Politicians also must retire

For recruitment to government service, the eligibility requirements are qualification, age, character and physical standards. These are statutorily laid down. The age for superannuation is also duly prescribed. Why are our aging politicians exempted from similar criteria? The issue warrants a debate. General elections are nearing.

The majority of India’s billion-strong population is under 35 years of age (men and women included). Why should, then, our politicians be of old vintage? In the West, most countries are led by young and smart political leaders. Their energetic zeal, vision and initiatives at global centerstage are overwhelming. Our old leaders, on the contrary, are depressing.

Even in the eighties, their signs of apostasy from public life are no where in sight. Our assertive media should try to dissuade the political veterans and help youth come to the forefront. A convention needs to be built, like one term of President, including an upper age limit for one to retire from active politics.

Lt-Col BACHITTAR SINGH (retd), Mohali


BSP in Himachal

Buoyed by her success in the Assembly elections, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has now started looking for green pastures elsewhere. Himachal is one of her targets where the Assembly elections are due in February. She has found her mascot in Mr V.S. Mankotia who rebelled against the Virbhadra government.

This, however, does not portend well for the polity of the small state. Hitherto, there was neither a caste-divide, religious or class-based alignment in HP. Politicians only fought on developmental issues. But the BSP is likely to fuel these elements in the elections this time like Sukh Ram’s HVC of 1997.

The politics of populist electoral promises will further gain momentum. Any party coming to power will spend more on tokenism, such as opening of more schools and colleges but without buildings, teachers and doctors. The real developmental work will suffer for want of funds. The non-plan expenditure will increase. As horse-trading will strengthen the roots of corruption, the people should be extra careful in the next elections to save the state from this morass.

L.R. SHARMA, Sundernagar

Making cops help

I read the editorial, “Crime and punishment”. Police all over India are not people-friendly. As the crime rate is on the rise, they are also corrupt. The media has been exposing their callousness and other shortcomings.

My heart aches when a policeman's inaction or brutality is highlighted in the media and his superior promptly defends or denies it on one pretext or the other. Indeed, the Supreme Court’s intervention is timely.

To ensure the compliance of the apex court’s order, each state must have a 24x7 toll free phone number (helpline), manned by officers appointed by the Supreme Court. This phone number must be displayed at all police stations on a sign board which should also carry the message that if the police are not helpful in registering the FIR, the toll free phone number can be contacted round the clock throughout the week.


Student unrest

Developments during students’ union elections in Panjab University and affiliated colleges have given a bad name to the university. They also highlight the indifferent attitude of the authorities. True, a student learns from his teachers and the environment in which he/she studies. If the teacher is unable to teach the subject, how can he/she connect with students?

What is happening to the system? Why are students taking the law into their own hands? Unfortunately, nobody wants to take the blame - neither the authorities nor the police.

I am afraid, if some action is not taken soon, elections that are meant to give representation to the students will become a battlefield for various parties. Strict discipline is needed to curb this menace.


Focus on quality

I read Pushpa M. Bhargava’s article, “The cancer of affiliated colleges” (Aug 2). The writer has cited the example of Andhra Pradesh. The same situation is in Punjab with regard to technical education. There are over 40 engineering colleges affiliated to the Punjab Technical University, but most of them are producing unemployable graduates.

Very few colleges in Punjab are good and have encouraging employable talent. The PTU is being run in a small building on rent and no classes are conducted on the university campus. Steps should be taken to improve the quality of college students rather than increasing the number of colleges.

HARPREET SINGH, Lassuri (Jalandhar)

Not an aspirant

I read the news-item, “Mann backs Boparai”, which states that Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal wants to bring me back as the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala (Aug 21).

I would like to clarify that I am more than satisfied with my present assignment as Member-Secretary, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Fourth Centenary Memorial Trust, Chandigarh.



Soil erosion on highways

The condition of state highways in Himachal Pradesh is deplorable. Soil erosion causes much damage to the roads in the hilly tract of the state, especially in the rainy season resulting in avalanches, accidents etc. which otherwise could be avoided through better planning and timely action.

A few remedial measures can be taken to prevent this recurring problem. Tree plantation will provide a good anchorage to the soil. Trees will grow fast in the muddy soil. Salix is one such plant which has all the traits for tackling the problem of soil erosion.

One can see the extensive plantation of Salix in Lahoul and Spiti district along roads and riversides where natural landslides and avalanches are a common feature. As this effort has succeeded to a great extent, this should be extended to other soil erosion prone areas of the state. This will also help improve the tourism industry.




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