Elders need social security

Only those who attain the age of 65 years should be recognised as senior citizens as is the practice now. This age should not be reduced to 60 years. At present, there are about seven crore senior citizens in the country, constituting 14 per cent of the population. If the age is brought down to 60 years, their number will go up to 10 crore.

In the West, senior citizens (after they attain the age of 65 years) enjoy an excellent social security system. They are entitled to several concessions from the government such as good old age pension, free medicare, free bus and rail travel. They also command lot of respect from the public and government officials, unlike in India.

In India, the Railway Ministry has given 30 per cent fare concession to senior citizens travelling by any train, but with some strings attached. For instance, they do not get any concession in the reservation fee and super charges. Only a few states have sanctioned concession for women in bus fares, but no medicare.

The attitude of the Centre and the states towards senior citizens should change for the better. There is need to provide social security to them in their hour of distress.

SHER SINGH, President, Northern Railway Pensioners’ Welfare Assn, Ludhiana



Grow organic food

The news-item “Farmer killed while spraying pesticides (Oct 21) makes sad reading. This is not a solitary case. Everyday farm workers are losing life due to these pesticides. Linked to this is another report “Pesticides hamper child development (Oct 25) according to which, ailments like asthma, skin allergies, stomach infections, greying of hair are more common in areas where pesticides are used excessively.

Chemical fertiliser and pesticides are being used in large scale to increase the farm output. This has led to the fast depletion of ground water resources. Worse, the soil becomes more and more sterile, killing the flora and fauna.

Dr A.L. ADLAKHA, Amritsar

Rights of women

Women constitute nearly 50 per cent of the Indian population, but when we often sermonise on human rights, we forget that women, as human beings, are also entitled to equal fundamental human rights as they are capable, like men, of accepting new roles and responsibilities. No nation can make progress by keeping half the population away from the mainstream.

After India achieved freedom, efforts have been made by the state to raise the status of women in all spheres of life. A number of legislative measures have been enacted towards this end. We have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, the Prevention of Sati Act 1987 and the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929, to mention a few. But unless women in different parts of the country are aware of their rights, their condition cannot be improved as the government machinery alone cannot solve this problem.

TARANBIR KAUR, Advocate, District Courts, Amritsar

Diversify agriculture

When Capt Amarinder Singh took over as the Chief Minister of Punjab, he had promised diversification of agriculture. But little has been done in this direction. Punjab’s farmers are ready to accept any challenge if they are given proper help in marketing and production of different crops. The future of the state depends on the initiatives of the state government and the Centre. Our future generations will not forgive us if we do not think about the welfare of the farmers.

KULVIR SINGH, Makorar Sahib, Rampura (Sangrur)

Unauthorised doctors

Of late, the number of unauthorised doctors and drug stores without valid licence has increased in Punjab. They are playing with the lives of innocent people in the towns and villages. These doctors undertake all kinds of tests even though these are banned under the law. The district administration needs to be vigilant and check this. One way of tackling this problem is to improve the quality of services in government hospitals and dispensaries.

SWART SHARMA, Patran (Patiala)

Don’t demolish it

I endorse K.L. Noatay’s view that instead of razing the forest hill resort to the ground, it should be preserved and retained and handed over to the Forest Department in public interest. The government can earn huge revenue by promoting eco-tourism. Those responsible for encroaching upon the forest land will have to be penalised, but dismantling of the beautiful structure is not advisable.

Dr H.K. LALL, Chandigarh

Deplorable roads

The roads between the Jandiala Guru and Tarn Taran and the stretch connecting Goindwal Sahib with Fatehbad and Dehra Saheb have long been neglected. There are wide and deep ditches throughout the roads. Driving during night and rains are very risky and time- consuming resulting in damages to the vehicles. I appeal to the authorities concerned to take necessary action to get these roads repaired to prevent accidents.

Col BEANT SINGH (retd), Jalandhar Cantonment

Diwali with lights only

Behind brilliant Diwali, lurks danger. Chemicals in crackers precipitate respiratory disease like asthma, bronchitis, etc., and skin allergies like urticaria and angiooedama. Eye injuries vary from redness and irritation to corneal injury (due to ‘missiles’), photothalmia (due to excessive bright light) and loss of one or both eyes when bending to light or relight crackers and bursting of rockets/ bombs on the eyeball itself. More than 70 per cent are ‘anaar’ victims. Research reveals that 40 per cent of Diwali burn victims are children.

Community fireworks display is cheaper and safer. Some American states permit only supervised community fireworks displays, while others watch, reducing accident risks. Owing to increased workload, halwais fail to observe hygiene and quality control causing vomiting, diarrhoea, dysentery, food poisoning apart from overindulgence in white poison, i.e. sugar.

Noise crosses 125 decibels, much more than human ears can bear. Thick toxic smoke increases pollution (seven times in Delhi). It’s a nightmare for sick, aged and animals too. Gambling is on a ruinous scale. Loss of life and property gutted in fire in enormous. Why not have safe Diwali, with lights only?



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