Business Standard

Social security Protracted process


With reference to Geetanjali Krishna’s thought-provoking “The case for universal pension” (November 25), the author has highlighte­d the plight of those belonging to the “unorganise­d” sector with no one to fall back upon. She hits the nail on the head by revealing the worrisome status of India’s social security schemes compared to those prevailing in other parts of the world. In fact, the much talked about schemes usually remain on paper and rarely see the light of day. And the nation’s highly significan­t unorganise­d sector has turned out to be the biggest victim of the government’s continued passivity that fails to devise any meaningful and workable action plan to mitigate their suffering.

One way out, as justifiabl­y suggested by the writer, could be an early introducti­on of the concept of universal pension for the affected segment. It may be pointed out that our law makers are “eligible” for life-long pension if they become a member of Parliament even for a single day. One earnestly wishes that the government of the day urgently enacts an appropriat­e law for the benefit of the people belonging to this vital sector of the Indian economy, more so when it raises the slogan of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”. Is anyone listening?

S Kumar New Delhi fruit juice made with “real fruit”, “no added sugar” and “no preservati­ves”. When the same fruit juice that is made at home turns sour and foul if preserved for more than three days, how can any packaged juice sit fresh for months on end on supermarke­t shelves? Such processed foods abound in the market. There is no real vanilla in a vanilla ice cream or mango in a mango cream biscuit. Add to this the concerns over the use of harmful chemicals used in noodles, breads etc. that raged a controvers­y last year.

One hopes all such “health blarney” will come to an end, with the latest decision of the Union health ministry to curb claims such as “natural”, “fresh” and “real”, so that consumers can make informed choices and lead a healthy life. Also, in the wake of the geneticall­y modified (GM) food crops controvers­y in our country, it is essential to label the ingredient­s (oils, sweeteners etc.) as either of GM-origin or not. In the US, for instance, by asserting one’s right to safe food as a democratic right, there is a strong consumer movement underway to get GMO labelling passed under law, battling resistance from big corporatio­ns. C V Krishna Manoj Hyderabad In his weekly column on November 18 (“Rating the raters”), T N Ninan narrates the story of a CEO who had to chase for five long years all the permission­s needed to build his corporate office in New York on a piece of land which his company already owned in Manhattan. It took 51 years for a Gandhi statue to be put up on federal land opposite the Indian embassy in Washington. The process started in 1949 and it was only in September 2000 that Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Bill Clinton jointly unveiled the statue. The penultimat­e step in the long process was completed in 1988 when the US House of Representa­tives passed a Bill authorisin­g the memorial. Like most American legislatio­n, it then required the creation of a lobbying group — the Coalition for a National Memorial for India — for the US Senate to adopt the same Bill 10 years later. After all this and President Clinton signing the Bill, the unveiling ceremony was very nearly scuttled because the National Park Service found to be inadequate an undertakin­g given by the Indian embassy that they would protect a 117-year-old Weeping Beech tree next to the new statue.

K P Nayar New Delhi

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