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Give security to RTI activists

This refers to the news report, “Mumbai RTI activist assaulted, dumped in Surat” (October 18).  Another RTI activist has been allegedly beaten up for seeking information on various issues, including the Adarsh Society scam. This should be condemned by one and all. At the same time, these incidents pose a threat to the RTI Act itself. As it is there are not many people in this country who use RTI to seek information. Even now many people in India do not know about this Act and those who do, find it difficult to believe that they will get relevant information using the provisions of this Act.

It is also unfortunate that there are people who feel that the RTI Act should be reviewed. This Act has helped in exposing many scams in recent times. People like us are powerless without an Act like the RTI. It is prevalent in other countries and they have successfully implemented this law. In fact, in a democracy we cannot allow the bureaucracy to act arbitrarily.

But what concerns us all is the fact that no measures have been taken yet to ensure the safety of RTI activists. It should be government’s priority to give security to those activists who are seeking information on sensitive issues like the Adarsh scam. There should be elaborate arrangements for their security. Their lives are precious because they are trying to expose corruption and other evils.

The government, instead of thinking about diluting the Act, should in fact consider ways of strengthening the Act by providing security for RTI activists. However, the people of this country are not averse to any suggestion coming from the leaders if those suggestions are made keeping welfare of the people in mind.


Building toilets

The editorial, “Toilets for votes” (October 18), though sarcastic in tone, was very interesting. India is a country full of contradictions. We talk about becoming a developed country and our ambitions are to accomplish that dream at the earliest. But even now our leaders offer us public toilets, roads, safe drinking water and other basic amenities as if these were luxuries of life. It is not difficult to imagine elections being fought and won on the issue of which party fought for people’s right to toilet. What ought to have been given by all state governments to their people, continues to be such an important issue in rural politics. I have visited certain places in India where people still find it difficult to believe they can have the luxury of modern toilets. If this is not enough for us to catch a glimpse of the state of progress this country has made, what else can give you a fair idea? Even now talks about building public toilets take place, especially in the rural areas as if we were building nuclear reactors!


Hunger pangs

It is indeed true that issues like hunger and malnutrition are not discussed as enthusiastically as one discusses other issues, corruption for instance (editorial, “World Food Day: Indians are hungry amid plenty”, October 18). Poverty, hunger and disease have always been the main issues of concern for this country. The media has woefully failed to highlight these issues because they do not bring the TRPs to attract the attention of advertisers. The media today does indeed set the agenda for the country. In recent times so much emphasis has been laid on corruption alone that it seems this is the only issue facing the nation. I agree corruption is an important issue, but it is not the only issue. It is one of the issues, yes. While international media channels focus on poverty and starvation in African countries, our channels are reluctant to show us how the poor struggle every day in India.

While 10,688 lakh tonnes of foodgrains rot in FCI depots, millions of Indians go hungry. The editorial rightly says that the government should pay attention to the modernisation of agriculture to create more avenues of livelihood in the rural areas.


Remaining vigilant

After Ambala, this time explosives were recovered from a house and a car in Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh on Sunday (Huge haul of explosives in MP, October 17). It has now become clear that terrorists are trying to strike any moment they get an opportunity to do so. Perhaps their targets are the metropolitan cities. But even smaller towns could become the targets of terror attacks. Therefore, the police and other security forces have to remain vigilant all the time. The police has done well so far in preventing terror attacks. But there is no room for complacency.


Build team for future

Finally, we have started winning cricket matches after a long and frustrating season in England. Our young players have shown enough character against the English side, which must have been missing the services of Stuart Broad. Ian Bell has to play if England stands any chance of winning the remaining matches. While it is satisfying for us to see the Indians play like lions on home tracks, playing away from home is still a concern. We have struggled on bouncy tracks. We have also found it difficult to play on seaming tracks in England. Our players need to play abroad more often, especially the younger lot. We must win matches abroad quite regularly. For that it is important not to allow the memories of recent Test series in England haunt us forever. 

While it is important for us to regain our confidence in shorter versions of the game, Test matches remain a difficult proposition. After Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman, we do not have players with enough experience to represent India in Tests. It is, therefore, necessary to select a team for the Australian series keeping India’s long term interests in mind.

DEVESH JUYAL, Chandigarh



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