May 24, 1979, Forty Years Ago

May 24, 1979, Forty Years Ago

Religious freedom

O P Tyagi’s “Freedom of Religion Bill” could become “a potent means of harassing honest persons exercising no more than their fundamental right in regard to the profession, practice and propagation of their religion”. These are the words in which the Minorities Commission has condemned the Bill. The Commission has been in touch with the law ministry on the the controversial bill. Last week, it met to finalise its report which has now been sent to the Centre. Tyagi’s bill, it says, is badly drafted and should not be accepted.

Drugs price control

The Drugs Price Control Order, 1979, which was officially heralded as an important measure to bring down drug prices, is yet to be enforced. The drugs and pharmaceuticals industry is virtually set on a confrontation course with the government over the latter’s bid to curb prices of essential medicines. Barring half a dozen units, drug manufacturers including most multinationals and others in the foreign sector, have not cared to submit to the Ministry of Petroleum and Chemicals their price lists as is required under the order, even though the time limit has expired. Notified on March 31, 1979, the order made it obligatory on the part of manufacturers to furnish price lists by April 30.

AIR autonomy

The members of the Verghese committee, appointed to review the question of autonomy for All India Radio and Doordarshan, have criticised the Prasar Bharati Bill which, they say, seeks to give more power to the executive. B G Verghese, chairman of the committee, and its members Umashankar Joshi, A G Noorani, Chanchal Sarkar, P L Deshpande and Nayantara Sehgal have issued a joint statement. They say: “Instead of the ‘genuine autonomy’ for broadcasting that the country was promised, the Prasar Bharati Bill offers something emasculated and confined, with the executive continuing as the dominant influence”.