Letters to the editor
The Republic Day violence has earned a bad name to the farmers’ movement, though those responsible for this mayhem cannot be humble farmers. The reasons for the violence may be political conspiracy, intelligence failure, lack of coordination, instigation by anti-social elements, but introspection is a must. Otherwise it will be a great setback to the agitation. The unions must try to find out where things had gone wrong. A reformed policy should be formulated soon before the agitation loses its sheen. The way the local people are pulling away from the stir is sad. Prompt action by the farm unions is necessary, otherwise results would be catastrophic.
Bir Devinder Singh Bedi, Sangrur
Although the coronavirus cases have declined substantially in most states, there is no respite in Kerala and Maharashtra where infections continue to fester, reminding us that the virus has a tendency to stick and survive. Great sacrifices have been made by our health workers, frontline workers and common people. A casual attitude on part of the administration in not ensuring safety protocols can lead us into another spell of despair in no time. As restrictions are being gradually eased, it should be complemented with much greater surveillance, so that any relapse can be detected and contained timely. The government should utilise this window to ensure that areas with high population density are mass vaccinated at the earliest.
Save face, compromise
With reference to ‘Damage control’, one tends to agree with its timely and realistic views towards bringing an 'honourable' end to the farmers' agitation. The overall situation now stands drastically changed after the unfurling of a religious flag at the Red Fort, which was accompanied by violence within the premises where cops and public property were targeted. Union leaders should see the writing on the wall and consider reaching some face-saving compromise with the Centre.
Kumar Gupt, Panchkula
Dubious role of media
What happened on Republic Day was unfortunate both for the country and for the ‘real’ farmers who have been bearing with the harsh weather and other hostilities for two months to get their demands met. What is more unfortunate and worrisome is the role of the media. Most media houses covered the incidences of violence and the hoisting of flags atop the Red Fort by a few people whom the main kisan unions have disowned. Sadly, almost all channels missed showing glimpses of the actual tractor parade which went as per plan and route. Where does a person look for to satisfy his/her curiosity before forming any opinions? The role of television media needs serious introspection.
Harshvardhan Singh, Dharamsala
The Republic Day violence has eroded India’s image worldwide. As per Vedic principles, any good government must fulfil the aspirations of citizens by following the principles of ‘praja paalan’ (protecting subjects), ‘poshan’ (maintaining them), ‘priinana’ (making them happy), ‘upalaanan’ (treating them as sons/daughters) and ‘anushasan’ (chastising them for mistakes). At the same time, the adamant attitude of the farmers in the wake of the government’s proposed stalling of the farm laws is questionable.
Ramit Bagga, Panchkula
Farmers have lost their credibility, somewhat. Already due to the blockade of highways to Delhi, people have become fed up because their daily routine has been disturbed. The tractor rally and atmosphere of anarchy has now made this movement deviate from its path. Some farmers broke windows of vehicles and damaged government and private property. It is shocking how they hoisted another flag on the pole of the Red Fort where only the Tricolour is unfurled. Many farmer leaders have condemned this incident, but they have lost their credibility.
Rohan Kumar, Mohali
Challenges Biden faces
Apropos of ‘President Biden’s foreign policy priorities’, with the Biden-Harris team assuming office in the White House, there are plenty of issues to resolve. The most pressing issue is America’s relations with Iran. Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and imposed sanctions on Iran. Trump’s policy of exerting maximum pressure has brought Iran closer to weaponisation, which is alarming. After four years of Trump’s egregious policies and isolationist rhetoric, the general public can now breathe a sigh of relief.
Tushar Anand, Patna
Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: Letters@tribunemail.com
Refer to ‘Damage control’, widespread violence by the protesting farmers deserves to be condemned. Red Fort, the pride of India, was vandalised. A flag of a particular religion was hoisted atop the fort. Protesters tried to mow down policemen. Brandishing swords, protesters chased and attacked them. Several policemen were injured, many hospitalised, with some in the ICU. The events have left the nation aghast. The perpetrators of violence should be brought to book. Some anti-social elements seem to have infiltrated the farmers’ stir. Farmers should choose the path of dialogue, not violence. Repeal of laws cannot be through coercion. The laws have been enacted democratically and can be repealed only through a democratic process. The agitation should be withdrawn or suspended to pave the way for a fruitful dialogue. Farmers should know that they are fast losing the sympathy of the people.
WG CDR CL SEHGAL (RETD), JALANDHAR
Protest goes awry
Apropos of ‘Damage control’, blaming the police for letting vandals reach the Red Fort is unfair. If the police had taken action, and in that process if anything had gone wrong, the police would have been blamed for it. It was the basic duty of farmer leaders, who had given written consent to the authorities for a peaceful agitation, to ensure nothing went wrong. The fact is that these leaders lost control and brought disrepute to the country.
Pawan Rakheja, Gurugram
Apropos of ‘Damage control’, where lies the justification of a section of the media and the ruling party leaders to allegedly blame the farmers for violence before factual truth comes out? The infiltration of unsavoury elements cannot be ruled out. It may have been a big intelligence failure. There should be a thorough investigation so that the culprits are nabbed.
ROOP SINGH NEGI, Solan
Farmers lose support
Apropos of ‘March off, unions regret Red Fort incident’, the details and true nature of the incident still remain unclear, but one thing is for sure that it has greatly affected the farm protests which remained peaceful for months. People are divided and farmers have lost a lot of support. This has also given rise to many conspiracy theories, both in support of, and against the farmers. The unwillingness to compromise on both the sides, the farmers and the government, made this clash inevitable.
Prateek Sachdeva, Mohali
Reference to ‘Farmer leaders Ugrahan, Rajewal among 37 booked’, ultimately the Delhi Police woke up to perform its duty belatedly. It is true that farmer leaders did not honour their terms. However, the police cannot escape the blame. In spite of a letter issued by Gurpatwant Singh Pannu of Sikhs for Justice, announcing a reward of $2,50,000 for a person hoisting a ‘Khalistani’ flag on the Red Fort and a call to involve the agitating farmers in this cause, sufficient preventive steps were not taken by the police. Moreover, the entry of protesters in the high-security zone of the Red Fort on Republic Day raises pertinent questions. Only a high-level investigation can reveal the role of the farmers’ leaders and the police in this incident.
Upendra Sharma, by mail
Station Army at Red Fort
The Red Fort is a historic place closely linked with our freedom struggle. Since Independence, it was under the Army. In 2003, it was handed over to the ASI and Tourism Ministry so it could be developed as a world heritage site. It is time to move in an Army unit at the Red Fort for the maintenance of its sanctity and security. There are vital places in the fort where only designated security personnel should be allowed.
Ravi Bhushan, Kurukshetra
Reference to ‘Draw from past lessons for new science policy’; universities should have the freedom to devise and evolve their own curricula and evaluation system for better local relevance, experiential learning and global competitive advantage. Granularity of autonomy, especially with respect to pedagogical approaches and student evaluation, should be at the teacher’s level. Undergraduate students should be encouraged to associate with research groups to foster a research mindset at an early stage. Majority of universities should be research intensive rather than teaching intensive. International research collaborations should be closely monitored against ‘helicopter’ research. The focus should also be on promoting innovations in business models in order to complement technological innovations.
Bharpoor Singh Sekhon, Ludhiana
Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: Letters@tribunemail.com
What Deep Sidhu has done is highly condemnable and unforgivable. He has not only brought discredit to the peaceful farmers’ movement, but has also done great disservice to the innocent and compassionate supporters of the movement. Above all, he has done disservice to the Sikh community which was yet struggling to come clean out of the malicious government propaganda. Sikhs, like all other communities in the world, love their religion, but they also love their country. Deep Sidhu and all the misguided youth should not have been allowed to leave the Red Fort. Why were they not arrested there and then?
Lalita Jagmohan Singh, by mail
Why no security?
Refer to the Red Fort incident and the unruly mob; the incident raises many questions: One, why did the Delhi Police allow these marchers passage other than the one decided upon? The video shows that while the protesters were fixing flags, there was no security around. It points to the connivance of the police or the lack of effective control. However, the incident should not be given a communal colour as the intention of the farmers was to conduct a peaceful tractor march.
Gurmit Singh Saini, Mohali
As the nation was celebrating its 72nd Republic Day, protesters brandishing sharp-edged weapons, deviating from the designated routes, and driving tractors amok proved that the peaceful ‘kisan andolan’ had indeed been hijacked and misused by the anti-national forces. These hooligans are riding on the coat-tails of innocent farmers to serve their vested interests. They need to be put behind bars before they further push the entire nation into a chaotic state of anarchy.
UPANT SHARMA, PANCHKULA
It is shocking to observe that on Republic Day, some goons under the cover of kisan agitation breached the precincts of the Red Fort, a symbol of the country’s citadel. While such an act is to be deplored, how was it allowed to happen? It is a sure failure of the police and intelligence authorities. There was no police at the Red Fort to stop the goons from hoisting a religious flag. Alas, it could have been prevented. Earlier, the Fort had a garrison battalion of the Army, but it was the ASI who got it vacated in order to preserve the monument. And lo and behold, they have handed it over to the goons for anti-national activities on a platter. The perpetrators of this heinous crime must be brought to book at the earliest.
Col Mahesh Chadha (retd), by mail
The unfortunate happening on the precincts of the Red Fort is unprecedented in the annals of living memory. Miscreants in the guise of farmers unfurled the flag of a particular religion on the rampart of this historical monument where hitherto only the Tricolour used to be hoisted. Nothing can be more deplorable than this act by some misguided persons. The blame for this horrendous act lies squarely on the shoulders of farmer leaders. Unnecessarily, a chance has been given to the government to label this agitation as that of ‘Khalistani’ and anti-national elements. Such repugnant acts can only be seen as the beginning of the end of an otherwise very peaceful agitation.
Balbir Singh Kakkar, UK
The farmers’ unions planned the unique idea of a tractor parade in Delhi to showcase their concerns in the form of a tableau. Working hard for a disciplined parade, it was a setback for them when an extremist group became violent and did what should have been avoided. The unions were already afraid of such chaos and had been repeatedly appealing for peace for the past many days. It was
heartbreaking for most people, especially the farmer leaders who were working for the wellbeing of the protest and the protesters.
The violence ruined the real idea of the tractor parade.
JAGDEEP BHUNGA, HOSHIARPUR
HC order stayed
A perpetrator of child sexual abuse was not held guilty by the Bombay High Court under the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act, just because there wasn’t any skin-to-skin contact. The Act does not mention disrobing as a factor in the crime of child molestation. This is a matter of violating the bodily integrity of the victim. There should be no ambiguity in child abuse cases, and loopholes, if any, must be plugged at once. It is praiseworthy that the Supreme Court has stayed the High Court order and issued a notice to the Maharashtra Government, besides permitting the Attorney General to file an appeal against the
January 19 verdict of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court.
PS KAUR, by mail
Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: Letters@tribunemail.com
The detection of a tunnel in Hiranagar region of Jammu along the international border is a matter of grave concern. The digging of a 150-ft-long tunnel would mean excavation of thousands of cubic feet of earth, disposal of which would require a large number of dumpsters and tractor-trailers. How has such activity, so close to the border, gone unnoticed by the security forces? There is an urgent need to step up vigil and beef up the intelligence network to prevent any misadventure by the enemy.
Lt Col HS Dullat (Retd), Patiala
Would Netaji be proud?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while participating in the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in Kolkata, would have wondered what Netaji would have thought of the new India, where lakhs of farmers have been protesting in the biting cold, and many have died, and the head of the government — leave aside accepting their demand — had no words to express sympathies with them. Is this the new India which Netaji and other freedom fighters had left for us while making the supreme sacrifice, that our Prime Minister was talking about?
SK Khosla, Chandigarh
Last week, the Sensex breached the 50,000 mark for the first time before slipping back a bit. Indian equity markets were not alone in being excited. Global stock markets surged with the inauguration of Biden as US President and promise of a $1.9 trillion stimulus. India is no stranger to monetary stimulus. RBI’s balance sheet expanded almost 15% over the last year, as it pumped in liquidity to stabilise the economy and bring down interest rates. These developments have led to a mismatch between the real economy, which is expected to shrink, and soaring share prices. The next FY will, by all forecasts, see a sharp rebound as the economy reverts to normalcy. India’s economic woes didn’t start with the pandemic. There was a slowdown for two preceding years, partly on account of financial sector troubles. The current buoyancy has policy makers worried as this phase tends to exacerbate risk-taking behaviour. Reforms receive broad support when people are persuaded about future benefits. This needs constant communication and a push from the top.
SANJAY CHOPRA, MOHALI
Degrees to SC students
Apropos of ‘Colleges start releasing degrees to SC students after govt assurance’; the Punjab Government recently ordered educational institutions to release the degrees of SC students under the post-matric scholarship scheme, otherwise their affiliations will be halted. SC students will get their due, but we can’t ignore the poor condition of educational institutions in Punjab, most of which are on the verge of closure. Whether it is the issuance of degrees to SC students or the tremendous increment in the amount of Shagun scheme, all these decisions are taken as the Assembly elections are approaching. The state, buried under debt, should also focus on its economic condition.
Pulkit Jain, BANUR
Real estate stimulus
How the Budget pans out for the real estate sector, only time will tell, but strong fundamentals are vital for the revival of housing demand. The pace of revival can quicken, provided the government extends a helping hand and injects enough stimulus to boost the sector and the overall economy. However, one needs to be cautiously optimistic with the pandemic still a cause for concern. The real estate market is one of the pallbearers of the economy and is the second-highest employment generator after agriculture. The sector accounts for 6-7 per cent of the economy and is set to account for nearly 13 per cent by 2025 if all reform measures announced are executed well. After temporary shocks in the light of structural reforms such as GST and RERA, the enhanced liquidity in the banking system and the restoration of buyer confidence were slowly trickling down in the real estate sector before Covid-19 hit the Indian shores.
SC Dhall, Zirakpur
Back with Pakistan
Refer to ‘Back in the game’; Biden is going to be different and not indifferent like Trump over many engaging issues. Rejoining the Paris climate accord and refunding WHO signifies the realigning of the US with the international forces and occupying leadership positions. Biden’s scrapping of Keystone Pipeline XL accord is a signal for clean energy. Nuclear deal with Iran may be next, which can stop proliferation to a large extent. The only worrying aspect for India is early signs of Biden’s administration getting cosy with Pakistan and resumption of aid. India will have to work hard to present its perspective and convince Biden about the real dangers of backing Pakistan which believes in running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.
Ashok Goswami, New York
Apropos of ‘Might of kisan and jawan’, the Modi government has been unable to convince the farmers despite several meetings. The fear of the farmers is that the induction of corporates for the marketing of farm produce in free market mode will only result in fattening of these corporates, squeezing the farmers by exploiting their inability to hold on their produce to extract a better price while negotiating with these giants. Initially, these corporates may offer a higher price to decimate their competitors (APMC arhtiyas), but after attaining monopoly, they will dictate their price, hoard produce to create artificial scarcity and sell at a higher price. Just before the next crop season, they will release the hoarded stocks and force farmers to agree to the cheapest possible price. The corporates will reap mega profits.
Brig WS Choudhary (retd), Panchkula
It is being said if the farmers do not accept the proposal of the government, it will be construed that they are not interested in a solution, and that certain divisive forces are more willing to create problems. Also that the IMF has commented that these reforms will enhance GDP growth. If any agreement is achieved without taking into confidence all stakeholders, the issue will remain in controversy and the exercise of the government will prove futile. The government should adopt a balanced approach. Moreover, the farmers and the government should maintain restraint on Republic Day.
Yash Pal Ralhan, Jalandhar
The Centre’s act of withholding the 2% rural development fund to Punjab is most unfortunate and untimely. The state has procured 205 lakh tonnes of paddy worth Rs 41,000 crore and Rs 1,200 crore are due to the state government as per 3% RDF applicable to the state. Agriculture is a state subject and India is a federal state. The state government has been dictated to inform on the utilisation of money spent on infrastructure of agriculture marketing procurement centres. The men sitting in the Central government don’t know that RDF is not only utilised for improving infrastructure of procurement centres, but also rural and linked roads. The Centre is not only asking for the utilisation of funds, but also acting as the Central Auditor General. Punjab is an agrarian state and always starved of funds. There is always a possibility that funds collected under one head are utilised under another head to meet the urgent expenses for development projects. Is it a crime to spend the fund for other purposes within the state? Is all the money collected under the PM’s relief fund for Odisha cyclones used for that purpose only? By withholding RDF or GST money due to the state, the Central government is only trying to arm-twist the state government to kill the farmers’ agitation.
Suresh Verma, Chandigarh
Right way to protest
If any party or section of people is not happy with the Modi government, or the Acts passed by this government, people have the right to show their displeasure and can protest. But they have no right to cause inconvenience to the public. They cannot hold the government to ransom. ‘Rail roko’, ‘chakka jam’, or any other form of protest that makes the life of other people difficult is not a way to protest. The best way to show the door to the incumbent government is during the elections. Let the parties worth their salt come out with their manifestos declaring that their party will abrogate all Acts passed by the government after they come to power.
Sarabjit Singh, Kurukshetra
In rescue of elderly
The Tribune published the news of the plight of a former constable aged 91. The same day, he was attended to by SHO, Kapurthala, and the kin was taken to task (‘Ensure food to ex-cop, kin warned’). Like him, there are many others suffering a similar fate but are not able to approach the bureau of the Tribune. The government must frame rules and issue instructions for the care of neglected citizens. Although the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, protects the property and allows maintenance allowance, most of them are either not aware of the Act or are not able to fight due to family stigma.
OP Garg, Patiala
Women’s right to exist
Apropos of ‘The birth of a daughter’, when women can work in every field where men can, why are they treated inferior? Why are they treated differently inside her house, or at work? They are made to feel guilty for having been born. If it is an old mindset, elderly people should be made to understand that they are not right. Stop making women feel less than what they are, just because they don’t fit into your social ideas. Women do not exist to pacify society’s expectations. Her worth isn’t based on her ability to cook, clean, get married, or have kids. Rather, it’s about her personal successes, her dreams and her happiness.
Manjashpreet Kaur Rai, by mail
Refer to ‘Victory for farmers’; the government offer to hold back the three farm laws for one and a half year is a belated step but in the right direction. It is certainly a victory for farmers who succeeded in their task by making the Centre tread the right path instead of a bumpy road chosen through contentious laws. Now is the turn of the agitating farmer unions to call off the stir and put the brakes on the proposed tractor march on January 26, keeping in view the sanctity and tradition of the Republic Day celebrations. — Anil Vinayak, Amritsar
Grammar of anarchy
BR Ambedkar, in his last address to the Constituent Assembly, had said that if there were constitutional remedies and provisions, we should not apply unconstitutional remedies. This is fit for our farmers who are protesting against the new farm laws. All options are open to them, but they are so stubborn that no option is acceptable to them. The government has now offered to suspend the laws. But they don’t want to listen to the government or the panel appointed by the Supreme Court. They have adopted the way of anarchy. The farmers should leave their stubborn attitude and follow the advice of Ambedkar. — Narender Kumar, Joginder Nagar
Refer to the article ‘Constitutionally, farm laws on shaky ground’; the writer has emphasised that it is the responsibility of the apex court to suo motu examine the constitutionality of farm laws passed by Parliament and has rightly questioned the constitutionality of the laws since ‘agriculture’ is a State subject. I would like to add that ‘market’ is also a State subject (list II, item no. 28). The dictionary meaning of the word market is ‘gathering for sale of commodity; space for it’. ‘Trade areas’ defined and created by these farm laws are also space for these same activities. Hence, ‘market’ and ‘trade areas’ are synonymous. Therefore, on this ground, too, the enactment of these laws is outside Parliament’s legislative domain. Legal experts must clarify. — Balbir S Jawaharpur, Mohali
Reference to ‘Govt offers to put farm laws on hold for 1.5 yrs’; if the government agrees to put on hold the contentious farm laws, till the current ruling dispensation is in the saddle, it should be a mutually acceptable solution to the protracted deadlock, taking a huge toll both in terms of loss of life and economy. At the time of the General Election, the government may consider it prudent to repeal the laws to assuage the hurt feelings of the farming community with vote-bank consideration in mind. At this stage, when both the farmers and the government aren’t ready to budge from their stance, it could be considered an acceptable middle ground. Apart from putting the laws in abeyance, all the cases registered against the protesting farmers and their supporters must be withdrawn to ease tensions. It could be considered a win-win situation for both sides. It would be in the national interest if this intractable issue gets resolved amicably. — Roshan Lal Goel, Ladwa
Assured MSP must
Apropos of ‘Farmers deserve assured minimum price’, assured MSP is key to farmers’ marketing problems, for which the government has to create an effective and practicable network of procurement, storage bins, silos, etc. Creating matching storage facilities is not rocket science, but all governments have failed to do so, and as a result, grains worth thousands of crores are wasted every year. Many agencies directly dealing with agricultural products, specially staple food, like wheat and paddy, are involved in corrupt transactions under the cover of shortage of storage capacity. Farmers, especially the small ones, should get the payments of their produce on the spot. In an agrarian state, farmer suicides are a shame. Their problems must be studied and resolved. — BM SINGH, AMRITSAR
The Punjab Government deserves kudos for ordering the pasting of red reflective tapes on the horns of stray cattle so that these could be spotted by motorists in the dark. ‘Sadak Suraksha, Jeevan Raksha’ and National Road Safety Month are being organised in the state. To curtail deaths due to accidents, I suggest the following: no loaded tractor-trailer be allowed to ply from 6 pm to 7 am; licence of tractor drivers should be checked; and SSPs and DTOs of each district should impose penalty on traffic violators. These can help minimise accidents. — KK MITtAL, BATHINDA
The contents of the leaked WhatsApp chats involving Arnab Goswami are symptomatic of a larger malaise in television media, wherein journalism has become a profit-driven venture, devoid of any sort of public interest. This brand of rabble-rousing journalism is not just limited to Republic TV. Competing channels follow the same form of journalism and should stop being sanctimonious as they are equally responsible for the sad state of affairs. The leaked chats show that the motto of media networks has become twofold: gain access to corridors of power and get the highest TRPs. Journalists who use nationalism for TRPs are no different from petty politicians who demand proof of nationalism from patriotic citizens. Both the Radia tapes and the Arnab chats are a severe indictment of the media and call for a complete overhaul, which however, seems to be a distant dream in the present circumstances.
Shivam Jain, Bathinda
Myth of privacy
Today, the world has entered a new era of data, where privacy is at stake. The journey from a post office letter to WhatsApp and other social media platforms has played a significant role in bringing about the changes. The apps take all our necessary information; what remains in our hand is nothing but a smartphone. The era has come where data is more valuable than money. But on the other hand, we have no security of our own data. The day is not far when our every activity will be under the omnipresent camera. Privacy will only be a myth. Therefore, it becomes our duty to be conscious about every change. New media has also played a significant role in spreading fake news. It is the need of the hour to strengthen laws to save people from false information.
Aman Jaiswal, Delhi
Apropos of ‘Cyber data privacy in peril’, the government must come up with constructive policies and amendments to elude the coming privacy threat. Had the government amended the outdated Indian cyber law, it would not have generated such a situation. But comprehending the recent WhatsApp incident as a warning, the government must take stringent steps. Passing of the Personal Data Protection Bill and strengthening of legal frameworks by the government could be a remedy to protect the cyber sovereign interests.
Apropos of ‘Govt offers to put farm laws on hold for 1.5 years’, it is a wise and calculated offer of the Central government to the agitating farmers. The farmers from Punjab are spearheading the agitation. Politics and power struggle is behind the agitation in Punjab. The time limit of 1.5 years has been suggested, keeping in view the state elections. Farm laws will be a major issue during the elections and people will give their verdict on the new legislations. The farmers should accept the offer and withdraw the agitation which is causing hardships to their own community as well as to the general public.
Ashok bahl, Kangra
Promote other games, too
The BCCI’s announcement of Rs 5-crore bonus for the Indian cricket team that created history by winning a thrilling match (and series) in the absence of star players is a welcome step to boost the morale of the players. But what about other games like hockey, football, basketball etc? Everyone wants to be a cricketer to earn money and fame, but only 11 players can be adjusted in the cricket team. Where would the others go? The government should promote other sports also to attract talented youth.
Sukhdev Singh Minhas, Mohali
Apropos of ‘Budget expectations’, the main aim of the Budget should be to repair last year’s economic damage. Most forecasts for the next fiscal anticipate a sharp rebound as normalcy returns. That may not necessarily answer the more important question. What will the economic trajectory beyond that look like? Rating agency Fitch anticipates that the economy will grow around 6.5% in the next four years up to 2025-26. Given the sense of urgency because millions enter the job market annually, that can be a disappointing trajectory. India had lost economic momentum for at least two years before the pandemic struck. Some problems like banks struggling with bad loans and manufacturing losing productivity have been around longer. India’s long-term performance will be significantly influenced by the quality of human capital available. Even as the government crafts a strategy to get out of last year’s recession, it needs to simultaneously unclog pathways to build human capital. Education and healthcare are areas which deserve serious policy attention. The emphasis on deregulation in agriculture, industry and services is praiseworthy. But it needs to be complemented by similar measures in education and healthcare.
SK SINGH, by mail
Although the Centre has started Covid vaccination with full preparation, there seems to be panic and apprehension among people. It is amply clear that our political leaders, especially from Congress and Samajwadi Party, were responsible for generating doubts and confusion about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine through their negative comments. The Centre also failed in the task of effectively countering this negative campaign by allaying doubts. The government must tackle this issue on a war footing by generating confidence among health professionals and others who are to be vaccinated by involving political leaders, especially the PM, the Health Ministers and CMs, besides the bureaucrats in the campaign by vaccinating them too along with the health professionals.
Surinder Singla, Sangrur
In reference to ‘Constitutionally, farm laws on shaky ground’, agriculture is a State subject and the Central government or Parliament has no jurisdiction to make such laws. So the farmer unions can file a petition in the SC against these laws and their implementation may get stayed. Alternatively, the Centre can hold back these laws and constitute a committee of experts, leaders of farmer unions and some CMs under the Agriculture Minister’s chairmanship to decide about the legality and viability of these laws. The demand for legalisation of MSP by statutory law is genuine and may be accepted and implemented, including more crops on the present list.
DS Hooda, Rohtak
Strike down farm laws
The article ‘Constitutionally, farm laws on shaky ground’ provides a rational analysis of the new farm Acts. With the government sticking to their implementation and the farmers’ organisations demanding their revocation, the situation has resulted in a deadlock. Even judicial intervention has not cut ice with the gritty farmers. Though the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of these laws, they do not repose any faith in its four-member committee. Agriculture being a State subject, these laws are clearly unconstitutional and undemocratic. Keeping in view multiple petitions challenging the Central government’s overreach, the court would do well to strike these down. It will boost people’s confidence in the judiciary in the time of the current political crisis.
DS Kang, Hoshiarpur
Embrace girl child
The middle ‘The birth of a daughter’ is laudable. Nobody in society wants a girl child in his or her family. Everybody wants a male child so that their property is safe in future. Nobody wants property to be inherited by their son-in-law. We should realise that
the property we own is not brought by us at birth. It is only a means of livelihood. After our death, nobody knows who will be the owner of our property. If our property goes to our daughter, she will spend her life very well and with pride.
SARBJEET SINGH HERAN, by mail
With the announcement of the civic body elections by the Punjab State Election Commission (‘Punjab civic body polls on Feb 14’), political leaders as also the people of Punjab will get spontaneously into the election mode once again. This time, besides the independents, civic body elections are being contested on respective party symbols by the aspiring candidates. Nevertheless, the onus is on the voters to elect the candidates most suitable and responsive to public needs to represent them in the eight municipal corporations, and 109 municipal councils and nagar panchayats. And so, the voters must not get swayed by the hollow election promises and vote discreetly so that their aspirations get fulfilled by the representatives they choose to elect.
KK Sood, Nangal
In times of entertaining electronic devices, it was nice to read that nine Kulu villages have gone silent for 42 days to appease their deity. People in advanced countries with too much dependence on electronic devices have already been following forced isolation from these devices on a regular basis to devote more time to their work and family. Indians with enough free time are still not bothered to minimise the use of electronic devices. Traditions and rituals are under constant criticism in the modern age, but the worthiness of our traditions, if we follow them in the right spirit, can still show a way towards our wellbeing in our modern lifestyle.
SS Verma, Longowal
The mercurial Mamata Banerjee’s deft move does provide some food for thought (‘Mamata to take on turncoat Suvendu on his home turf’). Coming events cast their shadows. Rahul Gandhi contesting from a second seat, besides Amethi, revealed the outcome in advance. Any sitting MLA contesting to be an MP or vice versa, as also anyone vacating one of the two seats won, results in a byelection, betraying the trust of electors and costing the exchequer adversely.
Lalit Bharadwaj, Panchkula
Apropos of ‘Swan turns into waste dumping ground’, why doesn’t the state government give preference to waste management at the local level? Why does the Una municipal corporation throw garbage into the Swan river? Why doesn’t the state government advocate sustainable development? For the past few years, the HP Government has started focusing on economic development, keeping aside matters related to waste management. There are very few gram panchayats in the state that have a proper garbage management system. If the government doesn’t wake up, a time will come when Himachal will no longer be a pollution-free state. The government must work to protect greenery in the state.
Ritish Pandit, Dehra Gopipur
In reference to ‘A half-hearted push’, it is being observed that farmers are wary of crop diversification as they are not confident of cold storage infrastructure and price guarantee for their perishable produce. The government should take these points into consideration. Before implementing new farm laws, it is required to win the confidence of the farming community. It should first be tried in states where farmers and governments are ready to accept the new laws. Some states should be made role model in this respect. Implementation at the all-India level in one go is fraught with grave consequences. Even wealth advisers suggest that one’s savings should not be put into a single basket. It applies to the government as well as the farmers. Crop diversification will succeed automatically if some states come out as a successful model.
Rajesh Goyal, by mail
Given that men continue to be considered as the principal earning member of a household, women are unlikely to accept poor quality jobs. India’s biggest challenge on the employment front is getting its women folk into the labour force. While 67 per cent of all men of working age are employed, it is only 9 per cent in the case of women. This gap between men and women in the workforce is the potential labour available to deploy productively in economic activities.
SC Dhall, Zirakpur
Apropos of ‘Culling of birds not feasible, Hry tells Centre’, our medical researchers should give importance to inventing a vaccine so that bird flu can be prevented. The outbreak of this disease has been reported regularly putting at stake the livelihoods of a large number of people. A way needs to be found to safeguard the poultry business. I believe that our researchers are competent enough to invent such a vaccine.
Shankar Chatterjee, Hyderabad
Keep the preachings
Refer to ‘Waste of a good lesson’; we listen to preachers with all enthusiasm and try to follow the norms, but as soon as the katha or pravachan (sermon) is over, we run to attend the daily chores, leaving all the preachings behind. We need to create inner strength and courage to carve our own destiny. All religions and sects preach compassion for the underprivileged and deprived. Service to mankind is service to God. We should help all beings and create an atmosphere in which there is respect, love and caring for everyone, especially the elders. Only this attitude will mean revering the Almighty in true sense.
Raj Kumar Kapoor, Ropar
Blinding high beam
I would like to highlight the problem being faced on the roads during night driving when vehicles coming from the opposite side use headlights on high beam. It is a serious driving risk and the cause of so many accidents during the night. Even on city roads, there is no check. Decades back, by the order of the government, one had to blacken the upper half of the headlight with a black strip so that the high beam was not visible and the vehicles would drive in safe mode. Law enforcement agencies must implement the same law or other stricter rules against the use of high beam. Heavy penalty should be imposed on such vehicles.
Col KJ Singh (Retd), Panchkula
Apropos of ‘Day 1: Hesitation, confusion keep many away’, a low turnout is due to low motivation and unfounded fears. It is due to the unwillingness of responsible leaders to take the first dose. US President-elect Joe Biden came forward to have the vaccine, which inspired Americans to go for the jab. Had PM Modi taken the first dose, it would have generated interest, removed hesitation and motivated people in large numbers to take the vaccine. People are now fearing its side-effects. The way our President showed interest in being the first to donate for the Ram Mandir, had he taken the first dose, it would have generated confidence among the people. Political will, shown in promoting the vaccine, was lacking when it came to administering the vaccine.
Capt Amar Jeet (retd), by mail
Jolt to vaccination drive
The poor response to the Covid vaccination programme in Punjab is a jolt to the drive against the killer disease. By refusing to get vaccinated, health workers considered as frontline warriors, have sent a wrong message to the public at large. It is a setback to India’s war on the pandemic. The world is acknowledging India’s medical prowess in developing the vaccine, but the poor participation of its own fraternity is a matter of concern.
Anita Wahi, Kapurthala
Health workers jittery
The report ‘64% health workers take jab, poor show in Punjab’ is disturbing. It gives a wrong signal regarding the preparation and efficacy of the vaccination programme launched with fanfare at the national level. If the health workers, who are leading the war against the pandemic lack enthusiasm, how will the public trust the inoculation programme? The government needs to ensure complete vaccination of all frontline workers.
JAGDISH CHANDER, JALANDHAR
Apropos of ‘Scripting history over North Pole’, really a new script has been written by these daughters of the nation in the history of commercial flights. The crew members have brought laurels to their parents and the nation. Flying over the magnetically uncertain area would have been a challenge, having no precedent, which they accepted successfully with a steely resolve. The daughters of the nation have once again proved that no dream is big if one has determination. A matter of pride for every Indian!
KRITIKA MADAN, CHANDIGARH
HP land laws
Apropos of ‘Radha Soami sect seeks nod to buy land in tribal areas’, there are many laws governing the sale/purchase of land in Himachal. The interpretation of these laws is confusing for the common man, who has to face many hardships while selling or purchasing land. In many cases, he gets involved in legal troubles in revenue courts. It will be beneficial for all, including government officials, if the government notifies a comprehensive paper in a simple language as to who is eligible to sell/purchase land.
Ashok bahl, Kangra
Hospitality not welcome
Refer to ‘No need for such hospitality’; the facts highlight the prevailing practices on the ground for availing free hospitality, not only by politicians, but also many officers on official tours. This social evil should be eliminated or at least minimised by both the takers and givers.
NK SINGHAL, NOIDA
MSP a necessity
The article ‘Farmers’ agitation will impact global trade’ elaborates in a precise way how the WTO pursues anti-farmer policies and dictates developing countries in relation to legalising MSP for crops. The poverty-stricken life of cocoa/coffee growers is not hidden from Indian farmers who have been protesting for the repealing of the new farm Bills, which were thrust upon them to bring ‘reforms’ into trade and commerce. Its for our policy-makers to learn how developed countries control the global prices through their provision of extensive subsidies into their farming sector. Blind implementation of the open market system of the US, where landholdings of farmers are huge, would be disastrous for our economy and the marginal farmer.
Amandeep Bains, Kurukshetra
Legacy of Ved Mehta
Apropos of ‘From darkness to light’ (Spectrum), Ved Mehta’s life is an inspiration to all. Losing eyesight from an early age and becoming one of the topmost journalists is not less than a charisma. It is very surprising that a visually challenged man described things so vividly, and better than an expert journalist. I have read ‘The Tailor’ in which he describes the physical appearance of the tailor in such way that a man with eyes cannot. It shows that concentration plays an important role in our life. He wrote many books and represented India in America through his writings.
Ravinder kwatra, Shahabad Markanda
Refer to ‘Trump’s coup de tweet’ (Nous Indica); Trump’s re-election plans dwelt on lies, buffoonery, racism, divisiveness, criticism of China and support from India (‘Howdy, Modi!’ and ‘Namaste Trump!’). His callousness and failure during the pandemic hurt US economy. He used the pandemic as a tool, making a mockery of the necessity of wearing masks, social distancing or closure of educational institutions. And social media, until very late, continued to be complicit in circulating his sinister plans. It was the print media that relentlessly flayed Trump’s absurdities. The recent Trump-provoked mob’s attack on Capitol Hill was just a denouement to the collateral damage Trump has done to the world’s oldest democracy. He has been rightly impeached for his recklessness.
Abhimanyu Malik, Jind
Perils of social media
Apropos of Nous Indica, the global phenomenon of social media is gaining ground not only as a means of political weaponisation in distant America but also in personal relations and knowledge/information dissemination nearer home. It’s a moot point whether the virtual world is doing more harm than good or vice versa. Surely, it is a good servant but a bad master.
Lalit Bharadwaj, Panchkula
Empathy in pain
Reference to the ‘Youngest donor gives fresh lease of life to five’; parents of 20-month-old Dhanishtha deserve to be admired for taking a bold decision of donating the heart, kidney, corneas and liver of their dearest daughter, to benefit five lives. They can be termed as the true followers of Guru Gobind Singh, who sacrificed his family. And Shaheed Bhagat Singh welcomed the gallows for his country. The parents, instead of wallowing in their grief, decided to bring joy in the lives of five other children and their parents. Let us pray for the peace of the departed soul and courage for her parents to bear the loss.
Faqir Singh, Dasuya
Every opinion counts
Apropos of ‘Respect every opinion’, the intellectual class of society is now coming to the forefront to guide and enlighten society about the pros and cons of prevalent issues. Besides the country is feeling helpless in the absence of a strong opposition but the CCG is making its way slowly among the masses. There is a need for more such groups who make people conscious about their rights. It is high time for the government to make every opinion count, and not sideline them by giving them the tag of ‘anti-nationals’.
Aparna Rajmohan, Amritsar
Apropos of ‘Vaccination Day’, there is no doubt that January 16, 2021, will figure in our history books. With the launch of the vaccination drive against Covid-19, India has joined the club of countries which have started it within a year of the outbreak. Serum Institute will be a proud manufacturer not only for India, but also for many other countries to which it would be exporting the vaccine. The Centre deserves appreciation for chalking out a detailed plan to ensure a smooth vaccination drive. This is going to be a more cumbersome process than conducting the general election. States, while adhering to the priority schedule, must ensure that no bypassing of the priority list is allowed. Every citizen has the right to get inoculated, but it needs to be prioritised depending upon the exposure and risks faced by various categories of citizens as well as the availability of the doses.
SANJAY CHOPRA, MOHALI
Long wait for pension
Refer to ‘Widow of a disabled soldier moves court for grant’; it is unfortunate that a widow of a soldier disabled in 1971 War is still fighting to get her dues. Earlier, a report had stated that even after 30 years a widow was awaiting pension. When a soldier reads about such cases, he fears that his family may also meet the same fate if he dies in action. It is bound to cause stress. But to say that half of the Army is under stress, as per a study, seems far-fetched. The study is reportedly based on a small sample. The Army should reject the findings and, if required, order a fresh study. Family pension is an issue that remains foremost in the mind of a soldier, especially in warlike conditions. The Army must ensure that pension is released within six months of a soldier’s death.
WG CDR CL SEHGAL (RETD), JALANDHAR
Refer to ‘Chandigarh govt schools to reopen for Classes 6-8 on February 1’; the government should consider a simple, inexpensive and age-old method of open-air classes, like ‘gurukuls’. For millions of school children who will not be going to schools this may be the best option. Learning online has its limitations. Not all students have the luxury of Internet access and those from poor families fall behind in learning.
HN Ramakrishna, Bengaluru
Apropos of ‘Need to address scepticism over Covid vaccines’, vaccines in the past have caused mild to severe reactions, but in all such cases, there was no extraordinary alarm and fear to discontinue the vaccination programme. Then why scepticism now? The world is fed up with Covid-related precautions, restrictions and lockdowns. Businesses are closed or half shut, resulting in job losses and economic slowdown. There is haste to roll out vaccines. This has led to cutting short development procedures and consequent adverse reactions in trial participants. To overcome fears, some leaders had volunteered to take first shots, like Joe Biden, Putin, and Netanyahu. Why are political leaders and top dignitaries of India not taking the first shots to instil confidence in the public?
Col Pritpal Dhillon (Retd), Chandigarh
Charade of consultations
Apropos of ‘Congress tears into govt affidavit’, the Model APMC Act in 2003, and another model law in 2017 have been included among consultations on farm laws. An RTI application filed in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare last month revealed that ‘there is no information available as to the dates of meetings, names of unions or others and proceedings relating to the consultations with farmers unions’. The draft laws were not uploaded on the ministry website. A committee of four persons, including two farm leaders and two economists, all vocal supporters of the new laws, has been set up. One member has recused himself. The new laws are premised on the doctrine of laissez faire so far as the corporates are concerned. India has regulations even for the use of mobiles, but not for agricultural marketing, as per these laws. The farmers are dubbed bhramit (misled) by the establishment. Nobel Laureate Theodore Schultz, in his treatise, ‘Transforming Traditional Agriculture’, found that the farmers in India are economically efficient, though poor. Our farmers can’t be led up the garden path. Strengthening of the agricultural marketing network, as per the Swaminathan Committee report, should be accorded high priority.
Prem Singh Dahiya, Rohtak
The farmers’ unions are adamant to dictate their terms not only to the elected government, but also to the SC. It is a grave threat to our democratic setup. A former PM, Lal Bahadur Shastri, had aptly remarked: ‘The rule of law should be respected so that the basic structure of our democracy is maintained and further strengthened.’ All must keep it in mind.
SK Sharma, Mumbai
Hema Malini ill-informed
Refer to ‘Protesters unsure of what they want’; Hema Malini is right in the sense that she is very sure of what she wants to get by making this comment on farmers’ historic protest and keeping the Central government in good humour. One does not start appreciating the problems of farmers by marrying a farmer’s son from Punjab. She should visit the farmers’ protest site and listen to what they have to say. Her comment is a reflection of her being both partisan as well as insulting to the entire farming community.
Nirmal Singh, Patiala
At receiving end
Refer to ‘Specialist doctors not paid salary for the past 5 months’; clerical mentality is an excuse that in appointment letters proper mention doesn't exist about allowances to be paid. How harsh it is for the doctors can well be imagined. Action without any delay is needed to release the salaries as an ad hoc arrangement. A similar case in respect of about 200 contract computer teachers in UT government schools has been hanging fire since June 2020, where first no salary was paid up to October, followed by verbal release orders from job w.e.f November 1. Now they are running to the judiciary, CAT, etc. as there was no response from the education department. How can society expect sincere services from doctors or teachers in such a vicious administrative atmosphere?
JS Jassal, Panchkula
Adultery in armed forces
Apropos of ‘Don’t decriminalise adultery in armed forces: Centre to SC’, it is a welcome move by the government to safeguard the ethics and sanctity of camaraderie among members of the armed forces. Such a judgment may cause instability, as defence personnel are expected to function in peculiar conditions, during the course of which many a time they have to stay separated from their families for long durations, when they are posted on borders or other far-flung areas or in areas with inhospitable weather and terrain. The possibility of occurrence of stray cases of adultery in the forces can be avoided with an exemplary legal tool. Family life in the forces is a peaceful and low-key affair. Its consecration must be respected and preserved by all.
Sunil Kumar Mahajan, by mail
Reference to ‘Court order has confirmed farmers’ fears’; the petition in the SC has been submitted by some public men who are suffering from the agitation of farmers. The court took the decision, as it was concerned about the loss of valuable lives of farmers, non-supply of essentials to residents of Delhi and loss of business running in crores of rupees daily. The court cannot sit mute to the present situation created by the agitation. Whatever decision is taken by the SC it is meant to resolve the impasse between the farmers and the government. It is also not rational to question the credibility of the committee members, quoting their past pro-government views. Let things proceed. We should expect positive results of the judgment to end the deadlock.
RL Bansal, Kurukshetra
Burning law copies
Reference to the burning of copies of the farm laws by farmers on Lohri; the festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Punjab, as it heralds the beginning of spring. But the farmers burnt the copies of agriculture laws, which is against our culture. They should take part in the proceedings of the SC-appointed panel. The government is ready to make certain amendments, which the farmers should accept. The public is also fed up with road blockades.
Rohan Kumar, Mohali
Stay on farm laws
Apropos of ‘Farm laws on hold’, the SC’s stay on the laws’ operationalisation and the setting up of an expert committee to hold talks with stakeholders have put the judiciary on a road rarely traversed. For the past few weeks, the SC has voiced its unhappiness with the Centre over the handling of the stir. The SC’s noble intent, however, cannot detract from the constitutional scheme of separation of powers. The confrontation over the Centre’s farm laws is more than just the laws. There is distrust between the government and the farmers, which began with the Centre's bid to push through the legislation without debate. The distrust has deepened because of the attempts to talk down the protesters and call them names. The panel’s mandate to talk to farmers was originally a parliamentary committee’s remit, bypassing that option has damaged the Centre politically. What were the criteria for the selection of the experts? What happens after the panel submits a report? Resolution should have remained in the political and policy domain.
LAL SINGH, Amritsar
Business as usual
The rush in markets is as usual, with very few people wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Even in offices, public dealing offices, banks, people mostly do not wear masks or do not cover the nose (‘Protection not sufficient if nasal area exposed: HC’). The penalty for not wearing a mask has been enhanced to Rs 1,000 but checking is negligible, which can be judged from the collection of penalty. The administration needs to gear up by way of public announcement and video conferring of the DCs, as during the lockdown period.
OP GARG, PATIALA
Invest in Africa
Developed nations and ones at the threshold of such status need to reorient their development policies. While market forces and return on investment favours their policies toward Asia and Europe, it is Africa that still remains a dark continent, except South Africa which is a member of BRICS. With most African nations on the fringe of political instability, it is the odd member in the UNSC permanent club who is directing its foreign investment to African nations, albeit not without strategic military interest. At the national level, we have backward area development plans, why not for Africa at the global level? India must take up an inclusive approach in its foreign investment policy, and push the IMF and World Bank for a policy shift toward less-developed African nations
Rakesh Sudan, Kurukshetra
Too far gone
Refer to ‘Wildlife falling prey to stray dogs in Hisar’; 78% of wild animals have fallen prey to stray canines in the past five years. It seems successive governments want to keep such issues in abeyance till their population exceeds human population, or as an election promise to garner votes. Has the government/bureaucracy become deaf, mute and blind to resolve such long-pending issues that are a blot on the country’s image.
Ramit Bagga, Panchkula
As per a report, India’s annual unemployment rate is 5.4 per cent. The basic reason is the lack of skill development in students. Many degree holders are jobless because they have theoretical knowledge but don’t have a practical understanding of their courses or subjects. Our education system is also degree oriented rather than job oriented. Therefore, universities must focus more on skill growth to decrease the scale of unemployed people in India.
Aakash Dhiman, Ambala Cantt
It is a harsh reality that we Indians take pride in flouting rules and getting the things done on sifarish. The same is expected for the vaccination process of Covid-19. The writer is rightly worried whether the vaccine will reach the needy and vulnerable. In India, rules and laws are framed, but their proper execution seldom takes place. We are fortunate enough to get a vaccine, but the streamlined process of administering it is a Herculean task. If foolproof planning is not made, the mere aim of making the vaccine will be defeated. India is the world’s second most populous country. It is not possible to vaccinate such a large number of people in one go. We need to wait for our turn with patience and be in the ‘queue’ till then.
Bir Devinder Singh Bedi, Sangrur
Review of agri laws
Refer to ‘Farm laws put on hold’; it is wisely asserted that the court's intervention lends an opportunity to come out with possible solutions. The court has given a commendable decision to suspend the implementation of the farm laws till further orders. The new committee should try to explore widely acceptable points of amendments to the laws. Hopefully the committee will analyse the flaws of the agricultural laws and present a new format. In view of the decision of the Supreme Court, the farmers’ organisations should scale down their protest at the NCR borders. The tractor rally programme needs to be deferred in view of Republic Day.
Yugal Kishore Sharma, Faridabad
Right to protest is a fundamental right. The SC has given two months to the committee to submit a report on farm laws. In that case, the agitation will linger on for another two months. Already, so many protesters have died of cold. The report shall be duly considered by the court, the stakeholders shall be called and arguments from every side will be heard. Will it be right to carry on with the agitation? Kisan leaders have voiced their discomfort with members of the committee. It seems like a long haul.
Lalit Mohan Sharma, DHARAMSALA
Need a solution, fast
The steps taken by the Supreme Court to ensure early end to the agitation do not seem to bear any fruit, at least for the time being. The farmers’ unions have rejected the formation of the committee by the court and have raised questions on the fairness of its members. The stir has already upset the whole economic structure. The prices of many items required in the construction of homes have skyrocketed. Industry in Punjab has been hit hard. When such are the circumstances, an amicable solution of the problem is the crying need of the hour.
Santosh Jamwal, Hamirpur
Is it not strange that while the BJP has been trying hard to convince farmers that the new laws are for their benefit, it failed to convince even the highest court? A seemingly confused court had to form a committee to understand the issue. Are these laws really that difficult to understand?
Balvinder, by mail
Strong Opposition vital
Apropos of ‘Needed, a strong Opposition’, our country should have a strong vigilant opposition which is needed in a vibrant democracy. Today’s Congress certainly lacks vision for the country and has failed to strengthen the party at the state level, where weak chiefs were imposed. On the contrary, the BJP believes in a brigade of strong leadership, even at the smallest platform.
PANKAJ MADAN, ZIRAKPUR
Refer to ‘PM: Dynastic politics weakening democracy, youth can prevent it’, if it is so, why is Dushyant Chautala part of the BJP-led government in Haryana? In the recent past, the Badals, Thackerays and Muftis had been BJP’s political partners. Dynasties have nothing to do with democracy, as the Mahabharata and Ramayana are based on dynastic rules. For a successful democracy, ethics, moral values and independence of all wings and institutions are important.
Naresh Mohan Johar, Amritsar
Order for the demolition of an unauthorised hotel on the forest land at McLeodganj by the Supreme Court would go a long way in checking the menace of illegal constructions. It is a common sight around national and state highways and such razed structures have become eyesores and won't allow nature to rejuvenate. Now, it must be ensured by the executing authority to get the task accomplished in letter and spirit.
RS Kishtwaria, Palampur
Apropos of ‘The tragic loss of a dream’, the young minds are filled with materialistic ambitions. Media and market frenzy render their collective consciousness as vulnerable to passivity and nihilism. To ventilate dissent in a democratic space by young minds seems heretical and incurs the wrath of the right-wing authoritarian dispensation. This reductionist mentality of ‘might is right’ has occupied the public sphere, squeezing out the democratic norms of deliberation and disagreement. Neoliberal consensus is cognitively conditioning the young minds, as market mechanics is the dominant superstructure shaping the aspirations and decelerating the culture of dissenting voices.
Zahoor Ahmad Dar, New Delhi
Refer to ‘Apt dressing-down’; the Supreme Court has expressed its utter disappointment over the handling of the farmers’ prolonged protest about the agriculture laws. The patience of farmers is running out due to inaction of the government which is evident from the sporadic violent incidents. Protesters should welcome the court’s intervention and trust the highly respected constitutional institution. Immediately, the government should defer the implementation of these laws and initiate steps to resolve the impasse.
SUBHASH VAID, NEW DELHI
We can pin hopes on the directions given by the SC on the farm laws and expect that the government will ensure compliance. The genuineness of the protest and it not being confined to Punjab has also been appropriately elaborated, citing the incident where the Haryana CM’s helicopter was not allowed to land by farmers. The protest is also being marked in Rajasthan, UP, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand and Kerala. Respecting the orders of the court, it is in the fitness of things that the laws are abrogated and a new law on MSP is enacted to settle the contentious issue. The government will only restore justice by doing so and gain the ground it lost by such enactments.
Gurmit Singh Saini, Mohali
The SC has rightly chastised the Centre for its failure to properly handle the ongoing farmers’ agitation. Even if the court puts on hold the implementation of these laws and appoints a committee to go into their merits and resolve the deadlock, a favourable reaction of farmers' unions is imperative for a plausible solution. But they are unrelenting in their demand for complete withdrawal and are firm on their tractor rally in Delhi on Republic Day. To avoid any law and order situation, it is better to shift them to the Ramlila Maidan for continuing their peaceful protest. Keeping national interest in view, the government should revisit its agricultural reforms agenda and take all stakeholders into confidence before enacting the new laws.
Harmohit Singh, Hoshiarpur
Apropos of ‘Extremely disappointed, SC raps govt over impasse’, the agitation is a multi-layered problem that needs a thorough study. The stir is not nationwide. Some problems are area-specific that could have been sorted out across the table. But the adamant stance of the agitators reveals the flip-side of the agitation. The agitators do not want a solution; they want to bring the government to its knees. It shows that politics has entered the agitation. The farm sector is getting electricity, water, seeds and fertilisers at the proper time. In view of this, is the agitation in national interest?
LR Sharma, Mandi
Fraud at hospitals
The health department must be complimented for de-empanelling hospitals for fraudulent implementation of the Ayushman Bharat insurance scheme (‘5 pvt hospitals de-listed for siphoning off govt funds’). A few months back, a local institute of medical sciences and research was also de-listed, and in spite of several representations, the government has failed to register a case in this regard. Failure to initiate criminal proceedings encourages other hospitals to replicate the same fraud because no one fears only de-listing. The Punjab Medical Council refused to act, stating that the anti-fraud unit of the state health agency had taken action and the orders do not direct it to take action. The Civil Surgeon should lodge an FIR and set an example for other Civil Surgeons.
Vitull K Gupta, Bathinda
Too cold for comfort
There are crores of people in India for whom winter comes as a curse. They spend nights shivering at railway stations, along footpaths and below bridges. Home shelters, warm clothing and blankets should be arranged by the government, as also the people, for them. These people, too, are citizens of our country. There should be a special provision for it in the Budget.
Narender Kumar, Mandi
Reference to the move by some farm bodies to oppose the acquisition of land for the Delhi-Katra expressway passing through Punjab is ill-timed and short-sighted. The proposed expressway is likely to boost religious tourism as it connects with Amritsar and Kartarpur Sahib. Besides cutting travel time, transport, trade, hotel and agriculture will benefit a lot from it. Those opposing the expressway are robbing the public of travel convenience and employment avenues, besides revenue gains to the government treasury.
Anita Wahi, Kapurthala
Mockery of ‘Jai Jawan’
Apropos of ‘30 yrs after Army officer's death, wife awaits pension’, it is a matter of shame for the authorities in the Defence Accounts Department that Kanta Katoch has been waiting for the release of pensionary benefits, despite court orders and directions by the Centre. This attitude is tantamount to cruelty of the worst order towards a female senior citizen related to a defence officer. Perpetrators of such crimes should not forget that their family members may have to face such situations in future. Even the attitude of PNB officials at Ludhiana and DPDO at Chandigarh warrants condemnation. Such acts of officials should be construed as major misconduct and entries to that effect should be reflected in their ACR.
Upendra Sharma, by mail
Apropos of ‘Another temple bites the dust in Pakistan’; the rampant discrimination and human rights violations against religious minorities in Pakistan need no elaboration. The dismal state of these minorities is attested by the fact that their numbers have only dwindled since the Partition. Temple desecration is only one of the many ways in which their religious freedom has been undermined in the Islamic State. Rapes, murders and forced conversions are regular occurrences. It is for these reasons that these minorities are seeking haven in India. The demolition of the Krishna Dwara temple should be a wake-up call for the so-called secularists and liberals who deem the CAA ‘anti-Muslim’, when in reality its objective is to protect these religious minorities whose rights have been trampled upon for decades.
Nissim Aggarwal, Chandigarh
Apropos ‘BCI wants three years practice must for aspiring judicial officers’, the BCI has rightly stated that a majority of judicial officers not having practical experience at the Bar are found incapable, inept, impolite and impractical in their behaviour. A majority of fresh law graduates selected through judicial services exam and appointed in lower/subordinate courts without any practical experience at the Bar, fail to handle cases efficiently, effectively and skillfully which results into inordinate delay.
Madan Lal Sharma, by mail
Responsibility to state
A chief minister should not overlook his responsibility to the state (‘Khattar’s mahapanchayat venue ransacked’). Rather than seeing the writing on the wall, the Haryana CM vaguely blames it on the Congress, the communists and a farmers’ organisation, against whose head a police case has also been registered. The CM, in vibrant federalism, is not expected to ignore the interests of his state to simply please the rulers at the Centre, viewing them as his masters. He is expected to have courage to assess the ground situation and report the same to the Centre. The CM’s utterings, besides provoking the peaceful agitators, will undermine the office of the CM and may further add to the arrogance of the Centre, intent on imposing the contentious laws rejected by the real stakeholders.
HL Sharma, Amritsar
SC bats for farmers
When delayed and biased court proceedings have almost become the hallmark of the present-day judicial system in the country, the Supreme Court in its hearing on farmers’ protest has come up with a human heart, showing great concern about the safety and wellbeing of the protesting farmers and asking the government to put on hold the implementation of the three farm laws or the court will do it. It is rightly pointed by the SC that it is better to constitute a high-level committee to listen to the grievances of the agitating farmers.
SS Verma, Longowal
Fire at govt hospital
Every now and then, the government indicts private hospitals for their lapses and exorbitant charges without setting its own house in order. The gruesome fire incident which killed at least 10 infants at a government hospital in Maharashtra is shocking (‘Ghastly hospital fires’). The accident has exposed the chinks in the safety measures in government hospitals. All hospitals, hotels, theatres, institutes, malls and skyscrapers of the country should be periodically audited for fire safety measures. It seems that there is no accountability in government buildings.
Sunil Chopra, Ludhiana
The recent storming of the Capitol Hill in the US Trump’s supporters, at his behest, holds important lessons for us. If it can happen in a mature democracy like that of the US, it can certainly happen in India. Therefore, we need to be careful. A dangerous mix of polarisation of society, partisan media and vigilantes is growing deadly with every passing day. It can be easily exploited by any irresponsible leader. The civil society all over India must rise to diffuse such a situation. What has saved the US democracy is the strength and independence of its institutions. The Vice-President and the Supreme Court have stood steadfast throughout the crisis. Our judiciary, Governors, Speakers, ED, CBI, etc., will have to take a leaf out of their book and build on their inherent strengths and take responsibility. And, then there is a lesson in the conduct of foreign policy. Though PM Narendra Modi has done well to condemn the mob attack quickly, the ‘replay’ of his canvassing for Trump was embarrassing. Our leaders need to refrain from such support for individuals and political parties.
Lt Col GS Bedi (Retd), Mohali
Apropos of ‘Fighting stress in Army’, some stress factors have been created by the government. Financial security and status of an individual has never been a priority at any level. The proposals to decrease the Defence Budget and cut the pension of soldiers are some unfriendly utterances that aggravate stress. The Centre has frozen DA for the past 18 months, in the name of the Covid pandemic, even as they are deployed face-to-face against China and in Siachen against Pakistan. Disability pension of injured soldiers is also not spared from tax. Only lip service is provided to troops and all schemes regarding their welfare are on paper.
H/Capt Jagdish Verma (Retd), Sarkaghat
In SC’s court
Refer to ‘Deadlock stays, govt pins hopes on SC’; it is unfortunate that the eighth round of talks has also ended in an impasse. While the Centre is now reportedly banking on the SC when it hears this fragile issue, the farmers’ ‘resolve’ to accept nothing less than the repealing of the controversial farm laws is likely to keep the pot boiling. The BKU leadership has already made known its unwillingness to become a party in the case, even at the apex court level. Where else could such a vital legal matter be examined and decided upon? One shudders to imagine when, if it all, the unprecedented ‘man-made’ trauma being inflicted upon farmers, will come to an end! Since enough is enough, let us hope that the SC soon comes to the rescue of one and all.
SK Gupta, New Delhi
Road blockades by any political or social organisation, farmers or any other institution should be condemned. Road blockades are a great public nuisance and cause great inconvenience to the public. There might be ailing patients, old people and small children waiting in the long queues. New and stricter laws should be framed by the government to check this growing menace.
SANJAY CHAWLA, AMRITSAR
BCI demand unreasonable
Refer to the Bar Council of India’s (BCI) demand that a minimum three-year practice at the Bar be made mandatory to become a judicial officer at the subordinate judiciary level; when the UPSC conducts its exam for the Civil Services, does it ask for experience in the administration of state in order to become an administrative officer? The BCI is determined to stagnate the future of our already-deprived judicial system. Most students at law schools wish to become judicial officers and not go into practice, but with this order coming into force, many young aspirants would settle for something less than what they can achieve in future. The Army’s slogan of ‘Catch them young’ is conclusive proof that young brains have the most potential. Therefore, the advocacy experience makes no sense to become a judicial officer.
ANIRUDH THAKUR, SHIMLA
The many datas!
I am told that the farmer engaged in the profession of growing food is my annadata (Thank God no banker has claimed that he/she is my dhandata). Similarly a teacher is my gyandata and a student is dhyandata. A doctor is jeevandata. The list goes on. The question is whether they are giving any of the service(s) or commodity out of charity, and if not, why bestow upon them the title of data and on me the tag of being a universal receiver? All professions are equally noble and any title is redundant.
SL Singhal, Noida
Apropos of ‘Blot on US democracy’, megalomaniac Trump has gone off his head. He has been defeated fairly and squarely in the presidential election, yet he is not ready to concede defeat. Rather he has got Capitol Hill stormed by his equally irrational supporters to disrupt a constitutional process by the Congress to affirm the victory of President-elect Joe Biden. This is nothing short of a coup for which he should be arrested. The violence triggered by his December 20 tweet in which he had called his supporters for a wild rally on the day Biden's victory was to be certified has killed four persons. It has certainly tarnished the fair name of American democracy, to which the world looks with great expectations and inspiration. Trump has tried to subvert democracy.
Tarsem S Bumrah, Batala
Taking it too far
Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Whosoever presented this concept of democracy to the world had not imagined that while electing governments, instead of voting on issues, people would vote on the basis of caste, religion, race, etc. In India, parties openly campaign and ask votes on the basis of religion, caste, etc. What was happening in India has happened in the US during the 2020 presidential election. People were divided and voted on the basis of race, ethnic and religion. What happened at the Capitol Hill is a glimpse of the events going to unfold in the future. How far it is right to give equal voting right to all, whether a person is illiterate, criminal or corrupt?
Ashok bahl, Kangra
There is hope yet
No doubt, the recent riots have brought a bad name to the democratic values prevalent in the US, yet the voice raised by a few but influential Republicans against Trump, which compelled him to yield to transfer the power to Biden, is historic and strengthens the roots of democracy. The brave stand and action exhibited against the arrogance of Trump by members of his own party prove to what extent their ethical commitments go to keep the democratic institutions alive and vibrant, healthy and honest. Instead of indulging in sycophancy, they have asked Vice-President Pence to slap Trump with sedition charges and prosecute him for instigating crowds.
Chaman Arora, Ferozepur City
The report ‘Impasse causes Rs 4,500-crore losses to Punjab’ highlights the economic fallout of the current farmers’ protests on Punjab. Considering that the financial health of Punjab was already in the red, this statement by its FM assumes added significance. The FM has alleged that Punjab has been overlooked by the Centre for awarding the Food Park Project of the UAE. Successive governments have echoed this sentiment of unjust treatment by the Centre for the past many years. If it is a fact, why no steps are taken to leverage the Centre's initiatives, instead of just harping on being left out every time? One also looks with concern at the intense anti-corporate sentiment being encouraged among the people of the state, which is in sore need of private investment. Successive state governments have failed to develop a balanced attitude towards both public and private sectors, resulting in failure to ameliorate the conditions prevalent in the state. A pragmatic leadership knows how to keep the state on the winning side, without paying any undesirable cost.
Rosen Brar, Patiala
Morale of the Army
Refer to ‘Half of Army under stress’; the findings are shocking and demoralising. The authorities concerned must suggest viable and effective remedies to the highlighted grey areas. The government should take prompt and concrete action to redress the genuine and avoidable problems of our forces.
Sunil Kumar Mahajan, by mail
Not ‘BJP vaccine’
‘Vaccines don’t belong to any political party,’ said Omar Abdullah, but Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav thinks otherwise, calling it ‘vaccine of the BJP’. How puerile and ridiculous utterances by an educated and seasoned politician who once occupied the chair of the CM of UP! Overwhelmed by blind opposition, he failed to see the millions of people dying of the disease. Scientists burnt midnight oil to come up with the vaccine that is effective to tackle the spread of the virus throughout the world. Those who died were shunned by the family to dispose of the bodies respectfully. Such was the dread of the deadly infection. Mr Akhilesh should visit the families who lost their loved ones to the virus. The vaccine does not belong to the BJP, but PM Modi worked hard and helped our scientists to bring out the vaccine. Leaders are expected to spread awareness for the good of the people and desist from rumours and misinformation which can spell disaster.
KARNAIL SINGH, Kharar
Apropos of ‘Vaccine spat’, corporates, politicians and experts have started a mudslinging match over the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, thereby buttressing an impression that people shall be relegated to the status of punching bags! The government has to play a proactive role and it is prudent to roll out FAQs that even a layman can decipher to combat rumour-mongering and misinformation. Further, the government ought to take criticism in its stride and do course correction, if required, before it is too late. — Deepak Singhal, Noida
Songs for the soul
‘Brazen gun culture’ rightly denounces the bawdy side of songs that incite bitter feelings. But so far as the Kisan Morcha at Delhi’s borders is concerned, it is reality that farmers, children, youths and women are participating, considering it their solemn obligation to fight for their rights under challenge. The songs elucidate the importance of the cause and tie it to Punjab’s rich history, tracing it to Guru Nanak ploughing fields at Kartarpur Sahib and confronting the tyrannical Babar. Ballads of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Nawab Kapoor Singh and many more raise the morale of the protesting farmers. Then there are songs eulogising community kitchen, sharing income, fighting for a noble cause. It is not easy to stay in improvised tents, shelters and trolleys without the spiritual or ethical dose. The farmers’ protest will go down in history as a remarkable one and a paradigm call for the unity of the nation. — Gurmit Singh Saini, by mail
Offensive pop culture
Punjabi music videos depicting the use of drugs, alcohol and violence is leaving a strong imprint on the minds of youth. Despite the high court’s directions to the authorities concerned to keep a check on songs, social media norms are not being followed. Even the singers and media companies need to follow social terms and produce content accordingly. Punjab youth is already grappling with drug menace and joblessness, and such dilution in culture will ruin their mindset and push them towards unjust practices. On a positive note, the farmers’ protest is being carried forward with inspiring folk music that is keeping Punjabiyat alive. — Shivani bansal, Rampura phul
For instant success
Punjabis are a martial race, but the lure of guns in video songs is destroying the upcoming generations of Punjab. In the absence of clear educational priorities and job prospects, the youth are looking for avenues for megabucks and instant success and popularity. Today, every young man is holding a mobile in his hand, and watching videos, or playing games. Videos are made not for artistic joy, but with the sole motive of making a fast buck. The government can involve youth in gainful activities, but it has no policy and no will. A large chunk of students are studying subjects which have no relevance to their mental capabilities. Degrees do not ensure jobs and jobs on contract do not ensure a steady living. A bleak future is staring at them. The government must recast its priorities, taking care of the mental and moral needs of the youth to suit the larger interest of civil society and wean them away from ‘instant solutions’ like violent videos. The collapse of the home, family and educational institutions can be attributed to this nasty and dangerous development. — JERNAIL SINGH ANAND, ZIRAKPUR
Resolve farmers’ issue
Refer to ‘Massive tractor march in Karnal’, farmers are the backbone of our country. We address them as ‘annadata’ and give slogans like ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’. But, unfortunately, we have failed to give them due respect. As per a 2018 study, agriculture employed more than 50% of the Indian workforce and contributed 17-18% to the GDP. It’s been very long now. The government must provide a solution to their problems as soon as possible. — Samarpita Sharma, by mail
Freedom to love
Apropos of ‘Thought for the day’, Gandhi said the day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace. Let people love and decide whom they want to spend their life with. Hate would diminish and bigotry would vanish when one would be free to love, irrespective of caste and religion. ‘Love jihad’ laws are a dictatorial sermon on the freedom of an individual in a secular country. — Amandeep Bains, Kurukshetra
Well done, Kiwis!
The Kiwis deserve to fly high, with accomplishments following one after another. After Kane Williamson topped the Test rankings a few days back, the team has now achieved number one status in Test cricket rankings, first since 1930 when they started Test cricket. They have been termed as ‘little big guys’ since they don't enjoy superstar status, yet their feats are no less glorious than those of their well-reputed rivals. Bravo Kiwis, fly high and higher! — Rakesh Sudan, Kurukshetra
Apropos of ‘Vaccines are here’, though the DCGI has approved the emergency use of Covishield and Covaxin, the opacity surrounding data from trials, fast-tracking of data scrutiny and doubts over vaccine dosage and mutations have raised concerns. But India may not be an exception here; each country is adopting a different approach. For the second dose, the gap in the US is three-four weeks, whereas in the UK it is 12 weeks. In our own country, former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has needlessly injected partisanship by refusing to receive a BJP vaccine, but promising a free vaccine if his party forms the government next year. His political job is irresponsible and unwelcome, at a time when public communication messages must be framed accordingly. India should be guided by goals like national pride in developing indigenous vaccines and administering them at a low cost to the poor.
MS KHOKHAR, by mail
Modi, Shah must take lead
It seems that the decks have been cleared for India’s Covid vaccine programme to start January itself. However, some leaders of opposition parties are raising questions on the credibility of the Indian vaccine. Therefore, it will be in order if the first two persons to be inoculated in India are its Prime Minister and the Home Minister. This will go a long way in enhancing confidence in the indigenous vaccine.
Balbir Singh Kakkar, UK
Wasting taxpayers’ money
Apropos of ‘Clearance for Central Vista’, even if the Supreme Court has given its nod to the government to go ahead with the project which will house the new Parliament building, it’s nothing but wastage of taxpayers’ money from a commoner’s point of view. We need to retain our heritage, especially Parliament, which has high significance. There is no doubt that a lot of these old buildings need a facelift, particularly the Parliament building, but the changes can be carried out in the existing building. This particular building is only 100 years old, whereas much older buildings are still intact and being used across the world. Heritage value is linked to such buildings which must be maintained with only necessary alterations made to suit the present requirements. The main structure should be left untouched. The SC and the government must reconsider the decision.
SANJAY CHOPRA, MOHALI
Support to terrorists
The news report ‘Omar, Mufti want bodies to be given to kin’ is not surprising; rather, it shows their open support to terrorists. Their demand is absurd on two counts. Firstly, the terrorists are given a chance to surrender, and many times, even the kin are brought to appeal to terrorists to surrender. Secondly, the terrorists, who kill innocent people, do not deserve to be called humans. As such they do not deserve human rights. Moreover, when it is often said terrorism has no religion, why should their bodies be buried?
AK SHARMA, CHANDIGARH
Another heinous crime
The news ‘6-year-old girl strangled after rape’ is bone-chilling and ignominious. It is a matter of great shame for the entire nation. It is a heinous crime and the demons who commit such crimes should be dealt with stringently. It is astonishing what has gone wrong with our youth! The onus is directly on the parents who do not inculcate good values in their offspring. Though stringent laws have been enacted to deal with rape cases, especially those pertaining to minors, they do not act as a deterrent as the criminals have a long route to cover to reach the gallows. To eliminate this menace from society, spontaneous and exemplary punishment is required to be awarded, and no less than hanging. To enact draconian Acts or laws, a ‘clean’ Parliament is needed, but ruefully, it is full of MPs with tainted/criminal backgrounds. To provide good governance and to upkeep the dignity of Parliament, all parties should join hands and ensure that tickets are given only to educated aspirants of character and calibre.
Raj Kumar Kapoor, Ropar
Take team to task
Reference to ‘Players must respect rules’; the third Test match may be in progress soon enough, but the inquiry into the breach of protocols must go on with all seriousness and the offending players, including captain Virat Kohli, must be censured if indeed they have stepped beyond the boundaries of the ‘bio bubble’. They need to understand that when it comes to Covid-19 prevention, rules are non-negotiable. The virus will spare neither the shooter nor the messenger.
SS Paul, Nadia
Apropos of ‘Vaccines are here’, the approval of vaccines is surely an important step towards the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic. It will certainly be a testing time for the government and the authorities who are taking the lead in the execution and distribution of the vaccines. Proper execution and monitoring of the conditions on a regular basis are vital to make it a success.
Kirandeep Singh, Chandigarh
Pendency in courts
Apropos of ‘Reduce pendency’, thousands of cases are lying pending in our courts. It shall be in the interest of justice, and also of administration, that we should keep prepared lists of judges in a sealed cover, prior to vacancy in posts of judge in courts. It must also be ensured that once a case comes in higher courts, it must be decided within two years.
Dalip Singh Wasan, Patiala
Reference to ‘Benami assets: I-T official record Vadra's statement’; since long many cases of allegedly illegal transactions are pending against Vadra. Though many Central agencies are probing the cases, they are unable to come to any conclusion. This is not a case of political vendetta, but political blackmail. The Centre, instead of closing the case by taking action against the culprit for his alleged crime, is more interested in keeping the issue alive to draw political dividends from it.
Naresh Mohan Johar, Amritsar
Talks waste of time
The ongoing farmers’ protest and their talks with the government are not going to come to any conclusion, no matter how many times the talks are held. This is similar to India holding talks with China on border issues. In the farmers’ case, the so-called democratic government is not going to back off while the same holds true for China.
Vikramjit Singh, Amritsar
Apropos ‘Time for govt to resolve row over farm laws’, since India is an agricultural country and the farmers are its soul, the government needs to be pragmatic and understand the gravity of the situation. The present-day regime must listen to the demands of the farming community. But it seems that the government is testing the patience of farmers, which is unacceptable and condemnable. Day by day, the government is losing trust by playing petty politics. To end this impasse, either the PM or the Home Minister, or both, should hold a meeting with the farmers.
Gurinder singh, Moga
It is shocking that 23 people lost their lives when the roof of the shelter at a cremation ground collapsed in Muradnagar, UP. The persons responsible for this shoddy construction and supervision should be tried for murder in place of homicide. The properties of such persons should be attached and auctioned to provide relief to the families who lost their dear ones. A few months ago, the UP Government was installing roadside hoardings depicting the names and pictures of goons and rioters. Time has come to install hoardings depicting the names of corrupt contractors, officials and the district head of the department concerned. If such incidents continue, the name of the minister concerned and the CM should also appear on the board for not taking adequate stringent action.
Yogindra Nath Joshi, Ludhiana
This refers to The Sunday Tribune (Reflections; ‘How Rahane never let India miss Kohli’); after the departure of Kohli on paternity leave, Rahane, an icy-calm strategist, took over a weakened squad, just after they’d set a record for the worst-ever innings. And as a stand-in captain, through his outstanding performance, he managed a magnificent victory at Melbourne. After the humiliation in the first Test at Adelaide, it was a different sort of pressure Rahane encountered. Until then, he had fought bravely for his pride, but in Melbourne, he walked out to bat with the ego of Team India and a cricket nation at stake. His stand-in captaincy started with not one but two debutants in the playing 11, more experienced captains have snapped under lesser burdens. But a resilient Rahane quietly went about the task at hand, first picking up the pieces and then glueing together the shards to make a whole. This is how Rahane is, and always has been, his humility has often been celebrated but his other, more vital, trait of dealing superbly with pressure seldom has.
SK Ssingh, by mail
Rallies near CM’s house
For the past few years, residents of colonies situated behind the CM’s residence in Patiala have been facing the problem of traffic blockade. Every time there is a protest, the traffic is diverted, which causes inconvenience to the residents. When the CM doesn’t reside in Patiala, why should protesters organise a rally in the city?
Inderpal Singh, Patiala
Apropos of ‘Cold and cruel’, urgent matters of national importance are not being resolved. Polarisation won’t work at the national level. The government is mistaken that the farmers of Punjab, spearheading the Kisan Andolan, can be cowed down with an undemocratic and authoritarian stance. Even if we believe that it was the government’s intention to help the farmers, why were the laws introduced using the ordinance route, and later pushed through in a tearing hurry sans participation of the stakeholders, debate and discussion?
BM SINGH, AMRITSAR
Humane face of Army
With reference to ‘Army sets up feedback and grievance helpline’, it is a welcome move by the Army to further establish its humane credentials among the Kashmiri aawam. Establishment of the human rights wing a few days back and now this grievance helpline show that the Central government is serious in its efforts of winning the hearts of common people in the Valley. A similar helpline, Madadgaar, established by the CRPF, is already doing great social service in the Valley and has earned goodwill. These efforts help in developing a bond of trust between the Army and the public. The two-pronged strategy of being tough on militancy and helpful in hours of need for the Valley people is sure to go a long way in establishing peace and prosperity in the Valley.
Sanjeev Kumar Sharma, Panipat
Public servants, first
Politicians and civil servants are referred to as people’s servants. Their prime duty is to serve the people of the country. But sadly, both the zones are losing the grip over their credibility. The attitude of politicians and the police to handle the ongoing farmers’ situation is under question. How can they make the farmers wait for the negotiation sessions in such weather conditions? This shows how much the people’s elected government cares for the countrymen once it is in power.
Gagandeep Singh, Jalandhar
The shameful utterances by a former CM of the most populous state of the country notwithstanding (“Won’t take ‘BJP vaccine’: Akhilesh”), India is on the verge of two Covid-19 vaccine rollouts for emergency use. While Oxford University-AstraZeneca’s Covishield is being produced by Serum Institute of India, Covaxin is indigenously being produced by Bharat Biotech-ICMR. The tireless efforts put in by scientists, along with the managing authorities involved, are indeed laudable, as the populace is now hopeful of getting rid of the century's most dreadful pandemic soon.
KK Sood, Nangal
Apropos of ‘Covishield gets expert panel nod, ball in DCGI court’, the conditional recommendation by the expert committee is a definite moment for India, marking an excellent start to the New Year. With this, hopes of an imminent approval by the DCGI have brightened. Vaccine companies have kept their promise of New Year rollout. The Oxford University-AstraZeneca version of the vaccine was given the green light in the UK, and authorisation from vaccine regulator DCGI is now awaited. With the approval fast-tracked, executing the rollout is the next critical task at hand. The government must be prepared for propaganda busting, without going heavy-handed about it, as is its wont these days. No vaccine can guarantee full immunity. Some inoculated people may still get infected. Masking and other precautions like physical distancing must continue till eradication is announced by the WHO. Nevertheless, after months of feeling besieged, this is a moment to heave a sigh of relief.
EL SINGH, by mail
While our country is on the threshold, among very few, to introduce the indigenous Covaxin and successfully culturing mutant UK strain of the virus, the vaccine is being politicised, putting the nation's health at stake. All educated citizens must come forward to spread right information for the sake of the nation's health. We must fight any misinformation so that the whole nation gets immunity against Covid-19.
RS Kishtwaria, Palampur
Unfair to pensioners
Apropos of ‘Pay panel term extended, new scales after Feb’, motive behind the dilly-dallying tactics up till ensuing elections is to garner votes from this particular class of society that has spent best part of their lives on the conditions laid down by the government. Though the postponement of pay commissions is unjust with state employees in general, but it is totally unjustifiable with senior and super-senior citizens in particular who are in the twilight of their lives.
Manjeet S Rurkikhas, Garhshankar
“Rule of law vs ‘strong’ leader” (Nous Indica) stresses the need for an idealistically strong political leadership. Sadly, contemporary Indian politics has become increasingly personalised over the years, where a majority of the leaders are concerned more about serving their own or their party’s short-term interests rather than the long-term wellbeing of the nation and its people. Since long, the electorate has been vainly yearning for an ethical leadership which upholds constitutional values, promotes democratic institutions, listens to dissenting voices, and seeks cooperation from the Opposition for policy formulation and implementation. The current dispensation should strive to live up to leadership ideals, indulge in course correction by admitting its mistakes and maintain a positive focus on the needs and aspirations of its citizens for politically neutral development, better social transformation and national security.
DS Kang, Hoshiarpur
Notion of invincibility
“Rule of law vs ‘strong’ leader” (Nous Indica) has succinctly analysed the present political situation. The nation may be hurtling toward disaster, without consensus of the majority of the citizens on the ground! Farm reforms have not been accepted by farmers whom they were meant to serve. The agitation is coming to a boil. The protesters have peacefully borne the brunt of the state’s force! Nearly 40 persons have lost their lives in the bitter cold, yet the government is unable to find a via media to resolve the issue. There is a momentum growing in the minds of the people that the party in power is bent upon showing a sense of invincibility. This is not the correct approach in a democracy. The farm policies should be discussed at greater length with all parties and farmer unions, and put forward for debate in the next sessions of both Houses.
Mohanpal Singh, Chandigarh
Procurement on MSP
Apropos of ‘Paddy purchase on MSP up 24%’, it is heartening that whereas the overall paddy procurement was up by 24% than last year, Punjab stood on a higher pedestal by contributing 203 LMT (41%) to the Central pool. The phenomenal yield was due to the hard work of farmers, who were assured of procurement on MSP. And that is why they are staging a protest for making MSP a legal document. To continue the tempo of progress, the Centre should accede to the rightful demands of the farmers for the abrogation of the new farm laws.
Gurmit Singh Saini, Mohali
Reference to ‘Scholarship money scam’; the decision of colleges to withhold degrees and marksheets of the students is not justified. The post-matric scholarship amount has been withheld due to a tussle between the colleges and the government over a multi-crore embezzlement of scholarship funds. Students are the ultimate sufferers. Withholding their certificates has put their career at stake, even when they are not at fault. College managements should take up their grievances with the government, and the government, on its part, should expedite the process of payment of scholarship amount, after proper auditing, to colleges and universities. At the same time, those guilty of misusing the funds should be dealt with sternly, however influential they may be.
NK Gosain, Bathinda
Governors can’t be agents
Apropos of ‘CM has no right to challenge Governor’s authority, says BJP’, the Punjab Governor summoning the DGP and Chief Secretary for the law and order situation in Punjab is unconstitutional and unwarranted. Governors must be mindful of the dignity of their post and must not act like agents of the Central government. The state’s elected government under the CM has to take care of the law and order situation, and not the Governor. If the law and order situation is so bad and he doubts that the CM is not doing enough, he can recommend the dismissal of the government. He is like an umpire who can declare a no ball, but can’t play the game in any case.
Capt Amar Jeet Kumar (retd), Mohali
Masterly global shot
The report “Boris hails ‘amazing’ Brexit moment’ is a masterly global shot in keeping with the history of Europe. ‘Freedom and its potentials’ stand projected for individuals, groupings and nations of the world, so does the appeal to the people of the UK for working together, as an expression of their work culture. Achievements of Oxford University in responding to Covid-19, in the form of the development of an effective vaccine, brings to the fore the laudable role of the university as an institution of excellence, which should spur other universities all over the world to respond to ‘problematic conditions’, near or far. 2021 should be the year to remove ‘uncertainties’ prevalent worldwide.
Jagvinder Singh Brar, Patiala
2020 was a tumultuous and trying year, full of trials and tribulations (‘New beginning’). The onset of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has had a devastating impact. Organised tirade against religious conversions, interfaith relationships, mob lynching, suppression of constitutional rights, bringing in laws like the CAA and NRC through legislative overreach, and the use of brutal state force created an atmosphere of intolerance and disharmony. Let us be optimistic and hopeful that the New Year ushers in socio-economic and political regeneration and resurgence. The ruling dispensation should shun the politics of polarisation and improve governance by tackling the Covid-19 contagion and strive for holistic national development.
Tajpreet S Kang, Hoshiarpur
What’s to celebrate?
Hotels and clubs were all decked up to welcome the New Year. But what is there to celebrate when thousands of agitating farmers, undeterred by the bone-chilling conditions, are protesting against the farm laws? Farmers have moved in repurposed tractors towards Delhi. They have made Singhu and Tikri their war camp where volunteers are providing them with food and shelter. The peaceful protest that started in November is among the biggest ever witnessed in the country. Now, their slogan is ‘Nawan saal, Dilli naal’. The protest has moved every section of society. It is hoped a solution is found soon.
Wg Cdr JS Bhalla (retd), by mail
Change in approach
Since Independence, no year has been worse for India than the one just left behind. How long will it take to revive is a question that is hard to answer. We are trying to put life back into the economy with the slogan of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, which relies mainly on the efforts of companies and an individual’s labour. This is a method in which the role of the state is as good as abjured. The infusion of funds by the government to kick-start economic growth has been denied principally on account of the government’s own ideology. The system’s refusal to put sufficient money in the hands of producers, especially the micro, small and medium ones, is a mystery. This is in sharp contrast to what the leading nations have done. We can get there in the New Year only if we rediscover integrative behaviour and sympathetic governance.
Shovanlal Chakraborty, by mail
Hoping for better times
The flight of 2020 has ended amid turmoil. Hopefully, the New Year will begin on a conciliatory note. Love, amity, peace and harmony are the only luggage allowed on board. Hypocrisy, stubbornness and the spirit of giving that has gone amiss should stage a comeback. Hope the trip in 2021 is an enjoyable one.
Wg Cdr CL Sehgal (retd), Jalandhar
Rajini’s no to politics
Apropos of ‘Will serve people, but won’t float party, says Rajini,’ his no to politics removes a key unknown factor that had promised to turn the elections into a more exciting event. With his retreat from politics, citing health reasons, the main contest would be between the two major Dravidian parties — the ruling AIADMK and the DMK. Rajini’s films have banked upon his persona, but in politics, new political scripts have an uncertain chance of success.
PS Hanspaul, by mail
Damage to towers
Refer to ‘Stop damage to mobile towers, says Assocham’, seeking the intervention of the Punjab CM in the case of sabotage of telecom towers is a sad commentary on the situation. Even Capt Amarinder Singh’s appeal fell on deaf ears. The state is bound to lose prospective investors if such activities continue unabated. Even the Governor has called for immediate action by the state government to prevent such incidents.
Upendra Sharma, by mail
Role of public servants
Public servants must serve and not rule. They should also be compensated for the loss borne by the public from the salaries of guilty officials who delay the benefits and dues payable to other employees and members of the public. Time and public money wasted on the number of cases pending before the courts for decades can also be saved. There are instances of sundry benefits being denied to employees in case of differences with the higher authorities.
Anushika Bansal, Sangrur
Civil servants must possess resilience as well as be bold. This was one quality that made them brave enough to stand against the whims of the political class during the initial years of India’s independence. This quality is being eroded due to interference by politicians for their personal gains. The bureaucracy, which was proudly called the steel frame, is rusting fast and there is a need to galvanise it.
Jashanjot Malhotra, by mail
The New Year marks the start of a new epoch, which certainly brings many opportunities and also various problems, foremost among which is the ongoing battle against the virus. The country also has to grapple with unemployment, starvation and sectarianism. The coming era could well mark achievements in every field. Despite the setbacks, the country should hope for scaling new heights in the coming years.
Aman Jaiswal, Delhi
Unruly scenes in House
Reference to ‘LS Speaker for probe into Gowda’s death,’ misbehaviour and physical assault on the presiding officer of a House is on the rise. The Chair of a Vidhan Sabha or Vidhan Parishad, Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha is not an ordinary member of the House. He or she is duly elected to run the business of the House. Any assault on them amounts to an assault on the very foundations of a democracy. Recently, in the last session of the Rajya Sabha, the Deputy Chairman was manhandled and disrespected. In the Lok Sabha also, women presiding officers have had papers planes thrown at the Chair, besides unwarranted statements. Such incidents are a blot on democracy and it is time for the legislature to make stern laws to check such behaviour by the lawmakers in the House.
Ashok Kumar, Jalandhar
Boris Johnson’s visit
Reference to ‘Welcoming the son-in-law of India for Republic Day’, though not as an ex-son-in-law, but now as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s acceptance of the invite for being the chief guest at the Republic Day event comes at an opportune moment for India and the UK. The visit is expected to impart a new momentum to bilateral ties that have long struggled to realise their full potential. Both sides have multiple reasons to revamp their relationship as they look to come out of a pandemic stricken year. Visiting UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab alluded to this when he and EAM Jaishankar agreed to a roadmap for upgrading ties. Raab had listed an enhanced trade partnership and a future FTA as the top priority. Such a focus on economic relationships is indeed sensible.
SK Singh, via mail
Boost to economy
Apropos of ‘Economic recovery,’ It is encouraging to note what even UN report forecasts about the resilience of the Indian economy in south-west Asia. I agree that by just increasing production and consumption, we may not achieve the desired results. It is time to focus on job creation which must be the government's top priority as it is the youth that has to come forward and take the country ahead. A lot needs to be done to amicably settle the farmers' agitation otherwise which is prolonged, has the potential to dent the speed of economic recovery.
Pankaj Madan, Zirakpur
Apropos of ‘Schools told to charge only tuition fee’, the decision is bound to affect the morale of private school teachers of HP. There is need to differentiate between budgetary and corporate house educational institutions. Non-payment of subsidiary funds required to maintain the necessary infrastructure and meet other expenditure will result in a salary cut for the already underpaid teachers. The need is to safeguard the interests of all.
Sunil Kumar Mahajan, via mail
Reference to ‘Lure of presidential system’, the vision latent in drafting our Constitution decreed that parliamentary system was more suited to public accountability. Onslaughts akin to Haryana’s shifting to direct elections for civic body chiefs must be nipped in the bud lest these should end up with clamours for direct election of a CM or even the PM. Nonetheless, a model code of conduct on decency and decorum in public discourse at the hustings as well as in and outside the legislatures needs to be devised with mutual consent across the political spectrum. It is time to cure the ills plaguing our electoral parliamentary democracy to make it more healthy and participative.
Lalit Bharadwaj, Panchkula
Roger Federer has decided to watch the Australian Open from home rather than amusing us with his wizardly play. Federer had last played a big match in late January at the Australian Open semifinal against Novak Djokovic and since then he has been struggling with his knee injury. This long absence from the court could impact his performance and critics could ponder over whether he will bid adieu to tennis. Best of luck to this living legend, we would love to watch him play in 2021.
Amandeep Bains, Kurukshetra