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EDITORIALS

Throw out rotten apples
The corrupt must not get away

C
hief
Justice of India Justice K.G. Balakrishnan has rightly stressed the need for confiscation of properties and assets of corrupt bureaucrats who are convicted of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Addressing a seminar in New Delhi, he has said that if a public official amasses wealth at the cost of the state exchequer, the state would be justified in seizing such properties.

Musharraf’s confessional
It is time Washington wakes up
For
India it is no news; nor should it have been for the Americans. Many US lawmakers now acknowledge that Pakistan has been misusing aid given to it by the US. None else than General Pervez Musharraf has admitted on television that Pakistan violated the rules governing the US aid for fighting terrorism and used the funds for strengthening Pakistan’s defences against India.



EARLIER STORIES

CC for Chandigarh
September 14, 2009
Of social and moral behaviour
September 13, 2009
Stampede in Delhi
September 12, 2009
Security, or status?
September 11, 2009
Mission education
September 10, 2009
By restraint, not passions
September 9, 2009
Pak inaction on 26/11
September 8, 2009
Jolt to Modi
September 7, 2009
What led to Partition?
September 6, 2009
Power and grief
September 5, 2009
Death on the hilltop
September 4, 2009


Needed, another Bourlag
The world owes a debt to him
It
is said half the world goes to bed every night after consuming grains derived from varieties developed by or under the supervision of Dr Norman Borlaug, the great American plant scientist who died on Saturday, aged 95. Widely hailed as the father of the Green Revolution, Dr Norman Borlaug can be justifiably credited with saving millions of lives in famine-prone Mexico, India, China and Africa.

ARTICLE

Dual loyalty is the issue
Battle of mindsets in the BJP
by Vijay Sanghvi
By
serving an eviction notice to the old and failed leader in the Bharatiya Janata Party, Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat has once again confronted Mr Lal Krishan Advani with an old dilemma of the dual membership. Mr Advani had faced the same issue 20 years and a month ago when he was a Cabinet minister in the Morarji Desai government. 


MIDDLE

In my son’s shoes
by Ashok Kumar Yadav
M
ETAMORPHOSIS! What does it mean? How does it occur? I could never comprehend its intrinsic meaning till I realised that I was myself undergoing the process, though in a subtle manner, ignited by the simultaneous advent of two little babies, a son and a daughter, in my family.



OPED

Norman Borlaug: The man who helped nations grow food
by Thomas H. Maugh II

Norman Borlaug, the father of the "Green Revolution" who died on Saturday in Texas aged 95, is widely credited with saving more than a billion lives by breeding wheat, rice and other crops that brought agricultural self-sufficiency to developing countries around the world.

Expressway: Death of a dream
by Bikram Singh Virk
Good
and fast roads are the lifeline of an economy and provide economic as well as emotional stimuli to it. The US economy, which plunged into a great depression in the early twenties, got revived due to the huge highway development programme initiated by the then President Franklin Roosevelt.

Delhi Durbar
Another Bench, another view on memorials

The controversy over the construction of memorials by the UP government has brought out divergent views of apex court judges on the subject. When a petition came up before the Chief Justice’s court questioning the propriety of the Mayawati government spending huge amounts on memorials for Dalit leaders, the Bench felt that the judiciary had no role in matters that had been approved by the legislature and the Cabinet.

Corrections and clarifications

 


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Throw out rotten apples
The corrupt must not get away

Chief Justice of India Justice K.G. Balakrishnan has rightly stressed the need for confiscation of properties and assets of corrupt bureaucrats who are convicted of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Addressing a seminar in New Delhi, he has said that if a public official amasses wealth at the cost of the state exchequer, the state would be justified in seizing such properties. His statement, coming close on the heels of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement on checking corruption at the top by catching the big fish, underlines the imperative need to root out corruption in the administration and improve the quality of governance. Few will disagree with the CJI’s observation that corruption is going on unchecked because of long delays in granting sanction to prosecute corrupt officials often because of extraneous considerations. As there is virtually no fear of punishment among the corrupt, it is not the “quantum” but “certainty” of punishment that will be an effective deterrent, the CJI has said.

The CJI has cited several reasons for the poor conviction rate of corrupt officials. Among these are the government’s refusal to sanction prosecution of officials, shortage of courts, a large number of witnesses creating hurdles in the court work, and lack of coordination between the CBI and government law officers. No wonder, according to a study, of 153 cases of senior officers awaiting the government’s sanction, as many as 21 cases were pending for more than three years, 26 for 2-3 years and 25 for 1-2 years. On their part, bureaucrats know how to use filibuster and loopholes to delay the cases for years and avoid punishment.

Unfortunately, the government has very rarely taken resort to Article 311 of the Constitution for sacking officers for causing serious monetary loss to the state. Significantly, Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily has said that he is pursuing the matter with the Prime Minister for a review of Article 311 so that corrupt civil servants can be summarily dismissed. Equally significant is his statement that the government’s prior sanction is not needed to prosecute a civil servant who is caught red-handed while accepting a bribe or found in possession of assets disproportionate to his/her known sources of income. Clearly, if corruption has to be checked, swift and decisive punishment of officials is imperative. It requires the government and the judiciary some will to throw out the rotten apples. 

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Musharraf’s confession
It is time Washington wakes up

For India it is no news; nor should it have been for the Americans. Many US lawmakers now acknowledge that Pakistan has been misusing aid given to it by the US. None else than General Pervez Musharraf has admitted on television that Pakistan violated the rules governing the US aid for fighting terrorism and used the funds for strengthening Pakistan’s defences against India. Last month External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna had stated that “whatever aid has been given (to Pakistan), whatever arms have been given (under the military aid programme) are invariably directed against India.” This has been India’s experience over the decades. India has impressed upon the US government that it is the primary responsibility of Washington to ensure that the financial assistance it provides to Pakistan is spent for the purpose for which it has been sanctioned and is not used against India.

New Delhi has been worried about Pakistan’s diversion of US aid for purposes other than that for which it is intended particularly after the US Senate passed a bill tripling the annual aid package to Islamabad to $7.5 billion to be released over five years. This happened despite the fact that 90 per cent of the US aid received by Islamabad so far has been squandered by Pakistan’s armed forces for purchasing arms and armaments as a recent paper by a Harvard University research fellow, Mr Azeem Ibrahim, says. The unfettered flow of funds from the US has made the Pakistan military develop a vested interest in ensuring its domination over the government, preventing the growth of democratic institutions there and much else.

The US has procedures to monitor the flow of its funds to Pakistan, but Washington has been lax in this respect. Now that a former military ruler of Pakistan has admitted to having violated the rules governing US aid on the pretext of having “acted in the best interest of Pakistan”, Washington can offer no excuse. The US must stall all aid to Pakistan if it is to be ultimately misused for enhancing its military capability vis-à-vis India. 

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Needed, another Borlaug
The world owes a debt to him

It is said half the world goes to bed every night after consuming grains derived from varieties developed by or under the supervision of Dr Norman Borlaug, the great American plant scientist who died on Saturday, aged 95. Widely hailed as the father of the Green Revolution, Dr Norman Borlaug can be justifiably credited with saving millions of lives in famine-prone Mexico, India, China and Africa. The Nobel committee acknowledged Dr Borlaug’s contribution while presenting him the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize: “More than any other single person of this age, he has helped provide bread for a hungry world”.

Born in a Norwegian farming family in 1914, Norman saw great human suffering during the Depression in the 1930s. He recongnised that “hunger could cause people to behave violently”. He worked as a waiter while studying in the University of Minnesota. Living in an age when famines and starvation deaths were common, Norman left an easy job with DuPont Co to work in Mexico’s harsh climate, experimenting on wheat. By crossing Mexican and Japanese varieties, he developed a variety that was disease-resistant and produced 10 time more grains. This led to the development of a similar variety of rice in the Philippines, thus paving the way for the Green Revolution.

Much later when the world had reasonable food security, environmentalists started questioning the actual gains of the Green Revolution. Because of the use of chemicals, they say, “the consumer is being poisoned out of existence”. American experts, writes Vandana Shiva, one of the critics, “spread ecologically destructive and unsustainable practices worldwide”. Dr Borlaug dismissed them as elitists who did not have to worry about their next meal. Although the Malthusian threat of an exploding population outstripping its ability to feed itself has diminished, the threat of food insecurity still looms. In one part of the world or another food riots do take place. The world today needs more scientists as dedicated as Dr Borlaug to benefit from.

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Thought for the Day

Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,/And seal the hushed casket of my soul. — John Keats

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Dual loyalty is the issue
Battle of mindsets in the BJP
by Vijay Sanghvi

By serving an eviction notice to the old and failed leader in the Bharatiya Janata Party, Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat has once again confronted Mr Lal Krishan Advani with an old dilemma of the dual membership. Mr Advani had faced the same issue 20 years and a month ago when he was a Cabinet minister in the Morarji Desai government. Socialist leader Madhu Limaye had hyped up the issue of dual membership of the erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh that had merged with the Janata Party in January 1977. They had continued their allegiance to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Prime Minister Morarji Desai preferred to allow his government to break down rather than confront Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mr Advani and other erstwhile BJS members to decide their preference between the Janata Party and the RSS.

Desai could not bring himself to concede the demands of the Charan Singh group that erstwhile Jan Sangh members should be asked to end their allegiance to the RSS if they wanted to be a part of the Janata Party. His argument was that no person could be allowed to have dual loyalties as no one can have two mothers. Desai believed that the demand was only a cover-up for power hunger and more demands would follow if he buckled down under pressure. The rigid attitude of Desai ended up in the collapse of his government. But the Jan Sangh members did not pay back in gratitude as they set up a separate house in the Bharatiya Janata Party in April 1980.

The new party struggled for almost a decade to find an ideology that would give it an effective identity to enable it to expand its social and geographical reach beyond the Hindi belt and also beyond its traditional vote banks. With its perceptible and palpable rise for the first time in 1989, others who did not pass through the Sangh theological school began to swell its ranks. Finally, the BJP was able to lead the ruling alliance but only after it had put on the back-burner the controversial issues that had become the core of its identity. Others were not willing to subscribe to those issues if the BJP wanted support to climb into the seat of power. The BJP had no alternative but to submit. Even the Sangh had to endorse it as it also could realise that the BJP could not lead the alliance without putting the issue of identity on the back-burner.

The Sangh mandarins tried to dictate to the then Prime Minister, Mr Vajpayee, on the composition of his Cabinet, on the selection of not only men and women but also their portfolios. Mr Vajpayee ignored their directions and had a team of his own choice. In most policy matters also, he sidestepped on the suggestions coming from Nagpur, for he knew that he had to carry along other parties to survive in the office and they would not agree to accept directed policies.

However, he was helpless after his decision to sack Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the communal carnage in Gujarat was thwarted by manipulations. The Sangh may not have designed, devised or even desired what happened in Gujarat but it certainly did not displease it. Hence it could not allow the dismissal of their hero from office. Even after knowing who had manipulated the game to thwart his decision, he had to tolerate the arrangements in his team.

Mr Vajpayee could get away with his defiance of the Sangh only because no one else had a wider acceptability as the head of the government in the ranks of the BJP. The Nagpur mandarins had to tolerate his defiance and take a solace in his lip service to the Sangh on and off such as his declaration in the US that he was still a volunteer at heart. It did raise a storm in the country but it passed of soon.

Mr Advani could not withstand the pressure built on him after he made a first attempt to break away from the ideological straightjacket of the Sangh to redo his image from a hawkish one into an acceptable one by praising the credentials of Mohammed Ali Jinnah during his visit to Pakistan in July 2005. Mr Advani was fully aware of what views the Sangh held on the founder of Pakistan. Yet he dared to speak out his mind. It could not have been without calculations and overpowering intent.

He may have failed to achieve his life’s objective due the wrong selection of issues and personal vilification of the Prime Minister. But that did not mean he was a failure as a leader. Ultimately, he was mainly responsible to build the party from scratch to which it was reduced by the 1984 election results. Now he was served an eviction notice as if he was merely a tenant and his office of the Leader of Opposition was merely a rented accommodation with ownership rights vested in the Sangh chief.

The Sangh chief has camouflaged his notice with nice phrases that he had merely made a suggestion. The BJP leaders would take the final decision in consultation with all colleagues.

Mr Advani has been told that he has to go but he could decide in consultation with others in the party who would be his successor. He must know the consequence that would follow in obeying the dictat. It is obvious that his followers, young or old, also would not have freedom of choice for any different policy frameworks but to follow the traditional RSS concepts. The Sangh chief has assumed that the Sangh ideology is correct and valid even in the changing world of India. Only men have failed in selling it to voters. Mr Advani has to decide which of the two loyalties are more important to him now that no one is around to bail him out of his RSS-knitted straightjacket. He has to decide whether he lacked the ability in selling or he was assigned the sale of bad goods. If he is confident of his ability, then the only options are either to go down fighting or lay down arms without even a protest.

If the BJP has to survive in the new world, it would have to now confront itself with the issue whether it should continue its dual membership structure or should declare its independence. It cannot become an independent political apparatus unless it refuses to accept dictations from outsiders and develop a democratic capacity to take decisions within. Or else it should prepare itself to become an extinct political specie in the months to come. It becomes imperative as there are large numbers in the party who have not passed through the rigours of the Sangh’s concept of Rashtra. They would have no option but to seek new pastures sooner than later.

Mr Advani has sought change to give his final answer. He is now visiting party leaders for an ostensible purpose of searching heads for replacement. Or, may be, he is really assessing his chances of support in case he has to take on the fight. No one can grudge him the precaution after the bad experience when even the faithful ran for cover when it came to confront the Sangh mandarins. So, the second half of 2009 becomes a historic period that would show how Mr Advani will chose his place in history — whether he would be a martyr who would be remembered for a long time or a bad general who could not fight. It is the final confrontation of his life.

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In my son’s shoes
by Ashok Kumar Yadav

METAMORPHOSIS! What does it mean? How does it occur? I could never comprehend its intrinsic meaning till I realised that I was myself undergoing the process, though in a subtle manner, ignited by the simultaneous advent of two little babies, a son and a daughter, in my family.

As a toddler, my son Pitamber would often go to my camp office in my absence with the baby sitter and ‘usurp’ my chair. He would invariably pick up the phone and start issuing ‘instructions’ to ‘unseen’ persons in a dialect nobody could decipher. He was perhaps, I felt, trying to acquire my style of functioning. He would generally copy all my gestures and pose to be ‘papa’ in action.

Once I caught him red handed while he was ‘commanding’ the district in my absence and stealthily videographed his ‘criminal trespass’ and ‘impersonation’ on the mobile phone of the district police chief. But that was not with the purpose to prosecute him for the ‘criminal acts’ he was committing in full public view. May be the little ‘artist’ was rehearsing to step into my shoes and perform the role of a future civil servant.

The tears spontaneously started rolling down since I had at last discovered my first ‘disciple’ who had ostensibly accepted me as his ‘role model’.

As he grew my height, he would often pick up my personal belongings at will without any notice. But it gave me a feeling of pride that the ‘thief’ was growing in size to match my stature.

Once I was caught unaware. It so happened that I got a message from the Chief Minister’s office about an emergency meeting within the next half an hour. I started getting ready. But my ‘solitary’ leather shoes were nowhere to be found. I got panicky. I fired my domestic help for not keeping my things in a proper manner. He explained with folded hands that ‘chhota sahib’ had gone for a party with his friends wearing my shoes. “What should I do now?” I asked my wife, Shailja.

She went into trance for a while and then came out with a novel idea. “You should try Pitamber’s shoes instead”, she guided. How could I fit into his shoes? But since I was running out of options, I tried somehow, though hesitatingly. My feet were ushered in. And lo and behold, there I was without much effort on my part. I then realised that my son’s shoes were the perfect size for me. What a pleasant surprise indeed! I had finally stepped into my son’s shoes!

As if that was not enough, my daughter Archna hurriedly brought my son’s branded shirt to ‘botox’ my shabby looks. I obeyed and ran out for the meeting.

It was here when I stepped into my son’s shoes that I experienced a total metamorphosis in me. I felt more energetic like my son. I realised that my son was no more a kid but a grownup boy who needed to be treated more like a friend. Like William Wordsworth in his ‘Ode to Immortality’ that a ‘child is the father of man, Might Prophet, Seer Blest’, the experience of getting into my son’s shoes actually opened many new vistas in my life!

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Norman Borlaug: The man who helped nations grow food
by Thomas H. Maugh II

Norman Borlaug, the father of the "Green Revolution" who died on Saturday in Texas aged 95, is widely credited with saving more than a billion lives by breeding wheat, rice and other crops that brought agricultural self-sufficiency to developing countries around the world.

Borlaug was one of only five people in history to score the trifecta of winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal – placing him in the company of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Elie Wiesel. He was also named by Time magazine in 1999 as one of the 100 most influential minds of the 20th century.

That influence showed itself in earnest while Borlaug was working in Mexico in the 1940s where he created a system of plant breeding and crop management that became the basis for the Green Revolution. The system was a huge success and was exported to countries around the world.

In 1960, the world produced 692 million tons of grain for 2.2 billion people. By 1992, largely as a result of Borlaug's pioneering techniques, it was producing 1.9 billion tons for 5.6 billion people – using only 1 percent more land.

Ever since 19th century British economist Thomas Malthus first predicted that the world's population would eventually outstrip its capacity for growing food, prophets of doom had envisioned catastrophe.

Such a disaster was actually quite close beginning in the late 1930s. Between 1939 and 1942, Mexico's wheat harvest had been halved by stem rust, a fungus whose airborne spores infect stems and leaves, causing the grain to shrivel. India, Pakistan, China and a host of other countries were also facing the prospect of widespread starvation.

Alarmed by how food shortages might impact the war effort, the Rockefeller Foundation – largely at the instigation of Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace – established the Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program in Mexico. It later became known as the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center or, by its Spanish acronym, CIMMYT. Borlaug signed on in 1944 after finishing his wartime obligations as a chemist at E.I. du Pont de Nemours.

Borlaug collected wheat strains from around the world and began cross-breeding them, a process he later recalled as "mind-warpingly tedious." To speed things up, he planted two crops per year, a summer crop in the low-quality, high-altitude soils near Mexico City and a winter crop hundreds of miles to the north in the low-lying Yaqui Valley.

This "shuttle breeding" was derided by experts at the time, who insisted that such experiments must be conducted at the same locations and times employed by local farmers to be useful.

Within five years, however, Borlaug had produced a strain that was resistant to rust, more productive than existing strains, and that grew in both climates when given adequate fertilizer and water.

But there was still one problem. Evolution had favored wheat strains with long, slender stalks that allowed the wheat to rise above the shade of nearby weeds. With the added weight of the extra grain, however, the stalks tended to collapse when irrigated or rained on, reducing yields.

After thousands of fruitless attempts to produce wheat with shorter stalks, Borlaug encountered a Japanese dwarf variety. After thousands more attempts, by 1954 he had succeeded in producing a short-stalked variety that was rust resistant and high yielding. And because the plant did not have to invest energy in producing long stalks, its yield was even higher than before.

Using the new strains, Mexico, which had imported 60 percent of its wheat in the early 1940s, became self-sufficient by 1956.

In 1954, a rust epidemic hit the American Midwest, destroying three-quarters of the durum wheat crop that was used for making pasta and accelerating use of the new strains in the United States. There has not been a similar outbreak since.

Using Borlaug's techniques, scientists at CIMMYT and elsewhere soon developed similar high-yield strains of rice and corn.

In the early 1960s, India and Pakistan were confronting famine and CIMMYT sent Borlaug to intervene. He planted demonstration plots of the new dwarf variety, but was unable to convince the state-owned seed companies to adopt them.

By 1965, however, famine in the region was so bad that the governments acquiesced. Borlaug organized a shipment of 35 truckloads of dwarf wheat seeds. After many delays, the seeds were finally shipped, but by then India and Pakistan had gone to war.

It quickly became apparent that the seeds were germinating at less than half the normal rate – it later was learned that the seeds had been damaged by fumigation before shipment – and he ordered workers to double the seeding rate.

Despite the problems, the new crop was 98 percent bigger than the previous year's and the Asian subcontinent was placed on a new path. India ordered 18,000 tons of seed from Mexico and the harvest was so big that there was a shortage of labor to harvest it, too few carts to haul it to the threshing floor, and an insufficiency of bags, trucks, rail cars and storage facilities.

By 1968, Pakistan was self-sufficient in food production. India joined it in 1974.

Because of his efforts, Borlaug was awarded the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize.

Eventually, however, a backlash developed. In the 1980s, environmental groups began pressuring the foundations and the World Bank to stop funding shipments of fertilizer to developing countries, particularly in Africa. Critics charged the inorganic fertilizers caused massive pollution and argued in favor of "sustainable" agriculture using "natural" fertilizers like cow manure.

Borlaug was indignant. Using manure would require a massive expansion of the lands required for grazing the cattle and consume much of the extra grain that would be produced. At best, he said, such efforts could support no more than 4 billion people worldwide, well under the nearly 7 billion now inhabiting the planet.

"Some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the Earth, but many of them are elitists," he told the Atlantic Monthly magazine. "They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 50 years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals, and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things."

Borlaug formally retired from CIMMYT in 1979, becoming a professor at Texas A&M University. But in 1984, he got a call from Japanese industrialist Ryoichi Sasakawa, who offered Borlaug funding for five years of work.

Borlaug later said that, "I assumed we'd do a few years of research first, but after I saw the terrible circumstances there, I said, `Let's just start growing.' " He soon had projects running in several countries, including Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.

Norman Ernest Borlaug was born March 25, 1914, on a farm near Cresco, Iowa, in a portion of the state called "little Norway" because so many of its residents were immigrants from that country. His education began in a one-room schoolhouse.

Along with his wife, the former Margaret G. Gibson, Borlaug is survived by daughter Jeanie Borlaug Laube; son William Gibson Borlaug; five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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Expressway: Death of a dream
by Bikram Singh Virk

Good and fast roads are the lifeline of an economy and provide economic as well as emotional stimuli to it. The US economy, which plunged into a great depression in the early twenties, got revived due to the huge highway development programme initiated by the then President Franklin Roosevelt.

The overall early development of Punjab is also ascribable to the strong rural and urban road network which got developed in the late sixties and early seventies in the state.

But today it is overstressed due to increased volume of traffic and vehicle density. With this kind of network the state is not a favoured destination for investment as compared to some other states in India. With the announcement of construction of expressways in the state by young Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal last year, it was like a dream coming true for Punjab, where such infrastructure is much needed for development.

But the recent reports about scrapping the Rs 5000 cr. 104 km Mohali-Phagwara Expressway, which was to reduce the journey between the two destinations to less than an hour from the present two and a half plus, has come as a bolt from the blue for those who really feel concerned about the overall development of the state.

The opposition from the land owners and some others, whose properties fall in the alignment of the expressway, is obviously behind the scrapping of the project. Some of them are asking exorbitant prices, while others are making political issues out of it.

The landowners and other stakeholders were reportedly to get handsome compensation, but it is intriguing why people fail to spot an opportunity in a crisis and encash it. By getting Rs. 30 lakh to 50 an acre, these landowners can buy huge chunks of fertile land in states like UP, MP and Gujarat, where it is still available at around Rs. 2 to 3 lakh an acre with plenty of underground water and good electricity supply.

These very expressways will ensure that industrious farmers of Punjab reach these destinations within 12 to 15 hours and control farming from here. Furthermore, a dormant dream which every Punjabi nurtures to own a vast chunk of land would also get realised as their land-holdings would get multiplied 10 to 15 times!

Punjab today is in a dire need of fast-mode connectivity in the wake of new challenges of growing traffic on the one hand and much-needed industrial development on the other.

The agriculture sector also needs a good road network as the proposed crop diversification calls for a faster transportation system so as to enable the perishable farm produce to reach distant markets and fetch handsome returns.

Being land-locked, the state is accessible by roads and railways for bulky transportation and these expressways can only ensure a speedy movement of agricultural and industrial goods. They are also the best attractions for investors as they look much to these infrastructural facilities than the sops and tax breaks.

In today’s fast world, expressways provide an exhilarating experience. One should on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway or the Ahmedabad-Anand-Vadodra Expressway, where an average speed of a vehicle is more than 120 km an hour.

Going by the needs of the state and the merits of the project, let the state policy-makers shun all doubts and review the decision to build these marvels for the coming generations. This will be a real legacy worth leaving. Speed in today’s world is all important.

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Delhi Durbar
Another Bench, another view on memorials

The controversy over the construction of memorials by the UP government has brought out divergent views of apex court judges on the subject.

When a petition came up before the Chief Justice’s court questioning the propriety of the Mayawati government spending huge amounts on memorials for Dalit leaders, the Bench felt that the judiciary had no role in matters that had been approved by the legislature and the Cabinet.

The CJI clarified that the judiciary could interfere only if there were charges of irregularities and corruption. However, while hearing a similar plea later, another Bench observed that courts had the power to scrutinise such huge expenditure involving tax money, particularly by a state whose GDP growth was abysmally low at 2 per cent.

While the Bench of Justice BN Agarwal directed the UP government to stall work at the Lucknow memorials, the Forest Bench headed by the CJI refused to grant a stay on a similar memorial at Noida. Justice Agarwal, the seniormost judge, is retiring on October 15. The CJI’s tenure ends on May 12 next year.

‘Hindi-Chini bhai bhai’

Who says India-China ties are under strain due to the recent Chinese incursions in the Indian territory? Even the new Indian Ambassador to China has spoken highly of booming trade, regular contacts between the leaders of the two countries as well as rising interaction between the two peoples and even the armed forces.

Recently, Jaishankar was in New Delhi for the high-profile meeting of the Indian envoys convened by the External Affairs Ministry.

He was still in the midst of his engagements in the Capital when a call came from Beijing to tell him that the Chinese authorities would like him to present his credentials to Chinese President Hu Jintao along with new US envoy to China Jon Meade Huntsman.

With permission from his bosses, Jaishankar cut short his stay in New Delhi and air-dashed to Beijing to be there well in time to present his credentials.

The buzz in the corridors of power is that China would not do anything silly to ruffle India’s feathers in view of its commercial interests, though New Delhi can’t afford to lower its guard.

Shekhawat’s ideals

Ever since former Vice Pesident Bhairon Singh Shekhawat expressed his desire last year to return to active politics and was summarily snubbed by BJP president Rajnath Singh, much distancing has taken place between Shekhawat and his former party. Anyway he has not renewed his membership of the BJP since he assumed the office of Vice President of India.

This distancing and disenchantment with the BJP or its parent body, the RSS, is on display in Shekhawat’s Aurangzeb Road visitors’ room.

The room is adorned by the images and photos of Hindu gods and goddesses; his own photographs. Apart from these the only other photo, a group one at that hangs on a side wall is Gandhiji leading the Dandi March.

Walking alongside are Nehru, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Sardar Patel and Azad. Obviously, he does not consider any BJP or Sangh leader worthy enough to be shown off to his visitors. There is no reason for him to do so, either.n

Contributed by: R Sedhuraman, Ashok Tuteja and Faraz Ahmad

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Corrections and clarifications

In “City Scope Letters” (Page 2, Sept 14, Chandigarh Tribune) the main headline “Pelf and arrogance reign society” is wrong. It should have been “…. reign in society” or “pervade society”.

In the bullet-points of the report “Take policies to masses, SAD leaders told” (Page 1, Sept 12) “voluntary disclosure” has been mis-spelt as “voluntary discloser”.

In the report “Stimulus to continue: Pranab” (Page 21, Sept 21) there is no reference in the text to what is contained in the headline.

In the report “Security for Pak actor Meera” (Page 13, Sept 11) in the fourth para the word “edict” has been mistakenly spelt as “edit”.

Despite our earnest endeavour to keep The Tribune error-free, some errors do creep in at times. We are always eager to correct them.

This column appears thrice a week — every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We request our readers to write or e-mail to us whenever they find any error.

Readers in such cases can write to Mr Kamlendra Kanwar, Senior Associate Editor, The Tribune, Chandigarh, with the word “Corrections” on the envelope. His e-mail ID is kanwar@tribunemail.com.

H.K. Dua, Editor-in-Chief

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