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Lawmakers must take the lead
to save Shimla

The pithy editorial “Shimla must be saved” (Oct 12) hit the nail on the head by highlighting the unholy nexus among the corrupt and greedy politicians, bureaucrats and builders in subverting all regulatory norms, which have resulted in merciless ‘ghettoisation’ of cities like Shimla.

Ever since Independence, in Shimla there has been a ruthless depletion of the green cover in the name of urban development and expansion. As the editorial rightly pointed out, Shimla has to be saved from its politicians, especially those in power.

Whether judicial activism can save the state from this reckless self-destruction is a moot point. Unless our lawmakers themselves take the lead to realise the immense harm they are causing to the erstwhile ‘Queen of Hills’ and many other pristine cities elsewhere, the thought of saving cities will remain a pipedream.

Presently, the essential civic facilities like garbage collection and public hygiene in Shimla are grossly inadequate. The least that is expected is regular supply of drinking water, jam-free traffic and adequate parking space. This can be realised only when there is a re-think on the plan to withdraw the ban on construction in Shimla’s 17 green pockets and when those in power do some serious soul-searching.


India, Omar and Kashmir

It is really unfortunate that during the last few days two young leaders, Mr Rahul Gandhi and Mr Omar Abudullah, who belong to the families which have been at the helm of affairs for most of the time after Independence, one in New Delhi and other in J&K, have made statements which have saddened their supporters, worried patriots and gladdened the hearts of the enemies of India and traitors (editorial, “Omar in troubled waters”, Oct 9).

This shows their immaturity, ignorance of the Indian culture, insensitivity about the nation’s security and oversimplification of complex situations. J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah should not in any way have raised the question about the accession of J&K to the Indian Union in such an insensitive and casual manner that he did.

He has failed in governing the state and has caused resentment among the unemployed youth. The PDP and the separatists have exploited this situation by arousing anti-India sentiments, which resulted in many deaths. He should not have tried to match them in anti-India rhetoric.

He has disappointed the whole nation that was hoping for the return of normalcy under his youthful leadership. The merger of principalities to India or Pakistan was complete and absolute and so is the accession of J&K. According to the UN Security Council resolution, the plebiscite is not binding upon India unless Pakistan stops all terrorist and aggressive activities against India and withdraws all its forces from POK.

On his visit to Pakistan and India in March 2001, the then UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, made it clear that though the UN resolutions on Kashmir were significant, these were not self-enforcing. He also endorsed the Lahore Declaration. In this way, India has a strong case over Kashmir and the dispute is only about the areas illegally occupied by Pakistan and China.


Badal vs Badal

The principles of economics and financial discipline and political whims and compulsions can never run parallel to each other (The Tribune Interview by Raj Chengappa with Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Oct 10). There has to be adequate government earnings in the shape of taxes. Nothing comes free and also nothing can go free from the government’s treasury.

What Manpreet Badal is advocating is a practical compulsion. Sukhbir Badal’s compulsions are political. Both are right and both are wrong at the same time. When Manpreet consented to be the Finance Minister, he should have realised and understood the compulsions of his party to give subsidies. He should have understood that it is the collective responsibility of the Cabinet to pursue the party manifesto.

Mr Sukhbir Badal should also have given due respect to his cousin’s compulsions to manage the financial health of the ailing state and should have found a way to tackle this problem. Financial losses can be met by using huge government vacant lands for projects like Aerocity.


Ayodhya verdict

The article “Faith versus facts: A strange verdict on Ayodhya”( Oct 11) by Amulya Ganguli was thought-provoking. The writer has underlined the dangers of “letting religion intrude, first, into politics and then into jurisprudence” aptly.

However, the most dangerous aspect of this “strange” court verdict is that it vindicates the demolition of a site of archaeological import. For, could this court pronounce this judgment, asking to divide the place into three parts, had the structure been intact?

Sadly, the court, instead of acting like Portia, who showed the legal way out to counter Shylock’s dangerous design of seeking Antonio’s pound of flesh, behaved like the scheming Shylock.

BALVINDER, Chandigarh



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