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Pushpa Girimaji's column (June 19) on 'Doctors liable for poor care of patients' was illuminating. In this context, an American court's ruling, quoted in a Berkley Newsletter, is worth recalling. " The hospital has a duty to protect its patients from malpractice by members of the medical staff… Mercy hospital had no actual knowledge of the doctor's propensity to commit malpractice…but it was negligent in not knowing, because it did not have a system of acquiring (such) knowledge…every hospital is corporately responsible for the conduct of their medical staff," ruled the learned judge. In India, unfortunately, the situation is unlikely to improve till the courts start taking up cases of medical negligence.

Dr Avtar Narain Chopra, Kurukshetra

Lost and found

Apropos Navreet Newton's article on 'Aliens in their own land' ( June 19), Maharishi Dayanand University or the Arya Samaj should launch a research project and send a team to study the roots of the Aryan tribes in Kargil and Leh districts. It would be an interesting project if they truly turn out to be descendants of soldiers in Alexander's army, who lost their way while returning to Greece. People like Baba Ramdev and Swami Agnivesh should leave issues like corruption to Anna Hazare and help in the project and propagate Swami Dayanand's message.

V.K. Rangra, Delhi

Give their due

The plight of local tribes highlighted in "Aliens in their own land" ( June 19 ) by Navreet Milton made for depressing reading. In sensitive border areas , these people are our real strength and they need to be provided with hospitals and schools. Depriving them of basic amenities, leaving them to fend for themselves in the harsh conditions in Ladakh is both deplorable and shortsighted.

A.S. Anand, Ludhiana

Magic of flute

Refer to the interview with G S Rajan ( Spectrum, June 5 ). The flute is possibly the most ancient musical instrument in the world. It evolved when small insects made holes in the bamboo trees and as the wind gushed through these holes, they produced sweet sound. In the medieval period, the flute was used extensively. Sangeet Ratnakar, a 13th century musical text, devotes over 378 shlokas on the flute. It was in the mid-twentieth century that the legendary Pannalal Ghosh gave a new dimension by introducing extraordinarily long flutes and a new playing technique incorporating slow and serene alaap. He also composed a new raga and called it "Dipavali" and the rest is history.

A new generation of flutists followed, among them Devindra Murdeshwar, Vijay Raghav Rao, Prakash Wadhera and others till Hari Prasad Chaurasia arrived to dominate the scene. There is also a parallel stream of flute players in Carnatic music with legendary T.R. Mahalingam, T. Vishwanathan, N. Ramani and others who have left an indelible mark.

V. K. Rangra, Delhi

Free bird

Khushwant Singh's column, "Born to fly" (May 28) rightly applauded the Gujarat High Court's verdict that keeping birds in cages amounted to denying freedom of life. Ancient wisdom had endorsed the sentiment long ago as is evident in a story related to 'Raja Bhoja'. The King fed raisin juice to his favourite parrot every day but was distressed to see the bird lying listless inside the cage one day. The poet Kalidasa, who was accompanying him, is said to have quipped, " Rajan, Paradheen sapne sukh nahin"( Lord, even dreaming of captivity can be painful). The King saw the point and freed the bird.

Rikh Dass Thakur Kakkar, Hamirpur



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