Prabhjot Singh, Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 24. Apart from political rhetoric, serious problems being faced by Punjab, including environmental biodegradation, pollution, drug addiction, female foeticide, flight of industry, growing incidence of cancer and corruption, were raised at the Vision 2012 convention organised by the North American Punjabi Association (NAPA) here today.
Though People’s Party of Punjab chief Manpreet Singh Badal kept his date with the select audience comprising retired and serving bureaucrats, academicians, industrialists, farmers’ representatives and the media, top leaders of other political parties, including the SAD, BJP and Congress, gave a miss to the debate that continued for over three hours.
While the NAPA representatives not only assailed both the politicians and the bureaucrats for the present slump of Punjab from top to 17th position in the country, but also warned the political leadership of growing alienation of second and third generations of overseas Punjabis from their grassroots.
This, they explained, was the reason that not many overseas Punjabis were evincing any interest in the ensuing political battle that would chose rulers for next five years. The second rung leaders of major political parties, on the other hand, dabbled in rivals bashing blaming their opponents for the poor fiscal health and deteriorating healthcare, education and civic services in once prosperous State.
Interestingly, Punjab NRI Minister Balbir Singh Baath wondered as whether the whole exercise was focused only on coming elections or for building Punjab in the next 10 to 15 years. Winners and losers in the coming Assembly elections, he said, would be the people from Punjab.
Former Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh said that there was no place for honest and committed political workers, they get shunted out for raising fingers against their corrupt leaders and colleagues.
Manpreet Singh Badal, who wanted police, bureaucracy and legislators accountable, education revolution, correcting urban development and infrastructure, cutting administrative flap, bringing Vigilance under Lok Pal, also gave a call to electorates to send 100 good people to the Assembly so as to restore the glory the State.
Taking a dig at Manpreet Badal, Sunil Jakhar of Congress said that he had been a part of the present ruling SAD-BJP alliance and lost an opportunity to cleanse the system.
Supporting FDI in retail, Sunil Jakhar said that it would eliminate commission agents and benefits would be passed to the farmers.
Industrialist Jagjit Singh Kochhar said, “What is good for Punjab should be supported by all major political parties and should not be opposed for the sole purpose of opposition. Punjab has missed many opportunities, including the IT revolution.”
Bhupinder Singh Mann of Bharti Kisan Union blamed the system for being anti-farmer or producer, while Umendra Dutt of Khet Virasat Mission suggested focus on promoting organic farming so as to save and protect environment in the State that was gradually becoming cancer capital.
Dalwinder Singh Dhoot and Satnam Singh Chahal of the NAPA not only assailed the successive governments for overlooking grievances of the NRIs and overseas Punjabis, but also wanted that it was the time for the State to embark upon a consensus agenda that can bring it back on the forefront as a strong economic power.