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Bard of Brahmaputra

Print edition : Dec 16, 2011

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T+T-

THE obituary on Bhupen Hazarika made me emotional (Renaissance man, December 2). The age that saw the emergence of classical songs mixed with earthy elements has come to an end with his passing away. Hazarika was a writer and a film and music director. But above all, he was a patriot. Few would know that when China attacked India, he was the only Assamese journalist to report on the conflict.

He was also associated with the Indian People's Theatre Association. There was a folkish quality to his music. The Bard of Brahmaputra' will be remembered for years to come.

The rare photographs of the singer make this issue of Frontline a collector's item.

S. Balakrishnan Jamshedpur, JharkhandUID project

FRONTLINE deserves credit for clearing the fog surrounding the cumbersome and confusing Unique Identification number project (Number of controversies, Cover Story, December 2). Unfortunately, the much-hyped UID project has gone too far, and thrives on the misconception of many Indians that the UID alone can solve their identity problems.

Spending crores of rupees on this scheme is a cruel joke on India's poor. Secondly, does the state need to intrude into the lives of its citizens? The interview with Dr Edgar Whitley exposes the failings of the biometric process. It is time to wake up and stop relying on an unrealistic project like the UID.

Atul Kumar Thakur Ghaziabad, U.P.

BEFORE proceeding further with the project, it will be worthwhile for the government to find out if the electronic equipment in its offices are in order. Even if they are, will it be able to ensure that the agencies collecting data for the UID will not misuse it? It is for sure that corporates will obtain databases through these agencies. Also, how can one expect that the data will not be hacked?

Sunil Nair Palakkad, Kerala

THE UID is going to be just another identification document like passport, PAN card, driving licence, voter identity card, and so on.

There should be only one identity proof for all practical purposes. And passports, which are valid internationally, are ideal for this. Acquiring a passport should be made mandatory for every citizen. It will save crores of rupees that is now wasted on creating various identification documents.

Mahesh Kapasi New Delhi

THE Cover Story has presented a fine analysis of all the problems connected with the UID project. If the UID serves the purpose of bridging the two Indias, it is good. But issues such as the costs, intrusion into privacy, security, and the harm that it can do to the social sector are worrying. It may not be advisable to simply discard it. Instead, there should be a nationwide debate on it.

Jacob Sahayam Thiruvananthapuram

NO doubt the UID project is a great effort on the part of the Union government in modernising the personal data of all Indians.

The UID number will go a long way in plugging the loopholes in government-launched programmes such as the public distribution system. The UID number will be a boon for people wanting to open bank accounts, get driving licences and apply for passports.

The fears about the possible theft and misuse of personal details should not be taken seriously. In fact, the UID system will easily prevent any duplication or impersonation since it is based on biometric attributes like fingerprints and iris scans.

Apart from speeding up the process of distributing UID numbers, effective steps should be taken to create awareness amongst people about the importance of the whole UID system.

P. Senthil Saravana Durai Vazhavallan, Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu

MFN status

INDIA had granted MFN status to Pakistan in 1996 as required under the World Trade Organisation regime, but the latter has taken a long time to reciprocate owing to its unfounded fears, the Kashmir issue and the influence of extremists on the Pakistan establishment (Ignorance rules, December 2). Now there seems to be some change in the Pakistan government's thinking. Its decision to confer MFN status on India will add some warmth to bilateral relations.

P. Arihanth SecunderabadBhupen Hazarika

THE legendary musician brought folk music to the mainstream (Renaissance man, December 2). The one song that stands out among his Hindi compositions is Aane wali hai bhara sone chaman mein (Spring is coming in the desolate garden), from the film Ek Pal and sung by the ghazal singer Bhupinder Singh.

Tish Malhotra DelhiInsects

THE eight-part series on insects, which ended with the article, Fungus farmers (December 2) was well-researched, informative and interesting. The photographs were beautiful too.

Researchers in the field should find the series useful.

Dr B. Jambulingam ThanjavurKudankulam

IN his column Time to talk, Praful Bidwai treads the beaten track of anti-nuclear theology (December 2). The writer is oblivious of the ground realities of the Kudankulam agitation and on the role of nuclear energy in the country's energy security. As a citizen who lives in Tirunelveli district where the Kudankulam project is located, I can vouch that though the agitation against the nuke project has made some impact on the local fishing populace, there is a vast, silent majority which is in favour of the project.

The project has brought development to Tamil Nadu's southern region. Twenty years ago, Kudankulam and adjoining places did not have proper roads, transport or shops. The area around Kudankulam was barren and unemployment reigned supreme. Today, the situation is dramatically different with improvements in terms of roads, public transport, direct or indirect employment and development of many entrepreneurial business opportunities generated by the project, not just around Kudankulam but even in the adjoining regions. Local business has also flourished. The all-round development has kept people happy and there were no protests of any significance in the past 10 years against the project.

One really wonders what made certain sections take up cudgels against the project just when it was ready to be commissioned. The campaign is not based on any scientific facts. The interview with Dr Srikumar Banerjee, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, in Frontline also shows that the project is safe.

R. Prasad Tirunelveli

PRAFUL BIDWAI has raised valid questions about the safety of nuclear reactors, be it in Kudankulam or Jaitapur, and has rightly suggested that a moratorium be declared on building nuclear plants.

Viswanath V. Kurnool Andhra PradeshIndia & F1 race

BHASKAR GHOSE juxtaposes the recent Formula 1 extravaganza at Noida with the poverty-stricken lives of rickshaw pullers (The many Indias, December 2). The entry fee of Rs.40,000 at the F1 race is more than what a rickshaw puller can earn annually.

True, we have many Indias in which a few people are shining and the rest are whining. When will India bring cheer to its whining citizens? The earlier the better.

C. Chandrasekaran MaduraiPress Council

THE Press Council of India now has the urgent task of safeguarding the media from the threat of disproportionate amounts of fine granted by courts in defamation cases (Reforming the Press Council, December 2). A free press is a must for a democracy. The judiciary and the media should not be trying to settle scores with each other.

Justice Markandey Katju, the new chairman of the Press Council of India, has made highly condemnable comments about the media, both print and electronic. The PCI was set up to protect the rights and freedom of working journalists apart from regulating the media. If we are talking of reforming the PCI, then the first change should that non-journalists should not be appointed as PCI chairmen.

Deendayal M. Lulla MumbaiMatch-fixing

THE birthplace of cricket has done what the land of a billion fans could not convict players for subverting the game for money (Crossing the line, December 2).

K.S. Jayatheertha BangaloreChild nutrition

In the article Stunted growth (December 2), I have been misquoted as saying that there was hardly any coordination between the Karnataka Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) and the Department of Health and Family Nutrition in tackling child nutrition. I had stated that there was coordination between the departments but it needed to be strengthened further to address malnutrition. Only through their coordination and support have we been able to extend health facilities to our Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) beneficiaries.

The role of the Mahila Supplementary Nutrition Production and Training Centres (MSPTC), which are independent societies consisting of 22-32 women in a self-help group/centre supplying food to the anganwadis, also needs to have been stressed. These centres have been equipped to prepare the various items of the Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) for anganwadis. To build their capacity and handhold them in the process, we have engaged a capacity builder for a limited term. Ultimately, it is to these 137 societies we are placing the monthly indent according to the requirements of the beneficiaries, and they are responsible for the timely supply of quality SNP items to the 63,377 anganwadis across the State.

Dr Shamla Iqbal Director, DWCD, KarnatakaANNOUNCEMENT

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