This refers to your ‘Issue of the Year’: Human Rights (January 18), which has been found to be a bigger issue than the COVID-19 pandemic. The focal point of a plethora of journalists is that everything has gone topsy-turvy since 2014 when the BJP was voted to power at the Centre and Narendra Modi became PM. ‘Human rights’, however, is not the issue of a single year, but an all-time and complex issue. By the way, letters seems to be the most convenient column to bear the editorial axe whenever there is a special issue.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
This refers to Ruben Banerjee’s Our Wronged Rights (January 18). The editor’s note is compact and comprehensive, mentioning many callous episodes of governance from the recent past. Openly biased and prejudiced against the poor, minorities, workers and dissidents, law enforcement ignores hundreds of wrongs committed by the government’s supporters. The system of justice is not in conformity with principles of fair jurisprudence and equality. The police are more favourable to those in power and more brutal against targeted opponents than they were during British Raj. All constitutional offices have become rubber-stamps of the party in power. The central and state governments have armed themselves with arbitrary powers by enacting draconian laws, the latest being ‘love jihad’ laws prescribing whom to love. Who knows, laws on when to love, where to love and how to love may soon follow!
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
This refers to A Second Shot at Life (January 4). Ever since Dolly, the sheep, became the first mammal to be cloned 25 years ago, medical science adopted the potential of stem cells. But stem cell transplantation has an innate drawback of unbridled cell multiplication with a potential to cause cancers. Until research categorically proves the safety of stem cell use in healthcare, it ought to be used with caution.
George Jacob, Kochi
This refers to MumBye! Hello UP (January 4). Mumbai’s hold over Bollywood is so strong and old that it will not be easy for any other city to replace it. The Maharashtra CM’s fear is misplaced. When Bollywood makes more than 100 Hindi films a year—now there are OTT platforms too and no dearth of content—Mumbai need not worry as more is better for viewers. The Maharashtra government may have political differences with the Uttar Pradesh government, but if Yogi Adityanath plans to make a film city in Noida and pitches it to filmmakers as a world-class film city, then it will be a win-win situation for both producers and viewers. There is no doubt that it has potential to create huge employment opportunities for the people of Uttar Pradesh. The UP CM will have to ensure that he meets all critical stakeholders of the film industry to understand their needs so that the proposed film city really achieves the purpose.
Bal Govind, Noida
This refers to your story on the Congress, Where’s the Party? (January 4). The party’s plight is a matter of concern. The BJP is spreading its footprints and has covered the entire country except Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Western democracies still have their checks and balances as there is a system of two parties that take turns in power. In India, the Congress is the only party that can take on the BJP at the national level. It needs to do something to reinvent itself and revitalise the cadre at the grassroots level.
Rangarajan T.S., Bangalore
This refers to the column Curse of the Light Purse (January 4) by Cdr (retd) K. Ashok Menon. When the agitation for ‘one rank, one pension’ started, most army veterans joined it. We knew the major portion of the defence budget would be eaten up by this, but PM Modi was forced to yield to this demand. Most army personnel retire when they are in the prime of life and end up in other lucrative jobs. For example, the columnist works as a software consultant. Is it too much to expect such veterans to give up at least half of their pension?
S. Sreenivas, Bangalore
This refers to your cover story commemorating the birth of Bangladesh and India’s biggest military win (Victory at Dacca (December 28). It rekindled memories of that cathartic victory. As a school-going teenager growing up on the fringes of a huge cantonment, I remember the euphoria of that historic day. There was jubilation all around; sweets were distributed in our school the following morning. Day after day, large convoys carrying Pakistani POWs would go right past our gate. They were held captive in tents in hurriedly constructed barracks not far from our place. Curious as to how the Pakistani soldiers looked like, we would frequently cycle up to that area. It was heavily guarded like a garrison, cordoned off with meshed wire fencing and revolving flashlights during the night, but we cajoled some guards to let us have a peek. Contrary to our expectation, they looked just like us!
Anil Joshi, Ranikhet
This refers to the column by Tarini Mehta, The Burning Issue (December 28). Stubble burning starts after the harvest season is over and ends up causing severe air pollution in Delhi and the surrounding region. A permanent solution needs to be found. The Centre must look into the Indian Agricultural Research Institute’s (IARI) suggestion of converting stubble to manure using a chemical. Disposal of agricultural waste is a significant challenge in India. For any multipronged approach to work, there needs to be coordination between farmers, scientists, states and the Centre. There seems to be a disconnect among them, worsening the lack of political will to find a solution. The farmers’ protest has complicated the situation further this year. Strict actions against offenders will now be seen as anti-farmer.
L.J. Singh, On E-Mail
This refers to the column (Social Vaccine, December 7) by Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union minister for health, family welfare, science and technology, and earth sciences. 2020 will go down in history as a year of doom and gloom, while 2021 gives new vigour and hope of overcoming the crisis that brought humanity to its knees. The invisible virus led to the explosion of new words like social distancing, lockdown, self-isolation, Work from Home, quarantine and Zoom, which have become part and parcel of life. The rapidity with which COVID-19 engulfed almost all of humanity is unprecedented. Children lost the joy of playing and learning in natural settings. Millions of lives and jobs were lost. Humans, however, have a knack of recovering and bouncing back, and the scientific community and pharma companies across the globe have generated considerable hope by developing vaccines against the virus. Successful administration of the vaccine hinges on its equitable distribution. Another important lesson learnt from the crisis is that development averse to nature is akin to death and destruction.
Vijay Singh Adhikari, Nainital