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Shun this demeaning practice

The success stories of Rehana and Taslim as narrated by Shuriah Niazi in They prefer dignity to tradition (Spectrum, Aug 31) are refreshing and encouraging. It is a matter of shame that the degrading practice of carrying night soil on head still exists in many parts of the country. The boldness shown by Rehana and Taslim is praiseworthy.

The government, the media and NGOs should encourage others also to shun this demeaning practice. The state governments, with the help of legal provisions, must do their bit to put an end to manual scavenging. They should also make substantial arrangements to rehabilitate the affected families by empowering them socially and economically.

Through Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and other measures, opportunities should be created to enhance their family income. Books, uniforms, stipends and even residential schools with all healthcare facilities, should be provided free of cost to the children of such families.

In fact, these families need positive discrimination for their socio-economic empowerment. Social organisations like Grima Abhiyan deserve special appreciation in this regard.


A perversion

In Anti-gay law: will it go? (Saturday Extra, Aug 23), the writer has whole-heartedly advocated the cause of gay rights groups and favoured the latest move to repeal Section 377, IPC, triggered by none other than Union Health Minister A. Ramadoss.

This minister is in the habit of hogging limelight for all the wrong reasons always. The article is full of contradictions. The writer has herself quoted the findings of the latest study on HIV conducted by the American Foundation for AIDS Research, which reveals that MSMs are 19 times more prone to infection. This study has been based on the population of the so-called civilised society and countries, many of which have legalised the gay unions.

There is no gainsaying the fact that same gender sex is against the order of nature and is a perversion afflicting a miniscule section of society. What is not natural should not be legalised just for the sake of assertion of their identity and sexual preference of the “sexual minorities”.

The figure of such minority group “close to 10 million Indians” mentioned in the article is imaginary having no co-relation to the actual population of such groups. Publicity of such moves in the media is bound to trigger a quantum jump in the number of persons having abnormal preferences.


Karma logic

Khushwant Singh’s write up, We all want a painless death (Saturday Extra, Aug 30) is inconclusive. We don’t know for sure whether death is a solution to relieve one of the unbearable miseries of life or otherwise. I quote a couplet: Ghabra ke toh kehte hain ke mar jayenge/ marr ke bhi chain na paya toh kidhar jayenge (When nervous we say we will die, but where will we go if we don’t get peace even after death).

Soul is not destroyed even after the destruction of body. It gets another body to learn more lessons to attain salvation. Past karma (actions) decides whether one enjoys or suffers in a particular birth. Bhagvadgita explains “One who has taken birth is sure to die and after death one is sure to take birth again.” The stringent laws of karma determine all this. Not a few but many across India believe in the philosophy of karma. This faith makes them engage in good karma. The fact that one reaps what one sows gives credence to this faith.

The writer has highlighted the miseries of old age — neglect by children, loneliness, miserable diseases and financial constraints— which make many aged prefer death to life. It is the moral imperative of the medical fraternity and the children to provide dedicated service to the patients suffering from ghastly diseases.



The writer seems to be scared of death and old age. Life bestowed by the almighty is a precious gift to every individual. He/she has to pass through the different stages as has been described by Shakespeare in Seven Ages of Man. Bhagvadgita, too, teaches that nothing is permanent in this world. The distinguished writer, thus, should not suggest to the people the way to approach death, but encourage them to face every challenge with fortitude. Death is a peaceful sleep as John Donne has mentioned in “Death be not proud”.

S.R. SHARMA, Pathankot

A distinguished novelist

I read Rumina Sethi’s review of Qurratulain Hyder’s novel Fireflies in the Mist (Spectrum, August 31). It is the author’s own rendering of her novel Aakhir-e-shab key ham-safar in English. Qurratulain means a much-loved child. She was the cherished daughter of a famous afsana-nigaar (short-story writer) Sayyad Sajjad Hyder Yaldram, a contemporary of Prem Chand.

She received higher education in Europe and was a visiting professor of Urdu in Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Milia Islamia, Delhi. The terrible upheaval of 1947 greatly impacted the poets and writers of the time. Sahir Ludhianvi said: Zameen ne khoon ugla, aasmaan ne aag barasaai/Jab insaanon key dil badley to insaanon pe kya guzri. Qurratulain’s first novel Merey bhee Sanam-khaaney was based on India’s Partition. Her second novel Safeena-e-gham-e-dil also had the same theme. Her third novel was Aag ka Darya.

She wrote about eight novels. Kaar-e-jahaan daraas hai is her last autobiographical novel. Probably she had adopted this title from Allama Iqbal’s verse: Bagh-e-bahisht se mujhe hukm-e-safar diya tha kyon/Kaar-e-jahaan darass hai ab mera intezar kar, in which the poet has alluded to the expulsion of Adam from paradise).

Qurratulain was a prolific writer, who gave new direction to the Urdu novel. She wrote in elegant, plain and straightforward poetic-prose. The theme of her works is that life does not stop, everything glides along the current of time and man is helpless. Iqbal said: Tu ise paimaana-e-imros-o-farda se na naap/Jaavidaan, pai-ham davaan, har dam javaan hai zindagi. (Do not measure life with the yardstick of days, todays and tomorrows. Life is everlasting, ever-running and ever-young).




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