Thursday, 29 March 2018 | Gajendra Singh Negi | Dehradun-
Brickbat in Bouquets
A hefty 120 per cent increase in salaries and allowances on last day of recently concluded budget session of Uttarakhand Assembly has gladdened the hearts of the Ministers and MLAs, but an innate fear of public backlash has forced these elected public representatives, irrespective of political affiliations, to maintain a straight face in public. Sharp as they are, these honourable public representatives are now wary of anger of those who elected them. To add to their woes, the biggest union of state government employees has decided to embarrass these elected representatives by offering them congratulatory flower bouquets. Interestingly, the Netas are now evading the representatives of employees’ union who are demanding time from their personal staff to offer these brickbats cleverly concealed as bouquets. It is learnt that the unemployed youths and contractual workers earning meagre wages are also planning to name and shame their public representatives for hiking their own salaries in such a blatant manner. “It is a shame that the bill for increase in salaries and allowances of assembly speaker, deputy speaker, ministers and MLAs was passed without any sign of protest inside the assembly. In the VII pay commission we were offered peanuts, the cadre disparity issue is still pending and when we protest these leaders advocate restraint as the financial condition of government is not good. Now they have more than doubled their own salaries. Is it not hypocrisy? ,’’ questioned a trade union leader.
Of Kadhai Paneer, Dal Makhani and bottled water.
The politicians and Babudom of the Himalayan state keep harping about promoting local food and term the water of the mountain springs as panacea for all ills but when it comes to practising what they profess all of them seem to be on different ground altogether. An example of this duplicity of character was in exhibition during the recently concluded budget session of Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha at Bharadisain near Gairsain in Chamoli. The cuisine during the six- day session held at an altitude of more than 7000 feet had no place for local pulses, cereals, millets and sweets. The food served to the honourable members of the state assembly, bureaucrats and others during the session was predominantly Punjabi. While gorging over the Nans, tandoori Rotis, Dal Makhani and Paneer variants the honourable legislators and high heeled babus conveniently forgot all the sermons they usually give about benefits of Gahath ki Dal, Kala Bhat and Mandawa (millet). On top of it, only bottled water was used during the entire session by everyone and the real mineral water of the nearby pristine mountain springs- which is carried in a pipeline from a distance of seven kilometres to the assembly building- was used in the toilets, bathroom and for washing dirty utensils by the workers.
Medical students under duress
The state government’s decision to allow three private medical colleges to decide the fees for the MBBS courses offered by them has agitated the medical students as their parents would now have to shell at least Rs 20 lakh per year for medical education which is four times the existing annual expenses. To buttress the cabinet decision, the government even passed a bill in the state assembly. The grapevine in the corridors of power suggests that the government was under huge pressure from these private universities which have a considerable clout among the politicians and babudom. Rumour about financial contribution they made to the party fund of BJP during the recent fund raising drive is also agog. One observer pointed out that the Supreme Court in its ruling of 2006 has clearly laid norms for constitution of a fee determination committee headed by a retired High Court judge in all states and the decision of the government to allow the private colleges to determine their fees is bound to get quashed once it is challenged in the court.
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