Have a heart for these women

This refers to the write-up “Trapped in the trade” (Spectrum, Sept 3). The plight of the girls of certain communities in Rajasthan as recounted by Ms Usha Rai is heart-rending. One wonders if it can happen in an independent India of the 21st century. Prof K.K. Mukherji, his wife Dr Sutapa and Ms Harjeet Kaur deserve appreciation for highlighting the problems related to prostitution. Prostitution can be prevented through education, assured employment and eradication of poverty.

The NGOs, GNK and Samriddhi, have done yeoman service in rehabilitating girls from rural areas through self-help groups and training in tailoring. With their effort, 80 young girls in primary and middle classes have been provided hostel facilities. Mothers who are into prostitution do not want their girls to follow them. The state government should act immediately and provide all the affected girls education with hostel facilities right from the primary level.

Vocational courses and self-help groups can go a long way in providing enough income to keep them away from the profession. The men and other elders in the community, too, need counselling to shun superstitions. The Centre should provide help to girls to enable them to lead a dignified life.



Splashy numbers

This refers to Splashy numbers by Vikramdeep Johal (Spectrum, August 6). In addition to the songs mentioned, there are many more which were great hits not only in their time but even today. The songs Ghata ghan ghor-ghor, mor machhave shor, more saajan aaja by singing star Khurshid from Tansen and Sawan ke baadlo, unse yeh jaa kaho by Karan Diwan and Aamir Bai from Rattan were great hits of the 1940s. And who can forget the evergreen Barsaat mein hum se mile tum sajan, tum se mile hum from Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat? Then there is Ghir-ghir, ghir-ghir, badarva aaye, oh kare-kare by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar from Shikast.

Two classical film songs which were so well sung by Manna Dey are Oh umarh ghoomarh kar aaye re ghata, badal ko cheer, nikla re neer from V. Shantaram’s Do Ankhen Bara Haath and Lapak jhapak kar aa re badarva picturised on David in Raj Kapoor’s Boot Polish. The scenes of Nargis and Raj Kapoor under an umbrella in Shree 420 and Madhubala squeezing her wet saree in Barsaat Ki Raat have become iconic and are displayed in blowups in houses and public places.

Brig H.S. SANDHU (retd), Panchkula


Bt cotton, bane for farmers

This is with reference to the article Crop of questions (Spectrum, August 20). As a soldier-turned-farmer from village Chanankhera, Abohar, I feel rather uncomfortable with the claim made in the article by Usha Barwale Zeher, a scientist with Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company limited (Mahyco), that “BT cotton is capable of protecting itself against bollworm reducing the need for external dosage of chemical pesticides.” How I wish that it were true.

In our area, farmers like me have not taken the risk of sowing BT cotton exclusively in all our land but have also gone in for traditional cotton seed as well in part of the agriculture land. In Abohar, availability of genuine BT cottonseed is rare.

The viewpoint of Vandana Shiva, Director, Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, that 90 per cent of the farmers who committed suicide in the past six months had sown BT cotton as per surveys of Vidarbha Janandolan lends support to my assessment about BT cottonseed through practical experience.

Dr Zeher also claims that farmers are happy with BT cotton and the acreage under BT cotton had increased.

I plead that the Agriculture Ministry in association with Punjab Agriculture University should carry out some realistic independent surveys in Punjab. The surveys should establish the correctness/credibility of Dr Zeher’s claim because I have apprehensions on this score.

Lt-Col ONKAR CHOPRA (retd), Abohar

Synonymous terms

This has reference to Dr Charanjits’ letter (The Sunday Tribune, July 23) regarding my article, “Jack of all trades”. The botanical name Artocarpus integra is synonymous with Artocarpus heterophylus and A. integrafolia.

Since the column is meant for ordinary garden lovers, I thought one of the botanical names would suffice.

Dr Parmar could refer to Pradip Krishen’s book, Trees of Delhi, to verify that A. integra is not incorrect botanically.

Kiran Narain, New Delhi

Andaman recaptured

The book review by R.L. Singal, “Andaman recaptured” (Spectrum, August 20) took me back to 1953 when our warship Rana had to divert her course to Port Blair while returning from Rangoon (Burma).

Many of us visited the Cellular Jail to see for ourselves the solitary cell on the upper storey where one of the greatest revolutionaries, V. D. Savarkar, had faced imprisonment with an indomitable spirit.

The solitary cell, since then, has become a place of national pride. A photograph of the great freedom fighter hangs on the wall, below that is lit a flame of freedom.

The notorious Jailor, David Barry, was so arrogant that he often boasted to be the only God in Port Blair.

Many writers’ accounts give us glimpses of the gory treatment meted out to the prisoners in the jail by Barry. n

Multan Singh Parihar, Jalari-Hamirpur (HP)



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