Plan on infant mortality yet to take off

This is regarding the report on infant mortality (Oct 24) and the editorial, “Murder of infants: Respect human life to end female foeticide” (Oct 25). It is disheartening to know that a prosperous state like Punjab should have such a high infant mortality.

Disturbingly, a good scheme called the Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) programme to bring down infant mortality has been prepared, but is not being operationalised. The Centre and the states, the Planning Commission and the Prime Minister’s Office all have been duly briefed about it.

The programme envisages specialised training of different strata of health workers to improve three indices — initiation of breastfeeding in the first hour (saves 22 per cent of newborns); exclusive breast feeding for six months; and complementary feeding for two years. These strategies have been internationally accepted and acknowledged to be the most cost-effective tools to bring down infant mortality rates most rapidly.

The Haryana Chief Minister announced this scheme on Oct 9, 2006. The Prime Minister made a mention of this in his Independence Day address from the ramparts of Red Fort. Even then, this programme has been gathering dust while the infant mortality is going up.

Dr DINESH KHOSLA, Coordinator (Haryana) Breastfeeding Promotion Network India, Rohtak


Skewed sex ratio

The report that Malwa districts of Punjab have an average male/female ratio of 600/1000 is shocking. Despite so much hue and cry about low sex ratio in the state and measures against female foeticide, the figures are so low. There is a dire need to create awareness among the people with an aggressive campaign both by the government and the NGOs.

Punjab’s Health Minister has been a fiery and aggressive crusader. The people have high expectations from her now. People expect her to show some positive results. She must effectively address the problems of female foeticide, low sex ratio, affordable health care to the poor and needy and, a check on fraudulent marriages by NRIs.

Lt-Col BHAGWAN SINGH (retd), Mohali

It makes news, but…

Celebrating Bobby Jindal’s win as Governor of Louisiana only exposes India’s height of hypocrisy and sycophancy (Oct 22). No doubt, an Indian- American has made history, but why praise a person who never bothered to acknowledge the sentiments expressed by the people of his native village or family?

Moreover, Bobby Jindal has never done anything good for his native land. He has not invited his family to share his joy. It all seems just out of place. I feel Bobby Jindal’s victory makes news, but it’s not a good reason for celebrations.

Dr VITULL K. GUPTA, Bathinda

Avoidable step

Kuldip Nayar’s article, “Don’t reopen old wounds” (Oct 19) was educative and instructive. The NCERT is a national organisation. It ought to maintain its stature and independence, occasional changes in the political establishment notwithstanding.

Partition is very much a part of history, often reminding us of the inhuman brutality, bloodshed and communal frenzy. To initiative a debate on who was responsible for it is useless.

The inclusion of the subject in the syllabus will simply pollute the minds of the students, especially when we are seriously engaged in the process of building bridges with our neigbours.


Restore old school timings

Government schools in Haryana run between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. This schedule is not suitable for school children, especially in rural areas. It is very difficult for small children to reach school by 8 a.m. in the winter as most of them go to schools either on foot or by bikes.

The teachers, too, come late and the schools actually start by 9 a.m. The old schedule was from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. in summer and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in winter. This schedule was not only suitable but also convenient to both teachers and students. As a result, this promoted work efficiency.

I would, therefore, request the authorities concerned to revert to the old timings for all schools (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in winter and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. in summer). The protagonists of the new timings cite the example of private schools, but conditions in those schools are far different. Moreover, public school students reach their schools by bus and their classrooms are also either air-conditioned or provided with room heaters.



Toll barriers

During a visit to Jalandhar recently, I saw two toll barriers between Ropar and Phagwara. Where is the need for these barriers? The roads are bad and bumpy. There is no safety on the road from animals who stray onto the road. And the high toll tax of Rs 23 per car one way is absurd and wholly unfair.

Normally, a vehicle owner pays Rs 25 expecting Rs 2 in refund. But the staff refuse to pay the balance saying “no change”. Now, instead of cash, they give two toffees.

Though Rs 2 is peanuts for a vehicle owner, imagine the money the staff make. If 1,000 vehicles pass through one barrier one way everyday, the barrier staff earn Rs 1,500 per day, i.e. Rs 5,47,500 a year.




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