DECCAN HERALD Wednesday, December 6, 2000

Care for disabled

The government has done well to take measures for the census and enumeration of the disaled in 2001. Disabled persons contribute to the development of society according to their ability. Wherever possible, gainful employment should be provided to them. Where it is not possible, the disabled need to be provided with means for livelihood and support at government schemes.
Rev Fr Valerian Mascarenhas

Solar power

The article on 'Sun lights up an Island` (DH, SH, Nov 26) was interesting. The author has explained in detail how solar photovoltaics has provided an elegant solution to the energy problems of Lakshadweep islands, with the expertise of BHEL. The Central and State governments should adapt this photovoltaics system of solar energy for the rural electrification in India, with help from Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited. The governments should not depend solely on hydro-electric, thermal and nuclear power, when solar power is more advantageous in terms of cost and implementation.

Giving teeth to Lokpal Bill

This refers to the statement of the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr Pramod Mahajan, that the Lok Pal Bill, 2000, would be introduced in the current session of Parliament. (DH, Dec 1). Although the move to introduce the bill is welcome, the fact that this is the ninth time that the bill is proposed to be introduced in Parliament shows the lethargy with which probably every government at the Centre over the past few years have treated this bill which supposedly aims at curbing corruption in public life.

Primarily, the issue is one of public accountability. The earlier provision which prescribed that Members of Parliament cannot sit in Parliament unless a statement of assets is given in writing to the Lok Pal should be retained, as this will clear the air of suspicion in the minds of the general public about the conduct of the elected representatives in public life and could prove their commitment to probity in administration.

Secondly, the move to keep Members of Parliament out of the preview of the Lok Pal is questionable as the powers of a Prime Minister under the present era of coalition politics are limited, as the Members of Parliament hold the key to the survival of any government.

Last but not the least, strict punishment should be meted out to people coming under the ambit of Lok Pal and measures such as disqualification from contesting future elections are going to act as a major deterrent.

Unless and until this is done, the introduction of the Lok Pal Bill in Parliament is not going to be of any use in dealing with corruption and in winning back the confidence of the common man in the parliamentary system in general and the electoral system in particular.

Cause for concern

It is a matter of serious concern that the Arabian Sea off the west coast is losing its oxygen reservoir (DH, Nov 28). An eight-member team of scientists at the National Institute of Oceanography has made this startling discovery. According to the team, the Arabian sea has lost a significant amount of dissolved oxygen, which is crucial for marine life. Simultaneously it produces a huge amount of nitrous oxide, which is a greenhouse gas and potentially more harmful than carbon dioxide. Nitrous oxide in turn contributes to the ozone loss.

Though the reasons for this unusual disruption in the oceanic chemical balance are not yet known, scientists feel that it might be due to fertiliser run-off and other anthropogenic activities.

The disturbances in the nitrogen cycle in the sea could significantly affect the marine life and fisheries and the global climatic pattern.

It may be recalled that an international team of scientists, including Indian experts, recently made a startling discovery that a thick and extensive haze, consisting of dust, ash, carbon particles and chemicals, had appeared over the Indian Ocean and that it would have an adverse impact on human and animal life and the global environment. This and the latest disturbing development are a cause for serious ooncern and underscore the imperative need for corrective measures and the social responsibility to ensure a clean and pollution-free environment.

Ethical superiority of the uninvolved

It was heartening to read Prof S N Chary`s magisterially expressed revulsion at the ''Ethical superiority of the uninvolved`` (DH, Dec 1 & 2). The forthrightness and trenchancy of such fearless opinions should be welcomed by all those who believe in the urgent need for ''positive involvement in the reconstruction of our country.``

If the Narmada project ''activists`` devoted half as much time to devising viable strategies to resettle the displaced people as they do to meaningless displays of public concern, the problem would have ceased to exist. Indeed, there is a good case for luring the displaced to the plains, teaching them modern technologies and bringing them gradually into the new society that the nation is trying to build, even if not brilliantly. (If this happens, the activists will be rendered joblees and they won`t be able to use the tribals as cannon fodder for their selfish ends).

The NBA, while guilty of projecting a skewed picture of the Narmada project, is doubly wrong when it has failed to provide concrete alternatives. Smaller projects under local administration, given the caste structure, will ultimately work against the same people whom the NBA has been trying to protect.

When the professional dissidents/activists argue with the state, when dissent challenges wisdom, it is a moral/ethical position, a rejoinder that defies easy answers. As Vaclav Havel has argued, the power of dissent is the power of ''living within the truth``. The professional dissidents in India today are still happy with the remains of historically repudiated social causes. Human rights and environmentalism have thus become the new text of the post-communist utopia. ''Unhappy the land that has need of heroes,`` cried out Brecht`s Galileo. We are certainly not in a happy land, but heroes are marching out of the dam site or the seminar halls, waving the flag (any flag except national flag) of salvation!

Copyright, 1999 The Printers (Mysore)Ltd.
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