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Pneumonia deaths can be prevented

The back-page report Highest pneumonia mortality in India (Nov 19) and the subsequent editorial cited a recent release by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) on behalf of the Global Coalition against Child Pneumonia according to which India witnesses the highest number of pneumonia-related child deaths in the world. This comes to 3.7 lakh deaths of children under five in a year.

The data is sufficient to scare anybody. In spite of every effort made by the Union Department of AYUSH and effective yet economical treatment of pneumonia being available in homoeopathy and other alternative systems, people still depend on antibiotics, which are either too costly or unavailable when needed. In addition, antibiotics used injudiciously cause more harm than good.

Pneumonia is not such a disease that develops overnight at an alarming speed. Though in advanced cases, critical care is required, but during the initial phases, it can be very well managed with homoeopathic remedies and observing general measures like bed rest, good nursing care, oxygen inhalation, if required, and adequate fluid and dietary intake.

Precious lives can be saved if the public at large is educated regarding the disease and treatment is started at the earliest so that complications can be minimised. Mass campaigns launched either by the government agencies or by social organisations and NGOs in tune with pulse polio, HIV etc. can alert a mother to identify the symptoms of pneumonia in her child so as to seek medical help in time.

PAWAN DVIWEDI, Reader, Dept. of Surgery. Solan Homoeopathic Medical College & Hospital, Kumarhatti (Solan)

Ignominy of arrest

Recently I read a Supreme Court decision about a case of Congress leader Siddharam Mhetre allegedly involved in the killing of a BJP worker in Maharashtra. It was interesting to read the judges’ comments.

“A great ignominy, humiliation and disgrace is attached to the arrest. An arrest leads to many serious consequences not only for the accused but also for the entire family and at times for the entire community. Most people do not make any distinction between arrests at a pre-conviction stage and a post-conviction stage.”

 “The arrest should be the last option and it should be restricted to those exceptional cases where arresting the accused is imperative in the facts and circumstances of that case

. “Personal liberty is a very precious fundamental right and it should be curtailed only when it becomes imperative according to the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case.” the Bench said. In the light of these comments consider what has happened in Punjab in the past some years. The arrests of many young men for no valid reasons were never explained and no proper records were kept. Many of them were never charged. They were mistreated in jails and killed in fake encounters. Even human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra, who raised his voice against innocent killings, was illegally arrested and killed.


Pulses, not paddy

Adding to your editorial Pulses, not paddy (December 7), I would say that Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has come forward with a proposal which is the need of the hour in view of the alarming decline in the state’s water table.

Sometime back the government had claimed diversification on over six lakh hectares but the ground reality is that the area under wheat and paddy has increased while the area under alternative crops has decreased. The Johl Committee recommendations have been ignored by the Punjab government because of prolonged drought and consequent food grain shortages. But with surplus stocks now, there is need to reconsider the report without any further loss of time as the real impact of this effort will become visible only after eight to ten years.

Economists are divided whether the shift from wheat and paddy to alternative crops would yield better returns. Farmers are equally confused and stick to the existing crop pattern. The water use efficiency in Indian agriculture is one of the lowest in the world and in view of decline in the water level, there is need to introduce drip and sprinkler irrigation.

The failure of the sugar industry in Punjab is one of the reasons that farmers could not be motivated to switch over to sugarcane. India being a large country with variations in agro-climate, different regions have comparative advantages for different crops. This will require planning and implementation of crop diversification programmes at the level of different agro-climatic zones.

Merely making policies on paper and giving statements will not suffice. The Agriculture Department has to be geared up to educate farmers about the benefits of crop diversification, besides the announcement of incentives at the initial stage. Farmers must be provided with improved seed and other inputs for growing high-yielding varieties so that productivity reaches global levels. The bonus and subsidies are not the solution to uplift the farmers and save the soil health.

HARISH K. MONGA, Ferozepur

What about the victim?

The Prevention of Torture Bill 2010 talks a lot about protecting women from sexual harassment but often justice remains incomplete even with the conviction of the offender. The criminal justice system revolves around the accused and protecting his rights while in custody. Unfortunately, the victim is forgotten in the whole process commencing with the commission of the offence passing through trial and reaching the conviction stage.

The victim’s role seems to be that of a prosecution witness throughout the judicial process. The victim becomes a Mr/Ms Nobody. His/her rights are hardly catered to by the court. The Bill only talks about imposing a fine on the offender but not even a single provision talks about compensation to the victims of such crimes.

Crime is considered as an offence against the State rather than an offence against an individual. Therefore, society gets justice when the offender is punished. What about the victim? Does s/he also get justice with the conviction of the offender? What about the rights of the victims? Unless the victim is adequately compensated, justice cannot be fully met. The victim must be helped to start his/her life afresh in which monetary compensation plays a vital role.

SUNAINA, Research Scholar, Department of Laws, Panjab University, Chandigarh



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