Subsidies: Time for a relook

The editorial “Subsidy shock” (Nov 14) rightly suggests that the move is bad in principle and worse on financial grounds. The Akalis appeased the rural voters as per their manifesto but the BJP pressurised the Akalis to roll back the nominal increase in tariff for urban consumers.

The financial health of the state in general and the PSEB in particular is alarming and it is time to relook into the whole episode of subsidies. The competitive policies of giving subsidies have thrown the PSEB into an economic crisis. The PSEB is taking new loans to pay back old loans and to meet recurring expenses.

In Andhra Pardesh, there has been no tariff hike for the last five years, but the government is paying cash subsidy for supplying seven-hour supply to the agriculture sector. The cross subsidy is also being paid in cash. In the case of Punjab, the state government is yet to release the subsidy amount for this year. The subsidy amount for the current year now touches more than Rs 3,400 crore.

Giving free lunch to everyone is bound to destroy the power utility. The performance of the power sector and achievements depend a lot on the government’s support and policies. It is right time to relook into the whole issue of subsidies.

V.K. GUPTA, Kurukshetra


Victims of injustice

The Punjab government’s decision to grant 6 per cent additional DA to its employees as Diwali gift is quite understandable considering the strong employees’ lobby which is a potential vote bank too. But one fails to comprehend the government’s step-motherly treatment to its contractual employees.

Do we ever see headlines announcing revision in their salaries according to the price index, Diwali bonus or regularisation?

RANJANA, Chandigarh

Nursery admissions

This year the age for nursery admissions in Delhi schools is four years. The government has to approve of the individual criteria formed by schools.

Further, uniform weightage will be given for factors including neighbourhood, background of children, management quota for all schools, and standardisation of admission forms. The monitoring committee will monitor the admission process and look into grievances.

The parents and children interviews will go. The interaction with the parents and the school management is allowed as a process of admission in nursery.


Flip side of VAT

I read N. L. Banga’s letter on the merits of the Haryana VAT Act (November 13). But the admissibility of input tax claims has been a constant irritant to the business community.

Section 8 of the Act allows a registered dealer to adjust the amount of tax charged to or collected from him on his purchases from within the state, called input tax, towards the tax payable by him on his sales, called output tax and thus to pay the balance as the tax due from him along with his quarterly return.

This provision is illogical and tilted towards the defaulters. The remedy of refund is illusory and thus a source of harassment to the honest taxpayer. Representations to the State Commissioner and the Minister concerned have elicited no response.

PRAMIL KHANDELWAL, President, Loha Vyapar, Udyog Assn., Gurgaon

Sikhs outside Punjab

I am preparing a bibliographic essay outlining the cultural experiences, social contributions and economic participation of the Sikhs residing outside Punjab. One out of every five Sikhs lives outside Punjab and this adds to the Sikhs’ success story as migrants. They project an interesting dimension to the local non-Sikh milieu. 

Many of them were the descendants of those who had to migrate from Pakistan, Burma and other countries many decades ago and struggled hard to attain success in their new places of settlement.

One may divide them into four major occupational groups. The Sikh agriculturists are in Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Jammu. The second group consists of industrialists, businessmen, traders, mostly in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. Another segment is of technical wizards, long associated with areas of industrial development. They are often described as “mobile men” who had played a pioneering role in laying railway lines in India under the colonial rule. Finally, there is a small group of scheduled castes.

The Sikhs living outside Punjab may send me printed information (including gurdwara brochures, souvenirs, newspaper clippings, etc). My email is hbanerje@cal3.vsnl. net.in and my phone numbers are (R) 033/2556-1616; (0)033-2414-6962; (M) 9433061616. 

HIMADRI BANERJEE, Guru Nanak Professor of Indian History, Jadavpur University, Kolkata-700032



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