Too many guns

Published : May 18, 2007 00:00 IST

VIOLENCE on the campus is not new in the U.S. because the right to own arms is an important civil liberty there. Two hundred million guns are in circulation among a population of three hundred million.

Astonishingly, many Americans still argue that these incidents take place not because there are too many guns but because there are not enough. Virginia has the most liberal gun laws. The ever-growing restlessness of the younger generation in the U.S. makes them go astray.

The Columbine High School tragedy, in which two teenagers killed 12 students and a teacher before committing suicide, stands out as an example of the collapse of campus discipline and the growth of gangs. The sexand drug-related violence in the U.S. is worse than anywhere in Europe.

S.K. Aggarwal Amritsar, PunjabU.P. elections

IT is unfortunate that senior leaders of the Congress are projecting Rahul Gandhi as the "future" of India despite the immature comments he has been making (Cover Story, May 5). Rahul should know that India won freedom through the efforts and sacrifices of many leaders, not only those from the Nehru-Gandhi family. He should remember that India still grapples with poverty though the Nehru family ruled the country for long periods after Independence.

J.V. Narasimha Raju Vijayawada, A.P.

SO much has been said about the Uttar Pradesh elections. No doubt some people will get elected and some sort of a government will be installed. The Election Commission, its job done, will move on to its next assignment. But the million-dollar question is whether the change of rulers will bring about a change in the lives of the poor, the downtrodden, the unemployed, the socially backward classes, women, hapless street children, and so on.

Nutan Thakur LucknowIndia & Pakistan

THE interview with Shamshad Ahmad, former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, was interesting ("An insider's view", May 5). The credit must go to the interviewer, A.G. Noorani. At a time when most interviews are superficial and flashy, it was a pleasure to go through a discussion so in-depth and penetrating. And yet, the most emotive part of the dialogue was Ahmad's reference to his family's haveli, which shows how instinctive humaneness prevails over everything else.

Amitabh Thakur LucknowInsecure children

THE article "Insecure children" was a strong and timely media effort to sensitise the public about the causes and the extent of child abuse (May 4). We as a nation refuse to learn lessons from surveys, media exposures and reports highlighting the ever increasing threat of child abuse.

Dr. Vitull K. Gupta Bhatinda, PunjabElephants' plight

THE article "Of elephants and men" brought into focus the problems related to the ill treatment of elephants (May 4). Rules should be amended to introduce a system of licensing, registering and numbering of the animals. There should be insurances and licences for trained mahouts, facilities for treatment of elephants, and regulations governing their feeding. People should be made aware of the fact that cruelty to animals is a punishable offence.

A. Jacob Sahayam ThiruvananthapuramCampus carnage

THE carnage at Virginia Tech must be a wake-up call for the United States against its liberal arms laws ("Campus carnage", May 4). The episode points to the need to urgently review the gun culture, which is sustained in the name of personal freedom and liberty. Civil liberty activists in the U.S. conveniently underplay the fact that there are several other democracies where the needs of personal liberty and self-defence are met without permitting citizens to flaunt arms as though to ward off potential threats. If this heinous crime can help mobilise public opinion against the thriving gun culture in the U.S., there may be some hope. But this looks like a tall order in a country where lobbying in policy matters is a way of life. The U.S. National Rifle Association is a powerful gun lobby that pursues its agenda openly with the active political support of the Republicans.

Bichu Muttathara Pune

STUDENT leaders brandishing guns is a normal sight here in Uttar Pradesh and becomes even more common during elections. All centres of higher education in our country should learn a lesson from the Virginia Tech incident and take appropriate measures to avoid such carnage before it is too late.

Alankrita Srivastava Lucknow

THE incident is a window to American society, which is dominated by guilt complexes. People like Cho Seung-Hui are victims of negative emotions emanating from fast-paced lifestyles where the human element takes a back seat. The only way to prevent students from falling prey to psychosis is to create abundant opportunities for them to realise their potential.

Arvind K. Pandey Allahabad

THE Virginia Tech tragedy shows the consequences of gun culture. Restricting the availability of guns to soldiers and law-enforcers is the only way to prevent such incidents.

A. Ibrahim, North Parur, KeralaBt cotton

THERE is not a shred of scientific evidence, or reason, to believe that Bt toxin can be either toxic or poisonous for mammals such as sheep and cattle ("Fatal feed", April 21). I have visited villages in Andhra Pradesh where Bt cotton is grown. Also, I am a former regulator of GM crops in the United States and have first-hand knowledge of the toxicity of Bt toxins.

Contrary to your reports, I did not see any fear in the villages, and no one had ever heard of sheep deaths due to Bt cotton. The non-governmental organisations your reporters interviewed have been repeating these allegations but no one in the world believes them. It might interest you to know that many acknowledged experts in the field of biotechnology, GM crops and Bt cotton have been following these allegations from India for almost two years and have found them to be baseless.

GM crops have become a favourite whipping boy of anti-GM activists in India whose understanding of the science of biotechnology is skewed by their ideological and political opposition to the modern technology. Your reporters should have asked two basic questions: why such reports come only from Andhra Pradesh when Bt cotton is grown in almost half a dozen other States; and, secondly, why no other credible scientific report on the deaths of these animals exists.

Shanthu Shantharam President, Biologistics International Ellicott, Maryland

Zimbabwe crisis

ON a vacation to India, I read the article "Fighting is on" on the Zimbabwean crisis in your magazine (April 21). I was surprised by the concluding sentence: "Mugabe continues to be one of the leading lights of the anti-colonial struggle and an African elder statesman." What this "elder statesman" has done to his once prosperous country is very clear from the article.

In the early 1990s, 1 Zim Dollar was equal to U.S. $1. Today, you have to pile up bundles of currency notes in your suitcase just to buy one loaf of bread. Unlike other countries, Zimbabwe has currency notes of "1 Million" denomination and the notes have expiry dates.

How did this "elder statesman" manage to do this? He forcefully seized fertile agricultural land from white farmers and distributed it to his relatives and government officers - not necessarily "war veterans" - who knew nothing about agriculture. Result: the Bread Basket went dry. He did this against the result of a democratically conducted referendum. Yet, the article says the opposition MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) is trying to topple the democratically elected government.

Mugabe's `majority' in most constituencies adds up to more than the total number of valid voters. In Mugabe's "democracy", there is no food, no jobs, no petrol, no power.

People are running away to neighbouring countries like Botswana and South Africa for small jobs. (Johannesburg is termed as `Southern Harare' now, despite continuous police raids to catch illegal immigrants.)

K.R. Ajithan Lobatse, BotswanaReservation

IF the socially and educationally advanced sections of Other Backward Classes, who are also economically advanced, are to get the benefit of the proposed 27 per cent reservation in institutes of higher learning merely because they were born in certain castes recognised as OBCs, it will inevitably leave out in the cold the really backward sections ("Judicial reservations", April 21).

Some influential OBC leaders have succeeded in convincing their colleagues in the government that there are legal options open to the government to get round the objections raised by the Supreme Court against extending the benefits of reservation to the creamy layer.

If this is allowed, a stage will be reached soon when the whole system of reservation becomes farcical.

K.S. Jayatheertha Bangalore

IN the article "Conflict within", the writer raised a valid question: "Can a Division Bench of two Judges pass a stay order in a case like the present one?"

But the Supreme Court was not ready to transfer to a bigger Bench the revision petition seeking vacation of the stay order.

The Court was also unable to say how the government was crossing the Lakshman rekha in introducing quotas. Was it not on the basis of the 1931 Census that the Mandal Commission made its recommendations?

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee Faridabad, HaryanaANNOUNCEMENT

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