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Gujjar protest for ST status mishandled

The Gujjar agitation is an example of mistrust, mishandling, short-sighted politics and a self-centred approach of the people at the helm of affairs in the government and those leading the protesters (editorials “Wages of promise” and “Gujjar war”). The situation has also put a question mark on caste being included in various categories for reservations in government jobs and admissions.

We all know that reservations have benefited the lower and backward sections, but at the same time the policy has deeply divided our society and political parties have done nothing to assuage the feelings of those left outside. Instead, they have created their vote banks within castes, endangering the unity and integrity of our nation. Reservations should be on an economic basis rather than caste.

Both the Centre and the Rajasthan government should sit together and solve the problem, instead of sitting back and calculating the pros and cons of their action and inaction.




I fully endorse the perceptive argument “A sympathetic study of the socio-economic conditions of Gujjars would suggest that they have a genuine case for reservation”  (editorial “Wages of promise”, May 29).

In fact, the Gujjars belong to the common ethnic stock of the Jats, Rajputs and Yadavs but economically they have lagged behind because of their nomadic and pastoral background.

If the BJP promised them Scheduled Tribe status during the last elections, it must come to their help now. Even if the BJP government in Rajasthan does not find itself very comfortable with the Gujjars’ demand, it must talk to them to find a solution.


Medical colleges

I read your editorial “Medical colleges in a mess” (June 2). This certainly was an opportunity for the government to get its act together and revamp the medical education set-up in the state. Given the past record, I doubt that would ever happen.The only sustainable way forward for any academic institute is to have the ability to recruit and retain the best and the brightest. Certainly, there is no dearth of talent in the state, especially in the places where these medical colleges are located.

If the traditional recruitment strategies are no longer relevant, then new and innovative schemes need to be devised and applied. We may not have to re-invent the wheel ourselves and may learn immensely from some of the ideas used in the West and tailor them according to our needs.

Certainly the spin managers and the bureaucrats may be scoring a lot of brownie points by saving on money that needs to be spent on health care in the state and the consequences of which may not be reflecting on the balance sheets just jet, but we as a society will have to pay heavily for these follies in times to come.

Dr Himanshu Garg, Melbourne

IAF attains a new high

It was heartening to read the news item about the IAF successfully landing a large aircraft (AN32) on a 6,000-feet long unpaved airstrip, just 10 km from the Indo-China border, on Aksai Chin at an altitude of 16,200 feet. Hats off to the IAF! It will ensure quick deployment of Indian troops in the wake of frantic development activities, including railway, road and airfield infrastructure, being undertaken on the other side of the border by China.

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has rightly raised the demand in New Delhi for a railway track up to Ladakh through Kullu-Manali to neutralise the Chinese build-up. But, according to experts, it will be quite time-consuming, given the difficult terrain. In such a situation a large airfield in Spiti at Rangrik Kaza (at just 10,500 feet altitude) near the Indo-China border has become a dire necessity as providing logistic support and emergency deployment of the Army involves arduous routes via Shimla, Ambala and Leh due to big mountain passes. The BRO needs to build tunnels and more linkages for this purpose.

The 10th Finance Commission had given the state Rs 30 crore but the amount was diverted for the expansion of Kangra and Kullu airports as also Banikhet (Chamba) citing the Indian Airport Authority’s opinion that an airport at Rangrik was not feasible as there were no aircraft available which could operate at such high altitudes.

The Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) airport exploits by the IAF are a big slap on the face of the IAA for giving biased technical reports from its air-conditioned comforts in Delhi. The IAF airstrips in Thois (at Siachen) and Kargil were handling larger aircraft, IL 76 and AN 32, two decades back.

Rangrik (Kaza) boasts of more than 10,000 feet flat land available on the right bank of the Spiti river flanked by low-slopping mountains on two sides with the nearest Kunzam pass blocking the Spiti valley only 30 km away.

Dr P. D. LAL, Lahaul Spiti



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