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Take steps to augment human development

It is heartening to read the salient features of the Human Development Report 2011. The government has done well to improve the income and educational levels of members of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Muslim Community. Another great news is that inter-state inequalities have narrowed sharply in the last decade. These are encouraging signs for the country. It does not surprise us that Kerala continues to lead in human development. But what is surprising is that about 70 per cent of the children in Gujarat suffer from anaemia and 44.6 per cent of the children below five are malnourished. This is particularly shocking as it is said to be the fastest growing state in India. This proves the point that economic growth does not necessarily mean the state is doing well in terms of welfare of its people. The editorial rightly says that Chief Minister Narendra Modi should be a worried man after reading this report. Haryana also needs to plan for the social and economic health of its people.

The fact that the Muslim fertility rate has slowed down shows that education has slowly begun to change the mindset of the community.

It is true that many of us may not feel happy with the results. The problems of poverty, malnutrition, education and unemployment continue to bother many Indians. However, there are reasons to feel satisfied. We have started achieving what is needed to take India towards becoming a responsible nation. But the government needs to think of more ways to succeed in achieving human development targets.


Welcome gesture

Pakistan showed maturity when it allowed an Indian Army chopper to fly back a few hours after the chopper strayed 20km inside Pakistan occupied Kashmir due to bad weather (Army copter strays into PoK, but no fireworks as govts stay calm, October 24) . It was unthinkable in the past that Pakistani authorities would allow an Indian chopper to go back after investigating the matter. Such gestures are always welcome, especially when both countries are trying to establish friendly relations.

India is said to have voted in favour of Pakistan for the UN seat. It is important for the leaders of both India and Pakistan to realise that times have changed. There was a time when no one could imagine that the cold war between the US and Russia (then USSR) would ever come to an end. But it did happen, though Russia had to pay a heavy price. In the last decade or so, the world has moved forward. Today, there is hardly any country which has a closed economy. India and Pakistan, being neighbours, need each other for political stability and economic prosperity.


Indo-Nepal ties

Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s four-day visit to India is significant for both the countries (editorial, “Nepal’s interest in India, October 24). A peaceful and stable Nepal suits India’s interests. Nepal, on the other hand, needs Indian investors to invest in that country to give a boost to its economy. Mr Bhattarai, who is a Maoist, has said that a large section of the Maoists leaders in Nepal expect more contribution from India in building Nepal’s economy. India needs to make the best of this opportunity so that good relations with Nepal can be established. India cannot be slow in taking decisive steps in this direction as China is a major threat. If India fails to play a major role in Nepal’s growth, China might be too happy to take up that role. This would hurt India’s interests in the long run.

Indian investors are also likely to gain if Nepal’s economy shows a healthy growth. However, as the editorial says, the Nepalese government will have to speed up the process of constitution writing to have a democratically elected government next year.


Fighting polio

It is heartening to know that India is hoping to attain polio-free status by the end of 2011. What is really great news is that Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have reported no infection since April 2010 and September 2010, respectively (With one case this year, India set to be polio-free”, October 25).

The success of Pulse Polio Programme in India is a good example for other countries to emulate. This shows that if the entire nation decides to fight against a common ‘enemy’, success will come, sooner or later. It has taken us many years to come this close to eliminating the infection. But the Health Minister is right when he says that efforts need to be intensified to stop any residual polio virus circulation in the country.

With Pakistan witnessing new cases of the infection, India needs to be careful. Pakistan would do well to launch a similar campaign to fight against this infection. It is in the interest of Pakistan. It is also in the interest of the international community.


Wish for a strong Lokpal

This refers to the news report, “Strong Lokpal top priority, says PM” (October 22). Sitting in front of my television listening to the Prime Minister’s speech on Independence Day, I had a strange wish. Anna Hazare receives Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s official invitation to attend the function. He decides to attend the function. The Prime Minister, after concluding his speech, walks slowly towards Anna, shakes hands with him and makes a personal appeal to him not to go on fast on August 16. Anna responds positively and calls off the fast. A strong Lokpal Bill to the satisfaction of Anna Hazare and the people of India is passed expeditiously.

But alas! That didn’t happen. Perhaps it is not yet very late. The Prime Minister should take the initiative and invite Anna Hazare for talks. Both should ask their men not to indulge in attacks and counter-attacks. I still hope and pray my wish becomes a reality.

Wg-Cdr CL SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar

Letters to the Editor

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— Editor-in-Chief



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