Letters to the editor

Published : Jul 22, 2015 17:46 IST

Sand mining

IT is disturbing to note that illegal sand mining is in full swing across the country (Cover Story, July 24). The bitter truth is that it has for a long time been eating into the structure of rivers and the growth of the country. The authorities turn a blind eye to these activities though they are reported in the media from time to time. It is time to put an end to this menace.

P. Senthil Saravana Durai

Vazhavallan, Tamil Nadu

THE article “The mother of all loot” (July 24) was full of irrefutable facts, which call for immediate action by governmental agencies. The fact that so far there is no direct substitute for river-based sand gives the sand mafia a pretext to carry on its loot. It is imperative for scientists working in the field of cement technology to quickly develop substitutes.

G. Azeemoddin

Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh

THE Cover Story was well researched, comprehensive and praiseworthy. These greedy sand barons are exploiting the State’s natural resources uncaring of the effects of their relentless mining activities. The lackadaisical attitude of the government has not helped. If the State’s biodiversity is to be preserved, it is imperative that stringent action is taken to stop unauthorised mining.

Koshika Krishna



IN the recent referendum in Greece, people voted against austerity measures (“Avoidable tragedy”, July 24). The question is: Will it remain in the European Union? If Greece was insolvent, was it loaned money just so the lenders could earn more interest? If a desperate Greece agrees to austerity measures, was there any need for a referendum?

Deendayal M. Lulla


IT is saddening to see Greece in a situation where the poor and the middle classes are suffering for no fault of theirs. Many years ago, I visited this fascinating land rich in history. The people were friendly, tourism was booming, its shipping was world famous and its Mediterranean climate was the envy of many.

Successive governments mismanaged the economy so badly that the country had to borrow heavily to survive. Surely, the Greeks were aware that debt has to be returned. Blaming lenders for not being “flexible” is not fair; after all, it was a financial deal whose terms were known to everyone. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has realised that winning the referendum is one thing and negotiating a fair deal in a difficult situation is another. Greeks are in for severe belt-tightening and fiscal prudence for a long time to come. Grexit is no solution as the Greek currency would be heavily devalued until the economy recovers.

D.B.N. Murthy


WAS it really an avoidable tragedy as the title suggested? Europe should have exercised due diligence 18 years ago when the Greek drachma was permitted to be linked to a basket of European currencies. However, Germany believed that the single currency would encourage weaker countries to import more from Germany, which, along with other financially strong eurozone countries, turned a Nelson’s eye to the fraud that Greece was perpetrating. The accurate fiscal data of Greece was masked by various means, most notably, by U.S.-based investment bankers launching specifically tailored derivatives that legally circumvented the E.U.-Maastricht deficit rules. This involved cross-currency swaps, which hoodwinked the swap investors into believing that the maturity sums of such swaps would be very much higher than the invested sums; however, the opposite was true. Also, many areas of excessive debt such as expenditure on defence and investments for hospitals and health care were not reflected in the total debt. If the data Greece submitted had been accurate, its membership to the E.U. would have been rejected.

V.B.N. Ram

New Delhi

Statistical institute

THE hasty removal of the Director of the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata is yet another instance of the high-handedness of the government in dealing with prestigious institutions (“Twist in the ISI tale”, July 24) The controversy turned murkier when the Director, who was accused of financial impropriety and indiscipline, was abruptly appointed as head of the cryptology centre with financial autonomy. This makes it clear that the reasons for his untimely removal were actually other than what was stated.

Ayyasseri Raveendranath

Aranmula, Kerala

Praful Bidwai


Praful Bidwai in New Delhi on February 15, 2006. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

I WAS an avid reader of Praful Bidwai’s column in Frontline (“Organic intellectual”, July 24). One evening, about a year ago, a gentleman with a beard came to my room accompanied by a local journalist. Suddenly, I realised that he was the man whose column I used to read every fortnight. “You are Mr Praful Bidwai!” I exclaimed. Then, we had an interesting discussion on various subjects. He informed me that he was in Tripura working on his next book, on the Communist movement in India. The obituary article talked about his passionate and intellectual dedication to the cause of a better future for all. His death is a national loss.

Purushuttam Roy Barman


THE obituary brought back memories of my student days in 1970-71. We friends, mostly all in our pre-final/final year of graduation at IIT Bombay, would gather in Praful’s hostel room to discuss everything under the sun. Naxalbari, hippies, the Beatles, protests against the Vietnam War, the student uprising in France in 1968, the Cultural Revolution in China, Dalit literature in Marathi, and so on, all this turmoil raised many questions and doubts in our minds and we all were trying to make meaning out of them. Praful’s room was the epicentre of all the intense discussions and arguments.

When Sudhir Bedekar (an IIT graduate) started a Marathi magazine called Magowa (Search), it attracted the attention of the then budding artists, poets, thinkers and activists writing in Marathi. Prominent Dalit writers like Namdeo Dhasal and Daya Pawar wrote in Magowa. Praful was on the magazine’s editorial board. Although Praful along with a few others was expelled from the Magowa group in 1974 and it was dissolved in 1975, many of us carried forward the Magowa tradition wherever we went and in whatever we did. It took us out of the traditional middle-class mould.

And we cannot forget the role Praful played in it. He was our friend, mentor and leader all rolled into one with his clarity of thought and his vision. We miss him so much.

Ashok Rajwade


Killing journalists

THE journalists Jogendra Singh and Sandeep Kothar were burnt to death because they spoke out against the illegal activities of the feudalistic forces that wield real power in society (“Death for daring”, July 24). The harsh reality is that these feudal lords can get away with anything without fear of being held accountable by any authority. How can the media function freely in such a scenario? The question that needs to be asked is whether India is a true democracy with systems and institutions in place to protect those who stand up to the powerful.

M.T. Kumar

New Delhi

EVER since the Samajwadi Party came to power in Uttar Pradesh, the law and order situation in the country’s biggest State has been deteriorating. The recent killing of a journalist is just one more example of this. Because Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is far younger than most of his colleagues, he is overruled by them. So it is not surprising that he has not sacked Ram Murti Varma. It would be unfortunate if the President had to intervene in the matter and order Akhilesh Yadav to act.

Bal Govind

Noida, Uttar Pradesh

ICDS scheme

SCHEMES such as the Integrated Child Development Services have helped in a big way to decrease the infant mortality rate in India (“Nurture mission”, July 24). One can now see the positive changes the scheme brought about everywhere. It is quite difficult to understand why the 14th Finance Commission decided to cut the Central allocations earmarked for it.

The government must think twice before implementing such hasty recommendations. Budgetary allocations for these schemes should be increased so that they can develop and become even more efficacious.

Neeraj Kumar Jha

Hariharpur, Bihar

Lalit Modi

IT was the government’s responsibility to get to the bottom of the allegations made against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje (Cover Story, July 10). Instead, it seems to have given them a clean chit and is waiting for the crisis to die down. Ever since the Lalit Modi scandal began, the BJP and Congress Ministers have been engaged in a war of words and in mudslinging, which is a manifestation of the sordid national politics in the capital. Lalit Modi continues to drag the names of high-profile political and non-political leaders through his Twitter accounts. One does not know whether what he says is the truth.

Janga Bahadur Sunuwar

Bagrakote, West Bengal

NARENDRA MODI’S conspicuous silence over the Lalit Modi controversy has raised doubts in people’s minds. If politicians are to serve the nation, it is important for them to have probity in public life and remain committed to the people. A nexus between criminals and politicians is unacceptable. Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje must quit on moral grounds. Narendra Modi should break his silence and take appropriate action against them before it is too late.

K.R. Srinivasan

Secunderabad, Telangana

ALTHOUGH the furore over the alleged link between Lalit Modi and Sushma Swaraj continues to rage, it is unlikely that the Prime Minister will speak on the issue simply because the opposition, the media or the public wants to hear him. The chief political executive is not expected to assuage public sentiments over a non-political issue. Narendra Modi might be waiting for an opportune time to respond. Parties across the political spectrum are trying to draw political capital out of something that is clearly a creation of the media.

R. Prabhu Raj


Maggi noodles


A packet and a cooked bowl of Maggi 2-Minute Noodles, manufactured by Nestle India Ltd., are arranged for a photograph in New Delhi, India, on Monday, June 15, 2015. Nestle SA said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is testing samples of imported Maggi noodles after the world’s largest food company halted sales in India when regulators said they contained unhealthy levels of lead. Photographer: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg

IN his book “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills”, Dr Russell Blaylock records his observations of the effects of consuming MSG (“Recipe for disaster” and “Tale of neglect”, July 10). A large number of people are unaware of its harmful effects. In spite of repeated warnings from different quarters about the ill effects of fast food and processed foods, they have become part and parcel of our lives and are vigorously advertised.

The lacunae in India’s food safety regulations and in enforcement have allowed manufacturing companies to introduce a variety of food products into the market. Some multinational companies are found to adopt different standards for different countries. Containers of fast food should carry statutory warnings similar to the ones on cigarette packets to make people aware of the pernicious effects of fast food in general. Above all, fast food manufacturing companies should be made liable for any health hazard their food products cause.

Buddhadev Nandi

Bishnupur, West Bengal

Army action

WHILE the Army operation in Myanmar’s territory was indeed bold, the kind of rhetoric it has inspired from the political class is dangerous (“Ministerial bluster”, July 10). India is already facing enough trouble on all its borders, and provocative remarks serve no purpose. Even the U.S. has suffered because of its enthusiasm for launching military operations on other countries’ soil. Do India’s politicians need reminding that the country has neither the economic nor military might of the U.S.?

K.P. Rajan


Manabi Bandyopadhyay

THIS is with reference to “Transgender at the top” (“This Fortnight”, June 26). What is most striking about Manabi Bandyopadhyay are her courage and determination. She has created her own path.

Bhagwan Thakur

Bokaro, Jharkhand

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