Get rid of caste discrimination
So long as caste and religion as vote-bank politics continue, the notion that all are equal before law irrespective class, creed or gender will not translate into reality, and we will remain bereft of egalitarian society. The recent incidents at Sabarimala and the University of Hyderabad are poignant reminders of constant discrimination based on caste and religion. While we use Ambedkar for all intents and purposes and celebrate Republic Day, we have failed in taking forward what the former’s legacy and the Constitution stands for. When some doctoral students belong to a certain caste wanted to follow Ambedkar’s ideals, the authorities persecuted them and drove one to the point of suicide. But a religious outfit that’s backing a political powerhouse and is a source of inspiration for most of the political bosses of the country can sustain with the blessings of ruling class. The caste discrimination prevalent in academic institutions and the government has become a Frankenstein’s monster that has given rise to inequality in its wake. As we are good at firefighting, rather than pre-empting fire, there’s a need to evolve a pragmatic approach to root out the malice. As lawmakers, the people’s representatives are better positioned to get rid of discrimination. As a secular nation, mandated to provide equal opportunities to all faiths, we often pay a lip service to equality and have subverted the spirit of the Constitution
Prabhu Raj Ram
Highway to nowhere
This refers to news report “No solution yet for stuck road projects” (FE, January 20). One really wonders what truly ails the timely completion of the mega road projects under the aegis of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI)? It is quite disturbing to learn that nearly half of the build, operate and transfer (BOT) expressways (5,080 km of roads with an outstanding debt of R45,900 crore) find themselves in the danger zone of being categorised as very-high-/high-risk projects. Any guesses why? Perhaps, it is because of the total lack of monitoring by NHAI. Interestingly, the issue that has now gained prominence in the media is not the unwarranted stuck-status of these state-of-the-art expressways (usually because of the need for infusion of funds), but the sharing of prospective road toll from these so-called gold-plated projects. However, the bone of contention is that since the lending banks had over-lent to projects in the hope of getting the lion’s share later, NHAI is averse to their demand for pari passu charge on road tolls. How come the banks concerned could lend way above the cost of project itself? And, how could their top brass allow such financial adventurism? And, what about the inherent danger of defaulting owing to low toll revenue earnings in 40% of completed BOT projects?