Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Boozing up Punjab: A Rs. 771 Crore Revenue Stream

Recently Mr. Chadha, the liquor baron, won the auction to run more than 3613 liquor stores in three division of Punjab, that include almost all of the major districts. You see its not like Mr. Chadha is exactly competing with common baniyas, he is competing with the rich and the powerfull. His biggest rival is a Mr. Mann Singh Garcha, brother of one Mr. Jagdish Singh Garcha, Akali leader.

So called "Sikh" leadership is responsible for boozing up Punjabi youth, and let me not just single out Mr. Garcha or Mr. Chadha, it is well known that these auctions are granted at the signal of powers that be. The Tribune article states that the auction was delayed more than an hour to accommodate Mr. Chadha, who apparently carries private guards. Do all businessmen in Punjab need guards? I thought K.P.S. Gill made Punjab safe for us all?

Regardless, let me not deviate into the politics of the whole thing. I want to use this space to suggest to Mr. Chief Minister a few ways his govt. can spend the 771 Crore Rupees that the state just earned for intoxicating the people:

  • Set up vocational training centers in tier 3 cities like Adampur, Mulanpur, Sirhind, Tarn Tarn etc. These are needed to enable the rural youth to get jobs in the urban cities. These small cities are close enough to rural areas yet have the infrastructure to make these centers viable.
  • Spend it on Primary schools and make English mandatory in grade 1. This will require changes to be made in staff, administration and curriculum. I would argue that it is a necessary change to make tomorrow’s Punjabi youth competitive in the world. If Kerela can have a literacy rate of 99% why can’t the most prosperous state in the nation?
  • Partner with business to open new doors for youth. Inovate program that enable Punjab's youth for the jobs of tomorrow. Establish partnerships to subsidize computer technology education for under privalged youth.
  • Prime Minister made roads a priority for Union government, and since you and Mr. Singh are buddies of the same political persuasion, may be you can get union to pitch in and you can upgrade the infrastructure to keep up with the growing population.

I hope you would agree that the money earned from intoxicating a generation of Punjabi’s should be and needs to be spent on the next generation. Punjab can only progress when we have an educated workforce, robust infrastructure, a political and financial environment that is inviting to doing business in state. Otherwise Punjab will become a state filled with Bihari’s, drunks, druggies and old folks.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Either way its Punjab's Loss

It is Punjab's misfortune that the leadership of Punjab regardless of their political affiliation is marred by bad apples. Same characters keep on surfacing as chief ministers, and opposition leaders, these opportunist politicians are rich, they have broken every law on the books, they have backdoor relations with every illegal activity in the state, yet they keep on blaming each other!!

To the extent that Mr. Badal is now using funds from Gur ki golak and utilizing SGPC events to talk about how life in Punjab for a farmer. When was the last time Mr. Badal worried about the farmer when he was in power? Farmer and the normal person in Punjab or for that matter the rest of India is suffering regardless of who comes to power. One gives free water and the other tries to restore riparian rights of Punjab, but neither tries to take on the struggle to create Jobs, to educate our youth on tobacco, drugs and liquor, SGPC is worried about SAD rather than Sikhi.

Who is really thinking about Punjab, Sikhs and Sikhi? Does anyone speak for you?

Kanishka Verdit a new beginning

Last week a Canadian judge acquitted the two Sikhs that the Canadian authorities had charged for bombing the Air India flight 182. This verdict outraged the families of the passengers on board that doomed flight. I applaud the verdict and the Judge for not bowing to pressure and emotions but looking at the merits of the evidence presented which he stated was all circumstantial. The truth of the matter is that a few Indians that have entered Canadian politics have been under pressure to bring charges against someone. So they picked Mr. Malik, a self-made Sikh millionaire and a devout Sikh as their targets.

The trial was a malicious act to deface the reputation of the two men in the Sikh community. The community in BC is already divided between fundamentalist and the moderns. The moderns used this trial to show the world that they are not the only ones with skeltons in their closets, they brought out irrelevent witnesses to the stand only to ruin the reputation of the two men. Despite all the "evidence" and witnesses that were presented the court saw through the malicious attempts and based the judgment on facts. And the facts are Malik and Bagri were not responsible. The million dollar question remains who was?

When Canadian and Indian authorities are able to bring the culprits to justice, only then will justice be served to the victims. But today is the beginning of that process, we should celebrate that two innocent men were freed. The victims families should stand with the Malik and Bagri family to questions why were they charged and imprisoned for 19 months? And who is really guilty of the bombing?