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UID cards as means of empowerment 

This is with reference to the news report ‘Parliamentary panel rebuffs UID project’ (December 9). The government must clear its stand on the future of the UID project, especially when UIDA -I has already generated data of over 70 million residents and issued over 50 lakh unique identity (UID) cards. Objections to the project expenditure and duplication by the Home Ministry, which is running its own National Population Register (NPR), has surprised everybody.

The launch of Unique Identity Number is a landmark decision in India’s history. It itself speaks of its utility as an all-purpose identity. It will definitely help address electoral malpractices and widespread embezzlement of funds. The UID number is a proof of identity, in addition to documents such as PAN card, driving licence, etc. For the poor migrants who are harassed at every step, from police verification to distribution of rations, the card will be a means of empowerment. Any amendment with its long-term utility and effects can be reviewed. The project should not be closed when crores of rupees have already been spent on the project.

HARISH K. MONGA, Ferozepur 

Bad experience

This is in reference to the editorial ‘Retreat on FDI (December 9). I do not agree with the argument that politics prevailed over economics in FDI in retail issue. The UPA government made a bad start in a sprint race. Why did the Congress-led UP government not take the consent of its allies before taking a major policy decision? If the govt was sure of its decision, why was it not debated in the parliament? It is a misconception that the ‘common man would be the major looser’. The common man is never seen in malls and multiplexes. The experience of the farmers with the MNCs has not been very good. The vegetable growers in Punjab have already had a bad experience with the MNCs. The MNCs never pick up the entire lot of the produce, they only pick up the selected lot. The farmers have no option but to sell it on heavy discount later and suffer losses. The ground reality of farming sector and farmers is very different. Our government has not been able to provide help to the farmers to check losses, how can we expect the foreign companies to do the same.

They only go by the commercial aspect and not with any social well-being in mind. They would buy 30% locally and import 70% from other countries producing cheap and sub-standard goods. Our retailers would suffer adversely. ‘Made in China’ goods which are now sold on footpaths would be sold in the retail stores now. Foreign retail would definitely affect the neighbourhood shops adversely because MNCs get finance on cheap rates as compared to our retailers. They sell at very low prices to start with, destroy the existing retailers’ business and then dictate their own rates.

Retail trading might not have a major share in our GDP but it is a perennial source of employment to the labour class and small traders.

Capt AMAR JEET KUMAR, Chandigarh


The editorial ‘Retreat on FDI’ reflects the mindset of people as well as politicians. It is a pity that we have missed an opportunity to bring a qualitative change in the production, storage and marketing of quality goods at competitive price. The writer has rightly emphasised that entry of FDI in retail sector would eliminate the middlemen and benefit the consumer. In the past, same hue and cry was made by the Opposition and trade unions when MNCs were allowed to enter the Indian market and also when computerisation of banks and railways was mooted. If our leaders are not ready to evaluate such proposals, they should learn from history.

Dr V K ANAND, Patiala

Universal equality

Apropos of G Parthasarthy’s article, Changing Scenario in Asia-Pacific’ (December 8), China is basking in the glory of being recognised as a super power. It has attained high standard of military and economic growth. The internal issue of equitable socio-economic development has seemingly been addressed. Its ability to harness natural resources and technology utilising its vast human resource is commendable. Its policy of inviting foreign investment to an extent that it does not infringe upon the basic socialistic character of the state is also worth noticing.

However, on a larger global canvas there are many big players (the US, Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Japan, Europe as a block and their allies) whose foreign policy is governed by safeguarding national interest first. These players have the experience of renaissance, industrial revolution and world wars. They would be more than happy to intervene anywhere and in any way across the globe if their interests are in jeopardy.

China lags far behind these players and if it tries to put its words into action more vehemently, then it should be prepared to burn its fingers.

If we are endearing ourselves to the West, it is natural they too would want to be appropriately reciprocated. Though progress across the globe is inevitable, the schism between the rich and the poor nations will stay because an equal society has never existed in the history of mankind. Therefore, the philosophy of universal equality is a mirage.


PR exercise

Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal seems to be obsessed with his photograph. His pictures adorn ambulances, bicycles, utensil kits and even BPL cards. Does he pay for this PR exercise from his own pocket? Earlier, the Haryana government also distributed bicycles; they preferred to affix the logo of ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan’. Badal must learn something from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who refused the suggestion of the Singapore authorities to name an orchid after him.


Reading: Antidote to boredom

The decrease in the reading habits of a people implies a step back for society. It reduces its creative imagination, its intelligence and its sensitivity. A Chilean poet, Ibáñez Langloise, said it and I agree with him. As an educator, I can say that students who are fond of reading encounter lesser problems in their studies, get better grades and are usually more mature. It is just logical that reading improves vocabulary, written and oral expression, and helps to think. Reading is the best antidote to boredom.

One of the most exciting challenges parents and educators face is to inculcate the habit of reading in children. But how? By reading more ourselves.

Federido Gómez, Spain



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