Coming to the rescue of elders

This refers to Punam Khaira Sidhu’s article Senior citizens deserve a safety net,” (Perspective, Oct 31). Millions of old people do not get proper attention and health care. Those in government or semi-government jobs may hope for pension after retirement, but what about those who are dependent on their families?

Sometimes, the elders are deserted at a time when they are in dire need of assistance. With a new trend of micro families and non-existing joint families, the old are more victimised. They fall prey to the indifferent attitude of their family members. Some families migrate to urban areas, leaving the old to fend for themselves. There are no NGOs in most rural areas. Hence, no hope of assistance.

The writer aptly said that there must be community-based insurance policy for all to help the old and the poor. A law making it mandatory for all to look after their parents has become imperative. Those without kith and kin should be taken care of by the government which should provide them all the facilities they need. Those who are homeless, infirm and living in penury must be accommodated in oldage homes.



There should also be a trust or relief fund in line with the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund to meet the needs of the old. People may be allowed to contribute in this scheme with the facility of income-tax rebate.

Tauni-Devi (Hamirpur)


Keeping in view the United Nations estimates of those aged 60 plus at 600 million, which is expected to be two billion by 2050, the present scenario of health care, housing, food and social security in our country is quite dismal. The role of private sector and NGOs is, however, very encouraging and appreciative, because they have started a number of good schemes for the aged and helping them to solve their day-to-day problems.

Undoubtedly, for the destitute and old persons, food, shelter, clothing and medicines are essential. Besides, the Centre and the states should provide subsidised and sales tax-free commodities and other articles of daily use to the senior citizens just on the pattern these are sold to the armed forces personnel through defence canteens.

R.C. SHARMA, Kurukshetra

Food fads and filmi gods

In his Food fads and filmi gods (Saturday Extra, Oct 23), Khushwant Singh talks at length about how diametrically opposed to each other the tastes and preferences — and taboos — or people of various religions and communities are in regard to food. The glaring contradictory practices, he argues correctly leave one bewildered, and it becomes impossible to make any sense out of the entire matter.

There are, however, one or two instances in which sound logic seems to be the preference/taboo. Pig meat was apparently prohibited for Muslims because pigs are notorious carriers of the dread disease of trichinosis which is rife in many countries in the Middle East. In fact, the problem was viewed so seriously that the prohibition was turned into a religious injunction so that it would find unquestioning acceptance and be followed very strictly.

As it happens, British soldiers in India also are known to have died in very large numbers as a result of trichinosis because they consumed pork etc almost as their staple diet.

Another instance is the aversion to the drinking of milk in South East Asian countries: the reason is that the population there is very largely allergic to milk and can avoid illness by abstaining from it. I expect this a case of the proverbial exception (or two) proving the rule — the “rule”, that is, of prejudices and fads which defy all reason and logic.


Pak militancy

Apropos of Kiran Bedi’s column An American friend’s visit to India (Sunday Oped, Oct 24), while one needs to develop a positive attitude towards life and happenings around, yet a part of the “friend’s letter” makes a painful reading for every peace-loving Indian. It is for no fault of us that our neighbour has created the situations for more soldiers “...behind trees, in rice paddies, on hilltops, among flower gardens...(with)... handy machine guns ever at the ready.”

If only Pakistan could realise that militancy is a double-edged weapon which harms not only the opponents on whom it is targeted but also destroys its perpetrators. Though India has learnt to deal with these terrorist organisations, has Pakistan acquired enough courage to keep them under control?


Common trait

Anyone would agree with Harihar Swarup when he says “Big and small have one common trait: they have sky-rocketing ego and their self-esteem is pricked, the fury knows no bounds (Sunday Oped, Oct 17).

A shoe boy was polishing shoes. A well dressed gentleman gave his shoes to the boy who polished them. The gentleman threw a coin. The boy asked him to hand over the coin properly. He said he worked with his hands and wanted the money to be given in his hand. The gentleman did. I asked the boy about his identity. He reluctantly told me that he was a graduate from Panjab University. As he did not get any job, he was polishing the shoes to eke out a living.

The anger of Anupam Kher is right and just. Even if he had to be removed from the post of Chairperson of the Film Censor Board, he deserved a warm send off and unwarranted controversy could have been avoided.

Kahol (Bilaspur)

Barbaric method

Mr A.R. Wig’s article Need for a more human execution (Perspective, Oct 10) exposes the brutual method of sentence to death by hanging. Death sentence by hanging has not changed the attitude of gangsters. The crime rate is increasing by leaps and bounds. Changing the method of execution is not the solution, but speedy trial for the cruel offence is the need of the hour.

Delayed justice sends the wrong message to the crime world. Time-bound trials through special courts will help check the crime rate. Languishing in the jail for an unlimited period is no less than capital punishment.

Odhan (Sirsa)

Teaching values

This refers to Reeta Sharma’s British school for Sikh values (Spectrum, Sept 25). It was heartening to learn that the British Government had decided to fund the Sikh school in 1999 which was started by Baba Amar Singh of Guru Nanak Sikh Secondary School in London. n


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