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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Who is to blame for the Iraq saga?

Khushwant Singh, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, July 03, 2014
First Published: 23:06 IST(3/7/2014) | Last Updated: 07:59 IST(4/7/2014)

I had thought of writing a humour piece this fortnight, but didn’t have the heart to since so many fellow Indians, especially Punjabis, still remain in captivity of militants in Iraq. How could one talk about the Punjabi burrahs when there are still images coming out of Punjab of wailing mothers, crying wives and helpless children? No, I have no intention of going hysterical like Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann either, as I am rather disappointed with him, especially in the manner in which he has tried to make political capital out of a tragedy. Also, the way he handled his newfound political success till now. One hopes maturity prevails upon him fast, lest he fritter away the opportunity like his leader did in Delhi.

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My idea of raising the Iraq abductions in this column is to reflect on the prevailing economic conditions in Punjab, especially when it comes to offering employment opportunities to its youth. Even though it’s common knowledge that employment is a scarce resource in Punjab, but is the situation so dismal and frustrating that Punjabi youth are even ready to go war-torn areas to earn a livelihood? Such an immigration pattern highlights the economic penury, for otherwise why would someone take as desperate a step as going to troubled areas to further economic aspirations.

Given the situation, one can only think of blaming the Punjab politician who has unquestionably brought the state to a brink. One doesn’t need to be a genius to interpret the state of affairs, as the news emanating from Iraq is enough to imply that Punjab could not even create as basic a need as employment for its youth. In other words, phrases like development or progressive Punjab are to be taken with a pinch of salt, and the Punjab politician questioned more forcefully that when will he start walking the talk.

It is Punjab polity’s incompetence, greed and political shortsightedness which has ruined a state that had potential to become a super power. But alas! The unfolding Iraq saga is a reminder to the politician that until and unless he rises above politics of self interest, Punjab’s youth will keep getting trapped in these war zones. High time the fellows in blue, saffron and the white started working on creating circumstances that give our entrepreneurial and hardworking youth a chance to contribute in the growth of their homeland. Otherwise someone else will harness and exploit their energy.


PIZZA ON FOOT

I was in Shimla earlier this week for a signing event for my new book, Maharaja in Denims. I was staying at a lovely home stay (Bally Hack cottage), run by a friend, which is just above the Ridge and is the oldest surviving residence in Shimla. Since one was at leisure, I decided to order pizzas for dinner rather than step down to the Mall. The pizza arrived in half an hour, but what surprised me was the way it was delivered. Since no vehicles are allowed on the Mall, pizzas in Shimla are delivered on foot, perhaps making it the only example in the world where pizzas don’t arrive on a twowheeler. I was told that the pizza chains had timed the locations where they could deliver within half an hour and took orders only from those areas. Pretty cool isn’t it?


 

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