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Letters to the editor

Use of unfair means condemnable

Feb 26, 2024

Apropos of ‘The message from two SC verdicts’ (Nous Indica); the writer has rightly stressed that anonymity is synonymous with deception and corruption when it comes to funding of political parties. The electoral bond scheme clearly violated the voters’ right to know about the source of political funds, as the apex court pointed out. Further, by overturning the Chandigarh mayoral poll result and declaring AAP-Congress candidate Kuldeep Kumar the winner, the SC ensured that the democratic process remained untainted by fraudulent practices. Unfair means adopted by political parties to grab power must be condemned by all.

Ramesh Gupta, Narwana


SC intervention laudable

With reference to ‘The message from two SC verdicts’ (Nous Indica); the two recent verdicts delivered by the Supreme Court, declaring the electoral bond scheme unconstitutional and announcing the AAP-Congress candidate as the winner of the Chandigarh mayoral poll, come as a big blow to the BJP. Just weeks ahead of the General Election, the ruling party has been accused of using unfair means to win an election, and there are reports that it benefited the most from the poll bond scheme. The pushback from the top court is laudable, and hopefully, this trend will continue. If this does not prove that the ruling BJP poses a threat to our democracy, what does?

Sanjay Chopra, Mohali


Stop sending aid to Ukraine

Refer to ‘Ukraine war, two years’; the prolonged Russia-Ukraine conflict bodes ill for humanity. The suggestion for India to act as a mediator is welcome. Further, if the Western nations are truly interested in restoring peace in the region, instead of supplying military aid to Ukraine, they must persuade the two warring nations to engage in a dialogue. The international community must make earnest efforts to end the Russia-Ukraine war as soon as possible so that the conflict does not spill over and lead to a potentially disastrous third World War.

Chanchal S Mann, Una


Shot in the arm for INDIA

Apropos of ‘INDIA regrouping’; call it political prudence or just the basic instinct to survive, it seems that members of the Opposition bloc, INDIA, have woken up to the need to regroup and realign their forces so that they can take on the BJP juggernaut in the Lok Sabha elections. A strong Opposition also augurs well for our democratic set-up. Though some irritants are bound to be there, they can be tackled if the party leaders agree to present a united front. The writing is on the wall: If the alliance fails to stay united, the BJP will win a third term.

DV Sharma, Mukerian


Stifling freedom of speech

Refer to the report ‘Will comply, but disagree with govt order on blocking posts: X’; it is disturbing that social media platform X (Twitter) succumbed to government pressure and silenced voices of dissent. Curtailing the freedom of expression undermines democracy. The Narendra Modi-led Central Government’s grip on tech giants is obvious. Those in power are stifling a vital discourse. Those siding with the protesting farmers are being censored. While X’s stance against censorship is commendable, its compliance with the government’s order reflects a worrying trend in India. As protests escalate, so does the urgency for transparency and accountability. Let us not allow the murder of democracy in India. It is high time that tech giants upheld principles over profits.

Gaganpreet Singh, Mohali


Save youth of Punjab

It is disconcerting to see so many young residents of Punjab taking to the roads and holding protests on a call given by farmer leaders. It is time for intellectuals, agriculture experts, economists and industry leaders to come forward and explore fresh avenues of income generation for them both in the agriculture sector and beyond. Creating more job opportunities would be a good start. CM Bhagwant Mann must set up a committee of economists, former bureaucrats, experts from agricultural universities and industrialists to recommend long-term measures to make the youth of Punjab self-sufficient and ensure that they are not left at the mercy of the government.

Manmohan Singh, Kharar

Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

Need to find middle ground

Feb 24, 2024

Apropos of the editorial ‘Death of a farmer’; the death of Shubhkaran Singh in a clash between security personnel and protesting farmers is tragic. Hundreds of lives were lost in 2020-21 during the farmers’ agitation against the three now-repealed contentious farm laws. With no sign of a deadlock breaking anytime soon, the standoff can claim more lives. Let the stir not take another unsavoury turn. That four rounds of talks have failed to break the stalemate and instead led to the hardening of battlelines is concerning. The cultivators’ key demand, a legal guarantee for the procurement of their produce at the MSP, must be given due consideration.

Roshan Lal Goel, by mail


Farm leaders must act responsibly

With reference to ‘Death of a farmer’; the use of brutal force by the Haryana Police against the protesting farmers has further aggravated the situation. The only way out of the deadlock is through negotiations between the Centre and the growers. In the meantime, the security personnel deployed at the site of the agitation must exercise utmost restraint while handling the protesters as an uneasy calm prevails on the Punjab and Haryana borders. The farmer leaders must also behave more responsibly so as to ensure that no more innocent protesters are killed amid the standoff. The cultivators’ demands may be fulfilled eventually. But will it bring Shubhkaran back to life?

NK Gosain, Bathinda


Strengthening ties

With reference to the editorial ‘US help along LAC’; in the ever-shifting landscape of global politics, national interests reign supreme. The current administration adeptly navigates this reality, ensuring a delicate balance. India’s march towards economic progress and military self-sufficiency showcases a promising trajectory. In collaborating with the USA, there is an opportunity to sway Pakistan away from deepening its ties with China. By exemplifying a responsible conduct, India aims to assure its neighbour of cooperation and support if the latter adopts an anti-terrorist stance. This strategic diplomacy aligns with India’s broader objective of fostering amicable relations with friendly nations and reinforcing a commitment to regional stability and prosperity.

Vijay Kumar Katial, by mail


Weaponisation of agencies

The raids by the CBI on former Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik’s premises are proof that the BJP is not keen on dispelling the allegation that it is misusing probe agencies to target its political opponents and critics. It is so glaringly obvious that the former Governor is being targeted for his criticism of the saffron party and the PM. The way investigation agencies have been going after Opposition leaders is just unprecedented. The mainstream Indian media must do more to highlight the arbitrary and selective action of such Central agencies.

Anthony Henriques, Mumbai


A win for gender equality

The Supreme Court is right to note that terminating the employment of a woman on the ground that she has got married is a ‘coarse case of gender discrimination and inequality’. For decades, countless women employed across different sectors have faced the harsh reality of being forced out solely because of their marital status or family obligations. Such discriminatory practices only perpetuate gender inequality and hinder a woman’s professional growth. The apex court’s direction to the Centre to pay a compensation of Rs 60 lakh to a former military nurse who was removed from service under a now-defunct Army order that cited marriage as a ground for the action is welcome.

Yash Pal Ralhan, Jalandhar


Doctors’ pet peeve

Refer to the middle ‘The epidemic of cyberchondria’; the writer has rightly highlighted the growing practice of tech-savvy patients diagnosing themselves of a condition after looking up some symptoms they have on the Internet. The case of the IT professional suffering from knee pain that the writer has cited is surely not an isolated incident. Most patients who have phones turn hypochondriacs. It is ironic that so often, it is the patient who tells the doctor what condition he or she is supposed to be diagnosed with and how it is to be examined and treated. No wonder this leaves a doctor harried.

Beant Singh, by mail


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

Farmers getting raw deal

Feb 23, 2024

Apropos of the news report ‘Farm protester dead, 100 hurt as police fire tear gas, rubber bullets’; the death of a young farmer, Shubhkaran Singh, at the Khanauri border amid widespread protests has sparked a fresh uproar among members of the farming community. It is unfortunate that more than 100 protesters sustained injuries at the Shambhu and Khanauri borders. The government is to blame for the tragedy. In a democratic country, farmers would not be stopped from staging a peaceful protest for their demands. The government is letting the cultivators down. The sense of helplessness and disappointment these growers feel now could impact the outcome of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The BJP will have only itself to blame if it faces electoral losses.

Saurav Suman, Patiala


Silencing voices of dissent

The firing of rubber bullets and the use of tear gas by the Haryana Police to disperse the farmers who are just fighting for their rights are condemnable. The cops deployed at the site of the protest have also used drones to drop tear gas on the agitators; it can cause the cultivators serious injuries. The senseless police action has already claimed the life of a young farmer. No more innocent lives should be lost. Further, those in power must not try to silence dissenting voices. It is not uncommon for the authorities in India to have anti-government posts on social media sites taken down amid such agitations. It is a violation of the right to free speech and expression.

Ekta Devi, Hoshiarpur


Farmers have right to protest

The death of Shubhkaran Singh, who was the sole breadwinner of his family, during the ongoing farmers’ agitation is tragic. It is high time the authorities stopped treating the growers, who have been holding peaceful protests, like terrorists or extremists. The Centre must try to understand their woes and address their demands. Police brutality against farmers that has been witnessed at the Shambhu and Khanauri borders cannot be justified. The way the authorities are responding to peaceful protesters with force is a ‘murder of democracy’.

Aditi Salaria, by mail


Protect sanctity of elections

With reference to the editorial ‘Victory for democracy’; the use of unfair means in the Chandigarh mayoral polls had shaken the faith of the populace in the electoral process. The trust of the electorate is the cornerstone of fostering widespread participation in elections. Some have rightly expressed concern that if such misconduct could go unchecked in a mayoral election, the integrity of larger-scale electoral processes, where the stakes are significantly higher, may also be compromised. To prevent the use of unfair means, it is crucial to implement a comprehensive verification mechanism that ensures complete matching of electronic voting machine (EVM) votes with voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips. Transparency can dispel all doubts regarding the sanctity and credibility of Indian elections.

Prateek Bansal, by mail


A friend in need

Refer to ‘Close ties with Russia’; India’s steadfast support for Russia amid the Ukraine war despite the West’s objection is laudable. Moscow has always stood by New Delhi in the UN Security Council, vetoing resolutions against India to avoid discussions on sensitive diplomatic issues like the Kashmir dispute. New Delhi’s diplomatic backing for Russia amid the latter’s invasion of Ukraine is exemplified through the New Delhi Declaration. Both Russia and India must ensure that their bilateral ties are further strengthened. Besides, India must actively mediate in the Russia-Ukraine conflict to restore peace in the region for the sake of humanity.

Amarjeet Mann, Una


The voice that captivated millions

Apropos of the obituary ‘A mesmerising voice that will live on’; the passing away of legendary radio announcer Ameen Sayani has left crores of Indians teary-eyed. He was always ahead of his time. He became the voice of Binaca Geetmala at a time when radio jockeys were unheard of. His voice captivated millions of music lovers, who would huddle around a radio set to listen to popular Bollywood songs of the day. To most Indians who loved film music, Sayani was the Pied Piper, whose unique and mesmerising voice compelled them to tune in to his show week after week.

Avinash Godboley, Dewas (MP)


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

SC saves the day

Feb 22, 2024

Refer to the news report ‘SC overturns UT mayoral poll results, declares AAP-Cong candidate winner’; the Supreme Court has undone a grave injustice by setting aside the Chandigarh mayoral election outcome and declaring AAP-Congress candidate Kuldeep Kumar the winner. By invalidating eight Opposition votes to ensure victory for the BJP, returning officer Anil Masih did a disservice to the voters. The SC Bench is right to hold that the votes declared invalid had been validly cast in favour of Kumar, who had actually got 20 votes against BJP candidate Manoj Sonkar’s 16. The message is loud and clear: the apex court won’t allow subversion of the electoral process.

DVG Sankara Rao, Vizianagaram


Saving forests need of the hour

Apropos of the editorial ‘Definition of forest’; the Supreme Court’s interim order to revert to the expansive definition of ‘forest’, as laid down in the 1996 ruling, is welcome. The petitioners’ concerns about the land classified as ‘forest’ as per the earlier definition being diverted for non-forest use during the exercise are genuine. The protection of forests is necessary to maintain the ecological balance. The green cover has depleted over the years because of infrastructural development. Many animal species have lost much of their habitats and now face the threat of extinction. Saving forests is the need of the hour.

Krishan Kant Sood, Nangal


Sustainable development is key

With reference to ‘Definition of forest’; the Supreme Court has thrown a lifeline to India’s forests by reverting to the wider definition of ‘forest’. By doing so, the court has also ensured protection for 1.97 lakh square km of undeclared forest land. Activists are rightly concerned about the dilution of forest protection rules, mass declassification and exploitation. The court, echoing its 1996 verdict, has stuck to a broader definition of ‘forest’, safeguarding vital green cover. We must understand that this is not about ‘development vs environment’; it is about progressing in a way that does not disturb the ecology. Forest restoration must be a priority.

Ibne Farooq, Mumbai


Break the deadlock

Refer to the report ‘Cranes, earthmovers in tow, farmers all set for Dilli Chalo protest march today’; the tillers’ rejection of the government’s MSP offer for five crops has scuttled the Centre’s attempts to bridge differences. While not a full package, the Centre’s proposal showed promise. Key issues like a guaranteed income for farmers and diversification from water-intensive crops could have been addressed. It is the limited scope of the proposal that probably prompted the growers to turn it down. This highlights the complex challenges the two sides are facing in finding common ground. As a lasting resolution seems elusive, both must try to meet in the middle.

Mohammad Taukir, Bettiah (Bihar)


Misuse of antibiotics concerning

With reference to the article ‘Ensure enforcement of rules to combat antimicrobial resistance’; unnecessary antibiotic consumption leads to serious health issues. The insightful piece has shed light on the menace of chemists dispensing antibiotics without proper scrutiny. The practice is, in part, driven by the demand for immediate relief and high doctor fees. It is imperative to spread awareness among the masses about the consequences of the misuse of antibiotics. Patients must embrace alternative treatments like ayurveda and homoeopathy, which offer effective solutions at a lower cost. A multifaceted approach is required to combat AMR.

Vijay Kumar Katial, by mail


Redress students’ grievances

Apropos of ‘UGC tells universities to appoint ombudspersons’; the move is a step in the right direction. The appointment of ombudspersons is mandatory for all higher education institutions for a speedy redressal of issues faced by students. The 300 institutions that are yet to make such appointments must comply with the UGC direction soon. Further, there is a need to ensure that only experienced professionals are appointed as ombudspersons so that they are capable of handling students’ grievances, such as irregularities in admission. The ombudsperson must make efforts to resolve any grievance within 30 days.

Sudesh Kumar Sharma, Kapurthala


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

Encourage crop diversification

Feb 21, 2024

Apropos of ‘MSP proposal’; the intensive use of fertilisers and pesticides has not only led to the exploitation of natural resources but also to marketing hazards. The deteriorating soil health and depleting water table are already serious concerns in Punjab and Haryana. The diversification to non-water-guzzling crops won’t pick up as the prices of different commodities have not been uniform. To stabilise prices of agricultural produce, MSP has to be implemented uniformly across the country. The current uproar among farmers in India has wider ramifications. The legal MSP framework for a variety of produce will broaden the choice for farmers to adopt other crops. This would accelerate crop diversification and thus help make farming a viable venture.

Nirmaljit Singh Chatrath, Kapurthala


Stopgap measures not enough

With reference to ‘MSP proposal’; the growers have rejected the Centre’s offer to procure five crops on minimum support price (MSP) for five years based on a contract system and decided to resume their march to the national capital. Tentative proposals to pacify the agitating farmers are not a solution. The lack of a viable, long-term policy is to blame for the farmers’ plight. It is incumbent upon the government to strike a balance between the interests of farmers and consumers. The issues raised by farmers need to be handled sensitively. There is a need to break the stalemate, which has caused a massive inconvenience to the public.

Roshan Lal Goel, by mail


Farmers targeting BJP govt

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha’s plan to gherao houses of BJP leaders in Punjab in a bid to press the Centre to accept the farmers’ demands, including providing a legal guarantee for crop procurement at the minimum support price and waiving their loans, does not make sense. It may be recalled that the Congress had not accepted the MS Swaminathan formula on MSP calculation during the UPA regime. Why don’t the growers stage dharnas in front of Congress leaders’ houses and offices? Why are the tillers just targeting BJP leaders ahead of the Lok Sabha elections? It seems like the agitating farmers have a political agenda against the Narendra Modi-led Central Government.

Chander Jyoti, New Chandigarh


Don’t politicise the case

This refers to the editorial ‘Sandeshkhali row’; West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee once said that her dream was to build a nation where no woman feels unsafe, all are treated equally and no oppressive forces divide the people. ‘Ma Mati Manush’ (Mother, Motherland and People) is a political slogan that the Trinamool Congress chief herself had coined. But the ground reality in her state is something else, it seems. The fact that her party supporters obstruct officials from discharging their duties is a matter of grave concern. The CM would do well to take the allegations seriously and not politicise the matter.

Subhash Vaid, New Delhi


Mamata’s response a letdown

With reference to the editorial ‘Sandeshkhali row’; West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s comment that her detractors are making a mountain out of a molehill is condemnable. She is not treating the case with the seriousness that it deserves. It is unfortunate that she is using the controversy to target the Opposition, especially the BJP. As a self-professed champion of women’s rights and as a woman herself, she should ensure a comprehensive inquiry into the matter. Further, in view of the recent cases of female inmates getting pregnant, the CM must take steps to ensure the well-being of women prisoners.

Chaman Arora, Ferozepur


Beware of the Dragon

Refer to the article ‘India must be wary of China’s global security plan’; the Dragon’s Global Security Initiative (GSI) might be a ploy to spread its influence worldwide. Beijing’s hostile relations with most of its neighbouring nations, such as India and Bhutan, and its unilateral claims over the South China Sea raise questions about its moral authority to spearhead such an initiative. India must keep tabs on the GSI, and consider forging regional partnerships and enhancing its defence capabilities.

CS Mann, Una


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

Unsafe in America

Feb 20, 2024

With reference to the editorial ‘Attacks on Indians’; the deaths of half-a-dozen Indian students since the beginning of this year are a matter of concern. The law enforcement authorities must look into the motives behind the recent attacks on Indian-Americans. Were the attacks motivated by racial hatred, or did the victims just happen to be Indians? Further, the fact that the Indian student intake in the US surged by 35 per cent in the 2022-23 academic year begs the question: why are so many Indians going to the US for higher studies? Besides, India is in no position to blame the US administration for failing to tackle hate crime if we cannot even check the targeting of minority communities here at home.

Anthony Henriques, Mumbai


Ensure safety of Indian immigrants

Apropos of ‘Attacks on Indians’; the spate of deaths in the US starkly highlights the vulnerability of Indian-Americans living abroad. As investigations into the recent incidents continue, it is crucial to examine the root causes and systemic issues that contribute to the targeting of Indians overseas. The incidents also underscore the need for increasing awareness about attacks prompted by racial hatred. The Joe Biden administration must keep in mind the immense contribution made by Indian immigrants to the US economy. It would do well to ensure the safety of all members of the Indian community and not just separatists like Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

Gregory Fernandes, Mumbai


Boost for Himachal farmers

Refer to the editorial ‘Himachal Budget’; increasing the MSP of cow milk from Rs 38 to Rs 45 per litre and buffalo milk from Rs 47 to Rs 55 per litre will give a boost to animal husbandry and supplement the income of the farmer. Similarly, announcing an MSP of Rs 40 and Rs 30 per kg for wheat and maize, respectively, will enhance natural farming and raise the income of the farmer at the same time. While handholding a farmer through income-generating schemes is welcome, giving free foodgrains under Central or state schemes would be an insult to the growers.

KR Bharti, Shimla


Bring down cost of living

Apropos of the article ‘Reducing costs can help ensure higher quality of life for all’; while offering freebies to people is never a good idea, the author is right to argue that bringing down the cost of living could improve the quality of life for everyone. Those who fall in the low-income bracket barely earn enough to eke out a living. The need of the hour is to augment the income to an extent where people can not only fulfil their basic needs but also have a semblance of dignified living. The inequalities among different strata (income groups) of people are sadly a fact of life. The government must take measures to ensure that even the poor can easily access facilities like healthcare and education.

Ravi Sharma, Dhariwal


Bharat Ratna contender

It is commendable that the government recently conferred the highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, on agriculture scientist MS Swaminathan, who had played a pivotal role in the Green Revolution. However, it is a matter of disappointment that the government has not announced the same honour for Verghese Kurien, who is remembered as the ‘Father of the White Revolution’ in India. As a dairy engineer and social entrepreneur who led the initiatives that contributed to an extensive growth in milk production, Kurien is just as worthy of the honour. The apathy of the government in this regard, despite repeated requests from various quarters, is glaring.

Tharcius S Fernando, Chennai


Big relief for flyers

With reference to the news report ‘Deliver bags within 30 mins of landing, airlines directed’; the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security’s direction to carriers to ensure that passengers get their baggage within 30 minutes of landing at airports is welcome. They often have to wait for a long time at airports to collect their bags. A timely, hassle-free delivery of the baggage will help decongest the belts. This will especially be a big relief to passengers at international airports. Hopefully, the airlines will ensure compliance with the directive issued by the aviation security regulator.

Abhilasha Gupta, Mohali


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

Farmers being mistreated

Feb 19, 2024

Apropos of ‘Make the farmer feel heard & honoured’ (Nous Indica); it is a pity that farmers protesting for their demands, which are justified, are being tear-gassed and hit with rubber bullets. It is a great insult to the farming community. The denial of MSP for the crops is the stumbling block. A legal guarantee for MSP for their produce will not only encourage the growers to opt for diversification, but will also protect them from corporate exploitation. Politicians are making promises to farmers, but there is no point in all this unless the tillers are respected and taken care of.

Darshan Singh Bhathal, by mail


Onus on farmers to cut costs

With reference to ‘Make the farmer feel heard & honoured’ (Nous Indica); the author has tried to make a case for supporting farmers and providing them with remunerative prices for their produce and cited the case of farmer Gurpreet Singh to highlight the plight of cultivators in general. However, we must understand that it is up to the growers to reduce the costs of farming and control wasteful expenditure. The tillers must use indigenous technology. It is high time farmers stopped asking the government to fulfil all their demands and instead improvise to cut costs.

Ravinder Mittal, Ludhiana


New model need of the hour

Refer to ‘Make the farmer feel heard & honoured; the article noted that kinnow is selling at Rs 3-10 in the Abohar mandi, which is probably the biggest trading place for the fruit in the world. The same is the case with other fruits and vegetables throughout the country. Late Punjab agriculture secretary MS Gill had introduced the concept of Apni Mandi in Chandigarh and other cities three decades ago, enabling farmers to sell their produce directly to consumers. It benefited both the growers and the farmers. The experiment has been a roaring success. If the Amul model has not been entirely successful, some other model has to be devised through consultation with farmers.

RN Malik, Gurugram


Enforce ban on manja

Refer to the editorial ‘Hazardous kite string’; the severe injuries and deaths caused by the Chinese manja are worrisome. There have been numerous cases of birds and animals getting hurt after being entangled in the string. It is clear that the ban on the string, which has been in place since 2017, is not being strictly enforced. Coated with glass, this string is not environment-friendly. Anybody who is caught using the manja should be penalised. Government authorities, NGOs and citizens should carry out awareness campaigns to highlight the dangers of the string.

Subhash Vaid, New Delhi


Weaponisation of agencies

Apropos of the editorial ‘Congress on I-T radar’; in a politically motivated move, the I-T Department has raised a demand of Rs 210 crore in penalty and dues from the grand old party. The action seems disproportionate to the charges. It is a matter of concern that just weeks before the Lok Sabha polls, the main Opposition party in the country finds itself in the crosshairs of a Central agency. The high-handed action is clearly meant to rattle the Congress. Any disparity in access to funds can create political inequality and, hence, affect electoral outcomes. The misuse of Central agencies to target critics of the government is undermining the political system.

Sanjay Chopra, Mohali


Display of maritime might

Refer to the editorial ‘Naval prowess’; ‘Milan 2024’ holds significance for many reasons. It is undoubtedly a grand exercise, with participation from over 50 nations. It highlights India’s growing might on the high seas. It will definitely build trust and coordination among the participants to ensure maritime security and stability. The event assumes even greater importance in view of the current geopolitical tensions and attacks by Houthi rebels and Somali pirates in vital waterways like the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. This get-together of the world’s major naval powers for a common cause will also send a strong message to our hostile neighbours.

Priyanka, by mail


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit.

These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

Victory of transparency

Feb 17, 2024

Apropos of the editorial ‘Electoral bonds’; there is no denying that the contentious scheme of electoral bonds added to the opacity around the political funding system, quite in contrast to its supposed objective of bringing in transparency. The court was emphatic in observing that the scheme violated the right to information under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The fact that around half of the electoral bond donations went to the BJP is telling. Allegations of selective confidentiality and the denial of a level playing field are hard to dismiss. The constitutional right of the electorate to access information on the funding of political parties must not be violated. The scheme was pro-regime as it shielded the nexus between the corporate houses and the government.

Roshan Lal Goel, by mail


Bond scheme unfair

With reference to ‘Electoral bonds’; the poll bonds scheme did the exact opposite of what it was meant to do: to ensure transparency in election funding. The veil of anonymity for donors was only meant to keep them hidden from the public and the Opposition parties. The scheme clearly gave an unfair advantage to the political party in power. Further, the possibility of the ruling dispensation trying to target the big companies that do not fund the party could not be ruled out. The verdict by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court is a step in the right direction.

Yadvinder Singh Barring, Patiala


Congress’ U-turn

Refer to the news report ‘When UPA rejected Swaminathan’s MSP formula’; it is ironic that the Congress, which has promised a legal guarantee of MSP if voted to power in the upcoming elections, had not accepted the MS Swaminathan formula on MSP calculation when in power. The UPA regime had turned it down on the ground that prescribing an increase of at least 50 per cent on the cost could distort the market and a market linkage between the MSP and the cost of production might be counterproductive. With the General Election around the corner, the Congress has done a U-turn and pledged a guarantee for MSP, among other things. This clearly reflects the double standard of the UPA and the Congress.

GS Anand, Panchkula


Farmers’ demands not viable

Apropos of the report ‘Third round of talks, farmers insist on MSP, loan waiver’; the agitating farmers’ ‘Dilli Chalo’ march in favour of their demands, such as a legal guarantee for MSP for all crops, is politically motivated. Choking the national capital and being unaccommodating on the negotiating table are among the tactics being used by farmers. Their demand for guaranteed MSP is not financially viable at all. The agriculture sector cannot be given priority over others. Accepting such impractical demands will come in the way of the holistic development of all sections of society.

Anil Vinayak, Amritsar


Stop targeting Christians

With reference to the article ‘Christians at the receiving end of bullying’; it has become all too easy for radical groups to barge into Christian places of worship and threaten worshippers. The excuse of forced conversion is trotted out to justify violence. Goons are resorting to vandalism and intimidation with impunity. It is unfortunate that, though lakhs of people have studied in Christian institutions, rarely any of them speaks up for the community. The news reports about attacks on Christians are disturbing.

Anthony Henriques, Mumbai


INDIA falling apart

The ragtag grouping of Opposition parties, INDIA, is disintegrating. How will it dislodge the Narendra Modi government in the General Election? Even Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, who played a key role in the birth of the alliance, has returned to the NDA. Member parties like AAP and the Trinamool Congress, which are going solo in Punjab and West Bengal, respectively, are concerned with their own interests. The main Opposition party, the Congress, is finding it hard to keep its flock together as senior party leaders are deserting it one by one. The crippled INDIA is no match for the NDA, which is sure to win a record number of seats.

Karnal Singh, Kharar


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit.

These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

Level playing field a must

Feb 16, 2024

The Supreme Court’s unanimous verdict on the electoral bond scheme is historic. The apex court is right in calling the six-year-old scheme ‘unconstitutional’. It is commendable that the five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud directed the State Bank of India (SBI) to disclose to the Election Commission the names of the contributors. The SC has rightly ruled that anonymous electoral bonds are violative of the right to freedom of speech under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Notably, in the six years since the scheme was introduced, more than half of the funds extended through bonds went to the ruling BJP. The scheme clearly failed to provide a level playing field.

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad


A win for democracy

The much-awaited verdict of the Supreme Court on the poll bond scheme is welcome. The opaqueness surrounding the contributions from corporates to various political outfits is unwarranted. It is good to see the apex court order the SBI to submit the details of the political parties that have received contributions through electoral bonds and ask the Election Commission to publish the information on its website. This judgment is historic and will have implications for the political system in the country. Further, it will go a long way in strengthening India’s democratic framework.

Deepak TAAK, Panchkula


Strengthening ties

Apropos of ‘India-UAE bonhomie’; PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the Gulf country is a sign of the strengthening ties and bonhomie between the two nations that have economic and cultural bonds. The fact that it was PM Modi’s seventh visit to the UAE in nine years shows the importance that he accords to India’s ties with Abu Dhabi. This is reflected in his remark that he feels ‘at home’ while in the UAE. The 10 pacts inked by India and the UAE for collaboration in important sectors like energy, infrastructure and investments will take the bilateral ties to the next level. The inauguration of the Swaminarayan Mandir by PM Modi reflects the growing interfaith harmony and cultural homogenisation in the country that is home to 3.5 million Indians.

Ravi Sharma, Dhariwal


A boost for economy

Refer to the editorial ‘India-UAE bonhomie’; PM Modi’s visit was important for improving India’s ties with the UAE. Collaboration in areas like energy, infrastructure and investments will give a big boost to the economy. Further, the signing of the agreement connecting the instant payment platforms — India’s UPI and UAE’s AANI — and a pact on interlinking domestic debit/credit cards are welcome. Besides, the inauguration of the Swaminarayan temple in Abu Dhabi showcases interfaith harmony among various communities.

Chanchal S Mann, Una


Congress needs new leaders

With reference to the editorial ‘Sonia in Rajya Sabha’; the former Congress chief must have decided not to contest the Lok Sabha election from her home constituency of Rae Bareli this time because she has lost her vote bank. Resentment against the Congress leadership is growing in the party. As things go from bad to worse for the Congress, one cannot help but wonder how the INDIA bloc plans to stop the NDA juggernaut in the Lok Sabha elections. If the grand old party wants to survive in politics, it must find a new leader that can represent it at the national level, because the Gandhis are not able to do the needful.

MD Sharma, by mail


Accept farmers’ demands

The way the government is treating the protesting farmers should concern us all. India continues to be predominantly an agrarian country. It is unfortunate that successive governments have sidelined the agriculture sector. Those in power cannot afford to remain mute spectators as so many farmers, who have been pushed to the wall, resort to dying by suicide. The growers’ demand for a legal guarantee for the MSP for all crops is justified. The government’s failure to accept the demand is indicative of the stepmotherly treatment being meted out to the farming community.

AG Rajmohan, Anantapur (AP)


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

INDIA’s loss is BJP’s gain

Feb 15, 2024

Refer to the editorial ‘INDIA crumbling’; one by one, leaders from the Opposition bloc are crossing over to the BJP-led NDA as the Lok Sabha polls draw closer. Does this prove the effectiveness of the BJP’s politicisation of the Bharat Ratna and the alleged use of agencies like the ED and CBI to target Opposition leaders? Is this carrot-and-stick approach of the BJP benefiting it? In Bihar, serial turncoat Nitish Kumar, who was one of the strongest pillars of the Opposition, has returned to the NDA fold. Former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan has deserted the Congress and joined the BJP. Meanwhile, the Congress has failed to guard its base or agree on seat-sharing with its INDIA allies. The weakening of the Opposition might be a win for the BJP, but it bodes ill for our democracy.

PL Singh, by mail


Oppn bloc falling apart

Apropos of ‘INDIA crumbling’; it was obvious from the beginning that it would be hard for such diverse political parties to come together under one umbrella and take on the NDA. There were bound to be hurdles in seat-sharing deliberations. But nobody could have imagined that the INDIA bloc would crumble months before the General Election. Merely appointing Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge as the convener is of no use if he does not intervene and helps resolve the seat-sharing disputes. The decision of TMC and AAP to contest independently in West Bengal and Punjab, respectively, and the exit of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and the Rashtriya Lok Dal do not augur well for the INDIA grouping.

Bal Govind, Noida


Civilians bear brunt of war

Refers to the editorial ‘Israel’s offensive’; the most powerful influencers in the international community are hardly doing anything to convince both Israel and Hamas to end the war and come to the negotiating table to establish peace in the region. If a large part of the recently declared US foreign aid package of $95.3 billion is used by Israel for acquiring more weapons and ammunition, it will only add fuel to the fire. Militant groups like Hezbollah and Houthis are further causing unrest in the region as Israel remains bent on attaining a ‘total victory’. Thousands of civilians are bearing the brunt of this war. The UN must devise concrete ways to get the hostages released and effect a ceasefire.

Subhash Vaid, New Delhi


Skyrocketing airfares

With the authorities blocking roads to stop the protesting farmers’ march to the national capital, Chandigarh-Delhi airfares have gone up. The morning flight is costing in excess of

Rs 16,000, while the fare for the evening flight is no less than Rs 11,000. It is not the first time that airlines are cashing in on road and rail traffic disruptions to fleece passengers. The airlines did not mend their ways even when Kerala was reeling under floods in 2018. It is a matter of shame for the aviation industry. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation must look into the matter on priority.

Gurpreet S Malhotra, Kansal


Don’t block farmers’ way

Why is the Haryana Government creating a border between Punjab and the rest of India by laying barbed wire and concrete blocks to block the protesting farmers’ way? The inter-state border has started to look like an international border. The authorities are causing inconvenience to commuters. The government must let the farmers raise their concerns peacefully. Their right to hold a peaceful protest must not be violated. These farmers serve langar to people wherever they stage protests. The Supreme Court must take suo motu cognisance of the matter and issue directions to the authorities to restore traffic.

SS Bhathal, by mail


Education system needs overhaul

Apropos of the article ‘Stress a significant risk factor in heart attacks among youth’; the surge in heart attacks among relatively young people is concerning. There is no doubt that youngsters, stuck in the rat race, face a lot of stress. They are extremely career-conscious and expect high-paying jobs. Our education system prepares students to grab a high package, but it does not teach them to handle failures. The education system needs an overhaul. Students should be taught to adopt a healthy lifestyle and deal with stress.

Abhilasha Gupta, Mohali


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Resolve farmers’ issues

Feb 14, 2024

Apropos of the editorial ‘Farmers’ protest’; it is the unyielding attitude of the government toward the farmers’ demands that prompts them to block roads and railway tracks. At the end of the day, it is the common man who has to bear the brunt of such widespread protests. There is an urgent need to bring the farmers to the negotiating table and address their issues in a time-bound manner. Such agitations disrupt normal life and cause massive inconvenience to the masses. The government’s inability to keep its promises, such as doubling the farmers’ income, and its failure to settle the MSP issue have worsened the situation.

Ravinder Singh, Jalandhar


Find long-term solution

Refer to the report ‘Talks with farmers fail, MSP sticking point’; it is unfortunate that farmers have been left with no choice but to take the path of agitation again. Making farming a financially viable occupation is the sole responsibility of the government. A key demand of the farmers is a legal guarantee for MSP on all crops. The government had sufficient time to sort out the issue since the last agitation ended, but it did not. The only way forward now will be for the government to come up with a workable proposal in the interest of all stakeholders.

Jagdish Chander, Jalandhar


Quiet diplomacy wins

With reference to the editorial ‘Back from Qatar’; the release of the eight retired Navy personnel who had been handed down the death sentence in Qatar is a welcome development, marking a win for quiet diplomacy. Engaging with Gulf rulers requires a different approach. The Navy veterans’ release is proof that PM Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval handled the case well, and they deserve praise for it. Since Qatar hosts some of Hamas political leadership and given India’s strategic relations with Israel amid the ongoing war, the case always seemed suspicious. New Delhi must take some steps to prevent a repeat of the incident.

Gregory Fernandes, Mumbai


Modi’s efforts pay off

Apropos of the report ‘Qatar releases 8 Indian ex-Navy men, 7 return home; PM Modi to visit Doha’; it is time to rejoice at the news of the eight Indian Navy veterans being released. The External Affairs Ministry deserves credit for the diplomatic heavy lifting it did in the background, away from media glare, and sustaining it diligently until the good news of the release came through. It is not just a sign of India’s soft power in the world. It is also a reflection of the bonhomie between PM Narendra Modi and other world leaders, especially many rulers in the Gulf, such as Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

N Sadhasiva Reddy, Bengaluru


Animal lives matter

With reference to the report ‘Shun cruelty, animals too have right to life: HC’; the Punjab and Haryana High Court has very judiciously refused to quash an FIR on the basis of compromise, lodged for killing and injuring buffaloes by rash or negligent driving. The court is right to observe that animals may be mute, but they still have a right to bodily integrity, honour and dignity. Notably, this is not the first time that the Punjab and Haryana HC has stressed the importance of protecting animal rights. Earlier, in June 2019, the court had declared animals as ‘living persons’ that had their own set of rights. It is high time that people start treating other living creatures with compassion.

Raj Kumar Kapoor, Ropar


BJP, SAD must get together

AAP will probably benefit if the talks between the BJP and SAD in Punjab prove inconclusive. The BJP is refusing to play second fiddle by becoming a junior ally of SAD. The saffron party must understand that its influence is confined to urban areas, while the Akalis command a lot of sway over people in rural areas of Punjab. The BJP and SAD have nothing to gain from contesting against each other, as the 2022 Assembly polls showed. Even SAD patriarch Parkash Singh Badal lost his home constituency seat, Lambi. Only SAD and BJP together can turn the tables on AAP in the coming elections.

Karnail Singh, Kharar


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit.

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Diplomatic breakthrough for India

Feb 13, 2024

The release of eight retired Indian Navy personnel, who had been sentenced to death in Qatar, and the dropping of espionage charges against them come as a significant diplomatic breakthrough. What makes it even more remarkable is the fact that the development comes after weeks of appeals and diplomatic efforts by the Indian government. The release of the ex-Navy personnel would not have been possible without the intervention of PM Narendra Modi, who met the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai in December last year.

Ramesh G Jethwani, Bengaluru


Politicisation of Bharat Ratna

Apropos of the editorial ‘Bharat Ratna for trio’; the Narendra Modi government’s decision to confer the highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, on two former PMs in the election year is definitely political. It is true that all those honoured are remembered for their contribution to the nation. But why confer the award on so many leaders in such a short span? If the coveted award is being given away for political reasons, it will set a bad precedent, as it is going to erode the credibility of the honour. The politicisation of the Bharat Ratna does not augur well for the Indian polity.

MD Sharma, Shimla


Bring culprits to book

Refer to the editorial ‘Haldwani violence’; the clashes underscore the critical importance of prioritising peace and communal harmony over the unchecked fervour of agitated crowds. It is disconcerting that, despite intelligence reports, the Uttarakhand CM did not intervene proactively to prevent the escalation of tensions. Post-crime reactions cannot serve as a justification for overlooking the responsibility to prevent such occurrences. In a developing nation like India, the loss of lives and extensive damage to public property cannot be tolerated. It is imperative for the authorities to thoroughly investigate the matter and ensure that the culprits face legal action.

Vijay Kumar Katial, Panchkula


No lesson learnt

It is unfortunate that neither farmers nor the government has learnt any lesson from the year-long farmers’ agitation that caused traffic disruptions, inconvenience to commuters and economy losses. Large, medium and small-scale industries in Bahadurgarh suffered losses running into thousands of crores of rupees because of the Tikri blockade. The farmers’ movement was apparently hijacked by radicals. Violence at some protest sites belied the claim that the agitation was peaceful. Instead of blocking the farmers’ march, they should be allowed to gather for a peaceful protest at the Jantar Mantar or some other site, but only as long as they do not disrupt normal life. It is sad that farmers prefer to hold protests regarding their demands rather than have a constructive dialogue with the government.

Wg Cdr Cl Sehgal (retd), Jalandhar


From bad to worse for INDIA

Just weeks after West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee announced that her party, the Trinamool Congress, would go it alone in the Lok Sabha elections in her state, AAP and Congress have decided to go solo in Punjab. It is clear that the INDIA bloc, which took off so well that it got the BJP to review its strategy for the polls, is faltering. The Opposition grouping seems to have shot itself in the foot. The recent exit of Nitish Kumar had already left the bloc high and dry. We no longer have any reason to expect surprises in the General Election.

Deepak TAAK, Panchkula


Increase medical seats

Apropos of the report ‘Increase medical seats in UG, PG courses, says House panel’; the recommendation by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health to significantly increase medical seats in both undergraduate and postgraduate courses is welcome. We need more doctors in this country. However, adding seats to the existing government institutions will defeat the purpose of quality medical education. We need more public-private or private institutes. Further, the panel’s suggestion for adopting an India-specific approach to consider the nation’s healthcare needs is on point. However, there is also a need to have a state-specific approach.

Ashok Uppal, by mail


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit.

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Find an amicable solution

Feb 12, 2024

Apropos of ‘Piety hostage to power politics’ (Nous Indica); it is a fact that Mohammedan invaders and Mughal emperors did great harm to Hindu places of worship, desecrating and destroying them. UP CM Yogi Adityanath has endorsed Hindu groups’ claims over shrines in Varanasi and Mathura by referring to how the refusal to accept Lord Krishna’s demand for five villages for the Pandavas led to the Mahabharata war. The country has already witnessed bloodshed over such disputes. Well-meaning Muslims should come forward and try to work out a solution with the Hindu groups. There is no place for violence and suppression of one community by another in a civilised society.

KR Bharti, Shimla


Need to shed historical baggage

This is with reference to ‘Piety hostage to power politics’; the demand for more mosques to be demolished so that temples can be built is a dangerous trend. It is true that early Muslim rulers were intolerant towards Hindus. There is no denying that several temples were destroyed. But an eye-for-an-eye approach will never lead us to progress. You can judge a society by where it stands on such critical and sensitive issues. The government must handle such matters in a compassionate manner and keep everybody’s sentiments in mind.

Jeevan VK, Pathankot


Power play in Pakistan

This refers to the editorial ‘Pakistan polls’; the fact that independent candidates backed by former PM Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf sprung a surprise in the general election by upstaging Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is a reflection of the massive support that Imran still enjoys despite his legal troubles. However, the volatile political situation and the Pakistan army’s support for Sharif’s party can complicate matters. It may further weaken the economic condition of Pakistan. An unstable government in the neighbouring country will have serious implications for India in terms of security, border and trade.

Wg Cdr JS Minhas (retd), Mohali


Poor implementation to blame

With reference to the editorial ‘Mauled by dogs’; the incident of a 32-year-old woman being mauled to death by stray dogs in Kapurthala’s Passan Kadim village should worry us all. Stray dog attacks on people have become increasingly common these days. It is unfortunate that in some cases, the attack leaves the victims seriously injured or even turns fatal. The poor implementation of policies by the local authorities is to blame for the growing canine menace. The authorities concerned must monitor stray dogs. Further, those in power should take a serious view of the threat posed by stray animals in general. It is not uncommon for stray dogs or cattle to cause road accidents.

Kamalpreet Singh, Barnala


Politics of Bharat Ratna

Refer to the report ‘Bharat Ratna for ex-PMs Charan Singh, Narasimha Rao, scientist Swaminathan’; it is raining Bharat Ratnas ahead of the general election. Five recipients have already been named this year. It is obvious that the decisions have been motivated by politics. The award for Karpoori Thakur is one of the reasons why Bihar CM Nitish Kumar crossed over from the Opposition to the NDA. The award for LK Advani was an appeal to the BJP’s own Sangh Parivar base. And by honouring Rao, Modi can now claim he has given a senior Congress leader the nation’s highest honour. But the question is: Will giving away the award to so many people not devalue the honour? Is the ruling party using the Bharat Ratna as a launch pad for a grand victory in 2024?

Sanjay Chopra, Mohali


To live(in) or not

Most people in India look down on live-in relationships with a lot of disdain. The UCC Bill in no way makes life easier for such couples, who will face up to three months in jail or a maximum fine of Rs 10,000 or both if they fail to register their live-in status within one month. One can’t help but wonder how this proposed law will bring about gender equality and protect women’s rights. The need of the hour is to bring about a shift in the mindset and make efforts to normalise such relationships.

Gunjit Trehan, Chandigarh


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

Hate crime in US

Feb 10, 2024

With reference to the editorial ‘Unsafe in the US’; the death of five Indian-origin students in the United States over the past few weeks must be taken seriously. The US law enforcement agencies have clearly failed. Besides, it is not uncommon for Indian nationals to be the target of hate crime. That makes it all the more important for the US authorities to probe the matter in a time-bound manner. India should raise the issue with the US and ensure that members of the Indian-American community are safe. The US was quick to charge an Indian over alleged involvement in a foiled plot to kill a Sikh separatist on its soil and also hinted that New Delhi had a role in the conspiracy. But the US authorities are slow to act on attacks against Indian students.

Anil Vinayak, by mail


Must address brain drain

Apropos of ‘Unsafe in the US’; the recent series of deaths of Indian students in the United States is a matter of grave concern. These deaths could be attributed to a number of factors, such as xenophobia, racial hatred, drug addiction and the lax attitude of the authorities there. The onus is on our diplomatic staff in America to ensure the well-being of Indian students there. They must push the law enforcement agencies concerned into action. Exemplary punishment should be awarded to the culprits to set an example. Further, we must not forget that it is the bleak job prospects in India that drive our youth to flee abroad. Sometimes, they even risk their lives by taking the donkey route. The brain drain must be addressed too.

Roshan Lal Goel, by mail


Tourists should act responsibly

This is with regard to the editorial ‘Pitfalls for tourists’; every time an untoward incident happens, a finger is pointed at the local administration. But it is high time that tourists learnt to act responsibly. Warning boards are in place at many sites, but tourists still choose to take the risk and imperil their own lives. The authorities should not be blamed for the irresponsible actions of the tourists. A tourist must not venture out when the weather is bad. Is it really the authorities’ fault if someone chooses to go trekking amid heavy snowfall? Are they not aware of the risks?

Ravinder Singh, Jalandhar


Reaching out to farmers

Refer to ‘Centre’s outreach to farmers ahead of Delhi Chalo protest’; the Centre has rightly agreed to give compensation of Rs 10 lakh to those injured in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, cancel the cases registered against farmers during their agitation against the three farm laws, give relief and provide jobs to the kin of the growers killed during the stir. Protests by farmers often result in disruptions. If they launch another protest, thousands of people will have to face inconvenience again. Besides, the farmers must reconsider their decision to hold a protest as the government has accepted their demands.

HMS Nagra, Faridabad


Shut bride bazaar

Apropos of the news report ‘Promising to get them brides, Rajasthan gang dupes over 1K’; it is the skewed sex ratio that has left ‘overaged’ bachelors in Haryana and Rajasthan with no choice but to purchase brides. To dupe those bachelors, the gang cashed in on the fact that such a trade of brides actually exists. It is very worrying that bachelors desperate to get married are falling prey to such frauds. Besides, the fact that so many parents are willing to sell their girls in exchange for money is disturbing. The authorities concerned must look into the matter on priority and end the trade of brides.

Abhilasha Gupta, Mohali


Stop Nehru-bashing

PM Narendra Modi recently launched a fresh attack on former PM Jawaharlal Nehru in the Rajya Sabha just to garner votes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections by saying that the latter was ‘anti-reservation’. Bashing a former PM in Parliament is not appropriate. It seems that even the mention of Nehru is enough to raise the BJP’s hackles. Nehru is remembered for his commitment to democracy and the efforts he made to develop the country by investing heavily in critical areas and instilling scientific temper in people. Those in the BJP must stop hitting out at Nehru.

Ramesh Gupta, Narwana


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

UCC legitimises moral policing

Feb 09, 2024

Refer to the editorial ‘Uniform Civil Code’; the passage of the UCC Bill in Uttarakhand is welcome as it would help ensure gender justice in matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance across all communities. It is, however, unfortunate that tribals have been left outside the purview of the proposed law. But is the code really uniform? The UCC retains the ‘custom’ exception from the Hindu Marriage Act for married parties within the “degrees of prohibited relationships”. This exception applies to communities with a custom allowing marriage within the degrees of such relationships. Further, the government must not regulate live-in relationships, as it seems like a veiled attempt at moral policing.

Satwant Kaur Panesar, by mail


Proposed law a mere political tool

Apropos of ‘Uniform Civil Code’; it is not surprising that the Uttarakhand Assembly has passed the UCC Bill, which may serve as a template for other BJP-run states to enact similar legislation ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The move is just meant to tick an important item on the BJP’s manifesto that supports its ideological agenda of a common law on marriage, divorce, land, property and inheritance for all citizens, irrespective of their religion. However, the imposition of such a law on the citizens would impinge on their religious freedom. Many people across different faiths will never accept any compromise with their religious practices or beliefs.

Mohammad Taukir, Bettiah (Bihar)


Raise retirement age for teachers

With reference to the editorial ‘Govt school crisis’; it is unfortunate that the number of out-of-school children in the 7-14 age group in Haryana has risen to 31,068 in the present academic session from 28,139 in the previous one. The shocking figures are a sad reflection on the state’s school education system, which is reeling from staff shortage. However, it is important to note that the issue is not limited to Haryana. The paucity of funds cannot be blamed for the issue. The authorities at the helm of the education system must consider raising the retirement age of teachers to deal with the shortage of faculty.

Balvinder, by mail


BJP behind North-South divide

This refers to the report ‘PM Modi rips through Congress over North-South rant to divide country’; a divide has existed between North and South since Independence. There was a time when all South Indians, whether they hailed from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala or Andhra Pradesh, were labelled Madrasis. Southern leaders like K Kamaraj, GK Moopanar and K Karunakaran deserve credit for bridging differences. However, the rift has been widening again since the saffron party came to power at the Centre in 2014. It is the ruling dispensation, and not the Opposition, that should be blamed for the growing North-South divide.

S Padmanabhan, Kochi


Kejriwal in the dock

With reference to the front-page report ‘Court calls Kejriwal for ignoring ED directions’; the electoral mandate does not give any lawmaker the right to term a summons by a Central investigation agency ‘motivated’ or ‘illegal’; it is an exclusive prerogative of the judiciary. Those in power must not try to escape the rigours of the law. The Delhi court will, in due course, decide on the ED complaint. But the onus is on the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognisance of the rampant violation of the IPC’s Section 174 (non-attendance in obedience to an order from a public servant) by lawmakers and issue a pan-India order.

Lalit Bharadwaj, Panchkula


Joy of forgetfulness

Apropos of the middle ‘The ever-present absent-mindedness’; it is forgetfulness that makes life so much easier to bear at times. It helps us forget and move on from the pain we have been through. It is this trait that lets us start life afresh. For those among us who are over 60 years old, it is this habit of forgetfulness that keeps them occupied, from searching for one’s spectacles to struggling to recall the names of old friends and family members. There is beauty in forgetfulness.

TVA Ram, Gurugram


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

Paper leak Bill not enough

Feb 08, 2024

Apropos of the editorial ‘Curbing cheating’; malpractices like paper leaks and cheating often lead to the cancellation or postponement of examinations. This adversely affects the prospects of aspirants, many of whom belong to the middle class and crave the security of a government job. The passage of the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill by the Lok Sabha is welcome as the law would act as a deterrent. However, there is a need to frame broader legislation and find a long-term solution to curb the use of unfair means in recruitment exams. Such a law is also significant in these times because the preference for government jobs in India has not waned, especially since Covid-induced disruptions raised fresh job security concerns.

Mona Singh, by mail


Tweak paper format

With reference to ‘Curbing cheating’; the Bill meant to deal with those involved in the use of unfair means in recruitment exams is a step in the right direction. Making such offences cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable is the need of the hour. The hardworking and meritorious candidates must not suffer because of people who resort to such malpractices. As far as organised paper leaks go, there is a need to make sure that those obligated to handle exams are not hand in glove with cheating gangs. Further, it is high time that the format of competitive exams be tweaked. Having subjective questions will allow candidates to come up with their own answers. It will reduce the scope for cheating.

KR Bharti, Shimla


Hold a fresh poll

With reference to the editorial ‘Prosecute poll officer’; the conduct of the presiding officer during the Chandigarh mayoral elections is very shocking. By declaring eight INDIA votes invalid to ensure a victory for the BJP candidate, he has compromised the sanctity of the democratic process. The CJI DY Chandrachud-led Bench of the Supreme Court is right in terming the alleged defacing of ballot papers ‘murder of democracy’ and stating that he should be prosecuted. A fresh poll needs to be conducted with adequate safeguards in place to prevent rigging.

Ramesh Gupta, Narwana


Rot runs deep

The irregularities in the mayoral elections, labelled by a Bench led by the Chief Justice of India as ‘murder of democracy’, underline a deeper malaise within the system. Without the crucial video evidence exposing the alleged defacing of ballot papers, the extent of this disease within the system would have remained hidden. This incident is just one manifestation of a broader issue. Such cases only erode public trust in democracy further. The delay in judicial intervention underscores the urgency of the matter. While the apex court has come down heavily on those behind the alleged tampering of ballots, it is not enough. The apex court must invoke Article 142 to use the broad powers conferred on it and ensure swift justice in the case.

N Ashraf, Mumbai


SC right to promote family values

The SC recently turned down the petition of a 44-year-old single woman for surrogacy, despite her willingness and apparent capability to raise a child. The apex court also stressed the importance of the institution of marriage and the need to shun the model of Western countries, where children are born outside of marriage. By prioritising the stability and structure provided by two married parents, the SC has acknowledged the importance of a nurturing family environment for a child’s holistic development. Upholding traditional family values helps maintain societal cohesion and stability.

Mahi Khandelwal, Ujjain


Ensure safety of workers

With reference to the report ‘11 dead, 174 hurt in MP factory fire’; the massive blast and the subsequent blaze at the firecracker factory in Harda that claimed around a dozen lives are a wake-up call for authorities. So often, the safety of the workers employed at such units is not taken into account. There are no arrangements or preparations for such emergency situations or mishaps. Further, given the fact that the use of firecrackers causes pollution, the government should shut down all illegal firecracker factories.

Ibne Farooq, Ausanpur


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

Mockery of democracy

Feb 07, 2024

Apropos of the news report ‘Murder of democracy: SC on ‘tampering’ in UT mayoral poll’; it was clearly an attempt by the BJP to turn defeat into victory, and it has rightly invited criticism from all quarters. By declaring eight Opposition votes invalid, the presiding officer played a partisan role by ensuring that his party registered a win. Such dishonest officers cannot be trusted with carrying out important responsibilities. The Supreme Court has taken a serious view of the incident. Rather than using its power to influence elections, the BJP should set a good example of democracy. The election machinery should play its role effectively so as to instil confidence in the public for the growth of our democracy.

Karnail Singh, Kharar


Misuse of power

The Supreme Court’s observation on the conduct of the presiding officer, Anil Masih, during the Chandigarh mayoral elections is on point. The alleged defacing of ballot papers, which was caught on camera, is a brazen mockery of democracy. A member of one of the parties in the fray should not be picked as the presiding officer. Further, the earlier postponement of polls on flimsy grounds also set a bad example. It seems like the Chandigarh administration has been taking decisions under the influence of the party in power at the Centre.

Bhupinder Kochhar, Panchkula


Keep your guard up

Refer to the editorial ‘Sextortion racket’; with technology advancing at a rapid pace, the common man has become more vulnerable to cybercrimes being carried out by tech-savvy fraudsters, who always seem to be a few steps ahead of authorities. From phishing to sextortion, cybercriminals have been coming up with new tricks to defraud gullible people. It is clear that our cyber experts have a lot of catching up to do to handle this menace of cybercrime. The recent incidents are a wake-up call for us to stay vigilant, especially when we engage with someone through the Internet.

Bal Govind, Noida


Down with affirmative action

This refers to the report ‘50% quota cap will go if voted to power: Rahul’; such a move, coupled with a caste census, will lead to an unnecessary rise in reservation in education, employment, Parliament, Assembly, defence and sports. Undeserving candidates or aspirants will end up as doctors, engineers and scientists and get to occupy key positions. This could adversely affect the pace of development in the country. Further, the country is already reeling from conflicts between people of different religions. Removing the limitation on quotas will only lead to more discord in society.

O Prasada Rao, Hyderabad


Redress students’ grievances

Apropos of the report ‘Redress grievances of students: UGC chief to universities’; it is an appropriate intervention by the higher education body. Recent reports of students dying by suicide are a matter of grave concern and call for steps to ensure the well-being of students. It is academic stress or peer pressure that generally drives youngsters to take such drastic measures. Such committees must help the students deal with such problems and also fix issues like the non-refund of fees and issues with supervisors. Further, it is not uncommon for universities to work with skeletal staff without even prescribing text books to students. Such issues should also be looked into.

Raj Kumar Kapoor, Ropar


Grammy glory for India

The fusion band of Indian musicians Zakir Hussain and Shankar Mahadevan, Shakti, brought laurels to our country by bagging a Grammy Award for the ‘Best Global Music Album’ for their album, This Moment. Besides, Hussain also clinched the ‘Best Global Music Performance’ Grammy for his contribution to Pashto. It is a matter of pride for India that so many decades after Pandit Ravi Shankar brought home our first Grammy Award in 1968, Indian artistes continue to make a mark in the international music industry. From the Oscar Award for RRR to the Grammy win for Shakti’s album, it is clear that the diverse Indian music now has a steadily growing global audience.

Kirti Wadhawan, Kanpur


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit.

These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

Decriminalise defamation

Feb 06, 2024

With reference to ‘Criminal defamation’; even seasoned leaders are not above delivering speeches that can hurt others’ sentiments or dent a political opponent’s reputation in the hope of reaping political dividends. But it is high time that this practice be discouraged. There are some reasonable restrictions on the right to freedom of speech. Some measures to ensure that political speeches are not inflammatory or derogatory are required. Politicians should act responsibly and desist from making defamatory statements against one another in public. However, the defamation law needs to go. The aggrieved party in such cases should instead seek civil remedies.

Subhash Vaid, New Delhi


Check misuse of law

Refer to ‘Criminal defamation’; there is a need to strike a balance between the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 of the Constitution and the right to reputation derived from Article 21. A person’s reputation cannot be sacrificed for the sake of allowing free speech. Further, there is a need to make sure that politicians do not take undue advantage of the criminal defamation law to settle scores with their rivals. In order to check the rampant misuse of this law, complaints should not be registered in the absence of prima facie evidence.

Gaurav Badhwar, Rohtak


Protect autonomy of ED, CBI

Apropos of ‘Tackling corruption’; no matter how many anti-graft drives are undertaken by any government, corruption can never be curbed in this country. It runs deep at various levels across government departments. These days, on the pretext of tackling corruption, Opposition party leaders are being targeted. The ruling dispensation has set a dangerous precedent by compromising the autonomy of such Central probe agencies. It is clear that the BJP-led Centre’s focus is on increasing its footprint in different states and not actually reining in graft. Most people can see through the BJP’s attempt to take down Opposition leaders under the guise of action by such Central agencies.

Ravinder Singh, Jalandhar


Weaponisation of agencies

With reference to ‘Tackling corruption’; former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren is yet to be proven guilty in the land scam case. But his arrest does renew a debate about the weaponisation of Central investigation agencies, such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED), to target Opposition leaders. It seems like Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, who has already been issued multiple summonses by the ED, could face arrest soon. Why is it that Opposition leaders are being selectively targeted in such scams? After Soren, it seems like the BJP is trying to get Kejriwal now. The action against Opposition leaders by agencies like the ED seems like a political ploy by the saffron party to strategically obliterate the Opposition’s presence in the states that are not ruled by the BJP.

SS Paul, Nadia


Paper leak Bill very stringent

People engaged in malpractices like the leaking of question papers for exams meant for recruitment to Union Government jobs could face up to 10 years in jail and a fine of at least Rs 1 crore, according to a new Bill tabled in the Lok Sabha. While the Bill, which is meant to bring “greater transparency, fairness and credibility” to the public examination system, is a step in the right direction, it has to be reassessed. Such a law might act as a deterrent to those involved in such malpractices, but it is too stringent. Ten years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 crore is not something that a common man or an average government employee can afford. Keeping in mind the suffering of the innocent kin of those convicted under such a law, the stringency of the legislation should be reviewed.

Mohammad Taukir, Bettiah (bihar)


Educate students about saints

Apropos of ‘Haryana Govt unveils bonanza for NGOs propagating saints’ teachings’; it is commendable that the government wants to promote the teachings of great saints from our past. It is imperative to educate people, especially the youth, about the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, Guru Nanak and Kabir, as it will imbibe wisdom and values in them. While celebrating the birth anniversaries of such saints, focus must be laid on the views they held and the profound philosophies they introduced to the world. Students at schools should also be taught about such revered personages.

Sidarth Shukla, via mail


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

The Gandhis must go

Feb 05, 2024

Refer to ‘No takers for Gandhi family covenant’ (Nous Indica); the Gandhis have become a liability for the Congress and the nation at large. The family lacks the ability to lead, and hence, it does not appeal to the masses. Rahul Gandhi, for example, has a “nervous, unformed quality” about him, as former US President Barack Obama once pointed out. From embarking on Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra to spending time with porters at a railway station, the Gandhi scion’s best efforts to connect with the masses are falling flat. The Gandhis are holding on to the Congress as if they own it. It is unfortunate that the family is putting itself above the party.

Virender Singh Lather, Karnal


Congress a rudderless ship

Apropos of ‘No takers for Gandhi family covenant’; the family has lost much of its sheen. The party that was once helmed by stalwarts like Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi no longer has a competent leader. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi lack the leadership skills that Nehru and Indira had. Despite being in politics for decades, Sonia remains an ‘outsider’. Rahul may have come a long way since he was labelled ‘Pappu’ by his detractors, but he is not capable of anchoring the party. The Congress is committing one political blunder after another. The Gandhis and the Congress must treat all coalition partners as equals.

Wg Cdr CL Sehgal (retd), Jalandhar


Boost for housing

With reference to ‘Housing for all’; the Central Government has done well to improve rural housing under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin. Announcing a fresh scheme in the interim Budget for housing for the middle class is another step in the right direction. Owning a house is every person’s dream. It is unfortunate that though the middle class plays a key role in keeping the economy running, most people in this group have no choice but to live in rented accommodation. The construction of two crore houses over the next five years will be a boon for many people across the country.

KR Bharti, Shimla


US-India ties

Refer to ‘US drones’; after a hiccup, the US has finally cleared the sale of MQ-9B drones to India in a deal worth nearly $4 billion. The White House had its way after some posturing because scuppering the deal would have undermined its policy objective of positioning India as a counterweight to China and seeking its help in ensuring the safety of sea lanes in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf region at a time when the situation is volatile there. Surprisingly, the US administration has taken a call on selling drones to India despite the ongoing probe into the alleged plot by an Indian national to kill designated terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

Gregory Fernandes, Mumbai


A belated honour

Apropos of the report ‘Bharat Ratna for LK Advani, architect of Ram Mandir movement’; PM Narendra Modi announced the government’s decision to confer India’s highest civilian honour on BJP veteran LK Advani, the man who shaped the Ram Janmabhoomi movement which witnessed a fitting finale with the consecration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya recently. Advani is largely credited with the electoral and political rise of the saffron party in the late 1980s and the 1990s, which is evident by the fact that the BJP — which won only two Lok Sabha seats in the 1984 General Election — bagged 85 in the 1989 polls, 120 in 1991 and 161 in 1996. The honour for Advani (96) was long overdue.

Kumar Gupt, via mail


Reader’s tryst with The Tribune

I welcome The Tribune’s decision to launch three four-page daily pullouts — Delhi Tribune, Haryana Tribune and Himachal Tribune — to deliver hyperlocal news to readers. I was introduced to The Tribune by my teacher in school. Seven decades on, my bond with this paper is as strong as ever. It is commendable how the newspaper, despite the many vicissitudes during its journey from Lahore to Chandigarh, has faithfully upheld the legacy of its founder Dyal Singh Majithia and is going strong as a leading daily.

Mohinder Singh, New Delhi


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]

All is not well

Feb 03, 2024

Apropos of the editorial ‘Pragmatic Budget’, no big-bang announcements have been made by the government. There are no populist measures to woo voters. And the continued push for infrastructure and focus on fiscal discipline indicate that the ruling dispensation is confident about retaining power and presenting a full Budget in July. This is the kind of overconfidence that the NDA had exuded before the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. But the outcome of the polls was contrary to the saffron party’s expectations. Frustration is brewing among the masses over unemployment, economic disparity and the agrarian crisis. It remains to be seen if the Modi factor will help the saffron party stay in power this time.

Roshan Lal Goel, via mail


Sign of confidence

With reference to ‘Pragmatic Budget’; the confidence of the ruling party that it will win the upcoming Lok Sabha elections is clearly reflected in the interim Budget. Fiscal deficit reduction and an increase in capital expenditure cannot be achieved without a rise in revenue earnings. Unfortunately, the Budget offers nothing for farmers and middle-class citizens. The interim Budget does not seem very realistic. It is hard to believe that there has been a 50 per cent increase in the average real income of the people.

Wg Cdr JS Minhas (retd), Mohali


Focus on disaster-prone areas

Refer to ‘Averting disaster’; factors such as rapid urbanisation, land misuse and an absence of building norms pose a serious threat to the ecology of Himachal Pradesh. Since the commencement of four-lane projects, the state’s ecosystem has badly suffered. The hill state witnessed massive landslides and flashfloods last monsoon, which caused widespread destruction. It is clear that rapid urbanisation is not suitable for a state like Himachal because of its rugged terrain. But that is not to say that such projects should not be undertaken. A proper government survey and planning are prerequisites for such a project. The government needs to conduct proper surveys and pay special attention to areas prone to disaster.

Aarushi Pathania, Kangra


Hold drills to ensure readiness

Apropos of ‘Averting disaster’; natural disasters like floods and landslides cause immense upheaval, as was seen in June 2013 in Uttarakhand when a cloudburst caused devastating floods and landslides, destroying many villages and towns. Many residents were swept away, never to be found again. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that preventive measures are incorporated in the developmental plans, especially in high-risk areas, to minimise the damage caused by floods, avalanches and landslides. Besides, the State Disaster Response Force personnel must be prepared to undertake rescue and relief measures efficiently. District administrations should occasionally carry out mock drills.

Subhash Vaid, New Delhi


Gangs of Punjab

For years, Punjab has been terrorised by gangsters. Reports about gangsters and their aides targeting traders or extorting money from businessman are very common. The persisting influence of gangsters in the region is a matter of grave concern. Despite multiple efforts to curb such organised crimes, there has been no let-up. The network of serial criminals poses a threat to peace and stability in the state. Public cooperation, awareness campaigns and stringent laws are crucial for addressing the issues that contribute to the persistence of gang culture.

Harshit Arora, via mail


Sathe a source of inspiration

With reference to ‘An inspiring saga of selfless service’; it is heartening to learn about the contribution Dr Madhav Sathe made to society by changing the lives of 43,000 village students, 1,200 teachers and parents in Rajgurunagar village. By working tirelessly to ensure timely repair of dilapidated school buildings and toilets, he set an example for all of us. With more people like him, India can develop faster as a country. We all must draw inspiration from the way Dr Sathe looked out for and supported needy and vulnerable people.

Ramesh Gupta, Narwana


Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]