It is not only the monsoon but the Karnataka government too that has failed the farmers ("From debt to death", October 10). It is baffling that the insurance scheme introduced by the State government has caused immense pain to farmers. It shows the callousness of the state machinery towards farmers. Firm action must be taken against usury. The state machinery must address the grievances of farmers.
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The green revolution seems to have reached a cul-de-sac in Karnataka. The harrowing tales of debt-laden farmers ending their lives have deeply affected the sensibilities of the government, the media, service-minded non-governmental organisations and all right-thinking people.
Some blame it, rather peremptorily, on the `globalisation' of trade. Large-scale imports of cheap agricultural products are not taking place in India on account of the WTO regime. Not yet. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to increase yields has ruined the soil, forcing farmers to borrow more and more to set this right. Fragmentation of land by inheritance by large families is yet another reason for agriculture becoming uneconomical.
The relief measures undertaken by the government and humanitarian agencies are good only in parts. There could be a deep underlying cause. This takes us to the issue of the great urban-rural divide. Many people in an urban setting are in debt for various reasons, for building a house, for instance. Corporate entities live almost entirely on borrowings from banks and other financial institutions. But hardly anybody is driven to suicide. In fact, many, especially the corporates, have specialised in the `fine art' of defaulting on loans. In striking contrast is the attitude of farmers - they still are tradition-bound and repayment of `debt' is a matter of honour.
Kangayam R. RangaswamyWisconsin, U.S.
This has reference to the article "Latur Revisited" (October 10). As a matter of fact, 2.15 lakh houses are to be reconstructed and not four lakh houses. Also, it has been mentioned in the article that not a single village has been relocated for reconstruction in the aftermath of the earthquake. The truth is that 24 villages have been relocated fully while 37 have been partially relocated.
Reconstruction of an earthquake-hit area requires a holistic approach encompassing social, economic and technical aspects. For relocation of villages, the gram sabha's approval was mandatory. Thus a participatory approach was adopted from the beginning. Social aspects like locating houses in clusters based on caste needs also need to be given importance in a relocated village.
To begin with, one model house should be constructed by taking into account all these aspects. This will ensure that the end-product is a home, and not just a house.
The ban on animal sacrifice in Tamil Nadu temples has raised a controversy and widespread protests ("A decree on animal sacrifice", October 10). Animal sacrifice may not be an acceptable practice. But even in temples where animal sacrifice has been given up, the practice of priests and devotees turning oracles continues. It is entirely different from the form of worship followed by the upper castes and their temples. So the attempt of the government or the Hindutva forces to change the form of worship and other practices tantamount to conversion from one form of religion to another. Should it not attract the provisions of the anti-conversation law?
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It is heartening to note that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has banned animal sacrifice in temples. The decision may please Hindus, but has evoked protests from those who perform such primitive rites. It is not the religious sentiment, but human conscience that is at stake.
R.R. SamiTiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu
Ayodhya and Advani
Praful Bidwai's column "Between despair and hope" (October 10) exposes Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani's involvement in the Babri Masjid demolition. It also reflects the mockery of justice when the Rae Bareli court discharged Advani and charge-sheeted seven others. Advani is said to have told the Liberhan Commission that the symbolism of the Ayodhya movement is similar to that of the Charkha and the Dandi March of Mahatma Gandhi.
But still there is some ray of hope, going by the apex court's pronouncements in the Best Bakery, Taj Heritage corridor, and HPCL/BPCL cases.
Bidyut Kumar ChatterjeeFaridabad
The plight of Adivasis and other indigenous communities on account of `conservation' efforts, has been clearly pointed out in the article "The fear in the forests" (September 26). There has been constant threat not only to their livelihood but to their socio-cultural diversity also. It is the organic and symbiotic relationship between forest dwellers and ecosystems around them that builds up and strengthens a strong social-ecological system, ensuring resilience in the system per se. They manage these resources in a sustainable and equitable way with the help of their traditional knowledge and indigenous institutions. Apart from ensuring their right to access to these resources, it is essential to involve them in the decision-making process.
Jyotiraj PatraNew Delhi
As rightly pointed out in the article "A channel at a dead-end" (September 26), cross-media ownership is a critical issue that has not received adequate attention. In the age of rapid mergers and acquisitions, the media is witnessing the emergence of oligopoly, with vertical and horizontal integrations becoming a business imperative for media outfits. Why single out "freebooters" like Murdoch. Our own desi media houses have wrecked the market and healthy competition. With predatory pricing, competition within the single market is increasingly becoming lopsided and unsustainable. There is steady erosion in content and the ultimate byproducts of the "invitation price" tactics are the advertorials that adorn the edit pages.
Let the Indian media Tsars not ride the high moral horse. Instead they should face up to the hard fact that their monopoly holdings could come apart if foreign competition makes its way. The foundation of Indian journalism is not on a shaky ground: what is shaky is the economics of the business. Needless to say, it is essential to anchor the company holdings to the citizens of the country, the law is complied with in letter and spirit. The tax regime should be made uniform to both domestic and foreign players to provide a level playing field.
Vissa Venkata SundarNew Delhi