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Letters to the editor

India shines at Cannes

May 29, 2024

With reference to the editorial ‘Cannes acclaim’; it has been a glorious week for Indian cinema, with Payal Kapadia’s All We Imagine as Light securing the prestigious Grand Prix at the 77th edition of the festival. The global reception of the film shows that there is a market for innovative storytelling that is not inhibited by the goal of profit-making. The grand event reinforced cinema as a unifying global force. Indian filmmakers and artistes deserve kudos for scripting history at the festival. Sustained support for our films and the promotion of works of Indian artistes are essential to expanding India’s presence on the global stage.

Gregory Fernandes, Mumbai

PM must address burning issues

Refer to PM Narendra Modi’s interview ‘Current Punjab leadership mirrors ideology of urban Naxals...’; the Prime Minister has been giving one interview after another in print and electronic media amid the General Election. But there are certain burning issues that the PM has yet not been pressed on. His BJP has had a hand in the toppling of state governments led by rival parties. Besides, it has been observed that the crimes of all tainted Opposition leaders who cross over to the saffron party are forgiven. These are some of the many issues — including the electoral bond scheme and the Opposition’s accusations of a quid pro quo between donors and recipients — that Modi should be confronted with in his interviews. 

Arun Hastir, Gurdaspur

Criminalisation of politics

Apropos of the news report ‘No govt job for kin of terrorists, stone-throwers in J&K: Shah’; this is a welcome proposal. But this should be implemented throughout the country, not just in the state-turned-UT. Besides, such conditions should also apply to politicians. A leader with a criminal background must not be allowed into the political arena. That is the most effective way to clean up the political ecosystem in the country. Corruption runs deep in the system, and it won’t be uprooted until and unless every citizen shows zero tolerance to graft.

Col RS Narula (retd), Patiala

Children need parents’ support

With reference to the article ‘Let’s assure our children they are not commodities’; parents must stop imposing their decisions on their children. All students must have the freedom to pursue a career in a field of their choice. Now, more than ever before, youngsters are facing intense pressure to succeed. From doing well in board exams to landing a high-paying job, it is common for parents to have high expectations from their kids. But when a youngster fails to live up to the unreasonable demands of his family members, it causes them agony. Parents need to understand that our children need our support to grow in life.

Harkawaljeet Kaur, Mohali

Rein in dummy admissions

Apropos of ‘Let’s assure our children they are not commodities’; the author has rightly highlighted the challenges being faced by students these days. It is common for parents to compare their kids to other children in order to push them to do better. But it can cause them to develop mental health issues. Besides, the growing trend of dummy admissions needs to be checked. Students are being enrolled at schools where they don’t need to attend most classes so that they can devote most of their time to preparing for competitive exams. The significance of regular classroom teaching for the overall learning and physical and mental wellbeing of children cannot be emphasised enough.

Krishan Bhatia, Hansi

Caught in the rat race

Refer to the article ‘Let’s assure our children they are not commodities’; in this age of cut-throat competition, well-meaning parents often push their children into the rat race, hoping that they would end up with well-paying jobs. But youngsters, who often fail to bear the burden of expectations, instead fall into a state of depression. Many of them, who can’t find a way out, feel compelled to take the extreme step. It is high time that parents started valuing their children for who they are. Every individual is born with some sort of skill or talent. Parents, who are duty-bound to support their children, must understand this.

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]

Comply with safety norms

May 28, 2024

Refer to the editorial ‘Rajkot tragedy’; several fire incidents, from the inferno at the Delhi hospital to the blaze at the Rajkot game zone, have been caused by negligence on the part of the authorities concerned. A lot of these mishaps are man-made. Such accidents occur because fire safety rules are often not implemented in letter and spirit. Every time a tragedy strikes, it is followed by a probe and the announcement of financial aid for the victims and the kin of the deceased. But within days, the incident is forgotten, and we move on. The administration must make sure that no industrial unit, mall, hotel or hospital functions without the requisite firefighting equipment. Ensuring compliance with the safety regulations is the key to preventing such horrors.

Bal Govind, Noida

Regulations go for a toss

With reference to the editorial ‘Rajkot tragedy’; the deaths of newborns in the fire at the Delhi hospital are tragic. Unfortunately, the authorities only swing into action in the aftermath of a mishap. It takes a tragedy like this one for the government to wake up to the blatant irregularities and norm violations that lead to such accidents in the first place. The need of the hour is to make sure that such violations are detected in time and those behind the lapses are penalised. If the norms can go for a toss at medical facilities in the Capital, what happens to the safety of patients undergoing treatment at hospitals in less developed areas?

Bhupinder Kochhar, Panchkula

Take preventive measures

Apropos of the editorial ‘Rajkot tragedy’; a series of fire-related incidents in the past couple of days have snuffed out precious lives. Understandably, there is a lot of hue and cry over the avoidable loss of life. Calls for accountability are growing. The public wants those behind the lapses punished. But what steps are being taken to make sure that such mishaps do not recur? Are the authorities identifying more establishments and medical facilities that have not been adhering to the fire safety regulations? It is imperative that the government take preventive measures so that no more lives are lost because of negligence.

Ravinder Mittal, Ludhiana

Ensure representation of women

Refer to the editorial ‘Muted voices’; it is unfortunate that the voices of women in Haryana are still being muffled. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has pledged that his party, if voted to power, will reserve 50 per cent government jobs for women. But is that enough? Women and girls, not just in Haryana but in various parts of the country, enjoy far less freedom than men and boys. Women are even judged on the way they dress. The fact that only 16 of the 223 candidates in the state this time are female highlights the yawning gender divide. Affirmative action is necessary to tackle the issue. Women must have at least 33 per cent representation in social, political and economic spheres. 

Subhash Vaid, New Delhi

BJP’s outreach to farmers

Will BJP leaders really gain anything from holding back-to-back rallies in Punjab ahead of the final phase of the General Election? The farming community of the state is not going to forgive the saffron party for the poor treatment meted out to the cultivators by the ruling regime and its failure to fulfil the demand of a legal guarantee for MSP. PM Narendra Modi has tried to evoke Sikh sentiments by claiming that had he been in power in 1971, he would have taken Kartarpur Sahib from Pakistan. The PM can do all he wants to please farmers and Sikhs, but ultimately, the people will decide the fate of the candidates.

Kirti Wadhawan, Kanpur

Misuse of public office

Apropos of the editorial ‘Modi in Punjab’; the PM is banking on politics of religious polarisation to gain votes just days ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in the state. He has even gone as far as reopening old wounds of the Partition to win over Sikhs. The office of the PM or the CM is meant for public service. Whether it is PM Modi or the Chief Minister of a state, leaders must realise that the public office is not meant for campaigning. The misuse of office or authority to promote the parties in power does not bode well for democracy.

Jagvinder Singh Brar, Patiala

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]

Modi’s bid to win over Punjabis

May 27, 2024

Apropos of ‘Modi in Punjab’; the Prime Minister’s rallies in Punjab amid the farmers’ protests highlight a desperate bid to gain political ground in the state. Modi’s attempt to invoke Sikh sentiments by patting himself on the back for the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor in 2019 and his government for reopening files of cases related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots are of no use as the farmers’ grievances remain unresolved. The repeal of the contentious farm laws, a reluctant concession, hasn’t addressed the cultivators’ core demand of a legal guarantee for MSP. Modi’s gestures are unlikely to sway the farmers, who remain sceptical of the BJP’s intentions after the prolonged agitation and perceived betrayals. Until substantial policy changes take place, symbolic gestures will fail to mend the fractured trust.

Gurdev Singh, by mail

Stop treating tillers as anarchists

Refer to the editorial ‘Modi in Punjab’; the stir launched by farmers against the enactment of the three contentious farm laws was initially treated by the government with disdain and apathy. The authorities wanted to quell the agitation by deploying all types of heavy-handed measures to scare the cultivators away. But the farming community braved the elements with remarkable resilience and didn’t succumb to pressure. The laws were only repealed when it became clear that the protests could not be reined in. More recently, the government attempted to scuttle the Dilli Chalo march. If the ruling regime wants to pacify the irate farmers, it should stop treating them like anarchists. It is not the use of force but dialogue that can help the government mend fences with the farmers.

Roshan Lal Goel, Ladwa

Hill state suffers from govt apathy

With reference to the article ‘Uttarakhand beset by Char Dham Yatra chaos, forest fires’; the hill state has been reeling under the weight of mismanaged pilgrimages and rampant forest fires. The Char Dham Yatra, a spiritual journey, has morphed into a perilous trek, claiming lives because of negligence. Overcrowding, inadequate infrastructure and disregard for safety norms have marred the sacred event. Meanwhile, the state’s lungs burn in uncontrolled blazes, an outcome of the government’s environmental apathy. The authorities’ lackadaisical approach to disaster management and environmental conservation is alarming. It is high time that the officials behind the lapses were held accountable and measures were taken to save lives.

Sahibpreet Singh, Mohali

Try Pune car crash teen as an adult

The Pune Porsche car crash involving a drunken teenager that resulted in two deaths has understandably sparked a nationwide outrage. The incident has once again thrown the spotlight on the flaws in our justice delivery system. The juvenile, who is old enough to know the difference between right and wrong, must be tried as an adult. It is shocking how the boy’s family, which happens to be quite influential, tried to frame their driver to save the teenager. The fact that the teen was granted bail within hours of the mishap on some ridiculous conditions, like writing a 300-word essay on accidents and undergoing counselling, is telling. Any juvenile who commits a serious crime should be tried as an adult.

O Prasada Rao, Hyderabad

Heatwave hits voter turnout

North India is reeling under a scorching heatwave. Understandably, some polling booths wear a deserted look towards the afternoon. The Election Commission of India (ECI) must have a good explanation for the inordinately long election schedule. Intense heat has robbed many voters of enthusiasm, discouraging them from leaving home and exercising their franchise. Holding elections at the peak of the summer was not a good idea in the first place. But the election authorities must at least make some basic arrangements, like drinking water, for voters at polling stations. The ECI must not take the voters for granted.

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]

Agnipath scheme ill-conceived

May 25, 2024

Apropos of ‘Reviewing Agnipath’; the scheme for the recruitment of soldiers in the armed forces is ill-conceived. Four years of service cannot generate the comradeship and a feeling of sacrifice for the nation in the minds of Agniveers. Pay, perks, retirement benefits and status are some aspects of the matter that need to be looked into. It is concerning that 75 per cent of the recruits will be left vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of big corporates once their service ends. Such a significant scheme that has ramifications for national security must not be implemented in haste.

Wg Cdr JS Minhas (retd), Mohali

Opportunities await Agniveers

With reference to the editorial ‘Reviewing Agnipath’; the aim of the scheme is to keep the security forces young and sturdy. After their professional training, the Agniveers will be able to handle complex situations in conflict and cyber security and tackle various other threats. Their technological know-how and the experience of serving in the armed forces will help the Agniveers develop skills to become entrepreneurs. Vast opportunities await them in public sector units and the corporate sector. They can also pursue a career in the civil services or some other field.

Subhash Vaid, New Delhi

Fix justice delivery system

The Pune car crash that claimed two lives throws the spotlight on the broken justice delivery system in the country. It is obvious that if it were not for public outrage over the grant of bail to the teen, the course of the case could have been very different. It is worth noting that the cops took the accused teenager’s blood sample only around eight hours after the incident, even though the alcohol level in the blood gets diluted with time. The 17-year-old should be tried as an adult for his reckless act. His parents should also be held accountable for neglect on their part.

Sanjay Chopra, Mohali

Safety norms go for a toss

The blast at the chemical factory in Thane is reminiscent of the Bhopal gas tragedy. The mishap is a stark reminder of the importance of adhering to the relevant safety norms. The kin of the deceased and those who sustained injuries in the explosion must receive adequate compensation. Industrialists need to start prioritising the safety of their workers and the local residents. A thorough investigation should be conducted, and those behind the lapse must be held accountable. This tragedy should prompt the authorities concerned to take steps to ensure strict enforcement of safety regulations at factories, regular safety audits, proper maintenance of equipment and adequate measures to deal with such emergencies.

Nitika, Chandigarh

Double standards of parties

Apropos of the article ‘Political parties pay lip service to women’s safety’; Indian society is patriarchal. Gender-based discrimination is widespread in the country. Despite a lot of progress, women continue to face the threat of violence and sexual harassment. Political parties that are supposed to protect women’s rights and ensure their empowerment have failed in their duty. The double standards of political parties towards women’s issues have become obvious. There ought to be zero tolerance to crimes against women. Political leaders must reaffirm their commitment to the upliftment of women and ensure that they live with honour and dignity. A change in mindset is the need of the hour.

Ravi Sharma, Dhariwal

Hike stipend of medicos

Most MBBS students in Punjab pay lakhs of rupees as tuition fees and study day and night to become doctors. They also work as interns for a whole year and often have to toil for 12 hours a day, looking after the patients. Yet, most of them just get paid a paltry monthly stipend of around Rs 15,000. Capable doctors are the foundation of the health system. While the state government has invested crores of rupees for the setting up of mohalla clinics and to provide residents with free medicines, the concerns of these young doctors remain unaddressed. These medical students must get paid a respectable stipend.

Rajesh Goyal, 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]

Parties must mend their ways

May 24, 2024

Refer to the editorial ‘Mind your tongue’; the Election Commission of India (ECI) has risen to the occasion by issuing a stern warning to top campaigners and candidates from both the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress against the violation of the model code of conduct by asking them to refrain from making personal attacks on one another or utterances along religious or communal lines. Former Calcutta High Court judge and BJP candidate Abhijit Gangopadhyay crossed the line with his derogatory remarks against CM Mamata Banerjee and has understandably earned the ire of the ECI. The body has set a good precedent by debarring him from campaigning for 24 hours. The ECI’s reprimand should serve as a wake-up call to political leaders across party lines.

MD Sharma, Shimla

Ensure adherence to model code

Refer to ‘Mind your tongue’; the ECI has rightly issued a stringent directive to the BJP and the Congress amid growing concerns over the degrading campaign rhetoric amid the General Election. There is no doubt that the ECI’s failure to be effective, impartial and prompt in its role as the watchdog of elections has left the Indian electorate disappointed. It has hit the credibility of the poll panel and eroded public trust in it. Courts should not have to intervene in such poll-related matters. The onus is on the ECI to ensure that all candidates and parties comply with the model code of conduct during an election season.

Gregory Fernandes, Mumbai

Prioritise flyers’ safety

Apropos of ‘Deadly turbulence’; the tragedy aboard a Singapore Airlines flight is a stark reminder of the perils lurking in our skies. The death and the injuries sustained because of the unexpected disturbance are not just statistics; they should serve as a call to action for the aviation industry. This incident, which marked the first fatality for the airline in over two decades, highlights the unpredictable nature of clear-air turbulence, a phenomenon intensified by climate change and one that can strike with little or no warning. It is imperative that airlines bolster their safety protocols. This would require investing in advanced forecasting technology, providing comprehensive training for flight crews and emphasising the non-negotiable necessity of seatbelt usage for passengers. The onus is on the aviation sector to adapt swiftly and ensure that flyers’ safety remains their top priority.

Sahibpreet Singh, Mohali

Women’s issues still unaddressed

With reference to the article ‘Political parties pay lip service to women’s safety’; politicians often seize upon women’s issues to target their rivals, but they have never taken steps to help resolve them. The Nirbhaya gang rape case was used to attack the Congress, which was then in power at the Centre. But are women any safer now than they were a decade ago? Has the situation improved? Opposition parties use any crime against a woman to corner the ruling dispensation. But the same political parties fail to act when it happens on their watch. Unless concerted efforts are made by leaders across party lines, mere posturing about women’s safety will do nothing.

Anthony Henriques, Mumbai

Victims’ fear of stigma

The Swati Maliwal incident is yet another case of political weaponisation of violence against women. AAP’s response to the controversy does not inspire confidence. Thanks to Maliwal's status and position, the police action that followed the incident was swift. And her call for justice is being heard. But unfortunately, most other victims don’t have the power to seek justice because they fear going public with their allegations because of stigma. Several women in the Prajwal case reportedly had to flee their homes out of fear and stigma after some objectionable video clips of them started circulating. A swift investigation into such matters is necessary to ensure the delivery of justice.

Satwant Kaur Panesar, 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]

Don’t put teens behind the wheel

May 23, 2024

Refer to ‘Fatal Porsche crash’; the tragic incident underscores the urgent need for spreading awareness and educating children and teenagers about traffic rules and the importance of ensuring adherence to the minimum age limit for driving. The accident, which claimed the lives of two engineers, serves as a stark reminder of the devastating consequences of traffic norm violations. While the allure of driving a fancy vehicle may be too strong for young individuals to ignore, it is imperative that they understand the responsibilities and risks associated with driving. Allowing underage individuals to take the wheel not only puts their own lives at risk, but it also endangers the lives of other motorists and pedestrians.

Jagdeep Sharma, by mail

Driver shouldn’t get off scot-free

Apropos of ‘Fatal Porsche crash’; the story of a drunken teenager ramming his car into a bike and killing two young engineers in Pune is heartbreaking. He must not get away with the crime just because he is a minor or because he belongs to a well-off family. It is unfortunate that he was granted bail by the Juvenile Justice Board in no time. Though the police have arrested the father of the spoilt brat and the bar owner and staffers who served him liquor, it is not enough. The boy, whose reckless act snuffed out two lives, must be tried as an adult. All those responsible for the ghastly episode must receive stringent punishment.

Ramesh Gupta, Narwana

Don’t treat teen with kid gloves

With reference to the editorial ‘Fatal Porsche crash’; the incident is extremely tragic. The recklessness of the teenager who was driving the car at a break-neck speed in an inebriated state, the sheer negligence on the part of his parents and the pub owner and staffers are to blame for the mishap that claimed two lives. It is an irreparable loss for the kin of the deceased; they would never get their precious family members back even if the culprits are brought to justice. The boy did not even deserve bail. An example should be made of the boy and his parents to prevent a repeat of the incident.

Sunil Chopra, Ludhiana

Sects’ hold on public troubling

Apropos of ‘The dera factor’; the influence of religious sects or deras on politics in Punjab and Haryana is troubling. Politicians’ relentless pursuit of these vote banks undermines democratic integrity. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling against the use of religion for electoral gains, the covert courting of deras continues unabated. This practice erodes public trust. The 2017 conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh highlights the peril of such alliances. Political parties must choose transparent, policy-based campaigning over the use of sects’ influence. Our democracy deserves leaders who earn votes through merit and vision, not through sects' endorsements. Only then can we restore faith in our electoral system and ensure true representation for all citizens.

Sargunpreet Kaur, Mohali

Deras’ sway undeniable

Refer to the editorial ‘The dera factor’; it is common for political leaders in states like Punjab and Haryana, where such sects command a mammoth following, to call on religious leaders or dera heads amid an election season under the pretext of seeking their blessings. It is true that a party that receives the endorsement of a dera can get the upper hand in a contest. Deras are meant to promote peace and harmony in society and help people transform their lives. But the role such bodies or other religious organisations play in influencing the result of a poll cannot be discounted. The dera factor is definitely going to be crucial in this Lok Sabha election too.

Ravi Sharma, Dhariwal

Enough of self-styled godmen

The phenomenon of self-styled godmen — some genuine while others fake — having sway over the masses in India is not something new. Matters of religion must be detached from politics. Politicians supporting deras must not be allowed to make a mockery of the electoral process. It is detestable how even disgraced godmen convicted of serious crimes still manage to pull the strings and how politicians approach them for electoral gains. Since political leaders need public support to gain or remain in power, they end up seeking help from dera heads.

Nishant Prashar, Nurpur

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]

Leadership vacuum in Iran

May 22, 2024

Apropos of the editorial ‘Iran after Raisi’; the shocking death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash has left the country in a state of uncertainty. His untimely demise has created a leadership vacuum. The news, which comes days after India signed a 10-year deal to operate the Chabahar port, does not augur well for India-Iran ties. This is the second such jolt to Tehran after the assassination of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in early 2020. Iran has been on the receiving end of sanctions because of its bitter relations with the US. One can only hope that the turmoil in the region will not last long.

Kirti Wadhawan, Kanpur

Raisi’s death a great loss

The death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a chopper crash is a great tragedy. Since West Asia has been reeling from unrest, there would be much speculation about the reason behind the accident. Conspiracy theories will be floated about some other country having a hand in the mishap. Fingers will be pointed at Israel, as tensions between the two nations have been simmering for quite some time now. Raisi was a leader with vast experience, one of the reasons why he was seen as a leading candidate to take over from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. His demise is a big loss for Iran.

DVG Sankara Rao, Vizianagaram (AP)

Turmoil in Iran’s domestic politics

With reference to ‘Iran after Raisi’; there is no doubt that the accidental death of any head of state has significant consequences. In Iran, it is their Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who calls the shots. But President Raisi’s death is bound to have a major impact on Iran's domestic politics, as he was seen as a leading candidate to succeed the 85-year-old Supreme Leader. Even if the Supreme Leader’s son, Mojtaba Khamenei, is elevated to the post, his rule will come under much scrutiny. The world is carefully watching every step of the Ayatollah.

Mona Singh, by mail

Role of FSSAI under lens

With reference to ‘Spice crisis’; food adulteration is not unheard of in India. Companies like Dabur, Zandu, Baidyanath, Nestle and Patanjali have all come under the scanner for adulteration. The ban on Indian spices imposed by Singapore, Hong Kong, the Maldives, Australia, and Nepal due to alleged contamination of ethylene oxide in products of popular brands MDH and Everest is a matter of embarrassment for India. It puts a big question mark on the functioning of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Clearly, the statutory body has failed in its duty to ensure the wellbeing of consumers and needs to do some soul-searching. When Indian firms produce and export substandard or adulterated products, it gives a bad name to our country. 

Bal Govind, Noida

Hold those at fault accountable

Refer to the editorial ‘Spice crisis’; it is time to monitor the role and functioning of the FSSAI and other regulatory authorities or statutory bodies in India. Why do these authorities only jump into action when a product manufactured by an Indian company is banned abroad for food adulteration or when a foodstuff fails to meet the standards? It shows that the bodies have little concern about the health of consumers in India. Those responsible for the lapse must be brought to book. Such negligence on the part of the authorities should not go unpunished.

Krishan Bhatia, Hansi

Down with affirmative action

Refer to the article ‘Reservation policy held hostage to political rhetoric’; the concept of reservation was introduced under the false pretext of ensuring inclusive growth for the underprivileged. All individuals of a caste cannot be socially and economically underprivileged. Reservation has only hardened the social barriers in the country that would have otherwise ceased to exist. A reservation is not the solution. It is education and employment that ensure the development of a nation and the progress of its underprivileged communities. If India wants to move forward, all quotas for different communities in education and employment should be scrapped. 

Virender Singh Lather, Karnal

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]

Ensure safety of Valley residents

May 21, 2024

Apropos of the editorial ‘Terror attacks in Valley’; the recent attack on a tourist couple in Kashmir amid the fervour of elections is a stark reminder of the challenges that persist in the region. The incident not only shatters the semblance of normalcy but also raises questions about the effectiveness of the security measures. As India strides towards the final phases of its electoral marathon, such acts of violence undermine the democratic spirit. It is imperative that the authorities concerned reassess their approach to ensure the safety of both locals and visitors. The courage shown by voters in Srinagar, who turned out in significant numbers, must be matched by the authorities’ resolve to protect them and uphold the values of our republic.

Sahibpreet Singh, by mail

A distraction from real issues

With reference to the editorial ‘Phase V poll’; with every phase, the campaigning is touching a new low. Electioneering must not end up dividing the masses on the basis of their caste or background. Politics is sadly diverting the attention of the public from real issues like the unavailability of quality or affordable education and healthcare facilities, unemployment, inflation, corruption and a lack of access to basic amenities. And the constant media coverage of a toxic election cycle makes it even worse.

HL Sharma, Amritsar

Modi’s Hindu-Muslim politics

Refer to the article ‘Hindu-Muslim binary looms large’; we can’t go along with PM Narendra Modi’s assertion that he would not be fit for public life if he starts doing Hindu-Muslim politics. He has explicitly spewed venom against Muslims in speech after speech. He has caused polarisation in society for the sake of deriving political mileage out of it by painting the Opposition as pro-minority and anti-Hindu. In his campaign speeches, he pours scorn on Muslims to woo Hindu voters. The Citizenship Amendment Act is a political ploy to demonstrate that he is pro-Hindu. Modi’s claim that the Congress would have the Ram Temple razed if elected reeks of his divisive style of politics.

Roshan Lal Goel, Ladwa

Bogey of minority persecution

Refer to the article ‘Use the power of the ballot to bail out democracy’; the author has regurgitated the oft-repeated claims of democracy being in danger, rising majoritarianism and autocracy and the bogey of minority persecution to target the ruling BJP. All that the Opposition offers is crass casteism by kleptocratic dynasties. Leftist intellectuals, with their ossified thinking, refuse to accept that the Indian electorate chose to give two successive terms to the Modi government. To the discomfort of those with visceral hatred for Modi, a third term for his government is more than likely. Contrary to what the writer believes, Modi is a popular PM not because of his charismatic personality but because of a decade of clean governance and a uniform implementation of poverty alleviation programmes.

Ajay Tyagi, Mumbai

Leave no voter behind

With reference to the report ‘Home comfort for stalwarts’; the initiative of the Election Commission of India (ECI) to provide the home voting facility to elderly voters and persons with disabilities contributes to the strengthening of the Indian democracy by making the electoral process a success. It is encouraging to know that former Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, ex-PM Dr Manmohan Singh, former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and erstwhile Union Minister Murli Manohar Joshi cast their votes using the home voting facility. It shows their commitment to taking part in democracy. The ECI’s initiative would encourage more people to vote in the polls.

Jagvinder Singh Brar, Patiala

Heatwave shouldn’t hit polling

With a severe heatwave gripping north India amid the General Election, it is important that the authorities concerned take steps to make sure that the rising temperature does not adversely affect the voter turnout. The scorching heat may prompt voters to stay home, discouraging them from exercising their franchise. All poll booths must have proper arrangements for drinking water. Ensuring a shade at the polling station is also important to give the voters some relief from the unbearable heat. More and more people should be encouraged to cast their votes.

Krishan Kant Sood, Nangal

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]

AAP’s moment of truth

May 20, 2024

The alleged assault on AAP MP Swati Maliwal by Bibhav Kumar, a close aide of CM Arvind Kejriwal, is a stark reminder of the pervasive gender injustice within Indian politics. Maliwal’s detailed account of the incident and the distressing nature of her allegations highlight a grave issue: no party, including AAP, is immune to such scandals. The unverified videos targeting Maliwal further complicate the narrative, showcasing the ugly political tactics at play. Kejriwal’s silence is deafening and undermines his past advocacy for women's rights. This case is not just about individual culpability but also a test of AAP’s integrity and the broader political commitment to gender justice. A transparent investigation is imperative for restoring the public’s faith in our political system.

Gurdev Singh, by mail

Modesty of woman MP

Apropos of the editorial ‘Assault on Maliwal’; Bibhav Kumar, the aide of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal accused of assaulting the AAP Rajya Sabha MP, has also filed a police complaint against her, alleging that she had breached the security of the Delhi CM’s residence. But it is unfortunate that the AAP national convener has failed to address the incident so far. He must break his silence now; otherwise, it would give the public the impression that he had a hand in the assault on the MP. It is not merely a political issue. It is about the modesty of a woman parliamentarian.

Upendra Sharma, by mail

A matter of gender justice

With reference to ‘Assault on Maliwal’; the case is a test for political ethos on gender justice. It underlines the pathetic state of affairs in national politics. The woman MP’s allegations of being slapped and kicked by Arvind Kejriwal’s aide deserve the attention of the entire nation. How can a prominent woman leader — a Rajya Sabha member — be thrashed like this, and that too, at the CM’s residence in the national capital? The top AAP leadership must take a serious view of the episode and address it. When will women in politics start being treated as dignified human beings with the same rights and privileges as men?

Raj Bahadur Yadav, Fatehabad

Don’t politicise religion

Refer to the news report ‘PM Modi: Congress will bulldoze Ram Temple if elected’; it is a classic case of a politician exploiting the religious sentiments of a particular community amid the election season to yield electoral dividends. Such irresponsible utterances are beneath the dignity of any leader, let alone a sitting PM. The Congress must raise the matter with the Election Commission of India (ECI). It is now more important than ever to ensure that all political parties and leaders, including the BJP, comply with the code of conduct. No leader should be politicising a religious matter for votes.

Jagdish Chander, Jalandhar

Making all voices heard

The facility to vote from home provided by the Election Commission of India to those over the age of 85 years and the ones who are differently abled is welcome. Thanks to the initiative, my 95-year-old, ailing mother got to exercise her franchise. Whole teams of people from the district election office have been reaching out to such voters to make sure that their voices are heard. The ECI and government officials performing their duties during the peak of summer and reaching the doorsteps of elderly and specially abled people deserve kudos. This is a big win for Indian democracy.

Vinay Kumar Malhotra, Ambala Cantt

Chhetri’s retirement

Football legend Sunil Chhetri has announced his decision to hang up his boots at the age of 39. Understandably, the news has left millions of his admirers across the world heartbroken. He proved himself to be an incomparable player, a leader and a sportsman par excellence. Football enthusiasts have travelled miles to watch him play in person or stayed glued to TV screens for hours, just admiring his skills. He never let them down and always lived up to their hopes. He has done the country proud.

SPS Narang, 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]

Safety audit of all billboards

May 18, 2024

Apropos of ‘Deadly oversight’; the death of 16 people in Mumbai after strong winds toppled a huge hoarding should spur civic bodies across the country to take prompt steps to prevent a repeat of the untoward incident. A comprehensive safety audit of all billboards installed in public places and the removal of all unauthorised structures are in order. Precious lives are at stake, and there should be no compromise when it comes to the safety of the public. With the monsoon fast approaching, nothing can be left to chance. If the authorities do not act in time, more lives can be lost in preventable tragedies.

Ramesh G Jethwani, Bengaluru

Remove all illegal structures

Refer to the editorial ‘Deadly oversight’; it was an accident waiting to happen. The death of 16 people — due to non-adherence to the safety norms — was completely preventable. A thorough probe should be conducted to determine how the oversized billboard was set up without the necessary clearance from the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation). The tragedy should serve as a wake-up call for civic bodies and the public. The mishap should prompt the authorities concerned to remove all illegal structures in the city. Negligence on the part of civic officials must not claim more lives.

Ajay Jha, Ludhiana

Blame it on BMC

With reference to ‘Deadly oversight’; the billboard collapse underlines what ails India’s financial capital. It turns out that the massive hoarding had been illegally installed by an ad agency. The BMC bears a lot of the blame for the mishap. It is unfortunate that, with the Mumbai civic body polls hanging fire for two years, the BMC has had to function without corporators. The civic body is also to blame for the mismatched alignment between the Gopal Krishna Gokhale Bridge and the CD Barfiwala flyover. The BMC must be held accountable.

Lal Singh, Amritsar

Misuse of Central agencies

Refer to the article ‘All is not bright on the BJP front’; free and fair elections are the cornerstone of democracy. Citizens must be able to exercise their right to choose their representatives without undue influence or coercion. The perception that Central agencies have been specifically targeting Opposition parties or leaders amid the election season calls into question the fairness of the polls and erodes public trust in the electoral process. Voters view the targeting of Opposition leaders as a politically motivated attempt to influence the outcome of the elections. This would lead many citizens to become disillusioned with the government and the polls.

Capt Amar Jeet (retd), Kharar

Courage in uniform

Apropos of the middle ‘Z security challenge’; Indian soldiers are professionally trained to serve in the most difficult and inhospitable of conditions with unflinching determination and devotion. They are known for their discipline, courage and integrity while undertaking the tasks assigned to them. Col (Intelligence) of the Command HQ should not have expressed any apprehension about a Sikh unit being given the responsibility of the protection of Gen KS Brar (retd), who had commanded the forces in Operation Blue Star. Every soldier, irrespective of his caste, creed and background, remains loyal to the command and selflessly committed to the task. That is why Army officers and soldiers are highly respected in Indian society.

Subhash Vaid, New Delhi

Prosecution of dissidents

With reference to the article ‘Stringent laws have made prolonged detention norm’; mere compensation to an accused for the unjust assault on his personal liberty is not enough. Stringent action should be taken against the investigation agency at fault to curb the arbitrary exercise of the powers conferred upon it under laws like the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Notably, it is dissidents who are often targeted under such laws. It is important to remember that dissent is essential for a vibrant democratic setup.

Sunaina, 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]

India must push for ceasefire

May 17, 2024

With reference to ‘Gaza tragedy’; the world sees India as an empathic country. New Delhi rushes to the rescue of any country reeling under a humanitarian crisis. A case in point is the extension of a credit line by India to crisis-hit Sri Lanka. India always stands up for human rights. Its lack of action against Israel’s excesses in Gaza will hit its global standing. The war is destroying countless lives, tearing families apart and rendering people homeless. The UN probe into the matter is welcome. While India should not get drawn into the Israel-Hamas war, it must at least take a firm stand on it. The death of the UN staffer is yet another reason for India to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Asha Rani, Yamunanagar

Protection of civil liberties

Apropos of ‘Rule of law prevails’; the protection of civil liberties and ensuring justice are of utmost importance in a democratic country. Even though the Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasised that bail should be the norm and jail an exception, citizens often bear the brunt of misuse of anti-terror laws and a lack of adherence to arrest procedures by investigation agencies. Loopholes and procedural lapses are quite common in police investigations and arrests. The conviction rate in India in such cases remains very low. However, every case is different. And in some cases, an accused has to be kept behind bars to send out a strong message. The public must not lose faith in the Indian justice delivery system.

Nishant Prashar, Kangra

Mere release not enough

Refer to the editorial ‘Rule of law prevails’; the mere release of NewsClick editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and human rights activist Gautam Navlakha is not enough. There has to be a provision in place for compensation to an accused in case he is kept in wrongful confinement for a certain amount of time. The two cases have once again raised questions about the functioning of the police and the failure of the lower judiciary to defend civil liberties. Besides, the apex court rightly stressed in Purkayastha’s case the need to inform an accused about the grounds of his arrest.

Lalit Bharadwaj, Panchkula

Negligence costs lives

A massive hoarding collapsed in Mumbai’s Ghatkopar area amid a dust storm and unseasonal rainfall. The billboard had reportedly been put up without the permission of the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation). It is a matter of serious concern that at least 16 lives were snuffed out in the incident. Gross negligence on the part of the authorities concerned and a blatant disregard for safety regulations are to blame for the mishap. Officials of Mumbai’s civic body should be held accountable for letting ad agencies set up oversized hoardings in the city without any clearance from it.

Devendra Khurana, Bhopal

Residents’ safety gone to the dogs

Dog bite incidents have become increasingly common across the country. Packs of stray dogs can be seen roaming around residential areas, posing a threat to the safety of the residents, especially children and the elderly. Besides, street dogs, which often search for food in dustbins, can spread diseases. It is imperative that the local authorities concerned take prompt action to check the menace by stepping up vaccination drives and creating shelters for strays. Joint efforts from the government and the residents are needed to tackle the problem and ensure the wellbeing of the people.

Sahil Garg, Rampura Phul

Double standards of BJP

The BJP workers’ protest against the alleged assault on AAP MP Swati Maliwal by an aide of Arvind Kejriwal and the quick action taken by the Delhi Police in the matter reflect the double standards of the saffron party. Where were they when female wrestlers were holding protests against party MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over alleged sexual harassment? Why did these BJP workers not express any concern when the grapplers were manhandled by police personnel? It is unfortunate that government authorities, right from those at the top to the ones at the bottom, remained silent spectators throughout the episode.

Bhupinder Kochhar, Panchkula

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]

Restoration of statehood a must

May 16, 2024

Refer to ‘Polling in Kashmir’; the 38 per cent turnout in Srinagar is being celebrated despite it not being an impressive figure just because it reverses the trend of abysmally low polling in the Valley. Apprehensions were rife about the voting trends this time, as it was the first Lok Sabha election in the region since the abrogation of Article 370. But the fact that Srinagar saw its biggest turnout in more than 25 years shows that the constituents have reposed their faith in the electoral process and democracy. As expected, the BJP skipped elections in the Valley and limited itself to Ladakh and Jammu, where it had better electoral prospects. This has once again brought to the fore the gulf between the Valley and the other two regions. The restoration of statehood should be prioritised now.

Bal Govind, Noida

Fresh chapter in J&K

Apropos of the editorial ‘Polling in Kashmir’; the elections in Jammu and Kashmir mark a watershed moment for democracy. The 38 per cent voter turnout in Srinagar, a significant increase from 2019, is a testament to the constituents’ faith in the electoral process and their desire to shape their future. The peaceful polling after the abrogation of Article 370 heralds a democratic renewal, offering a voice to the Valley residents. It is imperative that this momentum paves the way for the promised restoration of statehood and addresses the aspirations of the locals. The smooth conduct of these elections should not be the end but the beginning of a new chapter of inclusive governance.

Sahibpreet Singh, Mohali

India right to pursue its interests

Refer to the editorial ‘India-Iran deal’, the agreement signed by India and Iran for long-term operations at the strategic Chabahar port is a significant development in view of the global trade disruptions caused by unrest in West Asia. Under the project, which is set to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, road and rail networks will be built. New Delhi is right to pursue its interests and those of the region despite Washington’s objection to India’s deal with Tehran and threat of sanctions.

Gregory Fernandes, Mumbai

Make an informed choice

With reference to ‘Decoding food labels’; a consumer has the right to be informed about the quality, quantity and ingredients of a food product under the Consumer Protection Act. Misleading labelling and a lack of clarity on foodstuff tags are a matter of concern. Firms must not put their profits over the health and wellbeing of consumers. Fresh safety concerns about AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine, Patanjali health products and MDH spices are all legitimate. Laxity in the implementation of regulations is to blame for such lapses. Besides, consumers should educate themselves about various food items and health products so that they can make an informed choice.

Aanya Singhal, Noida

Patar’s demise a huge loss

Apropos of the middle ‘Surjit Patar, a poet for all seasons’; his demise comes as an irreparable loss to the literary world. In spite of his boundless creativity and the kind of popularity he enjoyed, Patar never lost touch with the common man. There is hardly any issue plaguing society that he did not touch upon in his works. While it is true that Gurbani and Sufism influenced his poetry, he was also familiar with literary forms across India and the world. As one of his countless admirers, I possess a copy of an anthology of his poems.

Beant Singh, by mail

Overhaul civil services recruitment

Only the brightest of UPSC aspirants can crack the civil services examination. However, reducing the number of attempts to two or three is a good idea. It is the coaching industry that has gained the most from the large number of attempts available to aspirants, adding to the burden of helpless parents. Besides, aspirants who are determined to make it often end up signing up for unnecessary courses under undue pressure. If the number of attempts is cut, they will single-mindedly pursue other bright career opportunities that await them.

Jivesh Bansal, 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]

India stood its ground

May 15, 2024

Apropos of the editorial ‘Russian oil’; India’s stance on importing discounted oil from Russia amid Western sanctions has proven to be both economically and diplomatically wise. By resisting Western pressure, India safeguarded its national interests, securing significant savings on its crude import bill, which fell to $132.40 billion in 2023-24. The recent statements by American officials, including US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti, indicate a reluctant acknowledgement of New Delhi’s independent foreign policy. This pragmatic approach not only strengthened India’s economic position but also reinforced its standing as a sovereign nation capable of balancing global relationships. India has sent a clear message to the West — it will not be coerced into compromising its strategic autonomy.

Gurdev Singh, Mohali

Playing fast & loose with health

With reference to the editorial ‘Decoding food labels’; the set of guidelines issued by the ICMR once again turns the spotlight on the poor standards of packaged food products in India. It is a well-known fact that firms use all means of advertising, fair or unfair, to lure people into buying their products. And consumers are often taken in by the tall claims published on the labels. Only a tiny number of people actually bother to read the contents of foodstuffs and study how consuming them could affect their health. It is imperative for people to wake up to the threat and not be misled by labels. The medical body is right to flag the issue. There is a need for the authorities concerned to check the menace of misleading advertising or labelling urgently.

Virender Sharma, Shimla

Vax recipients deserve answers

Refer to the article ‘Pandemic response and the dilemma of vaccination’; UK-based pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca has started the global withdrawal of its Covid-19 vaccine, known as Covishield in India. The move comes months after the drug giant admitted in court that the jab caused thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome in some cases. The government has failed to address the safety concerns. Moreover, amid the ongoing polls, the photo of PM Narendra Modi has been removed from the vaccine certificates, and it has added to the controversy. It is high time that the Ministry of Health took steps to allay the fears of vaccine recipients.

Deepak TAAK, Panchkula

A triumph for democracy

Apropos of ‘In first LS poll after Art 370 abrogation, Srinagar sees highest vote since 1996’; it is a moment of joy not only for the people of Srinagar or Kashmir but for the whole country. By turning out to exercise their franchise in large numbers, the constituents reversed a trend of low polling figures. The fact that the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat recorded its highest voter percentage since 1996 is inspiring. It does not matter which party or candidate wins the election. It is a triumph for the region and Indian democracy.

Krishan Kant Sood, Nangal

Safety of journalists covering polls

Refer to the news report ‘Ensure journalists’ safety: Editors Guild’; the letter to Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar asking him to ensure the safety of journalists covering the Lok Sabha elections has flagged vital issues. A smooth dissemination of information is a sine qua non of democracy. It is also important for ensuring free and fair elections. The letter brings to light the lax attitude of the authorities. The future of democracy hinges on stringent enforcement of the law of the land. The ECI must take the letter seriously and do the needful.

Jagvinder Singh Brar, Patiala

Equal pay is the way forward

Apropos of the news report ‘Cong will end financial distress of women: Sonia’; political leaders are not leaving any stone unturned to fetch votes in the General Election. Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi says the grand old party has come up with a ‘Mahalakshmi’ scheme to ensure justice for women. However, such schemes are just stopgap measures that will not benefit women in the long run. The only way that those in power can uplift women is by ensuring gender equality in education and equal pay at work.

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]

Relief for AAP, Opposition bloc

May 14, 2024

Apropos of the editorial ‘Kejriwal on poll trail’; voters don’t want a criminal to be treated with kid gloves. But they do feel outraged when tainted politicians evade arrest by joining the ruling dispensation. By granting interim bail to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with some reasonable restrictions amid the Lok Sabha elections, the Supreme Court has risen to the occasion. The SC has restored a level playing field, upholding the integrity of the electoral process. The development has brought fresh momentum to the AAP and INDIA bloc campaigns. This could be a game-changer in the ongoing polls.

Roshan Lal Goel, Ladwa

Criminalisation of politics

With reference to the editorial ‘Kejriwal on poll trail’; after being released from jail, the AAP national convener, who has been accused in the money laundering case related to the alleged liquor policy scam, returned to campaign for his party. Politicians who face incarceration must be ineligible to participate in Assembly or Lok Sabha elections. The Supreme Court’s decision to release the Delhi CM so that he could campaign for his party amid the General Election reflects a disturbing erosion of democratic values in our country.

Jagdish Banyal, Una

Consumer safety goes for a toss

Apropos of the article ‘Pandemic response and the dilemma of vaccination’; a concerning trend persists in India — from vaccines to food items, unsafe products are marketed to millions, endangering their lives. The safety concerns about AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine, MDH and Everest spices, Patanjali health products, certain baby foods and genetically modified crops are valid and raise serious questions about consumer safety. The fact that such products have been in the market for so long shows that profits have been prioritised over public health. There is an urgent need for more stringent regulations to ensure the safety of consumers.

Ankush Mahajan, Pathankot

Maintaining high standards

Apropos of ‘A parting shot by yours seditiously’ (Nous Indica); in this age of fake narratives, it has become a Herculean task for any news organisation to maintain high standards of journalism. Yet Rajesh Ramachandran, a bold editor, reminded us why this daily is known as the ‘voice of the people’. His front-page editorial on the Lakhimpur Kheri incident is a testament to his style of fearless and impartial journalism. He is not one to bow down to political parties. Thanks to his able leadership, the newspaper saw a growth of 125 per cent from the pandemic’s nadir. Hopefully, his successor, senior journalist Jyoti Malhotra, will carry on the legacy of the paper with the same professional integrity.

Bir Devinder Singh Bedi, Sangrur

He spoke truth to power

With reference to ‘A parting shot by yours seditiously’; I have been reading Rajesh Ramachandran’s columns for quite a while. I always found his write-ups and his analysis of political and social issues quite informative. It is remarkable that he never hesitated to criticise the ruling regime over its policies or actions. He always seemed to have in-depth knowledge of whatever subject he wrote about. I am one of the many readers who will miss reading his take on burning issues in our country. Ramachandran has been a brilliant editor and an excellent columnist. The mainstream media needs more editors like him.

Ranjeet Nanner, by mail

Voice of the people

Refer to ‘A parting shot by yours seditiously’; under the responsible editorship of Rajesh Ramachandran, The Tribune maintained its journalistic standards, continued its pursuit of truth and ensured accurate reporting of facts in news stories. Editors like Ramachandran are the reason the paper is known as the ‘voice of the people’. His leadership ensured that the paper lives up to Walter Lippmann’s quote, “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and shame the devil.” His contribution to the newspaper has been immense, and we look forward to more of his works.

Harjit Singh, 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]

Ramachandran’s legacy

May 13, 2024

Apropos of ‘A parting shot by yours seditiously’ (Nous Indica); it is commendable how gracious the outgoing Editor-in-Chief, Rajesh Ramachandran, is. In his farewell column, he has given all the credit for the success of the paper to his colleagues, the Tribune Trust and the readers. Ramachandran is leaving behind him a newspaper that has high readership in north India. Though we readers will miss his insightful weekly column, we look forward to more journalistic works from him. At the same time, we are eager to welcome senior journalist Jyoti Malhotra as the new Editor-in-Chief. Hopefully, she will be just as competent as Ramachandran and maintain the high standards set by her predecessors.

WG CDR CL Sehgal (retd), Jalandhar

A man of journalistic integrity

With reference to ‘A parting shot by yours seditiously’ (Nous Indica); it is a good time to reflect on Rajesh Ramachandran’s six-year stint at The Tribune, a tenure marked by resilience and journalistic integrity. Having spent so many years at the helm, he understands that the essence of a newspaper lies not in individual glory but in the concerted efforts of a team. The paper’s post-pandemic recovery under Ramachandran and the bold stance it took during the farmers’ protest — demanding accountability of the powers that be — is a testament to this. The paper’s unwavering commitment to the relentless pursuit of truth, as seen under Ramachandran, is what the readers admire.

Sahibpreet Singh, Mohali

Editor who made a difference

Refer to ‘A parting shot by yours seditiously’; Rajesh Ramachandran enriched the legacy of The Tribune. As a reader, I have enjoyed reading his brilliant columns on countless issues of national and international importance over the years. One may agree or disagree with the arguments Ramachandran made in his columns, yet one can’t deny that he always gave the readers a fresh perspective and food for thought every time he wrote. He contributed to the growth of this prestigious English daily. During his tenure, he upheld the highest standards of journalism.

Raj Bahadur Yadav, Fatehabad

Unscrupulous travel agents

Apropos of the editorial ‘Donkey flights’; the case of a flight with 200-odd Indians on board being sent back to Dubai from Jamaica once again turns the spotlight on the menace of illegal immigration. Indians’ growing obsession with going abroad for a ‘better life’ can be gauged from the rise in the number of people opting for ‘donkey flights’. It shows that they are even willing to risk their lives for it. Those who want to live abroad by any means pay hefty sums of money to unscrupulous agents, who promise to help them with illegal border crossings. It is unfortunate that many illegal travel agents have been operating in states like Punjab and Haryana without any fear of the law.

Ramesh Gupta, Narwana

Kejriwal makes a comeback

With reference to the front-page news report ‘Modi seeking votes for Shah, will quit at 75: Kejri hits campaign trail’; the Delhi Chief Minister’s visit to the Hanuman temple in Connaught Place after his release from Tihar Jail was full of razzmatazz. Instead of playing the victim card, Kejriwal wisely opted to launch an attack on the Modi-Shah duo. By doing so, he brought up the rule framed by none other than Modi that leaders should retire once they turn 75 years old. Besides, it has become a bit tiring to see leaders allege the hand of their political rivals each time they get incarcerated in connection with a scam. Instead, they must focus on proving their innocence in court.

Vinayaka M, Bengaluru

Acknowledge harm caused by vax

UK-based pharmaceutical major AstraZeneca acknowledged in court that its Covid-19 vaccine, known as Covishield in India, caused thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome in some cases. The firm’s subsequent decision to withdraw the vaccine globally amid concerns about its serious side effects is welcome. The demand for compensation for the vaccine victims is crucial for addressing the harm caused by the jab. Regardless of what role the vaccine played in the pandemic, the side effects need to be addressed. Upholding vaccine safety is of paramount importance.

Chanchal S 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]

Act against Sikh separatists

May 11, 2024

Refer to ‘India-Canada friction’; tensions between the two countries have been simmering since Canadian PM Justin Trudeau raised questions last September about the alleged involvement of the Indian government in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Since then, Indian intelligence agencies have come under global scrutiny. So far, Canada has failed to present any evidence to back its claim that India was behind the murder of the Khalistani terrorist. But still, it is not wise for the BJP to brag about killing terrorists in their own home, as some countries may interpret it as a confession to the charge. Besides, it is concerning that Ottawa has shown disregard for New Delhi’s repeated pleas to not allow Sikh separatists and anti-India elements to flourish on Canadian soil.

Gregory Fernandes, Mumbai

India-Canada ties worsening

The Justin Trudeau-led government has apparently allowed Khalistan supporters to engage in anti-India activities on Canadian soil for quite some time now. The separatist elements there have been openly celebrating the assassination of former PM Indira Gandhi and chanting anti-India slogans at public events. Trudeau recently attended an event where pro-Khalistan slogans were raised. The Canadian PM must not defend this in the name of freedom of speech. The proximity between the Trudeau administration and Khalistani sympathisers does not bode well for the India-Canada ties.

Bal Govind, Noida

Change diet to tackle health crisis

Refer to the editorial ‘India’s dietary crisis’; there is an urgent need to boost the consumption of healthy food among people. It is true that packaged snacks have ushered in a culture of convenience. However, it is important to be mindful of the health implications of consuming such unhealthy items. Traditional Indian meals — green vegetables, fruits and homemade delicacies — are rich in nutrients. A change in diet is a must to tackle the health crisis. Besides, it is important for people to incorporate some physical activity into their lives to mitigate the health issues arising from harmful dietary habits. Promoting home-cooked meals and integrating nutritional education into school curricula are vital steps towards fostering a healthier lifestyle.

Vijay Kumar Katial, Panchkula

Raise health-conscious children

It is not shocking that India is facing a health crisis, with 56.4 per cent of the total disease burden attributed to unhealthy dietary practices. Citizens must wake up and try to avoid consuming fast food and packaged snacks, which might be easily available and affordable but have an adverse impact on the consumer’s health. The government must come up with an initiative to deal with the crisis. Including nutritional programmes in school curricula will encourage children and teenagers to become health-conscious from an early age.

Deepak Kumar, Mukerian

Accountability of manufacturers

Refer to the editorial ‘Vaccine withdrawal’; pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca’s recent admission about its Covid vaccine causing thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) in some cases came as a shock to the world, and especially to India. After all, most eligible adults in our country had received this vaccine, which is known as Covishield. More than 175 crore doses of Covishield were administered here without most people even knowing the risks associated with the jab. It is possible that the drug firm was already aware of the serious risk when the development of the vaccine was still under way. Now it remains to be seen if the manufacturers will be held accountable.

Haridasan Rajan, Kozhikode (Kerala)

Relief for vax injuries crucial

Apropos of the editorial ‘Vaccine withdrawal’; UK-based pharmaceutical major AstraZeneca’s decision to withdraw its Covid-19 vaccine, which can cause TTS, is a step in the right direction. The demand for compensation for those who suffered serious adverse events and for the kin of those who died as a result of inoculation is valid. It will be a crucial move towards acknowledging and addressing the harm caused by the vaccine. It is imperative to prioritise the safety of patients and vaccine recipients and conduct a thorough probe to hold vaccine makers and regulatory bodies accountable.

Amarjeet 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]

Withdrawal of vaccine not enough

May 10, 2024

Apropos of the editorial ‘Vaccine withdrawal’; pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca cannot evade responsibility for the serious adverse events and deaths caused by its Covid jab by simply pulling it from the market. The damage has already been done. Notably, several state and local authorities had mandated residents and government employees to get inoculated during the pandemic. The Punjab Government, for example, had made it compulsory for its employees to take the shot. Some authorities had even made taking the booster dose compulsory. Who will be held responsible for the side effects? Besides, the alleged link between vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India and the BJP needs to be looked into. The need of the hour is to study the long-term safety risks of Covishield and address the concerns of the recipients.

Wg Cdr JS Minhas (retd), Mohali

Sudden deaths of vax recipients

Refer to the editorial ‘Vaccine withdrawal’; AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine, marketed as Covishield in India, caused thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome in some cases. The jab resulted in deaths and serious injuries. The suspected link between the vaccine and a surge in sudden deaths of recipients — especially those who were young and healthy — needs to be probed afresh. It is clear now that the regulatory authorities, who were responsible for ensuring that the Covid vaccines were safe, not only failed to do their job but also abdicated their duty. This serious lapse on their part should be investigated, and those at fault must get stringent punishment.

MD Sharma, Shimla

Don’t overlook vax side effects

With reference to the editorial ‘Vaccine withdrawal’; it is good to know that UK-based pharmaceutical major AstraZeneca is withdrawing the Covid vaccine amid safety concerns. More than 50 victims and their relatives have moved the High Court of Justice in London, seeking relief. Here in India, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition praying for compensation for vaccine injuries and the setting up of a panel to study the side effects of the shot. The health problems caused by the vaccine cannot be overlooked. The pharmaceutical firm’s admission about side effects and its decision to withdraw the vaccine globally call for a thorough inquiry.

Subhash C Taneja, Gurugram

Pitroda was a liability for Congress

Apropos of the news report ‘Pitroda again, raises storm with racist remarks, quits Cong post’; the telecom entrepreneur’s divisive remarks on what Indians living in different parts of the country look like have rightly drawn criticism for reducing the nation’s cultural richness to racial stereotypes. But this is not the first time he has sparked a controversy. From underplaying the 1984 anti-Sikh riots to his borrowed idea on inheritance tax, he has landed the party in trouble many times. His comments inject divisiveness into an already vitiated poll atmosphere that reflects the polarised times we live in. The controversial statements made by the Gandhi family loyalist have caused more harm than good to the Congress.

N Sadhasiva Reddy, Bengaluru

Voters want inclusive growth

With reference to the news report ‘Pitroda again, raises storm with racist remarks, quits Cong post’; Overseas Congress chief’s decision to step down points to the downfall of the party. This is another step towards the end of the grand old party. The Congress is almost over, and people are going to vote for PM Narendra Modi’s BJP and its policies. Most citizens are satisfied with the performance of the Modi government and its development model. Once again, voters are going to choose inclusive growth and sustainability over the Congress’ divisive politics.

Rukma Sharma, Jalandhar

Rein in use of unfair means

Refer to the middle ‘Stem the rot in exam system’; students cheat because their grades are given the most importance. Cheating in exams is academic dishonesty; it is unethical. Teachers need to play a proactive role in curbing the menace. Good teachers can be distinguished by their commitment to the profession, their teaching methodology, moral sense and compassion. To rein in the use of unfair means in exams, frisking, the installation of CCTV cameras in examination halls and strict punishment for culprits are necessary.

Anita Kataria, Patiala

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]

Prajwal unfit for public office

May 09, 2024

Refer to the editorial ‘Sexual abuse case’; the allegations of sexual harassment against Janata Dal (Secular) MP Prajwal Revanna, who is the grandson of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, are shocking. If the claims about him sexually abusing women and video-graphing these acts are true, it reflects his lack of decency. It is unlikely that his family members knew nothing about his involvement in immoral activities. As a representative of the people, he seems to have gained more power to oppress women. It is telling that his father is under arrest on the charges of molestation and abduction. Such leaders are unfit to hold public office. The latest revelation should make all those voters who treated them as their leaders hang their heads in shame.

AG Rajmohan, Anantapur (AP)

Bring perpetrators to book

Apropos of the editorial ‘Sexual abuse case’; it is shameful that atrocities against women are continuing unabated in the country. It is equally disturbing that politicians are reportedly involved in cases of kidnapping, molestation or sexual harassment. This is a poor reflection on the way women are treated in Indian society. Citizens expect their representatives to lead by example. But since political leaders wield much influence, they sometimes abuse that power to commit atrocities against women. Because of social stigma and fear, the victims often don’t come forward to report the matter. The perpetrators need to be dealt with sternly, and the victims must get justice.

Ravi Sharma, Dhariwal

Israel must stop now

Refer to the article ‘Students lead struggle for reinvention of democracy’; it is inspiring to see American youth take an unequivocal stand to end the Gaza war. The killing of women and children has sadly been normalised. The civilians stuck in Gaza have become sitting ducks for the attackers, and that is what US university students are protesting. Further, the fact that the US is still supplying military aid to Israel instead of dousing the fire of war speaks volumes about its priorities. Israel’s initial response to the October 7 attack by Hamas terrorists was legitimate, but it must stop now.

BM Singh, by mail

Palestinian lives at stake

The war between Israel and Hamas is intensifying. The Israeli attacks on Rafah will leave Gaza in an even bigger humanitarian crisis. While the world repeatedly expresses its displeasure over Israel’s onslaught on Palestinian civilians, it continues to bomb women and children. The famine-like conditions in parts of Gaza and the scarcity of food and essential drugs will become unimaginably worse with the latest developments. On the one hand, America has asked Israel to stop the war, but on the other hand, it continues to send military aid to the country. It is high time that world leaders came together and persuaded Tel Aviv to stop the conflict.

DVG Sankara Rao, Vizianagaram (AP)

India is not xenophobic

US President Joe Biden recently called India and some other countries xenophobic. His bracketing of India and Japan with Russia and China is bizarre. His comment that the countries are xenophobic is ill-timed. Biden is right to say that America’s economic strength is in being open to immigrants. The US is still the most-sought-after destination for immigrants looking for a better life. However, India’s journey has been very different. Though it didn’t have the economic strength to be a magnet for immigrants, it has still taken in millions of refugees.

PL Singh, by mail

A welcome move

Refer to ‘Jyoti Malhotra appointed first woman Editor-in-Chief’; The Tribune Trust deserves kudos for selecting a female journalist as its next Editor-in-Chief. Readers of The Tribune, north India’s premier newspaper, have high hopes from her. In this day and age, women are surpassing men in every field. Women have been making a name for themselves in areas that were earlier seen as male bastions. The appointment of Malhotra is a welcome move. As an experienced professional, she will hopefully live up to the expectations of the readers, just like her predecessors.

KL Noatay, 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]

India, China should hold talks

May 08, 2024

Refer to the editorial ‘LAC standoff’; China’s policy of expansionism and aggressive conduct in the region has hurt its relations with almost all its neighbours, except for Russia and North Korea. Even the people of Pakistan are not happy with the actions of the Dragon. In his recent visit to China, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken failed to stabilise the bilateral ties. He made it clear that Beijing’s aggressive behaviour would not be tolerated. Though India has held several talks with the Chinese, tensions remain high along the LAC. Leaders of both countries should proactively engage in dialogue to amicably resolve the prolonged standoff. Once the border dispute ends, the two nations will progress faster and prosper in a healthy, mutually beneficial economic environment. 

Subhash Vaid, New Delhi

Don’t allow miscarriage of justice

Apropos of the editorial ‘Criminal trials’; the SC has flagged a very valid concern with regard to the integrity of the judicial process. The public does not see the criminal justice delivery system as fair or transparent. It is disconcerting that a lot of times, there is no proper cross-examination of the witnesses who turn hostile. This miscarriage of justice must not be allowed. The role of a public prosecutor in the criminal justice system is indispensable. The criteria for the appointment of public prosecutors must be stringent. And they must have an impeccable record. Further, the court has rightly underscored the significance of an effective cross-examination of hostile witnesses to extract the truth and uncover the inconsistencies in witness testimony.

Roshan Lal Goel, Ladwa

Clouds of uncertainty over Gaza

Refer to the news report ‘Hamas accepts truce offer after Israel evacuates Rafah’; the current state of uncertainty surrounding the Gaza ceasefire is a reflection of the suffering of the innocent civilians stuck there. As Hamas tentatively agrees to a ceasefire proposal, Israel’s refusal to accept the terms prolongs the agony of countless Palestinians, including women and children. The relentless strikes on Rafah, coupled with the displacement of over a million Palestinians, paint a grim picture of human tragedy unfolding before our eyes. While diplomatic efforts push for peace, the harsh reality on the ground speaks of shattered homes, lost lives and an uncertain future. As the world watches, it is imperative to demand swift action to end this cycle of violence.

Gurdev Singh, by mail

Campus cheerleaders for Hamas

Apropos of the article ‘An overreaction to student protests’; the author has failed to understand that the purpose of higher education is education, not activism. The writer has wrongly claimed that public opinion is manipulated by the Jewish lobby in the US. At Yale, a female Jewish student was recently stabbed in the eye with a Palestinian flagpole during an anti-Israel protest. The pro-Palestine students have been chanting, ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’, which effectively means the eradication of the Jewish state and the expulsion or killing of its inhabitants. The protesters have become cheerleaders for the Hamas, a terror group whose operatives raped, tortured, killed and mutilated several Israeli civilians on October 7. Further, the writer’s observation that the scale of destruction unleashed on Gaza has been disproportionate is flawed. Any response to a terrorist attack must be crippling.

Ajay Tyagi, Mumbai

Canadian Khalistanis at it again

With reference to the report ‘Canada again, floats target Indian leadership at pro-Khalistan rally’; it is concerning that PM Justin Trudeau is allowing extremism, separatism and violence to flourish on Canadian soil. Khalistani extremists have been raising separatist slogans and delivering inflammatory speeches at rallies. Pro-Khalistan protesters often also target PM Narendra Modi and other Indian leaders. They keep pushing for greater participation in a referendum on the matter. They must understand that Khalistan can be created only in a country whose citizens want it.

Upendra Sharma, 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]

India a welcoming country

May 07, 2024

With reference to the editorial ‘Raking up xenophobia’; India is far from being a racist country. In fact, it is one of the most welcoming nations in the world. And it can be said without a doubt that India is on the cusp of major transformation. The day is not far when it will become the third largest economy in the world. US President Joe Biden’s remarks calling countries like India and Japan ‘xenophobic’ are uncalled for. Since the US presidential election is around the corner, it seems like Biden is trying to appeal to his vote bank. Or perhaps he is not happy to see India grow.

Bal Govind, Noida

Biden’s remarks ill-timed

Refer to ‘Raking up xenophobia’; President Joe Biden’s observation about the ‘faltering economies’ of the countries that he has accused of being ‘xenophobic’ is misconceived and ill-timed. India is a fast-growing economy, and it has always been welcoming of immigrants. Biden’s remark may be a political move to boost the chances of his re-election in November. However, such statements have the potential to hit America’s ties with its allies and undermine the Quad alliance. The American leadership should refrain from using anti-India rhetoric or tarring the image of its allies.

DS Kang, Hoshiarpur

Ensure proper disposal of waste

Apropos of the editorial ‘Toxic waste disposal’; the situation in towns and villages along the Haryana-Rajasthan border is distressing. Despite all the talk of saving the environment, such incidents bring to the fore the grim ground reality. Instead of getting into spats, both states should focus on fixing the issue and ensuring proper disposal of the hazardous chemicals so as to prevent any further harm to the ecology and human health. Concerted efforts by the Centre, the states and the National Green Tribunal are a must to tackle the menace. Ensuring strict enforcement of the regulations for the safe disposal of toxic matter is advisable. Sustainable waste management is necessary to alleviate the suffering of the local residents.

Priyanka, by mail

Don’t stifle dissent on campus

Refer to the article ‘Taking on mighty Jewish lobby in US’; the crackdown on students by US universities for voicing their solidarity with Palestine is an assault on free speech and academic freedom. The students’ demand that the universities withdraw investments from companies involved with Israel is legitimate. It shows that they are concerned about human rights violations. The authorities must not justify their heavy-handedness by accusing the protesters of spreading hatred against Jews. Instead of suppressing dissent on campus, the US must stop Israel from inflicting harm on the innocent people of Gaza. 

Chanchal S Mann, Una

No respite for middle class

The article ‘Middle class facing a massive squeeze’ is on point. The middle class, the bedrock of our economy, faces an unprecedented squeeze. Progress made over decades has stalled, leaving aspirations unfulfilled. The stark reality is that the living standards of this vital demographic have either stagnated or worsened, while the cost of living has been soaring. Meanwhile, white-collar job vacancies have been dwindling. The middle class, our society’s backbone, is being hollowed out. The contribution of this segment remains undervalued, and its significance is often overlooked. There is a need to address this imbalance and restore the dignity of the middle class. The future of our nation depends on it.

Sargunpreet Kaur, Mohali

Govt must address vax side effects

Soon after British firm AstraZeneca admitted that its Covid-19 vaccine, known as Covishield in India, causes thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome in some cases, a plea was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a study of the side effects of the jab. It shows that the public has lost faith in the government. It is high time that the authorities concerned took steps to address the concerns of the vaccine recipients. The Centre used to boast about the massive coverage of the immunisation drive in India. But inaction on the part of the government is showing. A judicial intervention must not be required in the matter. The government should act on its own.

Jagdish Chander, 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]