Sunday, October 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


Cancun fiasco: Missing the wood for trees

THIS has reference to Mr Sarabjit Dhaliwal’s article “Cancun and after” (Perspective, Sept 28). He has not explained the issues involved at Cancun. Out of 25 issues accepted at Doha Development Agenda in 2001, only three were discussed at Cancun — agriculture, cotton and Singapore issues. The rest on the agenda were Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) pertaining to public health, General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) pertaining to Mode-4 movement of natural persons and special and differential (S&D) treatment to the least developed countries.

The author should have deliberated on these issues, especially agriculture for reduction of subsidies (green box) and export subsidies of the developed countries. As regards TRIPS public health, G-22 countries said that developing countries should get life-saving drugs at affordable price for diseases like AIDS/HIV, cancer, malaria, tuberculosis and so on. There was no mention of cotton issue as it was the main point raised by the African countries at Cancun which was the cause of collapse. Even the Singapore issues have not been tackled properly.

KHARAITI LAL, Sasoli (Hoshiarpur)




In his article, Mr Sarabjit Dhaliwal has suggested that the government should keep an eye on China who stood with us at Cancun. His advice has a strong logic. As for the free trade agreement, India should take the initiative with friendly states for effective economic cooperation and to achieve the target of 8 per cent growth rate. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who has decided to visit Islamabad for the SAARC summit, should try to persuade member-states to adopt the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) as early as possible.

It is necessary to obstruct the activities of the multinational companies, especially producing the eatables. The government should force them to adopt the EU standards and regulations. Companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi and McDonalds are not only ruining our health but also our heritage.


Capital punishment

The article “Death as penalty” by Mr S.P.S. Mann (Windows, Sept 27) is an exhaustive study of capital punishment. But I do not agree that death penalty is a controversial issue. Rather it acts as a deterrent.

Birth is not a right; it is a privilege by virtue of the biological process. Death is certain and inevitable. After birth, one exercises rights but with certain checks. And no body has the right to commit crime of any kind.

There is no harm in keeping such criminals in the jails with minor expenses as death penalty cases are not on the higher side.

HARISH K. MONGA, Ferozepur City


I fully endorse Mr S.P.S. Mann’s view that death penalty is merely a process to eliminate criminals and serial killers. If capital punishment is abolished, law-abiding citizens cannot lead a smooth life. The Sikh riots of 1984 and the Godhra carnage prove that the criminals jump in to kill innocent people. The death sentence on Dara Singh who killed Graham Staines and his two sons is perfectly justified. Dara Singh does not deserve any sympathy.

SHER SINGH, Ludhiana

Women as decision-makers

APROPOS of Ms Anupriya Sethi’s article “Women as decision-makers” (Perspective, Sept 14), there is no doubt that with bewilderment in her eyes and buoyancy in her heart, India’s new woman awaits the final plunge, the dawning of the free era for making her own decisions.

The solution to women’s problems does not end in bestowing of judicial rights, or making them literate. Most urban women today are literate, yet they exhibit a lack of moral strength. “Right” is one thing, but “exercising of the right” is different, the latter being more important. And this is where the crux of the problem lies. Awareness can follow only if there is a will for it.

The middle class people, still subconsciously try to inculcate the outdated virtues in their daughters. The result: when problems strike, they are faced with a “no way out” situation. They wait till the water crosses above the head mark. And even when they do take recourse to a remedial measure through their own decision, somewhere at the back of their mind a guilt complex lurks about.

The point is whether education today really empowers a woman to go out and face life independently. Is the environment suitable enough for her to find out the true meaning of happiness and independence? Why does the life of a woman revolve around her husband and children?

One has to start at the beginning. Let the daughter be assertive and vocal. Let her handle her own problems as far as possible. Over-protectiveness will only add to her burdens instead of reducing them. Everytime, she complains to you (parents) about a molestation or a torture by in-laws, don’t shrug it off. Let her take some action. Teach her the meaning of education, not just to make her literate or marry her off, but to make her strong and independent.



Enthralling rhymes

“Old rhymes in new times” (Spectrum, Sept 14) by J.R. Jyoti was a diverting, delectable, hilarious and humorous piece of writing which sent me into peals of laughter. The rhymes of “Aya Ram Gaya Ram”, “Hello black sheep”, “Could you guess maya...” and “Laloo Laloo where did you go?” were appealing, enthralling and captivating. Through them the writer has aptly and judiciously lampooned our politicians who are selfish, avaricious, capricious, dishonest, corrupt and crooked without dedication and devotion to the nation and its people.

Their sole aim is to mesmerise the gullible masses through their glib tongue to capture their votes. Their top priority is to amass wealth, the welfare of the people is a secondary thought. Once in power, they conveniently forget the promises made to the hoi polloi and without any compunction break them to suit their own designs. The writer deserves accolades for composing such light but weighty rhymes. Will they prick the conscience of our politicians to whom the self comes first and the country next?



This refers to “Old rhymes in new times” by J.R.Jyoti. Few are aware of the meanings, origins or situations from which nursery rhymes have emerged. Most of them find their roots in the history, festival, social beliefs and superstitions of the British, some even being macabre.

The popular nursery rhymes ‘Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall...’ mentioned by the author is known as ‘Boule Boule’ in French and ‘Thille Thille’ among the Swiss. This rhyme has nothing to do with an egg or a fat man as often illustrated. Ripley’s ‘Believe It Or Not’ mentions that it was written to ridicule King Richard III. When he fell from power, the Royal Army and even foreign forces failed to reinstate him. This is referred to in the rhyme as: All the king's horses and all the king's men could not put Humpty Dumpty together again.

The writer mentions another rhyme 'Jack and Jill went up the hill...' which is based upon the rise and fall of tidal waves, scientifically influenced by the lunar system. Jack and Jill are actually tidal waves, which go up the hill by the pull of the moon. When the tide recedes, the waves i.e Jack and Jill come tumbling down the hill. However, a Nordic myth says that the moon’s dark patches are actually Jack and Jill who were kidnapped. They are visible on a full moon night with a pail dangling from a pole, slung on their shoulders.

Ironically, even after more than half a century of independence, we continue to be yoked to a syllabus, foreign to our culture.


Befooling people

This has reference to “Astrological falsehoods” by Mr Khushwant Singh (Windows, Sept 20). I agree with the author that the predictions done by the soothsayers is nothing but fallacious. Surprisingly, it is easily digested by the people. The smooth and sweet tongued ‘pandits’ try to woo people through their humbug language which involves only deception.

There is hardly any truth in what these astrologers speak. It is a matter of chance if a part of what they predict comes true. Astrology is going great guns in India. Our country is swamped with superstitious people which is why they fall prey to this hocus-pocus, whereas superstition is a fallout of illiteracy prevailing in our country.

All these astrologers do is to befool people and make money out of it. I feel the best way, as suggested by the author, to curb this astrological falsehood is to put a statutory warning, as on cigarette packets “Belief in astrology is injurious to mental health”.

SUMIT GULATI, Chandigarh

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