Haryana Education Minister’s statement that teachers will be kept in close watch to avert incidents of rape seems ridiculous. Is the student-teacher relationship so rotten that teachers will be put on watch?

In another statement, the Director of Education says that teachers will be given psychological treatment. Is the future of Haryana students safe in the hands of these men?

Political interference in transfers and appointments, non-teaching duties and side business for extra income have all diluted the role of teachers. Most people do not have the aptitude to teach at all. Once a college principal told me that he wanted to become a “Thanedar”!

RAJESH KUMAR, Dept. of  Education, MD University, Rohtak

Not a minority?

The Tribune news-item (March 19) quotes Mr Harcharan Singh Josh as having said that the Sikhs are part of the Hindus. If Mr Josh actually believes this, the first thing he should do, in all fairness, is to resign from the Minorities Commission. For, as he seems to believe, the Sikhs are not a minority.


PSEB’s ways

Despite sanctioned loads, there are frequent power cuts for long periods. Strangely, the land mafia and roadside jhuggies promptly get electricity connections. Consumer who pay their bills promptly have to face power cuts.

Owing to acute power crisis, the Punjab State Electricity Board should be refrained from sanctioning further connections in the new private colonies developed by the land mafia.

This will help reduce the power cuts in the coming months as also check the unauthorised growth of ill-planned colonies. How long should the urban and rural power consumers suffer?

G.S. GILL, Ludhiana


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