Not the apple of anyone’s eye

THIS refers to A.J. Philip’s “On the apple trail” (Saturday Extra, Sept 10). I appreciate the efforts of the writer to enlighten the readers as to how apple transformed the economy of the hill state that would otherwise have remained backward because of its inhospitable terrain and weather conditions.

The plight of the labourers who contribute their mite to the prosperity of the state and are denied any benefits, drew my attention. Such lack of concern seems to be a universal phenomenon. It is portrayed by a South Indian poet, Vallathol, in his poem Vazhakkula in a heart-rending way. Malayan, a landless labourer who lives in a small hut built on the land of a rich man, plants a banana sapling near his house. The whole family, including children, nurtures the plant day after day and dreams of tasting its delicious fruit one day. There is great rejoicing and dancing around the banana plant once the fruit is ready. However, the clouds of despair and gloom descend on the family one day when, on an order from the landlord, Malayan cuts the bunch of bananas, vazhakkula, and takes it to his master amid weeping and wailing from his children.

Vallathol prophesied that the future generations of the oppressed would one day settle the scores for the injustice meted out to them.

THOMAS K.J., Rajpura



The writer has given a wrong impression that apple orchard owners in Himachal Pradesh do not allow anybody, not even the labourers residing in their orchards, to eat apples from their orchards.

Since Kufri is situated close to Simla city, where thousands of tourists come daily and it is the only apple orchard in the area near the national highway, the owner may not be allowing anybody to pluck and eat apples from his orchard. It does not, however, mean that all orchard owners in Himachal Pradesh disallow strangers or tourists to eat apples from their orchards. Rather, we Himachali apple growers, feel pride in offering apples to tourists when they visit our orchards.

BHIM SAIN NEGI, Badal, Rampur


Samuel Stokes was not the first to find that the soil and climate of Himachal Pradesh was good for apple cultivation. Mr Lee was the first to plant apple trees at Badrol in Kullu valley in 1880, many years before Stokes visited India.

Stokes cultivated apples in Kotgarh belt of Shimla in 20th century. Admittedly, Satyanand Stokes brought a few good quality apple saplings from the US and with him the era of commercial cultivation of apple began. Gradually, it picked up momentum.

R.G. BEVACK, Kullu

Alarming rise of diabetes in urban India

Dr A. Ramachandran and Dr Vijay Mahajan have done a commendable job in analysing the diabetes condition threadbare in “Diabetes: The Silent Killer” (Spectrum, Sept 18). Indians have a tendency to develop diabetes at a comparatively young age than people of other nationalities.

The National Urban Diabetes Survey showed that more than 50 per cent diabetes cases were found among those below 50 years. Worse, the prevalence of diabetes is rising rapidly among the urban population in India.

Diabetes not only involves eye, kidney or complications of the peripheral nerve, but it is also related to the coronary heart disease. While the onset of eye, kidney and nerve damage may be detected at the time of diagnosing diabetes, coronary artery disease precedes the onset of diabetes.

The stress of modern life doubles the risk of heart attacks in general and more so among the diabetes patients. One may need to practise deep breathing and exercise regularly.



Of Japanese origin

This refers to “Pulling out of the past” by Subhrangshu Gupta (Spectrum, Aug 28). History reveals that the word rickshaw, originally called jinnyrickshaw, is derived from Japanese pronunciation of three characters reading jin-riki-sha that are symbolic of man, strength and cart and literally mean a “human-powered vehicle.” It is from its homeland Japan that the rickshaw spread elsewhere to become a mode of public transport. It appeared in Kolkata in the beginning of the 20th century.

Both Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi voiced their strong opinion against it. In a Gujarati newspaper Navjivan in 1921, Mahatma Gandhi decried the use of hand-drawn rickshaws, reflecting that men are “yoked to a vehicle ...We who join them (the British) in turning people into bullocks have, therefore, become bullocks ourselves.”

In Shimla, rickshaws were banned on humanitarian grounds on a court order. They are the forerunners of autorickshaws.


Power puff

This refers to Khushwant Singh’s “Power Puff” (Saturday Extra, Aug 6). The contents in the column are contradictory in nature.

First the writer approves of the ban on tobacco advertisements but later contradicts himself by saying that some tobacco users have been world famous personalities. He also opposes the ban on smoking in films calling it silly. He has only exposed his ignorance by saying that two top Sikh writers were chain smokers.

Any person baptised as a Sikh ceases to be a Sikh if he indulges in any bajjar kuraihat i.e. cutting of hair, eating halal meat, impiety of moral character or use of tobacco in any form. I fail to understand how Khushwant Singh could have missed this point. One does not become a Sikh just by wearing a turban and keeping a beard. A Sikh must be baptised and adhere to the religious code.


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