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Pakistan’s descent into chaos

There is very little room for free speech and secular voices in Pakistan. Over the years, this nation has yielded far too much space to the extremists among the Muslims so much so that today religious intolerance is at its peak leading to death and destruction. If a Pakistani dares talk reason, sooner or later, he or she is bound to meet the fate of Pakistan Punjab Governor Salman Taseer.

On January 9, some 50,000 highly charged radical Muslims turned out in support of the blasphemy law and shouted ‘death’ for those who oppose it. The few moderates who had dared raise their voice against draconian laws enacted by General Zia-ul-Haq are now living under the shadow of death.

Sherry Rehman, the best known Pakistani human rights activist is, apparently, in the hit-list of Pakistan’s radical Islamists. Fearing attacks on her, the government has reportedly increased her security. But the issue in question is the same government could not protect Salman Taseer who dared cross Islamists’ path.

The freedom with which the terrorists strut around in Pakistan bombing government institutions and killing those who dare to differ proves that the radical Islamists have prevailed and the liberal voices have been reduced to a minuscule minority. The latter may find a mere survival a challenge.

When General Pervez Musharraf came to power in Pakistan in the wake of a coup, in the first flush of enthusiasm to reform Pakistani society, he proudly declared that his role model was Turkey’s moderniser Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, but there was so much criticism of his ‘liberalism’ that he had to beat a hasty retreat. Pakistan is irretrievably radicalised.

R.J. KHURANA, Bhopal

Enforce norms

I read the thought-provoking editorial, Poisoned colours: Lead in paint must be banned (Jan 10). It is shocking to learn that lead, which is used in paints, is so poisonous that it “affects children even before they are born by impairing their growth, health and even mental faculties, including intelligence”. Children of tender ages are often seen putting the “lead” pencils in their mouths while in schools and at home. Yet no one bothers to look into this “play of death” by kids. Perhaps, people are ignorant of this tragic use of lead by the children. All schools and parents should take serious note of this and stop the use of lead pencils at homes and classes. Owing to rapid urbanisation, lots of structural activity in the shape of buildings for houses, offices and markets are being witnessed throughout the country. Every building requires to be painted. All rooms, doors and windows and other articles of daily use are being painted mercilessly. The danger of the effect of lead-poison is increasing rapidly with each passing moment.

Strict action should be taken against all those paint manufacturing industries, which do not comply with Indian lead-safe standards. The Bureau of Indian Standards should inspect all industries engaged in the manufacture of paints and enforce the prescribed norms for the usage of lead in paints.

R.K. KAPOOR, Chandigarh

Injustice to students

With a sigh she said, “nothing special this time, I am just in the next class as hundreds of others are!” my niece’s voice was dejected, low and somewhat regretful. She stood first in the whole district in the Fifth class exams and again she topped the district in the Eighth class examinations. However, due to implementation of the grading system in schools this time, she was in the next class without her merits being shown.

Despite all her hard work, sincerity and dedication for education and learning, she was feeling herself even among those students who have the least respect and almost no care for education and studies. Alas for intelligent and highly talented students, their privilege for staying at the top must not had been snatched in such a cruel, heartless and senseless manner! Introducing grading system in schools is good to remove examination- phobia prevalent among students of less will power. But, it must not result in degrading and demoralising hard working, talented and brilliant students. Even while accepting and continuing grading system in schools, the first and second positions earned with hard work by wise, witty, talented and brilliant students must be taken into consideration and declared in the examinations’ results.


Manpreet ‘yatra’

The newsManpreet’s yatra eating into Cong vote bank (Jan 11) clearly demonstrates that Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal’s ouster has been a political ploy played well by the Akalis who were certain of their defeat in the coming elections.

For, Manpreet, despite being an insider, has not come out even once against the well known to the public corrupt practices that the Badals have been committing rather blatantly. May be, it is their malicious devouring of the local electronic media or the private transport system.

BALVINDER, Chandigarh

Passion for writing

Harish Dhillon’s middle, Joy of writing (Jan 8) was interesting. But opportunities are not needed for any writing. It is rather the calibre or enthusiasm or the passion to write. Thrill of anticipation through writing slips away the useless regrets or anger. And that is the pure joy of writing or contentment through writing.

ANJU ANAND, Ferozepur City

Pass the Food Security Bill

After the global financial crisis, it could be the turn of global food crisis. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has warned that 2011 may witness a global food crisis. According to FAO, “with the pressure on world prices of most commodities not abating, the international community must remain vigilant against further supply shocks in 2011”.

This danger seems to be on the door steps of India as rise in prices of essential food commodities is showing no signs of easing. Inflation has shot up to 18.22 per cent. The country’s 46 per cent of the children are stunted and 56 per cent women are anemic because they do not get enough to eat.

Recently the C. Rangarajan Committee constituted by the Prime Minister to
study the recommendations of the National Advisory Council-proposed Food Security Bill has stated in its report that it is unfeasible to extend legal entitlements to the general category (Above Poverty Line) of people for subsidised foodgrains.

This can be made feasible if effective measures are taken to increase food production by ensuring more profitable returns for farmers. Storage facilities should be improved to prevent the food grains from rotting. Bureaucratic corruption in the public distribution system should be checked and the Food Security Bill should be passed as soon as possible.

Dr RICHA VERMA, Panchkula



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