The Himalayan earthquake killed more than half a lakh of people and left millions homeless (Cover Story, November 4). It exposed our military establishment's inability to deal with a calamity of this nature. Despite its colossal impact, the quake has offered an opportunity for the people of India and Pakistan to reconnect with each other and participate in the relief and reconstruction of the ravaged region. It is time for political leaders from both sides to interact and build an emotional bridge between the two countries.R.R. Sami Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu* * *
The earthquake in Muzaffarabad was the strongest in the region since September 1555. But there is no official statement on the seismological situation. Our seismological laboratories are ill equipped.S. Prakash Mutharasanallur, Tamil Nadu* * *
People die in natural calamities like earthquakes over which mankind has no control. But some lives can be saved if rules and regulations for construction of houses are followed. Safety measures and guidelines must be publicised from time to time in areas prone to earthquakes.Mahesh Kumar New Delhi* * *
Joint relief work could have proved to be a unique and unparalleled confidence-building measure in thawing of relations between the two nations had Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf responded positively to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's offer of help. The so-called "sensitivities" cited by Pakistan to reject the offer are based on false notions of "national pride" and "prestige". On the other hand, as Musharraf was demanding bigger helicopters to save people, the United States took 72 hours to send a few, even as hundreds of its choppers were stationed in Afghanistan.Syed Sultan Mohiddin Cuddapah, Andhra Pradesh* * *
The cover photograph is probably the most poignant disaster photograph I have ever seen. It touched me so much that I wanted to reach out to the people of the quake-hit area.Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee Faridabad, HaryanaNaxal challenge
All the articles were informative and helpful to understand the different facets of naxalism in India (Cover Story, October 21). In a democratic set-up, violence has no place. The Constitution provides various rights and duties to the people and it is for them to exercise these (or more) rights individually or through political formations. The tragedy lies in the fact that our political system, though democratic, has been mostly captured by the moneyed class, which never tolerates progressive changes in the socio-economic structure of the country. State machinery is misused to maintain hegemony.
The naxalite groups exploit the plight of the poor. But their violent approach always keeps the lives of the people in danger. It is time the progressive elements associated with the Central government acted swiftly and used state power to accelerate the pace of socio-economic development. They should improve the quality of governance and involve the people in the decision-making and implementation processes.Sudesh Kumar Sharma Kapurthala, Punjab* * *
Ajai Sahni's article exposed the hidden agendas of naxalites and political parties. Every cause may not be an excuse to start a movement, revolutionary or democratic, but every movement is born out of concern for a particular group of people, class, caste, religion, region and so on. It is this "concern" which is left unattended or forgotten by the administrations concerned.
Mahatma Gandhi's experience while travelling on a train in South Africa made him think about "injustice", return to India, join the national movement and rejuvenate it with the ideas of "non-violence and non-cooperation". We should remember that Mahatma Gandhi also advocated that if his peaceful methods failed in achieving freedom for the country, as a last resort, he too was ready to take up arms.G. Govind Reddy HyderabadAge of marriage
At a time when teenage sex is a widespread phenomenon, to insist on the age limit of 18 and 21 for boys and girls to get married would lead to problems of morality ("Age and marriage", November 4). It is apparent that while the law prohibits certain social practices, the norms and customs of society evolve differently. In this context, the verdict of the Delhi High Court is timely.A.T.M. Anwar HyderabadSocial morality
The Vice-Chancellor of Anna University, Chennai, has taken bold and praiseworthy steps to ban fashion shows, beauty contests and provocative dresses in the colleges affiliated to it ("Moral policing in Tamil Nadu", November 4).S.R. Devaprakash Tumkur, KarnatakaSex ratio
The decreasing sex ratio is one of the most burning problems facing India in the 21st century ("Missing girls of Morena", October 7). This ratio has been decreasing continuously in most of the States except Kerala. The reason is evident - Kerala has a literacy rate of more than 92 per cent.
The root cause of this state of affairs is sex-determination tests. Although it has been legally banned in the country, it is a bitter truth that it is still widespread in Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.Shitanshu Bharti PatnaManufacturing identities
The essay succeeded in manufacturing intolerance (October 7). It is nothing but the manifestation of a mindset typical of "Indians". The notion of achieving political goals without resorting to violence in the northeastern region is unthinkable for the likes of the writer. The situation in the region is drifting today owing to the attitude of the so-called mainstream intellectuals. Thengal Kachari's demand was legitimate and we hail their achievement. They have every right to live on their terms and not under someone's hegemony.Mongol Barmaajeeree Dibrugarh, Assam