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

Oil price should be kept high

It is not a politically correct statement to make but, for the well-being of our planet, the price of oil must stay high. Oil is a very finite resource. Its consumption has to be curbed and substitutes have to be found and unless we feel the pinch of high prices, we will not do it.

With rising living standards, consumption is growing exponentially powered by a fossil-fuel based system. In his very readable book “Hot, Flat and Crowded” Thomas Friedman says that this not only devours a scarce resource, but also spews too much pollution in the atmosphere.

To avoid the dual catastrophe we have to increase fuel efficiency, drive fewer cars, increase efficiency of thermal power plants, increase use of wind and solar power and drive most of our cars on ethanol or some other oil  substitute.



The flip side of this issue is: Why should the poorer countries like India tighten their belts for they are already consuming much less fossil fuels, per capita, than the West? This is a good argument to put forth when the world debates belt-tightening, but it should not become an excuse for inaction at home. We need ourselves to take steps to conserve fuel — collectively as a nation and individually in our  daily lives.

Unfortunately, whenever the price of petrol is raised, the initial reaction of most car-owners is to curse the government, and then promptly hit the ignition switch of the vehicle. Each price hike is taken in the stride. As a society, we are not very strong on innovation to cut down petrol use.


Jairam’s salvo at IITs

I am greatly disturbed on reading the comments of the Minister for Environment and Forests, Mr Jairam Ramesh, about the faculty and students of IITs and IIMs. To say the least, these are unsavoury, disconcerting and discouraging. Students are tutored and trained by the painstaking and relentless efforts of their teachers. If the students are world class, how come the hands that have shaped them are mediocre?

The role of a teacher has been nicely summed up in an Urdu couplet: “Shayad yahan se koi tesa-ba-dast gujre, Mein ik mujjassima hun, pather mey so raha hun” (Waiting for somebody with a chisel-in-hand to pass by, Though a perfect statue, in a formless stone do I lie).

If the minister sincerely feels that the standards of research in government-owned institutions are not up to the mark, let him also remember that the onus mainly falls on the people in power. The universities and national institutes of learning are clamouring for financial support. They are like starved horses which cannot be flogged to run, much less win, the race.

The infrastructure for research needs to be strengthened and revamped to bring it to the world-class level. With the right kind of support and motivation, the teaching community is sure to meet the contemporary challenges in academics and research. Rather than passing the buck and blaming each other, let’s put our heads together to pull the education system of the country out of its present blues.

Dr A.S. SOODAN, Deptt. of Botanical & Environmental Sciences, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar 

Polythene bags resurface

Chandigarh has been one of the first cities in the country to ban the use of polythene bags.  Initially the implementation of the ban was quite successful but lately polythene bags have resurfaced in the city. Though a majority of big shopkeepers have replaced the polythene bags,  petty traders, hawkers and vegetable-fruit vendors are openly flouting the ban. And buyers are not complaining either. Most people are happily accepting groceries/products in polythene bags.

For the successful implementation of the ban cooperation of the residents is must. No doubt, polythene bags make shopping hassle-free but for protecting the environment, we must learn to say “no” to the polythene bags. Trendy jute/cloth bags may be kept handy in our two-wheelers and cars for any-time shopping. When we step out of our house to buy fruits and vegetables in the lanes, it is a good idea to take our own carry bags (the biodegradable ones in which shopkeepers are expected to sell their merchandise in the city these days). Not only can we carry the fruits and vegetables in them but also straight away stack them in the refrigerator as these bags are excellent for storage.

Cooperation from the public and action by the administration are required to stop the reappearance of polythene bags so that Chandigarh can genuinely claim to be a polythene-free city.

RAMA KASHYAP,(Associate Professor), Chandigarh 



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | E-mail |