In the race to be first

This refers to Khushwant Singh’s write-up “In the race to be first” (Saturday Extra, Dec 31).

The race is praiseworthy if it is for a good purpose, that is, to stand first in some examination, etc or to establish an enterprise for the public welfare, otherwise it is dangerous.

While migrating from Pakistan in 1947, the members of our qaafilah had to cross the Ravi river. There were two boats only. Many people scuffled to get ferried across first with the result that some of them were swept away by the billows.

Once a truck overtook the bus I was travelling in, some passengers urged the driver to catch up with it. A man waved his hand to the vehicles left behind. A fast-running bus broke his hand.

At level crossings, some reckless people pass beneath the closed gates to cross the lines exposing themselves to the chance of being crushed by the train.

Dear readers

Letters to the Editor, neatly hand-written or typed, upto 150 words, should be sent to the Letters Editor, The Tribune, Sector 29 C, Chandigarh. Letters can also be emailed at the following address: letters@tribunemail.com

— Editor-in-Chief


Being an even-tempered slow walker, I never vie with fleet-footed people. Rather seeing them moving and acting faster than is comfortable and natural, I croon the verse: Zara aahista chal aahista chal ai sir-phiree dunya/ke merey kaanptey haathon mein ab tak tera daaman hai



Khushwant Singh has rightly brought out the qualities of Gujaratis as brains, beauty, hardy, iron-willed, business wizards, social workers and nationalists in general and Ela Bhatt as a saviour of the poor in particular. She has set an example of women empowerment by organising them into Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), helping them earn a livelihood, and fight social evils.

Ela Bhatt’s efforts have given a voice to lakhs of voiceless, illiterate, poverty-stricken and the suppressed masses. SEWA bank set up with the partnership of lakhs of women is providing them the much-needed micro- finance facilities. The movement started by her has spread wings throughout the length and breadth of the country. For example, the women’s self-help groups in Tamil Nadu have done commendable work in reinfusing life into the tsunami-devastated coastal areas during the last one year.

These women SHGs have done everything from erecting shelters, organising community kitchens, counselling survivors, resolving disputes among fishing communities to taking up income-generating activities. Ela Bhatt deserves to be decorated with Bharat Ratna in recognition of her services.


Old-age woes

I read Khushwant Singh’s leitmotif of old age in his write-up “Lament of the aged” (Saturday Extra, Dec 24) with great interest. Old age and its problems coexist and linked with these are the poignant tales of the aged people. The latter, without caring for their own comfort, devote their whole life for the betterment of their children. However, they are discarded cold-heartedly in the ‘winter’ of their lives by these very children.

Khushwant Singh, who himself has become an icon for the aged, has vividly illustrated the ways in which one can overcome problems related to old age like loneliness. He keeps himself occupied most of the time. However, by talking about atheism with pride, he seems to derive sadistic pleasure.

AMZAD KHAN, Punjabi University, Patiala

Serious problem

The article “ABC of Breast Cancer” by Dr S. M. Bose (Spectrum, Jan 22) is an excellent review of a serious problem. I should like to thank The Tribune for publishing such an educative and informative article. The incidence of breast cancer has been increasing rapidly, as has been mentioned rightly in the write-up. In quite a few cases, the cancer is detected at a late stage when nothing can be done. The article is an eye-opener.


Inaccurate reporting

The article “Elephantine Problem” (published by arrangement with The Independent, Spectrum, Jan 22) contains a number of inaccuracies and incorrect attributions. As the article correctly points out, the challenge of responsible elephant management, in the context of growing elephant populations, is a truly emotional question with wide-ranging international implications. It is unfortunate that the report presents as fact the claim that South Africa has already decided to carry out massive culling operations, when, in reality, no such decision has been taken.

Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South African Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, certainly has not, as claimed in the article, “recommended a new cull of some 5,000 elephants”, nor has our government moved to “finalise its plans by the beginning of next year”. There is no basis in fact for the claim that “it will be 2010 before the killings begin”.

Since September, the Minister has met personally with a large number of NGOs and conservation bodies concerned both within South Africa and internationally. He has convened a scientific round-table discussion with global elephant science experts who last week presented to him their consensus that there was no compelling evidence to suggest the need for immediate, large-scale reduction of elephant numbers in the Kruger National Park.

He has also instructed his department to draft national norms and standards for elephant management across the country — aiming to publish these for public comment later this year.

Robert H. Spaull, Director, Media Office of the Minister, Environmental Affairs & Tourism, Cape Town, South Africa


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