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Make the PDS free of corruption

Apropos the news item 'Don't throw us out of PDS, fair price shop owners to SC' (May 4), the Supreme Court order to the fair price shop (FPS) owners to file an affidavit showing their margin of profits and monthly income by running these shops is commendable. The network of fair price shops was set up in the country to sell various items like foodgrains, kerosene, edible and other consumables at economical rates/controlled prices to people, particularly those living below the poverty line. However, over the years, these fair price shops have become the dens of corruption and failed miserably in achieving the objectives for which they were meant. The goods meant for people find their place in black market. The fair price shops are not found operating for the time period they should operate. A nexus has been developed between fair price shop owners, officials and elected representatives, who are responsible for running and supervising these shops to manipulate the records. The FPS owners want to retain the PDS as they make huge profits without caring for the poor. The government decision to replace the FPS with cooperatives and self-help groups (SHGs) is a wise one, but, it is also not flawless.

The majority of cooperatives in the country, whom the government want to market PDS items, are weak and have become dens of corruption with exceptions in some states and the self-help groups, except in states like Andhra Pradesh, are not so strong to handle the PDS. However, it is for the government to make the PDS corruption-free before the FPS are replaced with cooperatives, dairy cooperatives and SHGs.

DR PURAN SINGH, Chandigarh

Non-deserving martyrs

Sarabjit Singh has been declared a national martyr by the Punjab Government with a hefty compensation for the family and jobs to his two daughters. Other affected families have resented this. The editorial "Murder and after" (May 7) has also questioned the advisability of the "martyr" title for him.

Top Akali and Congress leaders were seen vying with each other to mark their presence at his funeral, apparently to appease the Sikh community in view of the forthcoming rural polls in Punjab and Assembly elections in Delhi where Sikhs have a large presence.

The title of martyr should not be given to the non-deserving individuals. During the 26/11 Mumbai attack, six officers of the ATS team, including the ATS chief, were gunned down by Pakistani terrorists while they were travelling in their vehicle in a leisurely manner without due alertness. But the ATS chief was given the title of martyr. Conferring the coveted title without a second thought would undermine its solemnity and lower the sanctity of the title. It would dilute the martyrdom of great martyrs like Bhagat Singh or our brave soldiers who lay down their life for the motherland.


China's ambitions

China's attitude towards India has, over the decades, been dubious, treacherous and far from being friendly. The development in Tibet in 1958 marked the beginning of China's bitterness towards India. The Tibetan crisis of 1959 and the Dalai Lama's flight to India led to China's tough stance on the border issue with India. China invaded India in 1962 and occupied 38,000 sq km of Indian territory illegally.

The purpose of Chinese transgressions, over the years, has been to expand territorially and tie down India. Around 600 incursions have been made so far by China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh. In its latest transgression in the Depsang Plains in Ladakh, the Chinese troops intruded 20 km inside Indian territory.

Besides, China has built roads, bridges, tunnels, airbases, helipads, bunkers and constructed a network of railway lines along the border. These developments along the border will only add to strained relations between both countries.


No rights for tribal women

There are some astonishing facts about hereditary rights of women in tribal areas of Himachal Pradesh. Women do not enjoy equal rights in hereditary property in the tribal areas of Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur districts of Himachal Pradesh. We often talk of ensuring equal rights to the other half of the population. But the truth is quite otherwise there.

In fact, daughters are not given any share in their fathers' property nor wives in their husbands' property on inheritance. All the share goes to male members on division. In Himachal's tribal areas, Wajib-ul-urz, i.e. traditional and customary law, is still prevailing and is given presumption of truth in revenue entries. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, does not apply there. Daughters and wives' one-time right to gifts and cash is at the time of their marriage only. It may have been done to avoid interference by outsiders and fragmentation of their lands.

The need of the hour is to change the age-old customs and provide equal share to women to save their dependence on male members and ensure social and financial security to them.




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