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Poll violence: a new phase in politics

The panchayat elections in Punjab on Monday were scarred by widespread violence unusual in this part of the India. The media has reported, and obviously under-reported, organised acts of intimidation, booth capturing and physical assault (often with weapons), not to speak of mute witness-bearing by a spineless government machinery.

Are we watching a new phase of politics? Politics is supposed to be founded on the ethics of the polis, on debate, dialogue, public interest, civility of conduct, and so on. But what do we have here?

It appears that the last thin veils of democracy on the ugly reality of this part of India’s body politic have finally been torn to shreds and cast away. And what we are watching is the naked reality of money, muscle and other forms of legitimised power.


Democracy does not inhere primarily in institutions and books of law. It inheres in practices. We have the institutions of democracy but the practices of an entrenched criminal aristocracy that shamelessly displays its vulgar greed. Do we have any mechanisms to bring to justice those who commit crimes against democracy? Why, if not?


Poor worst hit

Inflation is now all too high. The worst sufferers are senior citizens as they have limited earnings like pension or returns from their past savings. Unlike the present young generation, they have not earned in crores or even in lakhs per month. It is another question that nowadays the middle class is earning too much money and has hardly time to spent and enjoy.

However, the poor suffers the most. One reason for high inflation is too much money with too many people (again middle class yuppies) and high margins by all connected people in the chain of selling a production from the factory owner to the retailer! And the main culprit is the government which levies multiple taxes on a single commodity. A good portion of the selling price consists of taxes only. To reduce prices, remove all taxes from all essential commodities and help the poor to pay less for necessaries of life.



The only way to deal with inflation lies in implementing the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission. For good reasons, too. The business community is the beneficiary of inflation and that includes people in big business houses to rehriwalas, the petty karyana shopkeepers, the dhabawallas, the vegetable and fruit sellers and all others in retail and wholesale.

The farmers, the BPL and OBC families are partially protected against inflationary trends. The politicians enjoy immunity against inflationary trends. The only class that suffers is the class of serving and retired employees of the Central and state governments. Being the purchasing class, they have to pay 100 per cent of the MRP of goods and also pay 100 per cent of the income and other taxes they are subject to.

Consequently, the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister should stop trying to control inflation because till date no government in India has been able to control it. The UPA coalition government at the Centre is the least qualified to succeed when the earlier governments, which were better placed, had failed.

Dr L.R. SHARMA, Jalandhar

Mockery of education

The editorial “Safety comes last” (May 8) has rightly highlighted the precarious condition of school buildings which form the basic requirement for introducing teaching and learning dynamics. The government has completely failed to provide quality school education.

Handing over of schools to private agencies, dwindling rate of enrolment in government schools, high dropout rate, unprincipled increase in the pass percentage, opening of schools without school mapping are some of the glaring deficiencies, other than ill-maintained buildings. All this indicates that the government is divesting of its constitutional obligations.

Even some quantitative expansion under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) runs amuck in destroying quality education, making a mockery of the educational system. Senior secondary schools feel helpless in providing good education as they get the rotten stuff from below. A revolution is needed in reforming education and it cannot come unless the administration wakes up from its slumber.

Dr S. KUMAR, Panchkula

Ledger charges

Earlier, banks used to do work manually and maintain big ledger books. They were also levying charges from the account holders for the ledger keeping pagewise. Now though all banks have been computerised, the Punjab and Sindh Bank continues to charge ledger keeping charges from its current account holders. The customers feel cheated. Incidentally, no other nationalised bank levies this charge from customers.

SANJEEV KUMAR GARG, Rampura Phul (Bathinda)

Muktsar problem

The Punjab Irrigation Department, to combat waterlogging of the Muktsar region, intends to adopt a new technique to water proof “leaky” reaches of the Rajasthan feeder and the Sirhind feeder. The new technique has not been tried in Punjab before and would involve an expenditure of Rs 650 crore or more. The technique is known as “sheet lining” and will be installed without interruption of flows of the canal system, i.e. without obtaining the “long closure”. The work is expected to be taken up on a war footing.

Before undertaking this work, will it not be desirable for the authorities to test the technique on a pilot basis? Such a study would help Irrigation engineers to adopt the new technique in the situation obtained in the work area. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal should consider this suggestion favourably before launching the project at Muktsar.

Dr G.S. DHILLON, former Director (Irrigation, Punjab), Chandigarh



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