Counting the cost of populism

The elections are over in Punjab and results will be out on February 27. All the political parties have offered the best deals to woo the voters. But no one has bothered to calculate the cost of populism which will ultimately be passed on to the honest taxpayers.

Rough estimates indicate that even the most populist schemes such as subsidised food items, free land for houses, free electricity, etc., would cost anything between Rs 5,000 and 7,000 crore (nearly one-third of the state GSDP). Irrespective of who wins the elections, will they be able to implement any of these schemes? If not, what purpose do such short-sighted statements serve at the podium of democracy?

The argument that popular government will implement popular agenda is correct, but at the same time, the political parties could have also indicated the sources of the funds to finance such schemes. This could have made them understand the thin line dividing popularity and populism.

Dr TEJINDER SHARMA,Kurukshetra University,Kurukshetra



Despite inclement weather, the heavy turnout on February 13 demonstrated Punjab voters’ active and enthusiastic participation in the peaceful and orderly democratic exercise. The response from the poor voters was indeed commendable.

Of course, voters have their own reservations about the political parties’ promise to provide items like wheat, rice, dal at cheaper prices. Whichever party comes to power on February 27, all the voters deserve to be complimented for their encouraging participation in the elections.

The tone and tenor of campaigning in some areas leaves much to be desired. However, no party presented panthic or divisive agenda. Thus, one can confidently say that Punjab is back to normal and secular politics.

Undoubtedly, after every election, the roots of democracy get strengthened further. And politicians will find it increasingly difficult to fool the electorate with false promises.

Lt-Col BACHITTAR SINGH (retd), Mohali


I am happy that the voting turn out in the Punjab Assembly has crossed 70 per cent. This is an eloquent tribute to the people’s political awareness. There was no violence and the elections were conducted in a peaceful manner, except some stray incidents.

Money power, violence and defection are some of the maladies of our political system. If there are not checked, the day is not far off when we will lose our right to be called a democracy. Our politicians should not think of the next election. Rather they should think of the next generation.

SANTOSH KUMAR JAMWAL, Chauki Jamwalan (Hamirpur)


I am proud to say that Punjab witnessed a free and fair poll. For this, the credit should go to both the people and the Election Commission. The security arrangements were also good. The fact that people turned out in large numbers to exercise their franchise despite inclement weather is a healthy sign of democracy.

Opinion polls predict that no party will get two-thirds majority in the elections. In a way, if the ruling party has a simple majority, it will be good for the state. The strong Opposition will be in a position to impose necessary checks and balances in the day-to-day governance.

S.K. MITTAL, Panchkula


Awareness on global warming

Syed Fayaz Rizvi, through his film on Artificial Glaciers, presented by the Association of British Scholars in Chandigarh on February 10, was able to create greater awareness about the impending dangers on account of global warming.

To support his findings, Rizvi referred to the visible evidence in the Ladakh area and the Orissa coastline. He said in the discussion that followed the screening of the film that we should tap more and more hydel power to earn “carbon credit” and reduce the risk of global warming.

The other advantage will be generating electrical power to increase production in both industrial and agricultural sectors.

Dr G.S. DHILLON, Chandigarh

Deplorable trend

Simranjit Singh Mann laments that due to the adverse influence of the Hindutva, Sikhs are deviating from the teachings and preaching of their faith (Jan 31)and evils of casteism, factionalism and even untouchability are creeping in Sikhism.

A substantial number of Sikhs have settled in various countries, mostly in Western democracies. Here they are not under the maligned influence of Hinduism, yet they are faction-hidden, notably in Jat and Ramgarhia sects, not to speak of others.

Some Sikhs are also clean shaven. Isn’t it improper? Many young girls prefer to marry smart boys who are clean shaven. Who would Mr Mann like to blame for these attitudes and deviations?

B.K. CHAUDHARI, Bromsgrove (UK)

Breach of faith

The revelation in the news-item “SC seeks reply on Japanese aid to war victims” (Feb 1) is shocking. It is not only an extreme example of official callousness but a fraud and breach of faith.

Had this money been paid to the victim’s families in time, it would have mitigated their suffering to some extent. We can well imagine that many of them must have lived and died in penury. Now, the only way for the government to makes amends is to pay the enhanced value of this money, keeping in view the price level then and now, plus interest and, if the government’s prestige permits, with a word of regret.

RAM SARAN BHATIA, Dist & Sessions Judge (retd), Faridabad


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