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Healthcare in Punjab: A daunting task

It is now becoming increasingly clear that healthcare in Punjab is seriously sick. It is evident from the state of medical institutes in the state which have gone a long way from being centres of excellence to be in the list of institutes struggling to maintain the affiliation of the Medical Council of India.

The health department can also boast a maximum number of unfilled vacancies for a record length of time. It has taken years to reach these milestones. Therefore, the blame must be shared by all including the electorate, which has repeatedly failed to bring this important issue to the centrestage of state politics.

Moving forward has now become a daunting task. It requires serious lateral thinking and a long-term policy. Ad hoc measures like overnight transfers and promotions would only precipitate the crisis. This might also mean moving away from traditional models of healthcare to more pragmatic solutions.

Instead of trying to provide a bit of everything, public health resources should be entirely concentrated at the primary and secondary level. Speciality services should function as state-wide units with the respective directors ensuring delivery and coordination of the services in their respective areas. They should also be involved in training and manpower planning in their field.

Dr HIMANSHU GARG, Melbourne (Australia)


Soldiers & MPs

I read Gen V. P. Malik’s article, “Leave armed forces alone” (March 24). The writer, a former Chief of Army Staff, has aptly pointed out that MPs enjoy parliamentary privileges which a serving officer does not.

Being a grand-daughter, daughter, sister and wife of an army officer, my heart bleeds while reading Mr Jaswant Singh’s remarks about the serving Indian Army Chief. General Malik has rightly pointed out that a serving officer cannot defend and save his honour in public in the manner our politicians do.

The time has come to realise why a majority of army officers plan to leave the Army. Is it only because of the poor pay package? I have always been proud of the soldiers of the Indian Army, who do not believe in operating from air-conditioned chambers.



Gen V. P. Malik has taken strong exception to the comments made by Mr Jaswant Singh about a recent statement by the Army Chief. The latter had referred to incidents of incursions into Indian territory by Chinese troops as a routine affair and that it was not a big issue. But the statement was not mature and was avoidable as it gives legitimacy to the inroads and encroachments by Chinese troops on this side of the border.

Gen Malik has aptly argued that reference to the Army Chief’s purported statement in Parliament could have been avoided. Jaswant should have intimated directly to the Government of India about the Army Chief’s statement. Surely, the Chinese Army Chief shall never commit to the perception expressed by the Indian counterpart as far as incursions are concerned.

J.K. MAGO, Panchkula

Rising prices

A major poll promise of the BJP during election campaign last year in Himachal Pradesh was to contain rising prices which were hitting the budget of housewives very hard. Sadly, during the three-month BJP rule in the state, the prices of food grains, pulses and edible oils have soared. Mustard oil touched an all time high of Rs 100 a litre pack in this part of Himachal.

Now, the BJP government is blaming the Centre for the unprecedented price rise. Do politicians play the blame game to fool the gullible people? But the public is watching this drama intently and is getting disillusioned with the politicians. Even the fair price shops have discontinued providing edible oil at subsidised rates.

KIRAN SHARMA, Sunder Nagar (Mandi)


Popularise solar cooker

Sometimes even good schemes remain on paper due to the lack of general awareness. The new dish-type solar cooker along with a 5-litre vessel (not the old box type) available at 50 per cent subsidised cost of Rs 2,300 suits all households, particularly in villages and small towns. We need to popularise it in the national interest.

The government rightly maintains that its use would give yearly savings up to 11 cylinders for one family. This is a big saving particularly when oil has touched $110 a barrel. The temperature in the solar cooker reaches up to 350°-400° C.

It would be beneficial if one solar cooker is provided free to each village or panchayat so that the people know its use and utility. It would be a big revolution in saving gas energy. Even Chandigarhians can install these cookers in their houses.

The offices of the DCs or BDOs can be contacted for detailed information about the solar cooker scheme. Only a copy of the ration card is necessary for proof. Solar energy available freely should be used as an additional source. Clearly, efforts to popularise the scheme will yield rich dividends.




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