THE Cover Story (September 11) on the H1N1 pandemic drew attention to the real health issues that plague our country. The poor show by the government is because India does not have public health legislation or public health infrastructure to meet the health needs of the people. The government has signed international treaties and declarations that emphasise the peoples right to health, but there is no political will to take this forward. The United Kingdom introduced its Public Health Act more than 200 years ago.
While one could analyse the many reasons for the absence of such a law in India, it is now more important to look at ways and means of bringing in an Act to cover existing and emerging public health problems without having to wait for Health Ministers to understand health issues and respond in a politically correct manner.Dr K.M. Shyamprasad Shillong, Meghalaya
THE Cover Story not only exposed the inadequacies in Indias health care system but also the governments inaction in the face of potential emergencies. Merely issuing a statement listing dos and donts, stockpiling Tamiflu and ordering the closing down of schools for a few days will not solve the problem. The government should train more doctors to handle the virus and open more testing centres. It should also seek expert opinion about homoeopathic drugs since many people have started buying them believing that they offer a quick cure at an affordable cost.K.R. Srinivasan SecunderabadRace and caste
The racial attacks on Indians in Australia and on Muslims in the U.S. were subjected to an intense scrutiny by the media (In the name of honour, August 28). But we conveniently forgot that no one has been as notorious as Indians in this respect. Our history is full of examples of the trouncing of lower castes by the higher castes. Castes, especially among Hindus, are watertight compartments. What is appalling is the adherence to the system even by those who are highly educated.
If honour killings become the norm, then all the development India boasts is a sham. Experience tells us that caste violence spreads like wildfire in our country. But somehow our leaders have not been gifted with long-term memory except when it comes to settling petty personal vendettas.B. Meenu Kottayam, KeralaJaswant & Jinnah
THE debate about Mohammed Ali Jinnahs legacy is irrelevant for India (No questions, please, September 11). Instead of debating Jinnahs secular credentials, we must seek to properly evaluate the threat to our secular democracy from the resurgent Islamic orthodoxy in Jinnahs Pakistan, of which Al Qaeda, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and so on, are only the symptoms.
The furore over the book, the ban imposed by the Gujarat government and Jaswant Singhs expulsion will be received, I am sure, in some quarters in Pakistan as evidence of India remaining congenitally allergic to the idea of Pakistan. The corollary: Peace with India is not possible.M. Meghana Bradford, U.K.* * *
THE real tragedy is not that Indians have been unable to see Jinnah differently, as some secular historians would have us see him, but that we still hold rose-tinted notions about undivided India. An undivided India on Jinnahs terms would have reduced the whole region to a Pakistan-like chaos. We would have had not just three countries but more than 20 of them, allowing none to survive as secular nations. By agreeing to Partition, Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel saved the rest of the nation from the mess Jinnah created. They did the right thing.A. Vani Hyderabad* * *
IT is unfortunate that Jaswant Singh was summarily expelled from the BJP. Those who expelled him need to remember that after Jinnahs death on September 11, 1948, Dr Rajendra Prasad, President of the Constituent Assembly, said on November 4: I ask you Members, to stand in your places to pay our tribute of respect to Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who, by his grim determination and steadfast devotion was able to carve out and found Pakistan and whose passing away at this moment is an irreparable loss to all. We send our heartfelt sympathies to our brethren across the frontier. All the Members stood up in silence.
Mahatma Gandhi called Jinnah a great leader. Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Sarojini Naidu called Jinnah an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity.
Be it Gandhi, Jinnah, Jawaharlal Nehru or Vallabhbhai Patel, all of them were responsible for the partition of India in one way or the other.S. Balakrishnan Jamshedpur, JharkhandAgainst women
THE article Crime Spiral (September 11) brought out some shocking facts about violence against women. Strong state action against these crimes would act as a deterrent. More importantly, the mindset and beliefs that nurture the male ego have to undergo a transformation. We need to learn to cope with assertive women and their individuality.
Francis Kuriakose & Deepa Kylasam Iyer PuducherryNorth Korea
I AM a regular reader of Frontline and am pained at the biased tenor of the reporting (In murky waters, September 11). North Korea has always followed a foreign policy that has been inimical to Indias interests. It played a vital role in arming Pakistan with nuclear weapons. So the Indian authorities were fully justified in taking action against a ship of a hostile country that always gangs up with Indias enemies.Arijit Sinha KolkataHonour killings
THE Cover Story (August 28) has shocked me. It is hard to digest the fact that honour killings and taking caste into consideration are so important in the globalised world of the 21st century. I am sure this tradition will continue in the next generation if nothing is done to stop it now.Priyanka Sudan New Delhi* * *
WE have not got out from the grip of feudalism even 62 years after Independence. It is high time the government initiated a strategic task force to look into honour killings. Police stations should keep track of such cases. A national campaign can be launched to sensitise people. Perhaps, we should observe a day of protest every year against this horrendous crime.G. Andal Madurai, Tamil Nadu* * *
CASTE panchayats are akin to a parallel judiciary and constitute a serious threat to the rule of law. Local politicians appear to be acquiescing to the panchayats highhanded acts because of vote-bank politics and in fear of a community backlash. While traditions and community values must be respected, this should not result in barbarism.Bichu Muttathara Pune, Maharashtra* * *
IT is surprising to read about caste panchayats passing judgment on personal matters. It is time to ban them and let the youth marry whom they love. I hope the Central government and the dominant political parties see this feature and respond positively.Sukumaran Kunhery Thalassery, KeralaIWST
WITH reference to the article relating to the Institute of Wood Science and Technology (IWST) in the Special Feature on Premier Institutes in Bangalore (August 28), I would like to make the following clarification: The major thrust of my remarks was that the demand for traditional wood is so high that people are willing to purchase even spurious wood at exorbitant prices. Though the IWST has tremendous knowledge on applications of hitherto unused wood species, the end-users are unaware of the same and industries are reluctant to join hands with the IWST. Therefore, it is high time the stakeholders developed awareness and took advantage of the institutes knowledge.S.C. Joshi Director, IWST BangaloreShopian killings
THE nation should raise its voice against the brutal killings in Shopian (A flawed inquiry, August 28). Circumstantial evidence points to the involvement of some well-connected members of the police. Why is the State government and, in particular, the Chief Minister reluctant to act?Rajesh Malik BangaloreNREGA
JEAN DREZE, one of the masterminds behind the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, throws light on many aspects of the scheme (Interview: Jean Dreze, August 14). But NREGA-I suffers from many drawbacks. NREGA-II should first deal with them. The UPA described the NREGS a success, but it should not be viewed as a way to make marginalised sections of society dependent on the government for their livelihood. It should be implemented so as to uplift the deprived so that no future NREGS is required.
Workers under NREGS demand that the number of working days be extended. This problem can be addressed with the declaration to plant a minimum of five trees a year in an area provided by the government. The responsibility of caring for the trees for up to one year must be given to every rural family, and wages must be given on the basis of this work. This will help solve the problem of the people for whom NREGS is a lifeline.Aprajita Pandey Vellore, Tamil NaduAfghanistan
THIS is with reference to A.G. Nooranis review of Peter Marsdens book (Folly and crime, August 14). The author seems biased. One example of this is the word imperialist being used only to describe the U.S. and Britain and not the Soviet Union.N. Dang GuwahatiANNOUNCEMENT