AROGYA SETU, ANYONE?
Just two months back the Government made a sing and dance about the Arogya Setu app. The app downloaded on mobile smartphones with 33% of the Indians, we were told, would keep us safe. As many as 100 million passenger is ‘safe’ on the app, it was ruled. We now know that it is a dud. The Government doesn’t have the delivery system, manpower or even the tenacity to trace contacts.
Now the Home Minister, after visiting a COVID hospital in Delhi for the first time in three months, is learnt to have mandated installation of CCTV cameras in COVID wards. At the same time Delhi Government is transforming banquet halls as quarantine centres with beds and bedsheets. All this seem to be wasteful expenditure and gimmicks in the absence of doctors, para-medics, ambulances and even body bags. When will our Huzoor Mai Baaps grow up and start consulting experts and people affected by their whimsical decisions?
Abdul Huq Nizami
GOODWILL IN KATHMANDU
The largest we have, proportionate to the influence India once enjoyed in the Nepalese capital. As someone who visited Nepal often on business, I have a large circle of Nepali friends. I like the friendly people and the Newari cuisine. I like the enterprise of the people in the land locked country. And therefore, it is distressing to find India losing the goodwill of Nepal.
India was always resented as the big brother and the onus was on us to go the extra mile and cultivate them. But our bureaucrats and diplomats, it seems, took our smaller neighbour for granted. The blockade of 1989 and more recently in 2015 are still recalled in Nepal and with considerable bitterness. One reason cited many years ago by a friend was the open border we have. The friend from Nepal argued then that India should stop treating Nepal like a kid brother and look upon it as a mature nation. Have border controls, he suggested, to stop Indian border police from treating Nepal as de facto Indian territory. Could it be time to revisit the Indo-Nepal Friendship Treaty?
Om Prakash Mahansaria
I have seen petrol being sold in this country at less than a Rupee per litre. Actually at 96 paise in the early seventies of the last century, less than 50 years ago. While the oil companies have been nationalized since then and our refineries have such surplus capacity today that although we import crude oil, India actually exports petroleum products.
As an ordinary citizen, I have no personal knowledge of the finances of oil companies. But when I checked I found that they make decent profits, several thousand Crores in fact by most of them. A small part of the taxes seems to be going to the states and a lion’s share to the Centre. Petroleum prices, to my mind, can be regulated to help the economy and the people. But I find little or no discussion in the media. Is there a reason for it?
Is it true that while Petrol is being sold I retail @72 Rupees a litre in the middle of June, dealers get a commission of less than four Rupees? VAT which goes to states less than Rs 20 a litre? And the base price around Rs 23? That the Centre charges excise duty @33 Rupees a litre?
While the Prime Minister has rightly said it is necessary for India to be self-reliant, we the people now understand that politicians and vested business interests would not allow us to be self-reliant.
There is no reason why India cannot manufacture ventilators, medical equipment, trucks for the army or even have the Indian version of Facebook and Twitter. But from airports to ports to trucks for the army, we seem to depend on foreign expertise and technology. Ditto for toilets, smart cities and Namami Gange. We don’t even make mobile phone parts although some automobile parts are exported! We can send rockets to Moon and Mars but field guns must be imported.