Exports or ecology?

Print edition : July 27, 2012

This is with reference to the article Best foot forward (July 13). I was surprised that neither the article nor the interview with Rafeeq Ahmed, president of the FIEO and a leading leather exporter and owner of the Farida Group of tanneries, mentioned the several directions of the Supreme Court relating to some 547 tanners in Vellore district, including the Farida Group.

The Loss of Ecology Authority, set up under the direction of the court, ordered the polluting tanneries to pay a sum of Rs.26,82,02,328 to 29,193 farmers for damaging fertile agricultural lands in the period from August 12, 1991 (the year when the Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum filed its writ petition in the case) to December 31, 1998 (when the assessment was made). They were also ordered to continue to pay compensation until the ecology of the area was brought back to its original state. The State government was asked to execute schemes to restore the adversely affected ecology at a cost of Rs.167 crore, and the tanneries were directed in 2001 to contribute Rs.3.66 crore as their share. This has not been complied with to date. The TNAU revealed in a report that tannery workers were suffering from skin and respiratory diseases. Does India require export of leather and earning of foreign exchange at this cost?

P.S. Subrahmanian Chennai Public health

Long-term results in public health can be achieved only by ensuring that the social determinants of health such as food security, safe water, sanitation and shelter are available for the entire population (Cover Story, July 13). We should realise that universal medical care alone is not universal health care. Medical care is one of the several interventions that are necessary for good health.

K.R. DEEPAK

Alas, the healing profession has transformed itself into an industry, with the state itself eulogising corporate medical care. Several countries have tried the concept of good health at low cost and achieved spectacular results. India should emulate those models.

Araveeti Rama Yogaiah Hyderabad

Public Health is certainly in a crisis. Health care is largely moving into the private sector, which is beyond the means of the average citizen. India should have developed health care along the lines of Britain, Canada and many European countries. The pharmaceutical industry spends more money on marketing than it does on R&D. Its strong lobby influences laws. The process of approval and evaluation of drugs is a case in point. Although patients often benefit from their involvement in research, nearly all clinical research includes procedures that carry risks that outweigh the benefits.

The Nuremberg trials in 1946 marked the beginning of the modern discussion of the ethics of clinical research. A recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine questions the ethics of testing drugs intended for affluent nations on people in developing countries. The European Parliament is pushing for greater sanctions against multinational drug companies that breach ethical standards in clinical trials conducted in poor countries after The Independent last year exposed a series of violations in India.

H.N. Ramakrishna Bangalore Aadhaar

A panel has already thrashed the Prime Ministers Aadhaar project, which has been plagued by controversies (A tale of errors, July 13). The Home Ministry, which has its own project the National Population Register is opposed to the objectives of and the methods used for the Aadhaar project. There are also allegations of private data collection agencies seeking more information than is required. Banks do not recognise Aadhaar cards as proof of ones residence under their KYC (know-your-customer) norms. The utility of Aadhaar cards to urban dwellers is not clear. The biggest issue is data theft, and data security. The drawbacks of biometric technology put a question mark on the efficacy of these cards in the PDS and employment guarantee schemes. There are also issues of right to privacy as India has yet to enact laws relating to data protection.

Deendayal M. Lulla Mumbai

The Aadhaar cards are given to people to ensure that poverty alleviation schemes reach the intended beneficiaries. There are errors and omissions in the ration cards issued by State governments and in the voter identity cards issued by the Election Commission of India. These errors are rectified and new cards issued.

N.R. Ramachandran Chennai Andhra Pradesh

R.V. MOORTHY

The YSR Congress has emerged as a formidable force in Andhra Pradesh (Game changer, July 13). The disproportionate wealth case against Jaganmohan Reddy was ill-timed. This invited peoples sympathy. The ghost of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy continues to haunt the Congress. The poor in the State, including farmers, have not benefited so far from its rule and are frustrated. Additionally, the level of corruption in the State is increasing. Unless the Congress mends its ways, the coming general election will be a cakewalk for Jaganmohan Reddy.

Sravana Ramachandran Chennai

The byelection results in Andhra Pradesh proved once again that in parliamentary democracies, politics of vendetta seldom works. Whether the Congress accepts it or not, the victory of the YSR Congress showed that Jaganmohan Reddy is YSRs true heir and an iconic leader with mass support. The political significance of the victory can be understood by the fact that Jaganmohan Reddy is being compared to the stalwart N.T. Rama Rao, who changed the course of Andhra Pradeshs political history when he formed the Telugu Desam Party in 1982.

Ettirankandath Krishandas Palakkad, Kerala

When the Left withdrew its support to the Congress-led government in 2008, the latter began to run the administration with the help of the CBI and some opportunistic political parties. It got a good response from the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh. Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar, too, did not dare talk of bringing another floor test against the government. The Congress tried the same trick against YSR Congress president Jaganmohan Reddy, but he stood firm against the Congress and defeated it. Political parties in a democracy should fear the people, not other political parties. The voters of Andhra Pradesh have demonstrated this.

Sushil Kumar Aurangabad, Bihar Mehdi Hasan

THE HINDU ARCHIVES

The death of Mehdi Hasan has created a void in the world of music in the subcontinent (Master of ghazal, July 13). It saddens his admirers that at the fag end of his life he was in penury and was unable to pay his hospital bills. The Pakistani government did little to help him. However, it is laudable that the renowned Indian singers Jagjit Singh and Lata Mangeshkar came forward with a substantial contribution to help him clear his medical bills.

N.C. Sreedharan Kannur, Kerala Singur

The verdict of the Calcutta High Court on the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act means that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cannot keep her promise to return land to the unwilling land losers of Singur (Singur Act struck down, July 13). The ill-fated cultivators of Singur have little knowledge of land laws and their amendments. The only thing they know is that their livelihoods have been disturbed for a long time by political factions.

Manas Mukhopadhyay Chinsurah, W.B. Partition

THE HINDU ARCHIVES

The articles Jinnahs concept of Pakistan (June 1) and Chasing Jinnahs vision of Pakistan (June 15) by A.G. Noorani threw light on the events that preceded Partition. I wish to emphasise one point. C. Rajagopalachari read Mohammad Ali Jinnahs mind completely and advised the Congress to at least discuss the Pakistan proposal in order to mollify Jinnah. Jinnah wanted to buttress his plans to become a leader with the help of the mass of Muslims who had already thought of a separate state. Had Rajajis advice been heeded, India would have had a friendly neighbour instead of a hatred-fed Pakistan.

M. Rajaraman Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu Announcement

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