Tribal travails

Print edition : October 08, 2004

Thank you for highlighting the travails of tribal people through the cover story (September 24). There should be a national debate on the issues of their exploitation and the encroachments into their lives.

Sheojee Singh Chandigarh

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Politicians are pursuing caste and communal politics and trying to outwit one another but have no time to address the concerns of the hapless tribal people. They have been utterly neglected by successive governments since Independence. The government does not have a proactive policy to integrate them into the national mainstream.

Siddhartha Raj Guha Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

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The feature should touch the conscience of the nation. In spite of all the safeguards provided to them by the Constitution, Central and State laws, and Supreme Court judgments, tribal people are the most oppressed and exploited lot today. Their struggle is a classic example of how even those living in the Integrated Tribal Development Agency areas of Visakapatnam had to resist the pressures from the government and private companies to submit their lands for mining. With the change in government at the Centre and in Andhra Pradesh, one hopes the problem would be handled with more sensitivity. Tribal people are not against development. But in most of the places their land is encroached upon or alienated or taken away in the name of mining, building dams or other development works. They should be part of any development work and their identity, livelihood and culture should be protected.

A. Jacob Sahayam Thiruvananthapuram

Muslim women in India

Jayati Ghosh's brief but crisp review of the study/survey on Muslim women in India provides insights into many complex questions in the contemporary socio-political discourse ("Muslim women in India", September 24). Whether on the question of domestic violence or the low rate of literacy, the study has exploded the myth that only Muslim women are the victims of socio-economic backwardness. The task before the secular, democratic and progressive sections of society is indeed monumental.

S.V. Venogopalan Chennai

Research environment

This has reference to the article "A crumbing edifice" (September 24).

The university as a system has some structural and functional components, which work in unison for a greater cause. I would like to add a fourth component to the three mentioned by the author - the "output component". Strengthening the functional relations among all these components at various levels and broadening the scope for the system to evolve are the sine qua non of a robust and productive system. Policies and endeavours to stem the rot in the university system in India have failed to take cognizance of this underlying fact. Ironically, we do not have a standard set of indicators of the academic and research potential of our universities. It is time for introspection, both for the teacher and the taught, the supervisor and the researcher.

A point worth mentioning is the need for academic flexibility and encouragement to work at the interdisciplinary level. When academia around the globe is exploring the scope for the interface of various disciplines, we still think in terms of `theirs and ours'. Secondly, interpersonal relations and strong lines of communication are crucial to build the confidence level of the researcher and the student. The notion of "working under a supervisor" has to be changed to "working with a supervisor". Opportunities must be explored to broaden the academic and research network, in the form of collaborations, joint publications, presentations, and exchange programmes. Both the supervisor and the researcher must be judged from time to time on the basis of the number of publications and contributions to various academic forums. Administrative and academic factors that hinder such evaluation must be weeded out. "Publish or perish" must be the yardstick at every level.

The need of the hour is to locate the grey areas in the entire establishment and introduce measures to make the university system more productive. Taking into confidence all the stakeholders in this system may be the first step.

Jyotiraj Patra University of Helsinki, Finland

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The education system cannot be improved as long as authorities think that whoever needs help should come to them personally. The authorities have to understand that information should be available on the Web, which can be accessed by students from any university or educational institution. The UGC should make it mandatory for every educational institution to have a web site. People should come to the educational institutions only for knowledge, not for information.

G.K. Dave, Received by e-mail

Terrorism

This is with reference to the article `A bloody trail (September 24). The Beslan school tragedy, the car bomb that killed 10 people and the aircraft crash that caused 90 deaths remind one of 9/11. By targeting innocent children, the brutal gunmen have proved that terrorism knows neither territorial nor moral limits. Such incidents can be avoided only through the joint efforts of the global community.

A.J. Rangarajan New Jersey, U.S.

Geriatric care

The interview with Dr. Koshy Eapen on the problems of the aged was enlightening (September 24). Experience shows that many old people do not want to reveal their pains or diseases lest they burden their children. This is owing to the high cost of and the lack of access to health care in India. Hence, there is a need for low-cost health care that would encourage people, especially the old, to make use of the medical facilities.

Also, as Dr. Eapen points out, there should be a paradigm shift in our thinking that "old age is synonymous with illness".

M. Pradeep Kumar Hyderabad

Cinema row

After the much-talked-about fight over the release of non-Kannada movies, theatre owners in Karnataka have surrendered to the strong lobby of producers ("The cinema imbroglio", September 24). Even if one accepts the argument that the language of the State cannot be sacrificed for the sake of "outsiders", banning other language films for seven weeks from the day of their release is not the solution. It will only affect revenue in Karnataka. Second, such moves affect adversely the image of Karnataka as a friendly State. Third, the only way to face competition is to make good Kannada movies.

Dr. U.S. Iyer Bangalore

Manipur

It is quite heart-warming to see that at least one magazine in the country thought of the protest in Manipur as Cover Story material (`Manipur on fire', September 10). The following statement in M.S. Prabhakara's article sums up the situation: "Rage and violence having become so embedded in the daily experience of most people in the northeastern region (and perhaps in many other parts of the country as well), and with an amoral and inordinately ravenous visual media feeding and being fed by the frenzy that it creates, one overlooks that ordinary life goes on even in Imphal. As always, the ancient poet spoke the most profound truths using the simplest language: that passed, this too will pass. However, it is impossible to be so glib and phlegmatic about the cumulative impact of such marginalisation and rejection on a people, so richly endowed in their past, and enveloped in so depressing a present and a future. That is the real fear of the future."

Tarun Nongthombam Received by e-mail

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The AFSPA has become a time-bomb that threatens to turn the State into a bloody battlefield and, more crucially, posed a serious crisis to the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government. At the core of the crisis is the interpretation of "Special Powers", which is being allegedly used by the security forces to commit atrocities. If things are not brought under control soon, the Centre has the option of imposing President's Rule in the State. Arjyalopa Mishra Cuttack, Orissa

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The AFSPA is so inhuman that its enforcement ultimately led to the deterioration of the State's law and order. Yet Chief Minister Ibobi Singh has refused to withdraw the Act. Even all the resentment and agitations do not seem to have moved the government.

Bibhabari Rath Cuttack, Orissa

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