With reference to “GAIL, gas and government”, Our View, Mint, 3 April. Instead?of the government directing use of natural gas, it should evolve a common policy and treat all fossil fuels at par. The government is subsidizing petrol and diesel heavily while selling fuels such as CNG and auto LPG at a premium to many users. It is thus encouraging sale of the subsidized fuels, thus increasing the load on an already burdened exchequer. Rather, the government should encourage sale of the cheaper, environment-friendly CNG and auto LPG. And use the money it spends on fossil fuel subsidies for better social causes such as education, health care and infrastructure.
Not long ago, there was a nationwide protest against the NDA government education minister’s plan to reduce IIM fees. (Former) IIM Ahmedabad director Bakul Dholakia, IIM students and faculty, liberals, intelligentsia and the media protested against interference in the “autonomy” of the premier institutions, though the move was to help the common man’s ward.
Recently, the IIM-A chairman was asked by the government to explain what it calls the “unwarranted tripling of fees” from Rs4 lakh to Rs11.5 lakh. HRD ministry officials claim IIM-A “doesn’t need” a threefold hike which may affect access for economically weaker students—isn’t this “interference” in the “autonomy” of IIMs? Anyhow, the question is, how do reputed management institutions such as FMS, New Delhi, charge a fraction of this fee and yet provide high quality education? Have ISB Hyderabad’s fees become the yardstick? Finally, just because bank loans are available or the graduates get high salaries, must they be in debt so early in their careers?
This refers to “Prevent a third Bhopal tragedy” by Praful Bidwai, Mint, 2 April. The article states that “In place of a high-level commission, the survivors had asked Singh to set up a coordination committee”.
But the survivors have marched to New Delhi now, as in 2006, asking for an empowered commission. Only on the Prime Minister’s personal assurance that a coordination committee will do the job did they accept that offer in place of a commission. The faith they had reposed in the PM seems misplaced.
It is unfortunate that the PM has not seen it fit to address the 23-year-old concerns of the victims of the world’s worst industrial disaster. He has, however, shown remarkable alacrity in responding to the concerns of Dow Chemical.
In the last two years that Bhopali mothers and children have continued to consume contaminated water, the PMO has facilitated a cabinet secretary’s note, which recommends against the ongoing litigation in the interests of the “scope of investments in this sector.”
The ministry of commerce has approved a deal where Dow Global will license Union Carbide’s Unipol technology to Reliance Industries—despite a 1992 order declaring Carbide an absconder and directing the government to seize all its assets.
The government has been unable to find Union Carbide and produce it in court. But it has been able to facilitate Union Carbide’s continued business in India. It is shameful that poison-ravaged Bhopal survivors are forced to walk 800km twice in two years, and brave police lathis and indignity for what ought to have been provided to them without their asking.
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal