Revise gas prices urgently
Apropos of the edit “Limited gas solution” (March 27), the solution proposed by the government a is short-term one based on landed gas price of $10 per mmBTU. Even as this assumption is debatable, dithering on gas price revision shows that the domestic production is being discriminated against. This means fixing gas prices at levels that incentivise producers to drill in the deep waters is being ignored. The proposed pooling policy also includes a waiver of 12.5% value-added tax and other levies on gas by states, customs duty exemptions on R-LNG, a 50% cut in pipeline tariff, 50% cut in LNG re-gasification charges and a 75% cut in marketing margin by GAIL (India), which would act as the pool operator. As the editorial notes, “Power producers, for their part, have to forgo the return on their equity and participate in a reverse-bidding process that buys the electricity from the one that asks for the least subsidy, given the R5.5 per unit cap put on power prices.” Revising prices of fuel, gas and fertilisers may not be a popular option but the ruling party has to show some maturity and address these realities.
Women in police force
The Cabinet’s approval to 33% reservation for women in police forces across seven Union Territories is a radical and ambitious move. It holds the promise of addressing the issue of gender insensitivity in the police force, which in turn is a major barrier to implementing measures aimed at protecting women. The Cabinet’s decision is primarily aimed at Delhi which over the last few years has witnessed a spike in crimes against women, especially sexual violence, and where the number of policewomen—a paltry 6,300—is way below the sanctioned 27,000 in a force with a total strength of about 82,000 personnel. Realistically, the home ministry will find it a challenge to overcome the deficit, because of women’s negative perception of police as a career option or commitment and interest in police tasks. Policewomen represent a minuscule minority—5.33%—of the total state police forces and they perform peripheral jobs. Recruiting women in larger numbers for constable and sub-inspector ranks will certainly encourage women to approach the police for registering complaints, protection and assistance. But the government must ensure they get the expanded authority needed to perform their duties. Since women will now be a significant part of the police force and shoulder a corresponding share of policing duties, authorities must commit resources on specialised training for them, especially if they have to tackle violent criminals who are usually male. Kiran Bedi has called for a comprehensive document on their recruitment, training, deployment and career planning. These issues must be thought through with the long-term objective of blurring the distinction between roles that policemen and policewomen perform.
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