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Right to recall may undermine democracy

The debate regarding the representative character of our politicians has led to social activists such as Anna Hazare and his followers demanding the right to recall. The Chief Election Commissioner, Mr S Y Quraishi, has rightly opposed the idea, saying that it could “destabilise” the country in areas “where people already feel alienated” (Right to recall risky, says poll panel chief, October 17). But there is another reason why this demand has no basis. In a pluralist society such as ours, the right to recall could undermine the democratic rights of a number of individuals and communities. It is true that the practice of right to recall exists in Switzerland, the US, the UK, Canada, Venezuela, among other countries. But there is hardly any evidence to suggest that it should become an integral part of all modern democracies. Here it is pertinent to state that the option of ‘recall’ has already been tried out at panchayat levels in the states of Punjab (1994), Bihar (2010), Madhya Pradesh (2000), Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh (2004), but it hasn’t produced any encouraging results.

If Anna’s formula is adopted, it would only add to the instability of governments, by empowering those who lose elections. A society which has several castes, sub-castes, religions and sects, the idea of not waiting for five years for the next election and bringing in recall at the drop of a hat, would eventually amount to undermining the very essence of Indian democracy.

AJAY SHARMA, Chandigarh

Single women’s woes

The editorial, “Lonely and poor” (October 21), highlights the problems of single women in India. It is a myth that they are an empowered lot. Single women in rural areas find it very difficult to face the challenges of life. Those who have children find it even more difficult. This is because not many of them have a regular source of income. In urban areas, one may find a job to fulfil one’s needs. But in rural areas, not many opportunities are available. Societal prejudices add to their woes.

The editorial rightly points out that most of the government schemes meant for the welfare of these women do not reach them. It is not merely the fault of the government. For the successful implementation of any government scheme, it is important that civil society should also assist the government. The role of the media is also very important. The media must highlight the salient features of such schemes for their audience. We cannot simply blame the government all the time if benefits of various schemes, meant for single women, do not reach them.

But the government must also ensure that it keeps its various channels open for redressing the grievances of single women in India.


Cultural interaction

It is heartening to read that the civil society of Jammu will organise “Jashan-e-Faiz” in Jammu to commemorate the birth centenary of renowned Pakiatani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz (Jashan-e-Faiz aims to boost Indo-Pak peace process, October 17). This event will witness writers, singers and literary personalities from the Indian subcontinent. Such cultural events make us feel that Pakistan and India have a common heritage. Political compulsions have not allowed us to interact more often. Peace between the two countries will be ensured if cultural interactions continue. Sports, cultural activities, education, etc. should not be associated with politics.

In a way, our leaders would be compelled to work for enduring peace in the region if the people of both the countries desire it. Our governments can not overlook the fact that the people of both the countries want the establishment of friendly relations. Masoud Choudhary, patron of the Jammu Civil Society, has rightly said that the aim of organising this event is to give a boost to the peace process between India and Pakistan.


Libyan crisis

I fully endorse the views that the time for dictatorship is over (editorial, “Libya after Gaddafi”, October 22). Col Muammar Gaddafi of Libya should have struck a deal with the rebels who had the support of the people. The editorial rightly says that Gaddafi had the belief that things would stabilise in his country and that he would once again become the undisputed leader of Libya. This did not happen. It did not happen in Iraq. It did not happen in Libya. It would not happen anywhere else. Now, times have changed. People, throughout the world, have understood the importance of democracy. But Gaddafi’s end does not mean that there is no risk of the emergence of another dictator. Unless elections are held and a democratically elected government comes to power, there is no chance of peace and stability in Libya. The international community must play a bigger role in establishing democracy in the strife-torn country.


Futility of seminars

This refers to the middle, “An Ode to seminars” (October 21). Seminars and conferences have lost their original purpose. Normally, one expects to hear the views of eminent speakers from different fields. Earlier, seminars were not held very frequently. Whenever seminars were held, speakers would come prepared as they realised their responsibilities. It was hard to find good speakers, as most of them would be reluctant to become guest speakers. But those who agreed would invariably come prepared for the occasion.

Now, seminars and conferences are organised regularly. But the speakers fail to enlighten the audience. In fact, they do not even make any attempt to share something new and interesting with the audience. Some of these events do not even entertain the audience.



Waste management

Management of urban solid waste is one of the most neglected areas of urban development in India. Landfill sites and garbage dumps are overflowing in most cities attracting rodents and flies which then spread disease. The National Green Tribunal has directed the Union Ministry of Environment to amend the Solid Bio-Waste Management Plant Rules 2000. This is a step in the right direction. In India, it is quite shocking to find the callous attitude of the authorities concerned when it comes to solid waste management. The tribunal rightly pointed out that solid bio-waste management plants would find themselves in the middle of thickly populated settlements after a few years due to rapid growth of cities and towns. This would cause damage to the environment and would adversely affect the health of people living nearby. A minimum distance should be maintained between the waste management plants and other areas such as habitation clusters, etc.

The government needs to be proactive. Before we start experiencing environmental disasters, we need to act. It is also important for the government to take the people of this country into confidence. Waste management is not possible without eliciting a positive response from the people who will have to bear the brunt of any wrong decision taken by the government on this issue.




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