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Tinkering with panchayats won’t do

Prof Partha Nath Mukherjee’s article, “Panchayat elections: A knock for grassroots democracy in Punjab” (June 19) is well-researched. Clearly, panchayat elections in Punjab have been messed up. There were deferments, violence and intimidation of voters and candidates. Violence in the home constituency of the Punjab Chief Minister was most striking. His cousin, who fought Assembly elections against him, was also roughed up. A team of reporters was shut in a room and later hounded out of the area. All this does not augur well for the democracy.

Changing dates for elections or mode for Sarpanch’s election is no reform for improvement. These have brought in more ills. Apparently, the present Panchayati Raj Minister would also pass his time in the coziness of office like his predecessors. He himself got into a controversy over distribution of grant cheques.


The debate on panchayats boils down to more powers. But before this, the system needs to be strengthened for meaningful exercise of powers. Panchayats don’t have infrastructure. Most don’t have a proper meeting place to raise funds for meeting the administrative requirements. The grant system is distorted, whimsical and inadequate. Without strengthening the system, more powers would be a futile exercise.

APAR SINGH GHUMAN, Former Sarpanch, Khera Kotli, Dasuya


Ethics, morality and decency have gone with the wind in the recent panchayat elections in Punjab. The one-month postponement of polls has made holes in the candidates’ pockets. Horse trading also reached astronomical heights. The houses of some candidates looked like bars and mini distilleries. Where is Indian democracy heading for?


Tax on speeches

Politicians have hardly anything to say. Still they speak because they must speak. To quote Bernard Shaw: “it is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought of as a fool than to open it and remove all doubts it.”

Anyhow, the Union Finance Minister not to tax his mind too much to mobilise resources. He should impose a tax on talking as suggested by Justice A. N. Grover, a former Supreme Court Judge. This way, the Finance Minister will not have to lose his sleep over what he needs to do to bridge the yawning gap between expenditure and revenue.

The tax on talking has many advantages. Quite possibly, it will shut the mouths of many politicians. It is also a pleasant feeling for the common man that when the politician opens his mouth he not only puts his foot into it but also that of the taxman.

D. V. JOSHI, Bartana (Zirakpur)

Sam’s greatness

It was mid-1992. Field Marshal S.H.F.J. Manekshaw and his wife were going to Pune from Bombay. I was commanding an ordnance unit en route at Dehu road, 25 km from Pune. The couple alighted elegantly from the car. Brushing aside the officers in attendance waiting for introduction, Sam first spoke to the waiter standing with a wet moisture towel in the tray. After wiping his hands he met the officers and ladies.

I was the first target of Sam’s wit and humour. He asked my wife, “You are a smart lady. Couldn’t you find a better husband?” I thought I was no less smart in my fifties. In the same breath, he said: “I am joking my son, I meant no offence”.

The great soldier spoke to the waiter, the cook, the helper, the bar men, the ladies and officers in their respective native languages and thus made every one feel at home for a full two hours.

The nation may forget him. Leaders and Generals may abstain from giving him the last salute on the pretext of Warrant of Precedence. But true soldiers will march in step with Manekshaw, hell or heaven apart.



Field Marshal S.H.F.J. Manekshaw was the only General in the entire military history of India who got this country a place in the world. No other country including the US could earn this feat. It is awful that the Centre had failed to give a befitting tribute to him.

What prevented the Supreme Commander, the Defence Minister and the Chief of Army Staff from attending the funeral of the most distinguished soldier of India? God be with him.

Dr MEENA DUTTA, Chandigarh

Wrong question

I am a student of LL.M (Final) (2007-08) of the Directorate of Distance Education, Kurukshetra University. In the last paper, “Legal regulation of economic enterprises”, a question in Unit I of the exam was regarding discussion with the help of decided case law on the working of the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 2005. 

This Act was amended in 2002 and thereafter no amendment has been carried out in the statute. Thus, the question has a glaring error causing inconvenience to students. As the weightage of this question is 25 per cent and the minimum pass mark is 50 per cent, the university authorities should give appropriate relief to those examinees who have attempted this question.

KASHISH RAHEJA, Advocate, Dist Courts, Faridabad

Help the elderly

The rates of interest on Post Office Monthly Income Scheme and Senior Citizen Saving Scheme were fixed some years ago at higher rates of 8 per cent and 9 per cent compared with those on deposits with commercial banks which were far less at that time. All banks in the public and private sectors offer additional interest at the rate of 0.5 to 1 per cent on deposits by senior citizens above 60 years.

Additional interests should given by post offices also on deposits by senior citizens under various schemes like MIS, PPF, term deposits etc. Banks and post offices should give extra interest on saving accounts also to senior citizens.

Surely, senior citizens deserve this help as most of them do not get pension and the resultant compensation for neutralisation of escalation in the inflation index like the government employees and pensioners.



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