Editorial 1/ Slippery slope
Editorial 2/ Border insecurity
Swadeshi squabbles
Fifth Column/ Make a set of more friendly rules
Seeing through the illusion of progress
Letters to the editor

The real issues that revolve around the announced hike in oil prices have been lost because of its political fallout. The resignation of Ms Mamata Banerjee in protest and its political complications have diverted attention from the content of the government�s decision. One basic premise � Ms Banerjee�s protests and the cacophony of predictable leftist protests notwithstanding � has to be accepted: the options of the prime minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, were closed. A rise in price was unavoidable. The prime minister, true to the hallowed traditions of Indian populism, has tried to protect the consumer by keeping the price rise to a minimum. In western Europe, despite pressure from the truckers� lobby, many governments refused to lower taxes to keep oil prices low. The government of India has not followed this line and has reduced oil taxes to benefit consumers. The government has also decided to issue oil bonds though the finance ministry has objections to such a move. Whatever the options, the burden would fall on the people. The selling of bonds would mean paying off this debt in the future and the money for this would have to come from the people. The reduction of taxes would mean the raising of additional revenue from other sources or a rise in fiscal deficit. The rise in fiscal deficit could be managed with a curtailment in expenditure which � in the Indian context, where the government is incapable of curbing wasteful expenditure � would mean less money for welfare and development. This would directly affect the people. Those who are quick to talk about pro-people economic policies should ponder the options available and their results.

Apart from the impact on the level of inflation, from the point of view of industrial growth, the impact on customer confidence needs to be taken seriously. All indicators suggest a slowing down of the economy. Scooters and commercial vehicles are amongst those sectors that have registered less than 10 per cent growth between April and September. Higher oil prices will inevitably affect the demand in these industries. Further, one result of higher fuel costs will be less money to spend; this will further slow down growth in demand. This should be read together with the figures for gross domestic product in the first quarter: GDP between April and June 2000 recorded a growth of 5.8 per cent; last year in the same period the growth had been 6.9 per cent. The outlook on the economy is not cheerful. There seems to be a poverty of ideas in the policymaking circles about ways of reviving the Indian economy. Well-meaning speeches to the chambers of commerce only keep speech-writers happy, but they do nothing for the economy. Many will find it apposite that a Bharatiya Janata Party-led government should be stuck with the �Hindu rate of growth�. The economy, more than Ms Banerjee�s threats, need the attention of the prime minister and his advisers.    

Peace remains an elusive goal in the downward spiral of the Naga talks. Over the last few weeks, two parallel strands of fruitless action have been unravelling towards further confusion and miscommunication. First, the continued violence in Nagaland and neighbouring states � an ambush on a police patrol in Assam killing 10 policemen last month, then two episodes in three days of �unprovoked firing� on army and security personnel in Nagaland. The condition of the ceasefire is getting frayed. Second, the recent talks between the Centre and the chief ministers of Nagaland�s neighbouring states have generated sharp differences and organized protests against the Centre�s equivocation regarding the territorial extension of the ceasefire with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah). The nature and implications of the second set of developments are worth pondering, particularly in its unfortunate effect on the Naga peace talks.

The Centre�s usual lack of interest, insight and decisive action in this matter has now given way to an enigmatic and dangerous fudging of crucial distinctions. The Centre itself seems to be internally divided on the issue, with the prime minister�s office and the ministry of home affairs sending out conflicting and confusing signals. The NSCN(I-M) seemed to think that the recent talks in Bangkok had assured them the extension of the ceasefire to all Naga-dominated areas, thus meeting a long and violently reiterated demand. The Centre concedes to have relented somewhat � it�s all quite vague � but on one absurd condition. The territorial extension of the ceasefire should not be construed by the NSCN(I-M) as a concession to the idea of a �greater Nagaland� or Nagalim. This does not allow the secessionists to have their cake, but lets them eat it. And, quite rightly, the chief ministers of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh feel deeply compromised by this curious doublespeak. They feel that their territorial integrity could be quite profoundly threatened by such a move, as significant bits of their states could be chewed off and made part of the Nagalim composite. The resulting complications could be endless. Not only would this set up an infinite regress in relations between identity and territory, threatening the entire federal topography of the nation, but this would also encourage the various other secessionist movements in the Northeast. All three parties to the peace negotiations � the Nagaland chief minister, Mr S.C. Jamir, the Centre and the NSCN(I-M) � have got caught up in this new tangle. The consequent breakdown of trust and clarity in the tripartite talks and the sectioning of Nagaland by its neighbours could only mean that any possibility of a resolution of this enervating impasse has receded further into a murkier distance.    

The recent overhaul of posts in the Bharatiya Janata Party is a pointer to an intense struggle among those at the helm of the ruling coalition. This marks the beginning of posturing for position for the post-Atal Behari Vajpayee period among the Hindutva forces.

For now, the prime minister�s ascendancy over the party is complete. Most of those who sniped at him in his years when he was not in command have now been sidelined. But the victory is far from complete and there are straws in the wind that are too important to be missed. Many expected these would be around the questions of cultural Hindutva, but few such symbolic issues can be taken up by a multiparty coalition regime. Instead, economic issues have moved to the fore, with a section of the sangh combine trying to tap the forces of discontent. If nothing else, in the event of any electoral setbacks, it can stymie further reforms.

In a cadre-based and ideologically aligned party, especially one that has moved from a long spell out of power into the echelons of high office, there are bound to be deep differences over the course the country ought to take. All the more so given that there is no deep attachment of votaries of cultural nationalism to economic reform of the classical free market variety. None of the outspoken champions of reform in the party, such as Arun Jaitley or Yashwant Sinha, can fully break the association with the swadeshi fostered though the Nineties.

The Swadeshi Jagran Manch, the guiding lights of which have included the prominent Chennai-based ideologue, S. Gurumurthy, got its act together less than a year after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The idea that we ought to �shun things foreign� was openly espoused at its founding conference in September 1993. The chorus line was clear. Internal market reforms ought to precede, not accompany or lag behind, the opening of doors to external capital.

Successive leaders of the party also chimed in. At the Bangalore session in 1993, L.K. Advani made his formulation that the country welcomed the computer chip but would shun potato chips. The shortlived Bombay Club gave industrial teeth to the ideology of self-reliance. Even as the Congress under P.V. Narasimha Rao pushed ahead with reforms, the Hindutva forces sought to give the process their own distinctive stamp. Markets were fine as long as the colour of reform was saffron.

Two major factors propelled the issue to centrestage. One was the need to overcome the post-Ayodhya isolation of the party. Rehabilitation from pariah-like status was assured once socialists like George Fernandes and Krishna Iyer clambered onto the same platform as veterans of the sangh. Economic issues with a populist slant cut the ground from under the feet of the ruling Congress party.

The expansion of mass front organizations like the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh also aided the shift of tack. The labour union overtook the Congress affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress as the country�s largest body of workers. Along with the farmers� front, they needed a new focus for their energies. Dattopant Thengadi, a veteran ideologue who is barely known outside the fold, emerged as a strong advocate of swadeshi.

In this he found a likeminded ally in the joint general secretary of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, K.S. Sudrashan. Move the reel five years ahead and the latter takes over as the head of the parent organization itself. In keeping with his recent predecessors, he has kept a high public profile but in a break with the past, he is highly vocal on economic issues.

The compulsions of politics and the worldwide webs of trade and capital flows have taken the economic policies of the Vajpayee regime in a very different direction from the one some of its ardent supporters had envisaged. In May 1996, his shortlived ministry gave the green light for the Enron project. In fact, the company got an even better deal than the one offered under previous governments. Since 1998, there has been no let-up, with the insurance sector and telecommunications being opened up. Last December, India even relaxed the quantitative restrictions on several products ahead of the deadline imposed by international treaty.

The Rao legacy of reform has lived on under the Vajpayee regime. There have indeed been some concessions. Duties on agricultural commodity imports have been hiked over the last few months. The smallscale sector has wrung some credit and aid from the Union government. But such victories need to be set against the backdrop of greater defeats.

Those who have fallen out of favour with the present powers that be are reaching out to pick up the flag. The former general secretary of the BJP, K.N. Govindacharya, hopes to focus on the concerns of artisans, traders and cultivators. These are the very groups that have been at the heart of the meteoric growth of the party over the last decade.

A recent pamphlet distributed in cities and towns across northern India by the SJM before the recent fracas in the ruling party did not mince words. It warned that, �Ninety nine per cent of the cold drinks, 92 per cent of the tooth paste, 71 per cent of the icecream and 83 per cent of the soaps in the country are made and sold by multinational companies.�

The customer is urged to replace the foreign-made product with its indigenous counterpart: Lever detergent or soap is to be replaced with Nirma, Gillette blades by Ashoka and so on. There is a method in it all, with the ghost of the Bombay Club probably reaping the gains, irrespective of the levels of consumer satisfaction or quality of the product.

For all this, the proponents of swadeshi are quick to claim the mantle of the nationalists of yesteryear. What they omit is that M.K. Gandhi�s own personal credo was different from the policies of the Congress. Even at the height of the campaign against foreign mill made cloth, he drew support from the owners of the mills of Ahmedabad. Years later, he explicitly and publicly backed the sale of Singer sewing machines, because they would increase the earnings and autonomy of self-employed women. The touchstone was not the alien origin of things but their impact on the quality of life of the common folk.

It is surely odd that those who are so much at variance with the dominant strands of Indian nationalism should now stake claim to its legacy. Perhaps it is because today�s warriors in khaki are unable to promote their idiom of alien versus Indian in any other way. There is a lot to be said in criticism of particular aspects of globalization. But it can hardly be made a creative debate by branding things, persons or goods on ground of their foreign origin.

It is tempting to imagine that the torchbearers of saffron�s version of economic nationalism will disappear into oblivion because of the BJP�s compulsions of power. After all, through much of the early Nineties, when the temple agenda dominated the platform, Vajpayee waited in the wings for his own moment of glory. Today, it is the turn of his critics to pull away from power, to renew their roots and wait their turn.

Unlike the Congress and quite like the leftwing parties, the sangh combine sets great store by the tenets it believes in. The question is not just who wins or loses today�s round of power play. It is a battle for the ideological high ground that matters much more. The centrality of the party to India�s governance makes it a contest with consequences whose significance hardly needs explanation.

The author is an independent researcher on ecology and political affairs and former fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum Library, New Delhi    

When the printed date of manufacture on a packet of biscuits was found to be much later than the date of purchase, a consumer filed a complaint against �unfair trade practices� as it was a case of deliberate misrepresentation to the consumer. The monopoly and restrictive trade practices commission, which dealt with the complaint, however, found that the manufacturer had committed no wrong. The standards of weights and measures (packaged commodities) rules, 1977, permits post-dated packaging papers to be used when or where material with the correct date of manufacture gets exhausted.

Who is to blame for rules that are made entirely for the benefit of manufacturing companies � the Parliament, which passes the law, or the executive, which drafts the proposed law? All enactments are supposed to be sanctioned, clause by clause, by Parliament, which then must accept full responsibility for anti-people legislation. So far as rules of the laws are concerned, they are treated as �subordinate legislation� permitted by acts of Parliament to be framed by the executive or by the judiciary, that is the apex court and the high courts.

The need for delegating the power of subordinate legislation is recognized in most democratic countries. �Excessive delegation� however is not permitted by the Supreme Court. Nor are rules permitted to exceed the delegation.

Standard procedure

The apex court has laid down that the enabling act must also legislate the standards or principles for the guidance of the executive or judiciary, or else the legislature should retain control over the exercise of the powers of the delegated legislation by the executive. Rule 317 of the Lok Sabha rules of procedure and control of business provide that �there shall be a committee on subordinate legislation to scrutinize and report to the house whether the powers to make rules, sub-rules, bye-laws, etc, conferred by the Constitution or delegated to Parliament are being properly exercised within such delegation.�

Parliamentary committees have been recommending measures for better control over the government�s power to make rules under the ones delegated by Parliament. But the government has been reluctant to accept most of these substantial recommendations.

The Supreme Court has held that the enforcement of rules which have not been published is against the rules of natural justice. Rule 271 of the rules of procedure of the house of people suggest that rules framed by the subordinate legislation making authority must be laid before the house. Rule 88 requires that an explanatory memorandum should accompany every bill to explain the proposals and their scope. It should also clarify whether the delegation of legislative power is of a normal or exceptional character.

Making a sham

However, the executive merely complies with the formalities of these directives. Notification of rules is not a fait accompli. All delegations are declared of normal character. The explanatory memorandum hardly throws any light on the object or purpose of the proposed clauses even where the existing law on the particular subject is altered or changed.

A routine provision is made in the act for laying the rules before each house of Parliament while in session. On expiry of 30 days, the rules are deemed to have obtained Parliament�s approval if no modification is made. Rules are normally placed in Parliament when the session is likely to end. By the time the next session begins, members of Parliament hardly remember the rules. Current business takes precedence and the 30 days pass.

The least the parliamentary secretariat can do is include the pending rules as part of the current session�s business. If this is done, there will be less chance of passing the buck between Parliament and the executive for making rules which are not conducive to public interest. As of now there is no accountability for passing bad laws, bad rules or for bad judicial decisions. Was it not the duty of the MRTP commission to pull up the biscuit manufacturing company concerned and to stop it from using incorrect dates on packages, notwithstanding the law�s absurd and anti-public rules? Could it not have directed the ministry concerned to change the rules so as to avoid misleading the consumer in future?    

According to the recently released World Development Report, India progressed to the fourth position from its status of being the fifth largest economy in terms of purchasing power (gross domestic or national product, differently measured). India is now only behind the United States, China and Japan in terms of purchasing power parity.

The purchasing power of major countries in 1999 in terms of PPP is as follows, with their gross national product, conventionally measured, being mentioned in brackets: $ 8,351 billion for the US ($ 8.7 trillion), $ 4,112.2 billion for China($ 991.2 billion), $ 3,042.9 billion for Japan ($ 4.4 trillion) and $ 2,144.1 billion for India ($ 459.8 billion). The figures for some other developed countries are $ 1,837.8 billion for Germany ($ 2.1 trillion) and $ 1,196.3 billion for France ($ 1.4 trillion).

It is to be noted that in the case of developing countries such as China and India, the PPP estimate is four to five times the conventionally measured gross domestic or national product, whereas in the developed world the disparity operates the other way. This only shows that the value of currencies in developing countries such as India, in terms of the goods it can buy, is far more than its official exchange rate vis-�-vis the currencies of the developed world. It would not be far-fetched to suggest that on the basis of PPP estimates, the Indian currency could do with an upward revision with respect to the US dollar. If the currency is truly undervalued it implies that exports are more competitive than is normally assumed.

One factor that possibly explains the underestimation of GDP in dollar terms is the large volume of non-tradeable services in countries such as India and China. It is in this area that developing countries at times prove to be more cost-efficient than economies of the West. However, by virtue of these services being non-tradeable, this is not reflected in the exchange rate. For example, a barber will charge anything between $20-30; likewise, the service cost of a carpenter in Japan is eight to 10 times higher than that in India.

The true purchasing power of a country is the basket of goods and services the dollar equivalent of that country�s currency can buy in the other country. For example, going by the current exchange one gets around Rs 45 by selling a dollar. In calculating PPP, one calculates the value of goods and services that Rs 45 (or one dollar) can buy in the US, or Rs 39 (or one euro) can buy in the UK.

Arguing on another plane, the fact that India has the fourth largest collective purchasing power in the world hardly implies that the economy, or at least its tradeable segment, is in fine fettle. Export growth dipped ominously in July, whereas rising global oil prices contributed to a sharp increase in imports.

Latest trade data shows that India�s export growth dipped to 16.46 per cent in July after a near 30 per cent growth in the first quarter of this fiscal. Oil imports nearly doubled to $ 5.46 billion during April-July. The trade deficit continued to be high at $ 3.71 billion dollars in April-July this year, against $ 3.02 billion in the corresponding period in 1999.

In the social sphere, India is faced with wide-ranging disparities. Regional, class and gender differences continue to widen. While the Indian middle class now has grown to an extraordinary 365 million, the enormous population of the poverty-stricken and the dispossessed has grown to 329 million.

Nearly one in three in this country lives in absolute poverty. While certain states report levels of development comparable to leading industrialized countries, others report levels that are worse than the average of the poorest countries of the world. Rural-urban disparities have widened as well.

With more than three-quarters of state funds going towards wages, healthcare and education have suffered. Ever since independence, there has been disproportionate investment in physical infrastructure, on the assumption that the benefits of such growth will trickle down to the poor. Successive governments have launched several poverty alleviation and income generation programmes for the disadvantaged that failed to reach the poorest.

The government has now conceded that only direct investment in health and education will significantly contribute to sustainable development. While education, especially of girls, will demonstrate inter-generational gains, investing in health will yield immediate and direct productivity gains.

The single biggest threat is the growing mismanagement of the soil. Over 50 per cent of the total land area is subject to serious environmental degradation. Nearly 60 per cent of cultivated land is in need of soil conservation measures.

In the next 20 years, an area equal to the entire cultivated land area of the country � about 140 million hectares � will be lost if soil erosion continues unabated. In one monsoon season six centimetres of top soil, representing nearly 2,400 years of local ecological history, disappears on the highly grazed Shivalik hills. In fact, in six months, more topsoil gets washed away than has been used to build all the brick houses in the country.

Over one million hectares of forests are cut every year and only 10 per cent of forest land has adequate tree cover. The consequences of this extensive deforestation are increasing floods, silting of dams and changes in the microclimate. The land area prone to floods has doubled in the past 10 years and stands at about 40 million hectares. The problem of overgrazing is acute in India as it has a very high cattle population.

Fuel scarcity is so acute that women have to walk upto 15 kilometres to get their wood to use as fuel. Tribal populations who live off forest produce have been marginalized because of the commercialization of forest products.

The high rate of population growth has slowed down progress on all fronts. Projections indicate that close to 330 million, which is equal to the total population of India at the time of independence, will be added in the next two decades.

The population of India is expected to stabilize at two billion in the second half of the 21st century, making it the most populous nation in the world. Population growth adds to environmental degradation, strains infrastructure and causes resurgence of communicable diseases, the emergence of new ones and growing unemployment and social conflict.

Each year 2.2 million infants die from preventable diseases and 60 million children below 4 years remain under-nourished and at risk of disease and death. The rural-urban differential in child mortality is striking, with the rural rate being almost 52 per cent higher.

The progress made in stopping this trend over the past two decades is expected to be severely eroded as the HIV/AIDS epidemic advances in the next few years.

India�s indigenous people represent 25 per cent of the total population. India has a traditional caste system, which even at present is fairly rigidly maintained through class segregation and discrimination. Some caste groups, that is tribes, are treated as untouchables even today, despite the law against it, and have to do menial work like scavenging and cleaning carcasses and so on.

There are also a number of indigenous groups living in forests or on the edge of deforested land. Commercialization of timber and forest produce is depriving tribes of their livelihood and sustenance. They are increasingly being exploited and marginalized. Tribal areas also have a wealth of bio-diversity that is currently being exploited and hundreds of species of flora and fauna are becoming extinct.

Poverty rates, malnutrition rates, unemployment rates, illiteracy rates, morbidity and mortality rates are much higher amongst the tribal population. If a concerted effort is made to focus on the development needs of these groups, the development rate of the country will rapidly change. Without addressing these evils there is no reason for India to take pride in the size of its economy.    


Party time, folks

Sir � So the Bharatiya Janata Party government is going in for some quick damage control exercises before the prime minister goes in for a repair of his damaged knee? (�Sushma, Naidu on list�, Sept 30). With Atal Behari Vajpayee interned in the hospital for a considerable time, the party probably could not afford to have dissenters like Sushma Swaraj roam free, spreading venom. She has caused enough embarrassment to the party, shouting it down from the floor of the lower house as well as its national meet in Nagpur. There was also chance she would find a considerable following among disgruntled partymen like M. Venkaiah Naidu, who was recently denied the post of the all India party chief and had his wings clipped as the spokesperson of the party. That the shuffling was done at the behest of L.K. Advani is also significant. It indicates who will control the show on behalf of an ailing prime minister. Come to think of it, it�s a knee that occasioned the grand coming together of the party.
Yours faithfully,
Hemant Singhania, Calcutta

The fire and the halo

Sir � It is strange that Sister Nirmala and other nuns of the Missionaries of Charity, who had cried themselves hoarse over the attacks on Christians in the country, have done nothing to punish one of their colleagues accused of scalding the hands of four little girls with a hot knife at the Mahatma Gandhi Welfare Centre, one of the many homes run by the organization. Even more disturbing is the attitude of the police. The police hesitated to admit a complaint by the father of one of the girls, and has done precious little since then to bring the guilty to book.

Sister Francesca, the perpetrator of this sadistic and heinous act, has not even been interrogated. With its holier-than-thou attitude, the Missionaries of Charity has issued a vague and non-committal statement like Sister Francesca has �definitely overstepped her limit�, as if the sister was at liberty to commit acts of cruelty within a certain limit. Instead of spelling out the measures being contemplated to discipline the erring member of the order, the nuns asked the public to �pray for her and pray for all of us�. Couched in the best diplomatese, this can only mean, forget the crime and leave the criminal alone. Yet, Sister Francesca�s act cannot be termed an impulsive act, for she branded not one or two, but four children.

Even if, for argument�s sake, it is presumed that the children had stolen some small things � there could not have been anything precious at the centre � who gave Sister Francesca the right to �correct� them in such a fashion? One can be certain that the occurrence of a similar incident in a Hindu organization would have sparked off greater reaction from the media, administration and the general public.

Since the Missionaries of Charity seems to have forgotten that charity begins at home, it is time its members were reminded that moral lessons are best learnt by practice because it is easy to preach what one has no intentions to follow.

Yours faithfully,
Raj Prabha Dasani, Calcutta

Sir � In the atmosphere of partisan media reporting and politically motivated secularism, the editorial, �Dark habits� (Sept 24), is a welcome departure, a candid admonition to the secularists whose silence in the matter of cruelty meted out to four children by a member of the Missionaries of Charity is surprising. Sister Nirmala, the head of the organization, has admitted to the incident. But in all strictness, she should have handed Sister Francesca over to the court, instead of appearing herself.

Christopher Hitchens, who has made a film on Mother Teresa, David Fawley, the noted scholar and the largest circulating French newspaper, Le Figaro, among others, have charged the Missionaries of Charity with active proselytizing. It seems everyone seeking and those given shelter here are converted to Christianity. This aspect should also be looked into.

The media should also ensure that the matter does not disappear into the confines of the prayer hall, like the cases in which nuns have been raped and not got justice. Many people serve prison sentences for lesser crimes. Sister Francesca must face the music too.

Yours faithfully,
R.H. Putran, Calcutta

Sir � The news report, �Mother�s nun scalds children with knife� (Sept 21), tarnishes the image of the home built and nurtured by Mother Teresa. People like Sister Francesca do not deserve to be inducted into the order since the reining in of the passions is a prerequisite for this kind of life. Moreover, in an order where love for all is regarded as the highest virtue, sadism is unpardonable. The public expects the responsible authorities to take proper measures to redeem the lost glory of the home.

Yours faithfully,
Govinda Bakshi, Budge Budge

Scheme for a lost dream

Sir � In October 1992, the Unit Trust of India had launched the Rajlakshmi unit scheme specifically for the benefit of the girl child. Under this scheme, an amount of Rs 1,000 can be deposited when the infant is between one to five years of age. This would mature to an amount between Rs 11,000 to Rs 21,000, depending on when the money was deposited, when the girl becomes 20. The older the child is at the moment of deposit, the less the value on maturity. The principle of maturity was altered when the Supreme Court ruled that 20 years would be calculated from the date of acceptance of the application, not the date of birth, as first envisaged.

Nowhere in the instructions or details of the scheme which were enumerated in the application forms did the UTI care to inform that the �the scheme may, if circumstances so prevail not being in the interest of the unitholders or the trust be terminated with sufficient notice to the government. All unitholders who have participated in the scheme shall be paid the value of the units standing to their credit at the final repurchase fixed for the purpose. Besides receiving the final repurchase price so determined no further benefit of any kind by way of increase in the repurchase value or by way of dividend for any subsequent period shall accrue.� Investors were kept in the dark about this condition. The offer document carrying it is often not available.

The UTI has unilaterally decided to terminate the scheme on grounds that liberalization and the growth of the capital market have lowered interest rates substantially, making it difficult to offer the promised rates of return.

It is strange that the zonal manager of UTI has addressed the girl child in the detailing of nuances of law and economy and prospects of reinvestment in other schemes. The options for conversion on the other hand have been sent in the same cover to the donor or parent or guardian of the child.

The other curious demand that the Rajlakshmi scheme made was the opening of a minor�s bank account and the furnishing of particulars. A minor cannot operate her bank account. If the proceeds are handled by the parent or guardian of the child, what purpose does the minor�s account serve?

The UTI has succeeded only in harassing the girl child, her guardians and parents and ignored the interests of investors totally.

Yours faithfully,
Nilkanta Datta, Calcutta

Sir � The decision of the UTI to terminate the Rajlakshmi unit scheme is a great blow to investors. Unitholders have lost faith in the UTI since they had invested the amount for a better future for their daughters, sisters or granddaughters, the purpose being either their marriage or their education. It is incomprehensible that the UTI should come up with long term schemes of this sort, only to bring them to an untimely end.

Yours faithfully,
K. Gopalan, Mosaboni

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