“His Agenda Is Over-All Growth Of Punjab” —Rajinder Gupta Deputy Chairman, Punjab State Planning Board & Chairman, Trident Group
How do you foresee the vision of the Badal government for the industrial growth in Punjab?
Let me say that we are lucky to have a person like Parkash Singh Badal as the Chief Minister of the state. He is a man with passion for overall growth of Punjab. What he did for the state as a caretaker, as a leader is really commendable. The passion he has given to Punjab is par excellence.
Gujarat has become an investors’ destination but Punjab has not become like that. Why so?
Every state has got its own merits. Every state has its own strength and every state has its own challenges. There could be better opportunities in Gujarat like being near the port and they have done better. But Punjab has done wonderfully in the areas where the opportunities were present like in the field of agriculture, we are still the number one state. We had some historical problems and we had fallen in some bad times. And there were some concessions in the surrounding states which have really pulled us back. Now the focus is on new industries and Punjab is going to take the lead again. We will excel in every field wherever the opportunities are.
What about agriculture?
There is a scope to have agro-based industries. See the industry and the economics are not only the state’s subject. The capitalists always invest in where there are opportunities. So we might have some great opportunities and we might have some challenges. And the state is going to realise that. I think a road map is being prepared on that and Punjab is not behind in terms of investments.
Can you give me one example that the Badal government has done something to empower the common man or the farmers of Punjab?
If Punjab is number one in terms of food grain productivity, if Punjab is a prosperous state then the entire credit goes to none other than him . Every state having achieved any growth is because of the guidance of the government’s leadership. It is the vision of the government or the policy that has made it all happen. There is no reason to name one. Every village has connectivity to roads, every village has electrification and every village has accessibility, so things are being done in the right format.
He was the CM in 1960s and he is the CM now but still he is holding a coalition government. How is that?
I think he is a seasoned person. I don’t even see that there is a coalition government. In fact, you reminded me that there is a coalition government. It never comes to my mind that he is running a coalition government. He is such an experienced person.
Do you mean to say that BJP and Akali have a friendly relation and they are working peacefully?
I have never seen anything acrimonious coming up in the front. They are working very well in harmony and in a tender manner.
Can you tell me any distinct quality of Badal, according to your personal experience, that everybody should know?
If I have to see an example on time management, I do not see any parallels. In terms of a personal touch, the way he handles people and how he touches their emotional chord is again an example. The way he relates and connects to the people is par excellence.
How do you see his role in finishing terrorism from Punjab because that was a bigger problem?
I think we are lucky that we are governed by a moderate Akali Dal and he is a very secular person. And once the leadership is secular and moderate and it knows what is good for the nation and the nationalist, the question doesn’t arise about other things.
“AN ARCHITECT OF INDUSTRIES”—Kamal Oswal Industrial Advisor to Chief Minister
What is Parkash Singh Badal’s vision for the common man, for the growth of industries, agriculture, transport, hospitals, etc.?
Parkash Singh Badal is always concerned about the common man. Whenever I meet him regarding the promotion of Industries, he always says that we should promote industries but we should also take care of the common man. He always asks us what we are doing for the social welfare. He wants that the poor and needy children must get free education. He is also concerned about the poor people’s health. He always checks what can be done for the better facilities by the hospitals and how medical aids can be given to the common man at an affordable price. He also understands what our future growth needs can be, which can be attained through industrial growth. In spite of all the constraints that lie in a land-locked area, as we are away from the port, he is trying to promote industries and see what kinds of industries are suitable to Punjab. So he asks us what kinds of industries are suitable to Punjab and takes prompt decisions, which are right for the industries.
If we compare Gujarat with Punjab, Gujarat has become the investors’ destination. What is your comment?
Gujarat has got certain advantages. It is near the port. Natural resources are available there. Gas availability is there. So we cannot compare Gujarat with Punjab in terms of resources. But business is doing well in Punjab, whatever resources Punjab has got. And Punjab is good for textile industry, automobile industry, cycle industries and tools. So we are competing with them and if you talk about heavy industries, we have harmonious atmosphere which is very important to the industries to prosper. He has also taken some vital steps in terms of putting up the power plants. I think whatever decisions have been taken in the past, the fruits of that will come in next one year. We would be in a condition of power surplus. I think after that the cost of power would also come down.
Despite Mr Badal’s long tenure, why is it that so many Sikhs are migrating abroad?
This depends on opportunities. It is not that only the Sikhs are outside the country. You will find that many people of Indian origin are outside the country like those in South India. It is a commercial decision. You can also say that the Punjabis are mostly entrepreneurs and the people abroad find their skill useful, then they hire them.
Punjab is basically based on agro-industries. And Badalsaab has also got a strong base in rural areas. But the urban base of Badalsaab is not as good as that of BJP. Why is that?
It is not so. As you were talking about Sikhs, there is a large number of Hindu MLAs in Badal Government. They want to do a lot in urban areas. And industrialisation is the only thing that the urban people can do. So based on that he strongly believes that the industries should be promoted.
Can you cite one example that shows that Badalsaab is industry friendly?
Whenever we go to him with our problems and tell him that this is the problem and this should be the solution, he immediately calls up all the officers concerned and tries to resolve them immediately. He doesn’t take time. He goes into the proper procedure.
Why can’t he alone come to power? Why does he have to seek help from BJP?
It is a long alliance and he wants to have a long relationship with BJP. And BJP is a national party so the alliance will help both the parties eventually.
As a major industrialist of the state what are your expectations with the Badal government?
Our expectations from him for industries are of two things, one is of doing business and the other is proper infrastructure. In infrastructure comes the availability of power and the industrial peace. These are a few things that an industry would like to have. The state might lack some resources but if you look at the other components such as industrial peace and power, which are available in a surplus, the infrastructure is good in Punjab. If you look at other states, poverty is quite lesser than that in other states. We are discussing with the government how the industries can develop with the available resources and all the constraints. We are in a continuous dialogue with the government to give us some incentives as are provided in other states (Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh). Because you see putting up industries also depends on many factors. Banks will finance those industries which they find are able. They will not finance the industry that does not fulfil their parameters. For this, the government has constituted a committee and let us see what happens?
Badalsaab is completing 84. As a senior leader of NDA, would you be happy if he plays a bigger role in Delhi?
Yes definitely. He is the most deserving leader to play that role. But he has got much love and affection in Punjab. He is the most senior leader in the country in terms of experience and acceptability.
EDUCATION SECTOR ON THE RISE—Ramesh Mittal Chairman, Lovely Professional University
Recognising Parkash Singh Badal’s dedicated service and the interest towards the state, people have elected him as the Chief Minister for the fifth term.
His major strengths have been his socialising nature, his calmness, simplicity, and intelligence. He has devotedly contributed to the uplift of his party and society. At the same time, his equal interest in other state affairs has been lauded and appreciated.
His contributions to the welfare of the people of Punjab have been enormous. Parkash Singh Badal has introduced various welfare schemes that have benefitted his state immensely.
His simple living and high thinking is what makes him different from the other political leaders. If any person wants to meet him, he can directly visit him and seek an appointment within one hour itself. A patient hearing is also given to every common man who visits him. Not only this, he also tries to resolve their problem, by exploring all possible means. He is a man of his word. We can see the love and dedication he has to his home state. He has made Punjab a power surplus state.
He takes a keen interest in all minute details in all sectors of life with special emphasis on research sector. He accords high priority to education and skill development with special thrust on popularising science education with well-equipped infrastructure.
Under his jurisdiction the education sector has been given significant importance, which is:
- The state government has taken a lead by initiating a programme to set up over 141 Adarsh Schools.
- A programme was launched to upgrade educational infrastructure through NABARD-assisted Rs 141 crore project.
- The Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyan has proved to be very successful.
- Three important national-level institutes of higher knowledge—Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), National Agri Food Bio-Technology Institute and National Institute of Nano-Technology—are presently set up in the proposed Knowledge City in SAS Nagar (Mohali). The day is not far off when Punjab will become the state with a literacy rate of 100 per cent.
THE SWORD ARM OF INDIA—Joginder Singh, Former Director, CBI
Punjab has passed through a bad phase of terrorism, aided and abetted by the Inter Services Intelligence of Pakistan. Over a decade, from 1980 onwards, terrorism raised its ugly head in Punjab, which was further aggravated by the military action of Government of India, in the form of an assault on Golden Temple, Amritsar. Every Sikh felt upset over it. The assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards and massacre of 3000-plus Sikhs in Delhi and the rest of the country further alienated the Sikhs from the Indian State. It is more so, because not even 30 persons have been punished for the death of over 3000 Sikhs. The militants amongst the community raised the banner of extermination of Sikhs and thus Punjab slipped into the worst phase of terrorism. The vacillating policies and inaction by the government in power further aggravated the state of affairs. A war cry that Sikhism is in danger was raised.
In fact, the biggest sufferers of terrorism were Sikhs. Of the total 11,694 persons killed by terrorists in Punjab during the period 1981-1993, 7,139—more than 61 per cent—were Sikhs. And between 1988 and 1992 alone, 1566 policemen were killed by terrorists. Despite all these problems, the Punjab Police, a predominantly Sikh police force, took the risk and eradicated terrorism. After the terrorism phase was over, it is funny but true, that the central government sent a bill of Rs 8000 crore to Punjab government as the cost of deployment of the central police forces there to fight terrorsim. It appeared that what was in the national interest, was turned by the babus and politicians in Delhi into a Bania shop, where even for the security of the nation, the border state has to pay.
The same story has been repeated in the case of 26/11 attack terrorist Kasab, where the central government sent a bill of Rs. 42 crore to Maharashtra government as the price of the security of the hanged terrorist. Punjab has been called the sword arm of India, but the policy of recruitment by the Government of India, in proportion to the population of the state in defence forces, and paramilitary forces, has adversely affected the chances of the youth of Punjab to contribute their mite to the development of the nation. Moreover, Punjabis are called the martial race for their deeds, for their bravery and valour.
There is a coalition government of Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP which is ruling the state. It is the second successive five-year term of the coalition government. It has broken the jinx that there would be a change of ruling government at the time of election. The alliance won the election on the plank of development. Instead of being vague, I would be specific about the development of my place, Jalalabad in District Fazilka where my parents settled after having been uprooted from Pakistan in 1949.
I had seen Jalalabad where you could not study beyond 8th Standard, if your parents could not send you for studies for matriculation and above. After 8th Standard, my father Mahant Kartar Singh funded my education up to 10th Standard in a government high school. Whenever, he fell short of money to pay my fee, my mother Lajwanti came to my rescue to fund my education out of the saving she had made by selling milk and ghee. This continued even for my college education in Government College, Ludhiana.
The state has a domestic airport at Chandigarh, an international airport at Raja Sansi at Amritsar and two aerodromes at Patiala and Sahnewal (Ludhiana). It has excellent communication facilities.
According to the 2008 Global Hunger Index, Punjab has the lowest level of hunger in India. Less than one-fourth of children below the age of five are underweight. I do not belong to any political party. When asked by the press, before the elections of 2012, I unhesitatingly replied that if I had to vote I would vote for Badals, who had changed the face of Punjab and brought about great pride and honour to the Sikh community. More than anything else, I have a fleeting acquaintance with Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is an MLA from Jalalabad. But their services in putting Punjab at the top of development are a rare feat, despite all the handicaps and difficulties in meeting the rising expectations of Punjabis. The government of the Akalis and BJP has stood the test of time in putting the state not only on the map of India, but also on the map of the world.