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What must be done to help Punjab

The Tribune Editor-in-Chief Raj Chengappa’s interview with Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President Capt Amarinder Singh under the headline “Punjab is broke; we need innovative ideas to get out of the mess” (Perspective, Oct 31) shows the former Chief Minister’s concern for the peasantry and the downtrodden of Punjab.

In all welfare schemes and education, Himachal Pardesh and Haryana have far ahead of Punjab. There is improvement in the sex ratio also. Punjab is debt-ridden and has no money to pay to the employees. The Captain’s performance shall be judged by his ability to wean away from the toadies and sycophants and his reach to the poorest of the poor.

Health care, education, generation of revenue and power and employment to youths are areas that need close look. 80 per cent subsidies on fertiliser, seeds, electricity and water must be doled only to the petty farmers up to a landmass of five acres, 50 per cent beyond 5 to 15 acres and beyond that no subsidy should be given. This will improve economy as big landlords are devouring all the benefits. The poorest without landmass must be looked after by giving other benefits for which a commission must be set up to determine how to ameliorate their lot. As regards industry, it must be given a boost as it is caught in despondency due to no concrete encouragement from the state government.



Capt Amarinder Singh aptly said that the poor and BPL population of the state need financial protection. Unfortunately, the poor farmers are forced to wait for weeks to get their crops lifted from the mandis. The greedy Ahrtiyas are allowed to flourish at the cost of the farmers.

There is need for a cooperative system on the pattern of Gujarat’s Anand dairies. Kissan cooperatives in each mandi can develop infrastructure to handle the job of commission agents and also provide seed, fertilisers and so on to the farmers. Why not rationalise subsidies for the needy, small and marginal farmers?


A unique culture in Old Manali

I read “Spell of Old Manali” by Aradhika Sharma (Spectrum, Oct 24). Indeed, a unique culture has emerged, created by foreign tourists and locals alike. Foreigners flock here to enjoy the peace and to take pleasure in the pot, which is cheap and aplenty.

The gora tourists usually live in inexpensive lodgings (i.e. in villagers’ homes) and bathe (not necessarily daily) in hot water springs of the area, free of cost. Villagers gladly take in foreigners as it brings them income. The foreigners too are happy with cheap lodgings. It’s a familiar sight to see goras drive around countryside on hired motorbikes.

As peace has become a commercial commodity, several jyotish kendras, massage parlours, eateries, shops of semi-precious stones, books, faded thankas, etc. have come up while hoardings of travel agents, money changers, visa cards just stare at you.

Some goras just bask in the sun, some keep company of sadhus even dressing like them with matted hair and foreheads smeared with vermilion. Many are engaged in narcotic trade. Reportedly, more than 10 per cent goras stay back in Manali- Kullu-Manikaran area.

What is most interesting aspect is that almost every village here has a westerner married to a pahari. Indian spouses look for easy flow of foreign currency and greener pastures abroad, while the westerners are content with the easy pace of life. These foreigners adapt well to rural life: they wear the local attire, speak the local dialect and some even turn vegetarian.




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