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No one cares for Bhopal gas victims

I agree with the views expressed in the editorial ‘No succour for Bhopal’ (December 5). It is high time something concrete was done at ground zero. The toxic debris need to be removed and financial and medical help be provided to the affected victims still reeling under the after-effects of the gas leakage. It is painful to learn that the victims of the worst industrial disaster, which had struck the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal in December 1984, are still crying for justice.

The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh may have a soft corner for Dow Chemicals, the new owner of the Union Carbide, but it can not overlook the magnitude of the horrible disaster which had left more than 15,000 people dead. The condition of the hapless surviving victims continues to be pathetic. Several reports and surveys have revealed that 27 years after the disaster, women continue to face menstrual abnormalities, premature menopause and other gynaecological problems. The problem of groundwater contamination must be addressed on a priority basis.


New-found status

Hillary Clinton’s visit to Myanmar was the first by a US Secretary of State in half a century. What does it say of US intentions in East Asia and of Myanmar’s changing international profile? The US engagement with Myanmar is in sync with its policy to counter growing Chinese influence in the Asia-Pacific region. The seeds of courting Myanmar were laid at the meetings US President Barack Obama had with Asia-Pacific leaders first in Hawaii and then in Bali. Of late, Myanmar has also been making all the right noises. The release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, promise of holding elections and allowing trade unionism in the country are indicators that Myanmar is moving towards a democratic system of government. Myanmar has no other choice but reforms or it will risk losing the chair it deeply covets at the 2014 ASEAN meeting.

There is more to the US shift in the Burmese policy than meets the eye. The United States seems desperate to stamp its authority in the Asia-Pacific region that is fast beginning to look like China’s backyard. From Australia to Myanmar, the economy of South-East Asian countries is powered by massive imports from China. Lately, China has also been flexing its muscles in the region asserting its right over disputed islands that are jointly claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, amongst other countries.

Like the ASEAN nations, India is also feeling the heat of China’s assertiveness. The US and India thus share common concerns in the Asia-Pacific region. Already, India has been engaging with Myanmar on a greater scale, given Chinese dominance in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. The US and India should hence ensure that China does not exercise its hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. The Myanmar visit of Hillary Clinton is a step in the right direction.


Punishing hoarders

Getting at hoarders during TV discussions on the price rise, I saw Congress spokespersons blaming the BJP-led NDA government for diluting the law to prosecute hoarders, due to which the UPA government has not been able to get hold of hoarders and get them punished.

According to the Congress spokesperson, if the hoarders are put behind bars, prices of essential commodities will fall. What was this amendment? When was it passed? What was its aim? Why can't the Congress-led UPA II revoke it or get it cancelled through another amendment if they are convinced that it will bring down prices?


Gender matrix

This refers to the write-up, ‘Gender matrix of Haryana’ (December 6). It is well documented that in the developed world, where the menace of female foeticide is not prevalent, more females than males are born naturally. Higher socio-economic status gives more economic freedom to avail the benefit of sex-determination facilities and undergo gender-related abortions. This has been revealed by researchers in Punjab as well as Gujarat. The GDP and the per capita income of Haryanvis are minuscule compared to that of the developed economies of the world.

The sex of the child is determined by the union of X chromosome of the mother (who has only two X sex chromosomes) and the X or Y chromosome of the father. The sperms are unaware of the economic status of the father.


Poor management

The dismal picture of Punjab's financial health as described in the editorial ‘Pre-poll sops: Punjab can ill-afford them’ (December 6) should enable the citizens to judge the management abilities of politicians and bureaucrats. Their efforts are not directed towards efficiency but their eyes are glued on votes, especially when elections are near. If such state of affairs becomes a rule, the state can never prosper.

The Election Commission should devise checks and balances to stop vote bank politics. The growth in infrastructure, power, health and other fields is pathetic. It is time elections were won based on development at the ground level rather than on populist measures which do not contribute to the state’s progress.

SC VAID, Noida.


Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal being awarded the status of ‘Panth Rattan’ and ‘Fakhr-e-Qaum’ reminds me of a couplet, ‘Mera quatil he mera munsif hai, kya mere haq mai faisla dega’ (My killer is my judge, will he give verdict in my favour?).

The SGPC should have waited for a more appropriate time for bestowing this honour on Badal. If contribution to development of Punjab and upliftment of Sikhs were the criteria for giving the award, perhaps late Partap Singh Kairon would have been a better choice. Badal will be the real Fakhr-e-Qaum if voters of Punjab give him the mandate to rule Punjab for another five years.


India shining in cricket, corruption!

India is becoming famous the world over for cricket and corruption. We are the reigning world champions in cricket and gradually inching towards the 100th mark on Transparency International’s corruption index. India stands at the 95th position, notwithstanding Anna’s crusade against corruption, backed by a vast majority of Indian citizens.

The Lokpal Bill will certainly act as a deterrent. But who knows, the bug of corruption might infest the Lokpal in the due course of time. The need of the hour is to start reforming the political, bureaucratic and social system. Why not pick up some points from New Zealand, Singapore and the Scandinavian countries which are top (+ve) scorers on the index.

T S KALRA, Mohali 



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