L E T T E R S    T O    T H E    E D I T O R

Ethics should guide clinical trials

The editorial “Safer clinical trials: India must root out unethical practices” (Feb 22) was timely. While these trials are going to open the door to better healthcare, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that pharmaceutical companies in their zeal to reap huge profits ignore ethics, exploit the ever-vulnerable poor and illiterate sections of society and do not care to ensure the implementation of the parameters necessary for clinical trials.

The authorities concerned must ensure that Indians are not used as guinea pigs and compulsory registration of clinical trials with the ICMR is enforced in letter and spirit. Unethical practices associated with clinical trials have to be eliminated.



The awareness on clinical trials of drugs on humans is lacking and much warranted. Pharmaceutical companies can indulge in unethical practices. In thousands of laboratories across India, animals are kept in appalling conditions. They are mutilated, drugged, exposed to radiation and even killed. George Bernard Shaw said, “Atrocities are not less atrocities when they occur in laboratories and are called medical research.”

Animals should be used sparingly and ethically in clinical research. The editorial has rightly stressed the need for following the guidelines laid down by the ICMR. Awareness drives must reach the people who are vulnerable.


Integrate states

I agree with the views expressed in the letter, “Integrate the states” by Wg- Cdr CL Sehgal (Feb 18). Indeed, integrating states is a good idea. More the merrier, suits only the politicians.

There can be no better austerity measure than reduction in the number of states. If political parties are in earnest about austerity measures, they should all agree to the proposal of merger of states which is in the interest of the nation. This will test their commitment to the welfare of the aam aadmi.

Lt Col RL ARORA (retd), Jalandhar

Brutal act

The beheading of two innocent Sikhs by the Taliban in Pakistan because of their reported refusal either to pay the demanded ransom or to convert to Islam shows that fundamentalists are savages (editorial, “Taliban’s outrageous act”, Feb 23). They are misinterpreting the teachings of Islam for achieving their selfish and narrow-minded motives. The Pakistan government has turned a blind eye to the macabre activities of the Taliban just for realising its own political ends.

The myopic Pakistani leadership is yet to learn a lesson. Mere denunciation by Pakistan’s leaders will not deter the fundamentalist forces from indulging in inhuman acts. The Pakistan government must ensure the safety of minorities who have same rights as the majority and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.



The killing of two Sikhs in Pakistan’s tribal areas is highly deplorable. The Pakistan government must take strict action against the guilty. The Indian government, too, must take up the matter with its counterpart in Pakistan.

KHAZAN SINGH, Kapurthala

Solar rickshaws

It is interesting to note that 1,000 solar rickshaws designed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), known as zero carbon vehicles, will carry 7,000 athletes for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games at Delhi. Green Games will send out an excellent message on saving the environment. Maintaining the ecological balance is the need of the hour.


Education reforms

Single entrance test needs to be seen and welcomed as a never-too-late attempt to check the multiplicity of entrance tests and is undeniably a step in the right direction as mentioned in the editorial “Single entrance test” (Feb 18).

Among other steps taken by the government to improve our education which deserves special mention is that of enacting a law for the Right to Education. About other reforms we need to wait and watch. For instance, it is too early to assess the outcome of making the CBSE Class X board examination optional.

The editorial has rightly cautioned that while evolving a fair criterion for the entrance test it must ensure that merit prevails and all irritants, including the concerns of different states are sorted out at the level of the task force, which shall be constituted for the national entrance test proposal.

OSHI, Chandigarh

Master blaster

The editorial “Sachin, Sachin!” (Feb 26) and Nasser Hussain’s statement, “Tendulkar better than even Bradman” (news report, Feb 26) aptly compared Sachin Tendulkar with other greats of the game. With his unbeaten 200-runs he has not only created history, but also made sports history richer. Sachin is a true gentleman playing a gentleman’s game.

Dr SANJIV GUPTA, Perth, Australia

Make them wise 

Rakesh Bharti’s article “ ‘Smart class’ has a digital edge” (Feb 16) fails to inform the readers whose brainchild this ‘smart class’ concept is and which IT company is going to have the ‘edge’ by raking in profits once this ‘smart’ idea is sold out to technology-starved schools.

Mr Bharti presents a rather rosy picture in favour of ‘smart’ class but fails to enumerate various drawbacks such a classroom would have, especially the physical and mental side-effects on children.

Already, our planet is teeming with all kinds of ‘smart’ people who have done and are still doing irreparable harm to the world at large. It is smartness aided by technology that has led to nuclear stockpiling, poisoning of our rivers and oceans and global warming.

What we desperately need today are not ‘smart’ classes but ‘wise’ ones where our already ‘smart’ children can be taught and trained to make wise decisions not only with regard to their own future but also for the welfare of the world in which they live.

Machine-generated smartness is definitely not the answer to all the complex problems of humanity. Heart-generated wisdom is. This wisdom cannot be taught through technology.

A K LAWRENCE, Bathinda 



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