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Ensure accurate survey of rural suicides

The Punjab government intends to conduct a fresh census of rural suicides. The decision has been taken because in the previous exercise the three state universities that carried out data collection, used different periods, hence the surveys were not congruent.

A new survey is proposed but there has been no rethink as to who should carry out the survey. Non-congruency of the period covered was not the only shortcoming of the previous survey. Districts were seen to vary widely in the number of suicides reported and this gave rise to doubts about the accuracy of the figures.

Since the same agencies are to carry out the fresh survey, there is no reason to believe that the next enumeration will be more accurate. Indeed, there are already high-level pre-judgments that may affect the outcome of the survey. For instance, the Punjab Agricultural University Vice Chancellor has been quoted in a newspaper as saying that in Sangrur district suicides have declined over the past five years. It would be a very bold researcher who would turn in findings that showed his Vice Chancellor to be wrong. Punjabi University and Guru Nanak Dev University researchers will also have an interest in maintaining the credibility of their earlier survey.

Many agencies have estimated the annual number of rural suicides in Punjab. On the lower side, university survey reports estimate the number of cases per year at 900. The Institute of Development and Communication makes that figure more than double: an estimated 2,000 cases per year. The Punjab Farmers' Commission also puts the number at 2,000. The Movement Against State Repression estimated figure goes up to 5,000 cases per year and the Farmers' Unions posit as many as 7,000 cases per year.

As this concerns providing social justice to a highly vulnerable section of society, accuracy is essential. Benefits should not go to the undeserving and no deserving case should be omitted. Great care must be taken to enumerate cases accurately.

Inderjit Singh Jaijee, Chandigarh

After money

The Himachal assembly has hiked the pay and allowances of the legislators and ministers. A few days earlier, the Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, increased the pay and allowances of the councillors. And a few months earlier, Parliament, too, had adopted such an act for its members and ministers. Do they deserve this increase?

Many years ago, persons with a spirit to serve the nation would enter politics while practising their own profession or business for their livelihood, unmindful of what they would get in return.

Today, our leaders have no such spirit of service, passion, commitment and dedication. The result is the present bleak political scenario of the country. Looking at most politicians of today, they have opted, it seems, politics as a profession because they do not want to do much labour to make money. A little investment to enter politics, manage a ticket, spend on election (partly their own investment but mainly on society's collected funds) and then enjoy the returns both the powers of status and money, subsidised food with extra declared and hidden perks and benefits in public life. What a short-cut route for success instead of putting in labour to become a professional executive or entrepreneur!

Has not time come to think more seriously while electing our political representatives now so that only those persons who are genuine and honest in their mission to serve enter this field and not the professionals, unmindful of party affiliations, obligations and interest?


Acid attacks

I support the views expressed in the editorial 'Heinous Crime' (August 12). The Punjab government's recent step to withdraw B-Class facilities from prisoners convicted of acid attacks is a good step. The same restriction must also be applied to those who devastate the lives of innocent girls. Recently, a 15-year-old minor girl in Karnal committed suicide when she was allegedly assaulted by the accused. The government must create special laws and enforce them rigorously in the best interests of society and women. Besides, these conscienceless criminals should be sentenced to life imprisonment.


Disqualification of MPs, MLAs

In a recent landmark verdict, the Supreme Court has pronounced that MPs and MLAs declared guilty of criminal charges, cognizable offences or those in prison be disqualified from continuing in Parliament and state assemblies. The ruling will prove to be a potent step in the decriminalisation of politics.

Our politicians suddenly are gravitating to oppose the judgment. All are maliciously forging unanimity to file a review or enact a law to thwart the ruling of the apex court. We, a group of senior retired defence officers, fully endorse the view and verdict of the Supreme Court. We applaud the Justices for their path-breaking decision and condemn and oppose any endeavour by the politicians or the government to fabricate a mechanism to scuttle the ruling.

It is an opportunity to cleanse and weed out the corrupt and crime-tainted political leaders from the polity. We implore the government and the Election Commission of India to promptly execute the SC judgment. That will help rein in dubious characters. This, by itself, will be a major measure to prevail upon the ill-effects of money and muscle power which have gravely infected the governance at all levels in India.




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