• It appears as if there is wide-ranging disappointment with the interim budget; this however is not merited. Disappointment is clearly misplaced since it was never intended to be a full-fledged budget and was in fact a simple vote-on-account. Further,the finance minister was a stand-in and he was constrained: an incumbent government without a full years mandate doesnt have the constitutional licence to make long-term fiscal policy decisions.
Cause for concern
• Talibans increased control,influence and terror is a matter of grave concern. This open endorsement of Talibanisation by the Asif Ali Zardari administration is an admission of defeat. On the other hand,it may well be the case that military and economic aid by the US to Pakistan has thus far yielded no result. In that case,the civilian governments landmark concessions in the Swat region dont come as a surprise.
• The new deal between the Pakistani Taliban and the authorities was inevitable. This bizarre and dangerous situation has been long due. The Pakistan civilian government and military allowed this to happen. After this development,we can question all of Pakistans past motives: were they actually allied with the US in the war against terror? Has the US been fooled all along? In any case,many factors have worked together to cause this political turmoil in Pakistan. Not only will fundamentalism grow in the parts of Pakistan rapidly slipping beyond government control but global terror will get a boost as well.
Tarsem Singh New Delhi
Open to criticism
• This refers to Debating Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhis lasting and successful contribution was the telecommunication revolution: its effects are so evident that they need no debate. In areas other than economics,he would have succeeded but unfortunately his life was cut short. However,Rajiv is not exempt from criticism; it can be argued that he was hasty and in some cases ill-advised: for every rupee that was spent on development,less than 15 paise reached the targeted beneficiaries. Besides,Rajivs alienation of some of his party members also hindered his success.
M.K.D. Prasada Rao
• In the interim budget,the defence allocation is 34 per cent more than the last fiscals. But,ironically,a Rs 7000-crore allocation earmarked for capital expenditure last year has not been spent. In simple terms,our requirements of arms and ammunition were short procured against the assessment made. This leads us to conclude that we are not serious about our defence needs. There has to be a monitoring body to oversee the arms and ammunition procurement in the defence deals.
S.K. Shah New Delhi