Readers write

Letters to the Editor

Print edition : April 04, 2014


THE Cover Story “Reliance factor” (March 21) brought into focus how the Reliance group manages to keep the gas pricing in its favour by influencing the two main political parties, the Congress and the BJP. Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party had the guts to take it on. Is there any hope? Big business has the media in its hands. Will the people act judiciously? We get the government we deserve.

A. Jacob Sahayam


Death penalty

THE Supreme Court commuting the death sentence of three convicts to life imprisonment on the grounds that keeping mercy petitions pending for a long time is tantamount to mental torture is a positive step towards banning the death sentence (“Life after death”, March 21).

However, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has played the ethnic card to score brownie points over her rivals in the State ahead of the elections by ordering the release of the seven persons convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This makes a mockery of the Constitution and the laws of the land. That the apex court stayed the State government’s order should be an indication to all political parties that under no circumstances should terror be seen through the lens of ethnicity or made a matter of religious belief as that would only set a bad precedent and endanger India's security.

K.R. Srinivasan

Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh

THE Tamil Nadu government deciding to release the murderers of Rajiv Gandhi is a political move. The only punishment for such a heinous political killing is the death sentence. The death penalty is not desirable, but in exceptional cases such as terrorism and rape, it is essential. There is no scope for politics in such sensitive issues. Anti-terror laws must be strengthened, and terrorists and rapists should not be allowed to appeal to higher courts or send mercy pleas to the President. Mercy petitions ought to be settled within a time frame, say six months.

Mahesh Kumar

New Delhi


THE article “The pain of being a temple elephant” (March 21) was informative and moving, particularly the pictures showing the injuries on the neck, legs and soles of the elephants caused by the friction of the chains used to tie them and by the sharp sticks of the mahouts. That these magnificent animals are not given proper or sufficient food even after long hours of work are extracted from them is nothing but an example of man’s cruelty.

In Mysore, Karnataka, every year during the Dasara festival, there is a procession of the main deity Chamundeshwari from the palace to Banni Mantap. One of the elephants in the procession has to carry the heavy load of the deity’s palanquin. The procession goes on hours together. The pain of the elephants goes unnoticed. These elephants are brought from faraway forests and are trained hard for days together before the procession. After the event, the elephants are sent back to the forests. This entails heavy expenditure on the part of the government. Is it not possible to conduct the Dasara procession without elephants?

In Mantralayam in Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh, an elephant was used for the daily evening pujas during the rathotsavas for guru Raghavendra Swamy, but the practice was abandoned. Other temples should follow Mantralayam’s example. Elephants should be allowed to roam freely in forests.

Venkatesh B. Navaratna


THE article on captive elephants was heart-rending. The story of captive elephants kept by hotels for tourism is also tragic. The indifference of the authorities concerned and the red tape of the bureaucracy cause misery to the animals. The efforts of the activist V.K. Venkatachalam should, therefore, be applauded; it is because of people like him that essential forest and animal conservation acts and rules are actually implemented. The comprehensive data on elephant behaviour he has painstakingly compiled should ideally have been done by government agencies. The Animal Welfare Board of India also needs to be given more powers so that it is more than just an advisory body.

Since ill-trained mahouts are one of the main reasons why captive elephants suffer, training centres should be opened to educate mahouts. The human-animal conflict will certainly decrease. Simple innovations like rubber or cloth shoes for elephants will go a long way in protecting their feet.

The photographs accompanying the article sent shivers down my spine. I congratulate the photographer N.A. Naseer on stepping out of the usual notions of wildlife photography, whereby photographers wait for days to click an idyllic scene featuring a rare bird or animal. He has gone into human habitations to document the pain and suffering of elephants, who are driven to the edge because of the malpractices of their owners. Because of this insightful story, maybe one will think twice before hopping on to an elephant for a jungle safari.

Ritvik Chaturvedi

New Delhi

The well-written article should be an eye-opener to all those involved with captive elephant management. The largest land animal has been associated with mankind for millennia and needs to be treated much more humanely. The best form of captive elephant management is seen in the Anamalai, Mudumalai, Bandipur and Nagarahole Tiger Reserves (TRs). This is mainly because the tribal mahouts who care for the elephants grow with the elephants: the Malasars in Anamalai TR and the Kurubas in Mudumalai, Bandipur and Nagarahole TRs. It is a common sight in the Mudumalai elephant camps to see a boy armed with a stick taking a bull tusker to the river for a bath. The ankush, the curved and pointed iron rod used elsewhere to control elephants, is never used in these reserves. There is no report of elephants killing mahouts in these reserves. This type of captive elephant management, taking care of the tribal mahouts, should be nurtured for all time to come.

A.J.T. Johnsingh

Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore and WWW-India, Bangalore.

Balu Mahendra

BALU MAHENDRA’S inborn cinematic talent and rich creativity made him a film director of repute (“Visual poet”, March 21). Perfection and simplicity were the hallmarks of his films. He had observed human relationships intensely and his hit films throw light on the real relationship between men and women and the joys and sorrows of life. He was a perfectionist and raised the standard of cinema with his films.

Jayant Mukherjee



THE “Editor’s note” (March 21) very effectively conveyed the essence of the change in the magazine’s format and price. Although at times it is difficult to accept change, change is inevitable. I would like to suggest that sports may also be covered in Frontline. The Frontline team deserves appreciation for its fresh attitude.

Santhosh Mathew


The armed forces

THE Cover Story on “Unhappy soldiers” (March 7) explained why the armed forces are facing an alarming shortage of personnel. With the government neglecting their genuine needs/demands, youngsters will not feel like going in for a tough life in the defence forces as other options are available in the job market. The sheen of a career in the armed forces is fading. This will lead to a deterioration in the quality of recruitment.

The increasing number of suicides and fratricides is an indication of the disgruntlement in the armed forces. The recent naval accidents are also indicative of the gross neglect on the defence front. It is high time the government addressed the needs of the armed forces

Venugopal K. Poojary



IT was wonderful to read the two instalments on the Ajanta caves (“Wonders of Ajanta”, February 21, and “Monumental effort”, March 7). Special mention has to be made of D. Krishnan’s photography. One can appreciate the terrific effort he made. Despite having the advantage of skill, excellent equipment and the latest digital technology, he still had to depend on the aid of nature to surmount some of the problems he encountered. It was courteous of him to acknowledge the service rendered by Sheikh Raees, the ASI attendant.

It is mentioned at the very end of the second instalment that Danve D.S. was a member of the ASI team that helped conserve the Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia. My wife and I visited it recently.

R. Krishnan


THE two-article feature on Ajanta’s rich paintings and murals was really enthralling. It is awe-inspiring to learn that these paintings and murals were done around 2,000 years ago when there were no modern equipment and technology available to artisans and sculptors, who braved untold hardship over the years to create these unique wonders of the world. These paintings and sculptures carved out of inhospitable rock should be preserved with meticulous care for posterity. Kudos to T.S. Subramanian and D. Krishnan for these excellent articles and photographs depicting India’s rich cultural heritage.

N.C. Sreedharan

Kannur, Kerala