Need to bridge regional imbalances

I endorse H.K. Dua’s view in his article “Consensus is the way” (Aug 30) that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “must take the initiative” for building a consensus among different political parties on burning issues of national importance like poverty, unemployment and regional imbalances.

The recent surveys and studies point out a deep crisis in the agricultural sector: the peasants are committing suicide driven by huge debts and a sense of utter helplessness. The production of foodgrains is on decline. There is a lot of talk about “diversification” in the agricultural sector, but the shrinking landholdings scare the peasants who find themselves severely handicapped on account of low savings, lack of state support and the banks’ refusal to grant them loans.

Even in big cities, 60 to 70 per cent of common people don’t have enough money to visit the markets for ordinary luxuries. Except Punjab, Haryana, and parts of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan, the common people have been reeling under abject poverty for decades. The poor people of UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are migrating to other states in search of greener pastures. This seriously malady of regional imbalances urgently calls for a “national consensus”.




Besides solving immediate problems, consensus could be a stepping stone to the formation of a national government. Even a coalition government with parties having diverse ideologies and coming from different regions working under a common minimum programme is, in a way, a mini-national government.

All major parties should join the national government. For this, they should avoid undue criticism of each other. Incidentally, a lot of commonality exists in their views on issues of national interest. Transition from a consensus-based coalition to a national government should not be difficult. Formation of a national government in India will be seen as a unique experiment in democracy the world over.

Wg-Cdr C.L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar


Rousseau glamourised democracy thus: “If gods come on the earth, they will have democracy”. Though ours is the world’s largest democracy, we have failed to handle it properly. Perhaps Sir Winston Churchill was right when he asserted that Indians are not fit for self-rule.

It is only in the formative years of Independence that we registered some progress because of our zeal and zest and sterling leadership. But soon our democracy lost its shine. Consensus became conspicuously absent. The bottlenecks, as pointed out by the writer, are the decline in the quality of leaders, their myopic vision and petty concerns. Also the growing amorality of politics hardly leave any scope for a constructive and consensual approach to solve problems.

I agree that our MPs must use Parliament for making laws, voicing the people’s feelings and influencing policymaking. Parliament, in turn, has to provide ample scope for constructive debate and dissent. Some reforms are also overdue. These could include electoral reforms, banning criminals from contesting elections and combating terrorism.



Consensus is the essence of democracy. Dissent and confrontation derail democracy. We have consensus when it comes to hiking MPs’ pay, perks and pension. We have consensus when it comes to raising divisive, retrograde and casteist issues. But we lack consensus when it comes to solving national issues.

Democracy requires leaders with proven calibre and who can see beyond their own selves. There seems to be a vacuum of talent, ideology and excellence. We have rabble rousers and lawbreakers as lawmakers. They seem to believe the old dictum that “However high you may be, the law is above you.”

Sqn-Ldr KRISHAN SHARMA, (retd), Panchkula


The Prime Minister is not a leader of the masses, but a distinguished economist. As a result, he is too weak to initiate consensus over national issues such as farmers’ suicide, unemployment and corruption.

Who else can take the desired initiative for consensus? Mrs Sonia Gandhi is not Indira Gandhi. She took over the party reigns to save the sinking boat under Sitaram Kesri’s poor captaincy. The Atal-Advani duo has failed because their Hindutva slogan does not suit secular and democratic India. The Left does not understand the Indian ethos, the problems of Dalits as Mahatma Gandhi did. Regional leaders do not fit into the national mainstream. No person, party or alliance can create consensus out of this divisive crisis.

India must change positively, as suggested by Mr Dua, and move forward to build a strong, prosperous and secure India as visualised by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Prof HARI SINGH, Kheri Jhat, (Jhajjar)

Acting degree college?

It is remarkable that the chance publication of a photograph in a newspaper should fetch a small-town college-going girl the heroine’s role in a Mumbai Hindi film. It is stories like this that keep the dream factory, with all its romance, uncertainty and unpredictability, running.

What is curious is the Chandigarh all-girls college’s response to its student’s good luck. The college now wants to train girls for such accidents. How? The chosen girl must no doubt be pretty, but what must have appealed more to the filmwallahs is her innocence, freshness, spontaneity and unselfconsciousness. These are the very attributes that stand to be killed through the process of formal training, that too, in a degree college. Will the college encourage its students to choose from among the lesser careers down the line if they do not make it to the top? More fundamentally, should not the colleges be focusing on what they are meant to do, namely, teaching?




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