Saturday, June 3, 2000
M A I L  B O X

And not a drop to drink

THIS is with reference to: "And not a drop to drink" by Peeyush Agnihotri (Windows — May 13, 2000). Water being essential for human survival, the article contains bad news for the people of Punjab: "Water is being blatantly plundered and abused in this "land of five rivers" and it won’t be long before a water famine strikes the region. It is high time that the State Government took this timely warning seriously and initiated a damage control exercise before the situation worsens. We in Ludhiana are already experiencing scarcity of water — the municipal supply has been curtailed, and the taps are mostly running dry. The pinch is being felt as the temperature keeps rising everyday. The same was the situation in Abohar (Ferozepur district).



Despite warnings of an impending drought, measures to preempt the crisis were not taken. Wisdom requires that we anticipate crises and prepare for them. It is not that we are strangers to drought. Nor are innovative water conservation methods unknown in these days of rapid communication. There are grain and water conservation techniques. The agro-climatic approach—mobilisational method — still gets only lip service and remains wrapped in bureaucratic red tape!

  A publication of the Agriculture Ministry which contained an expert evaluation of the 1988 drought shows that adversity can be turned to advantage with some advance preparation. Water bodies can be deepened, water conservation measures can be accelerated; popular agencies can be involved in saving cattle and arranging tankers, pipelines and water trains.

Again, there has been no systematic dissemination of such knowledge, so as the dry areas could benefit. Instead, the focus, as always, has been on ad hoc measures taken belatedly by a harassed and inefficient official machinery, and based on allocation of funds which is rarely considered sufficient. Once the crisis has passed, both the bureaucrats and the politicians seem to forget that it ever happened. The result is that no long term projects, which can prevent a recurrence, are initiated, presumably because such painstaking endeavours provide no immediate dividends to either group.


Great scientist

This refers to Illa Vij’s article "Satish Chandra Dass Gupta (May 13). Satish Chandra Dass Gupta was a great scientist and inventor, and was the man behind the discovery of fire extinguisher called ‘fire king’ and ‘sulekha ink’. He developed medicinal products such as ‘strychnirie’ and ‘cafferie’ from indigenous raw material. Satish Chandra also worked out a process to produce the much in demand ‘strychniri from ‘nux vomica’. The supply was large enough to meet domestic market. Satish Chandra was a versatile personality. He could work in the laboratory, in the factory and even do the carpentry with immense ability. Later on influenced by Gandhiji, he joined the national movement. He also improved the charkha’s working, found profitable ways of making paper-from bamboo pulp. This brought higher profits to farmers. Despite being a dedicated and great scientist, he was also a great writer.


A year after...

Apropos of Prabhjot Singh’s article "A year after their martyrdom" (May 20), it is very sad to learn that in several cases, after the death of their husbands, the widows of the officers have left the homes of their in-laws with their children, with the result that the plight of parents of some of the officers who sacrificed their lives for the country has become unbearable. In this context, it is felt that time has come, the government to do something for the parents of the officers who have been left. Further, as a recognition of the gallant officers, who died while fighting the insurgents last year in the

Kargil sector, the Postal Department should come out with a series of stamps in honour of the officers who laid down their lives for the country.



This is with reference to the article "What Mrs A said to Mrs B about Mrs C" by G.V. Joshi. It is a fact that gossip is almost a requirement for many people because they use it as a means of exchanging news about what is happening to whom. It is a way of being informed as well as a light-hearted method of satisfying the story-telling instinct of the garrulous ones.

But gossiping can be fun only so long it is healthy and harmless and does not destroy or damages the lives of the people who are being gossiped about. Instead of a harmless pastime, it becomes a detestable monster the moment a streak of viciousness enters the gossiping process. Used with ulterior purposes and with vicious vindictiveness, gossip can spell doom and despair to its "victims". There is lot of difference between "laughing with" and "laughing at" people.

Very frequently, some persons use gossip as an excuse to spread untrue and baseless stories about those they hate. They use it as a means to malign reputations. It might be fun for the person indulging in it, but it is no joke to be on the receiving end of such gossip. It would be much better if we desisted from using gossip in this deliberately vicious and destructive manner.