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Contradictions in report on Punjab

The Economic Freedom Index in Punjab declined from 0.41 in 2005 to 0.39 in 2011. This brings out astounding contradictions in Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar’s report ‘Economic freedom of the states of India 2012’. If economic freedom is the key to growth then why the states in which economic freedom was declining are growing at a higher rate?

The report also comments on the opinions of politicians and academicians of Punjab, who have reeled out a long ‘list of reasons for the relative decline of Punjab’ and most of these turn out to be exaggerated or downright false.

Swaminathan identifies four ‘manifestly false’ reasons put forward by the academicians and the politicians for the slow growth of Punjab and he calls these reasons as ‘myths’. These myths are 1) India has fought several wars with Pakistan across the Punjab border and fear of war has kept away industry from Punjab; 2) Sikh terrorism caused Punjab’s economic decline 3) Punjab is very distant from the sea and so is unable to grow as fast as states with ports 4) Punjab has no metallic minerals or coal and so loses out to the states that do have these.

Geopolitical factors, instability, uncertainty and lack of resources are important determinants of economic growth and are well dealt in economic theory and empirical evidences, and one wonders how these are myths in case of Punjab. The development of any region is a historical process and is linked with the past. The designated myths are the main reasons due to which Punjab agricultural growth failed to culminate in the development of the secondary sector. Of course there are other reasons too. The report especially the article on Punjab is a one-sided disposition of facts.

Dr AS BHULLAR, Ludhiana


The report has focused on the working of the Punjab Government. The Departments of Education and Health are at the ebb in percentage (7.7 and 5.5 respectively from 2004 to 2010) so far as their functioning is concerned. This shocking statement has shaken the very foundation of the tall statements made by the government of the day. The two service departments are in a miserable condition.

The Punjab Government imposed a blanket ban on the recruitment of Assistant Professors in government and govt-aided colleges of the state from 2003 onwards. Adhocism has become the order of the day in the Department of Higher Education. The Health Department is also ailing because of zero recruitment of doctors and paramedical staff. Specialist doctors do not prefer to join the Health Department of Punjab because the contractual scheme does not find favour with them. The Punjab Government is trying to wash its hands off these important sectors and is trying to privatise two very important sectors, whereas their responsibility must be shouldered solely by the government of a state.

Prof TARUN GHAI, Phagwara

Caste supreme

What the Parliamentary Committee visiting Haryana recently has said about dominant castes suppressing the Dalits, especially women, is common knowledge (editorial ‘Caste-bound Haryana’, February 13). How will the police and other government agencies deal with the complaints of the Dalits in the event of suppression by upper castes. These agencies under such situations prefer to shield the law breakers of the dominant caste rather than safeguard the law of the land.

The editorial ‘Caste –bound Haryana’ (February 13) has presented in the most appropriate way the predicament of state political leaders in the face of caste-based politics in the Haryana. Instead of working for social change these leaders are busy in feeding their vote bank. The political leaders must remember that if the situation is not checked well in time, it may lead to caste hatred beyond repair. Ministers, police officials and administrators who take the oath of the Constitution must take to rule of law.


Sand mafia

Despite the High Court ban, the ruling SAD-BJP combine has repeatedly failed to effectively check the theft of sand in Punjab. Courtesy the delayed, shoddy and dubious auction of the sand quarries, this illegal activity has been going on unabated at various places in the state in broad daylight without any fear of law. The occasional raids by the authorities concerned and the registration of cases against the guilty seem to be mere eyewash (news report ‘Illegal sand mining continues’, Chandigarh Tribune, February 11). Unless the government takes strict action and breaks the unholy politico-bureaucratic-sand mafia nexus, its claims of good governance stand forfeited.

DS Kang, Hoshiarpur

Death penalty

The death sentence is awarded in the case of “rarest of rare” crime, the government has done well to make provision in the Ordinance for capital punishment in extreme cases of crime against women (editorial ‘Tougher law for rape’, February 4). It will however be necessary that the people change their attitude towards women.

The police should be courteous with the women folk and should show sympathy and not an indifferent attitude when a victim approaches it for registration of a case of crime against women. Recent incidents of suicides by rape victims after the police showed callous and discourteous treatment towards the fair sex are indicators of the rot in the social, political and police system.

GR KALRA, Chandigarh

Execution of Afzal Guru

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s belief that the ‘selective’ execution of Afzal Guru will lead to alienation of Kashmiris is adding fuel to the fire. Rather, he must concentrate on governance for which he has been elected under the Indian Constitution.

He is upset that Guru’s family was not “informed” in advance but fails to understand the consequence of such niceties in the Kashmir Valley which he is governing. Did he remember that the brave security personnel who died defending Parliament as a consequence of a terrorist attack lost all the time for ever to spend time with their families before they were killed?

Afzal Guru was dealt in an adequate manner by the law of the nation. Keeping in mind the collective conscience of society, what the government has done is right.

DILBAG RAI, Chandigarh



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