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Retain only the best of our culture

The article, “‘Kill ‘honour-killing’ the Gandhian way” (July 19) by Dr K C Yadav indirectly widens the scope of the ongoing debate on “honour killings”. The writer seems to have been deeply hurt by the manner in which different TV channels condemn villages, their people, their institutions and culture. He has quoted Mahatama Gandhi to prove his own point that even the Father of the Nation greatly appreciated the Indian people’s proverbial habit not to change.

I think that our media gives step-motherly treatment to our rural areas and in fact, the villages are missing from their programmes. I also don’t deny that there is a blind race among TV channels to sensationalise news.

But they have done a commendable job in reporting about the extra-constitutional, undemocratic and barbaric behaviour of aggressive social groups who tend to take the law into their hands and sometimes issue diktats to kill young couples who wish to marry on their own.

I put a simple question to Dr Yadav: which glorious tradition or culture do they defend while indulging in such cold murders? I am sure even if Gandhiji had been alive, he wouldn’t have reacted the way the writer has done about the burgeoning cases of honour killings and the way peasant families are being ousted from their own villages because of the aberrant behaviour of their siblings.

Another very pertinent question is; Is culture unchangeable? Must our youth conform to rigid social customs of the medieval times? Don’t our people living in villages, small towns and old cities still cling on to several
useless, outdated and patriarchal rituals and beliefs? We have to be rationally nostalgic.

We must remember that the waves of consumerism are blowing even in rural areas and the rural youth are lured by decadent capitalistic values like individualism, hedonism and narcissism. In such a fluid social ambience, it is dangerous to use violence to tame our youth in rural areas. Most of us were born in villages and we must defend our pristine positive rural virtues like patriotism, brotherhood and selfless concern for one another but we shouldn’t forget that casteism is still alive in our villages, female foeticide is rampant and the male: female ratio has been alarmingly disturbed.

The greed for land and money has poisoned the blood ties and our villages are now potential towns with mobile handsets, cable TV, and stronger local bodies. Let us live in the present and accept a simple fact that even rural societies have had social evils which can be and should be removed without further delay. We must retain the finest points in our culture and leave behind whatever is undemocratic and useless. We needn’t be dogmatic and fanatic in our attitudes towards dissent of opinion. In a democratic country, let us be tolerant towards one another and friendly to positive changes around us.


Agricultural research

I agree with the views expressed by Danielle Nierenberg (letters to the editor, July 17) that those crops should be sown which are acclimatised to the Indian tropical conditions i.e. the local seed-based crops. However, we must remember that India’s population is increasing in the absence of drastic and radical measures to contain it. Thus, India needs to double agricultural production by 2050 to feed its growing population. Hence, research must be undertaken which would augment production, take care of the depleting water levels, earth degradation and the extremity of climate conditions.


Tackle ragging

Aman Kachroo’s death due to ragging was extremely painful for the entire country and it raised questions about the security of new students entering educational institutions. It showed the callous attitude of not only the administrators but also the entire management, especially the principal of Tanda Medical College. Today again one is forced to wonder as to why the judiciary has been so casual by granting bail to all the four accused in the case.

Even anti-ragging measures have been put in place, still ragging incidents are being reported from many parts of India. Stringent punishment must be given to the culprits and they must be brought to book as soon as possible and judgement should be strong enough to act as a deterrent.

RADHA SAINI, Fellow, UICC, Geneva, Lecturer, Community Health Nursing, via e-mail

Traffic violations

The editorial  “VIP’ violators” (July 21) has rightly recommended that “no one should be let off” for traffic or other violations. The malaise in fact is deep-rooted. Once I asked a traffic policeman who had stopped me along with many others vehicle drivers for a routine check-up as to why the police did not stop vehicles with red lights. He lamented that at least 80 per cent of such vehicles use these lights without any authority.

However, if he stopped any of these vehicles and if it turned out to be an authorised one, he would immediately lose his posting at least from the traffic department. Can we hope for any improvement in such a sad situation?

BALVINDER, Chandigarh

Man of words

Harish Dhillon has a way with words (middle, “When words fail”, July 14) that readers of The Tribune over the years would subscribe to as delightful, sometimes poignant and always insightful. When he was Principal, YPS, Patiala, and Punjab was on fire, he was visited by some terrorists in his office. He listened to their demands on implementation of their suffocating dress code for girl children with composure, but did not implement it. That was a demonstration of cold courage under severe duress.

The last time I heard him was last year, when he spoke at the antim ardas of one of his bright girl students at YPS, Mohali, who had died very prematurely due to a stroke. His brilliance in communication, acute observation, sensitivity and ability to connect was remarkable. Teaching is the world’s noblest profession. Icons like Mr Dhillon are living proof of why it is so highly rated as a profession that can be life-changing for a generation of young minds across the gender and social divide.

Maj-Gen RAJ MEHTA (retd), SAS Nagar



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