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

Promote research in universities

Speaking at the inaugural function of a two-day North Zone Vice-Chancellors’ conference the other day, Himachal Pradesh Governor Urmila Singh is reported to have urged the VCs to play a “proactive role” in promoting education and focus on research activities for enriching higher education, stressing that education plays a vital role in the life of a student. I fully subscribe to the Governor’s views on the roles of universities/ vice-chancellors in nation-building.

A university should not only preserve and promote knowledge but also create it by undertaking extensive research in areas unexplored so far. This way “the temples of higher learning” can help enrich knowledge/education and make the world a better place to live in.I hope the recommendations of the VCs’ conference would be published and widely publicized for the benefit of the teaching fraternity.

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)

Student suicides

This refers to a very thoughtful and sensible editorial, "Rising suicides: It's also about parenting" (September 27). It is really painful and baffling also to read that 26 talented students studying in our premier educational institutions have ended their precious lives within three years. Actually, the rising trend of suicides among the students points to a tragic reality full of social dilemma in our urban areas where only "successful" people with high salary packages living in style rule the roost.

Even the rural youth in large numbers are under the powerful sway of mindless consumerism being fostered on a massive scale in the modern age. There is a mad race among parents to send their wards to engineering and medical colleges. A sort of virus has come to invade the middle class and even lower-middle class people to see their children notching the top position in the semester and annual examinations.

I feel surprised to note that petty employees and even marginal farmers from our remote villages are eager to send their children to far-off places for earning their professional degrees by borrowing money from banks and moneylenders.

As different surveys conducted on software professionals reveal, we don't allow our children "to follow their heart" and usually bend and bow them to our own whims and caprices. We must identify the actual potential and limits of our children in a rational manner and teach them to live happily even with their failures.


Redressing grievances

International Senior Citizens’ Day is celebrated all over the world on October 1 every year. After the formal celebrations, people forget that the elderly persons, who are in the evening of their life, have become, on account of their old age, weak physically and mentally. They need help and support from various quarters. This support is lacking.

There is the natural process of weakening of various faculties in old age. An elderly person becomes the victim of several ailments and requires sufficient amount of money to purchase and use medicines to mitigate the effect of ailments. If he is further harassed by his relatives and other people, he becomes a shattered person.

The enactment, regarding “protection of senior citizens from violence”, is of help to some extent. This is, however, not enough. He is required to be saved from harassment at the hands of other sections of the society. It is, therefore, suggested that a senior citizens’ grievance cell needs to be set up to look into their grievances and redress them. This cell may be headed by a senior IAS or IPS officer, who should have powers to get the grievances of senior citizens redressed.

G R KALRA, Chandigarh

Abolish death penalty

The editorial, “Politics over Bhullar” (October 1), rightly opines that it is time to revisit the issue.

Capital punishment should be awarded in the rarest of the rare cases. Do the crimes of terrorists like Afzal Guru and DS Bhullar fall in this category? No doubt, the terror attacks and the activities of terrorists are nothing short of revolt against the State and pose a grave threat to unity and integrity of our country. Terrorists, indulging in terror attacks, deserve stringent and exemplary punishment.

However, we need to discuss if all cases of terrorism warrant a death sentence. Should the State not take a humane view in today’s civilized world and replace death penalty with life-imprisonment? In the long run, it will be in our interest and in the interest of humanity at large to abolish death sentence, like many other countries, for all kinds of crime, including terror.

Y DAVAR, Hisar

Defining poverty

The editorial, “Plan panel relents: Poverty will be redefined” (October 4), quite rightly states that the controversy over definition of poverty to identify beneficiaries of various welfare programmes is a needless one. But then, it is a great relief that the government has decided not to go ahead with this definition. Students of statistics know it quite well how statistical data can be, at times, misleading. This can hamper efforts of the government in its fight against poverty. In the light of changes that have taken place over the last few years, it may not be wrong to suggest that new methods for evaluating poverty are needed. This is, of course, for the government and the Planning Commission to decide. But it is important for them to adopt a method that helps in fighting poverty in real terms. Statistical data may not always reflect the extent of people’s sufferings.


A paradise on earth

The middle, “Mangan in better times” (September 22) by Lt-Gen Baljit Singh (retd), beautifully brings out the truth that nothing which has entered into our experience is ever lost. The unique contribution of Mangan from 1903 till the Second World War, as traced by the author, is picturesque, poetic, true to history, and a nutshell record of over a century old hamlet of Sikkim.

To Lt-Gen Singh’s tribute I am tempted to add that long back in the 1950s, Sikkim was a natural paradise for artists, poets and philosophers.

The memories of Sikkim’s spectacular social culture, the solace of monasteries, the bounty of orchids, and the dazzle of Chinese brocades cannot be forgotten. I enjoyed going to the handloom exhibitions, royal parties, magic shows, army parades, athletic meets etc.

May be the new millennium has ushered in great changes and the winds of change may have affected the cultural and social ethos of the place and diluted its traditional integrity. The more things change, the more they are the same.

Dr SATNAM KAUR, Ferozepur Cantt



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