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Bt brinjal needs more tests

The editorial “Bt+Brinjal” (Jan 23) reflects the feelings of the common people who do not know whether to support or oppose the introduction of genetically modified foods in India. I am distressed to observe the lack of transparency and efforts to hide facts regarding safety tests. Dr Pushpa M Bhargava has stated that only 10 per cent of the 30 mandatory safety tests have been conducted before the decision was taken by the GEAC.

Bio-safety cannot be guaranteed in a short period of time. It is a long process. There are a whole lot of protocols to be carried out, which were not done in the case of Bt Brinjal. Moreover, since it disturbs genetic material through the process of inserting new gene constructs, a battery of new genes may trigger off detrimental metabolic processes, proper long-term toxicity and allergenic tests are needed. These may not have been done in the case of Bt brinjal.

Ample scientific evidence exists to prove that GM crops have harmful effects and many countries have said “no” to GM crops. The major issue is that the prime stakeholders, the farmers, the people and the scientists have not been taken into confidence. When scores of other eco-friendly and safe agricultural practices are possible, why go in for something that is seen with suspicion and can have a disastrous health impact on our population?



The editorial hit the nail on the head. Indeed, long-term effects of Bt brinjal on human health should be analysed thoroughly. After all, what is at stake is the future of millions of people. I fail to understand the rush to release Bt-brinjal for commercial farming when there is so much at stake in terms of public health. Good sense must prevail and health of millions should get priority over the greed of few to make a quick buck. There should be a moratorium of at least five to seven years to study the health impact on humans and cattle.

Genetically modified products are completely banned in the EU, Japan and many countries around the world. With the world moving towards organic farming, India can gain much and a huge opportunity awaits our organic farmers. But the introduction of GM crops can nip that export potential in the bud. GM crops can contaminate non-GM crops through insects and winds carrying pollens into other farms and even minute contamination will render them no good for export.


Punish the corrupt

Lately, certain elements in the judiciary, the army, the police, the bureaucracy and the state legislatures have been in the news for reasons not so edifying. Almost every institution is slipping into the abyss of corruption with little or no light at the end of the tunnel.

Transparency is the answer to the fast spreading malaise. Those who try to exploit the loopholes in the law of the land and claim exemption from scrutiny or interpret laws and rules to suit their pursuit of self-aggrandisement must be exposed. Punishment for the corrupt should be very harsh.  


Deemed varsities

It is a pity that the education system, especially that of higher education, is in a state of utter chaos (editorial, “Deemed varsity status”, Jan 20). Higher education has been commercialised. The move to de-recognise 44 deemed-to-be-universities is a step in the right direction and will help sort out the flaws in our education system.

Strict action has to be taken against the people who run substandard institutions. Efforts have to be made to ensure that our education system is on a par with global standards. The common man has to be kept in mind while formulating education policies.

  RAJIV ARORA, Ferozepore


The HRD ministry has taken a right decision to de-recognise 44 deemed universities because such institutions have become money-making machines. These institutions are not interested in higher education. The government must check the mushrooming of these educational shops.



Now, the HRD Ministry must also take coaching centres under its regulatory ambit, instead of allowing them a free run. The damage caused by this unregulated education system over last 10 years needs to be assessed.

Air Cmde RAGHUBIR SINGH (retd), Pune

Teachers’ role

Teaching without passion and mission is meaningless (article, “Defining teacher’s role” by Achla Bhatia, Jan 19). Students will be what their teachers are. A real teacher is a role model, respected for his/her integrity, honesty and vision. His real job is to inculcate these virtues among students. It is a fact that many teachers themselves are not aware of what society really expects from them.

A teacher needs to distinguish between imparting information and knowledge. Textbooks, computers, television, newspapers, magazines, etc, can provide information. On the other hand, a teacher acts as a catalyst in the transformation of information into knowledge and this explains the indispensable role of teachers.

It is time the government and society did everything possible to raise the status of teachers. Teachers too need to take a pledge of selfless service and must keep themselves away from the tuition culture that has plagued our society.


Suicidal stress

The sudden surge in cases of suicides among adolescents is a matter of concern. Students are unduly stressed under a system that values only the best. Burdened with a plethora of problems, they find themselves a misfit in society and opt for this extreme desperate act.

The real culprits are undoubtedly teachers, parents and society. We have unrealistic expectations from children without assessing their intrinsic abilities.

An ideal school is the one which focuses on the harmonious development of its students and provides a study-friendly atmosphere. Spare the rod and spoil the child is a thing of past. Corporal punishment breeds only disregard and rebellion. We must feel the pulse of the student and assess his or her area of interest. Films such as Black and Taare Zameen Par have shown that even special children can do wonders, provided they are treated with love and affection.

We must try our best to sort out the emotional and psychological problems of our students. Studies should become a passion and not a problem for students.




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