Letters to the Editor

Print edition : May 12, 2017


UNTIL the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar are settled in the Supreme Court, cards based on biometric details should not be made mandatory in any sphere of life (Cover Story, April 28). A large number of people still do not possess Aadhaar numbers partially owing to the government’s negligence and incapacity to issue them. To make the situation worse, the delivery by post of Aadhaar cards is not satisfactory, and they are reportedly lying undelivered in post offices. In many cases, there are discrepancies in the information of the Aadhaar cardholder.

Authentication of Aadhaar details is a complicated process as it requires access to electricity and an active Internet connection.

Unfortunately, many remote villages still do not have electricity, and efficient Internet facilities are not available even in urban areas. Insistence on Aadhaar shows the government’s distrust of its people. Therefore, Aadhaar should not be made compulsory.

Buddhadev Nandi, Bishnupur, West Bengal

AADHAAR details can be easily hacked as the system is not foolproof. The Unique Identification Authority of India evades the issue of privacy, which all citizens are entitled to. In the larger interest of the country, it is better that the use of Aadhaar is abandoned. Political parties and governments implement schemes for their own reasons, but it is the citizens who have to bear the brunt of the fallout.

M. Kumar, New Delhi

THE Cover Story gave an unduly scary picture about Aadhaar. For their financial inclusion schemes, a lot of banks had their own biometric capture and authentication programmes. They have stored biometric details of their customers on their own devices locally without any encryption, but that did not generate so much publicity.

Here is what Aadhaar can and cannot do: 1. It can prevent/remove duplicates and prevent impersonation. 2. It is not an automated fingerprint-identification system and can only authenticate biometrics, though authentication may fail for various reasons. An agency that chooses to use Aadhaar for authentication must have a way of dealing with exceptions. 3. It cannot decide the eligibility of beneficiaries. 4. It cannot be used for surveillance; a mobile phone is a better surveillance device. 5. It cannot be a panacea for the defects in the government’s public services delivery system.

The biggest risk with Aadhaar is identity theft. If one’s password/PIN is hacked, one can change it, but one cannot change one’s biometrics if they are hacked.

K.S.K. Murty, Mumbai


THE denudation of forests in Munnar is continuing because of the undue expansion of plantations and the insatiable desires of the real estate mafia (“How green were the hills” (April 28). The Indian administrative machinery and corruption are conjoined everywhere in India, and what is needed is their surgical separation.

Kerala is sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea but the nexus between the real estate sharks and politicians is threatening to alter the geography of the State. If this goes on unchecked, the annual cycle of monsoons could be impaired (if that has not already happened), resulting in drought and loss of groundwater. Political parties must rise above their ideological differences to protect the Munnar hills.

Fast-track courts should be constituted to deal with the issues arising out of the demolition of illegal structures, redemption of untitled lands, confiscation of the assets of land-grabbers, and so on.

B. Rajasekaran, Bengaluru

Under-17 World Cup

THE Mohun Bagan Athletic Club’s victory on July 29, 1911, in the Indian Football Association Challenge Shield did add fuel to the fire of the freedom movement. However, the historic success took place at the CFC Ground (now known as the Mohun Bagan CFC Ground) and not at Eden Gardens, as mentioned in the article “World comes to Kolkata” (April 28).

Ranjitkumar Ghose, Hooghly, West Bengal

FIFA’S decision to organise the Under-17 World Cup in India will be a much-needed relief for this cricket-frenzied nation. For a country that excelled in football in the 1950s and the 1960s, winning laurels in the international arena and celebrating players such as the legendary P.K. Bannerjee, it is a sad reality that zeal for the sport is now confined to local and State levels.

This sorry state of affairs can be attributed to the overdose of cricket and the official apathy towards other sports. The upcoming event should be seen as both a wake-up call and a golden opportunity for the Central and State governments and the Sports Authority of India to take steps to revive the past glory of Indian football.

B. Suresh Kumar, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu


INDIA condemned the attacks on African students in Noida and assured the African nations concerned in unequivocal terms that the guilty would be brought to book soon (“Targeting Africans”, April 28). Therefore, it was a surprise when the countries termed the attacks as racial in nature and approached the U.N. even while the probe into them was under way. The panic reaction of African envoys is unfortunate.

K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad, Telangana

Health care

THE Cover Story (April 14) put to rest the high hopes raised with the unveiling of the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017. With no commitment to make a tangible increase in health expenditure, the NHP has ceded space in secondary and tertiary health care to the private sector, which has even been permitted to encroach on primary health care.

No effective state regulation has been envisaged for the so-called charity and private hospitals. Between ill-equipped government hospitals and unaffordable private hospitals (where, as Groucho Marx reportedly said, “a hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running”), the poor and low-income groups will continue to wallow in misery.

Ayyasseri Raveendranath, Aranmula, Kerala


AFTER voters treated the BJP to sumptuous meals in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, it should not have tried to gobble up the frugal meals voters served the Congress party in Goa and Manipur, more so when the cuisine in Goa was obviously not meant for the saffron party (“March of Hindutva”, April 14). The BJP should have been magnanimous to the “downtrodden” in the two comparatively small States. It did not live up to the grandeur of its victory. As for Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, his rightful place is in Panaji, not New Delhi.

K.P. Rajan, Mumbai

THE success of democracy in any country depends on the ruling party. The opposition party has the responsibility of keeping the ruling party in check and preventing authoritarian overreach. Unfortunately, in India, there is no worthy opposition to question the whims and fancies of the ruling party. There are many regional parties with their own vested interests. It is high time that a secular party with uniform policies and a nationalist outlook was established.

K.A. Subramanian, Palakkad, Kerala

IT is dangerous and alarming to see political leaders in a secular democracy capturing power by communally polarising voters and seeking to establish their permanent hegemony by projecting themselves to be the sole arbiters of nationalism and patriotism and protectors of Hinduism (“Nationalism in peril” and “Patriotism & dissent”, April 14). Everyone who opposes those in power and does not obey their diktats are termed “anti-national”.

M.N. Bhartiya, Alto Porvorim, Goa

Assembly elections

A CLOSE look at the recent Assembly elections in five States suggests that the anti-incumbency factor played a key role in the final results as no party managed to retain a State (Cover Story, March 31). Moreover, one wants to know why the Modi magic failed so conspicuously in Punjab, Goa and Manipur. The misuse of power by the Governors of Goa and Manipur and the slackness of the Congress allowed the BJP to capture these two States. But this did not stop the BJP from claiming that it was the new pan-India party and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the only pan-Indian leader. If that is so, why did BJP leaders campaign on communal lines?

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad, Haryana

ESSENTIALLY, an anti-incumbency factor was at work in the elections. Unfortunately, Frontline chose to project the BJP’s victory as a result of its tactic of communal polarisation. If that had been the case, the BJP’s opponents would have complained to the Election Commission as the Supreme Court has barred political parties from invoking caste or religion during election campaigns.

Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh


THE article “Twisting history” (March 31) belittled Shivaji by saying that the Marathas gained prominence only under the Peshwas. To say that Shivaji was a “petty hill raja of a few fortresses” betrays an utter lack of understanding of Indian history, especially of the conditions prevailing in Maharashtra and the Deccan at that time. Shivaji’s achievements were stupendous when you consider the fact that he started from scratch and laid the foundations of the Maratha empire. Maratha power grew to such a level that Aurangzeb left his imperial capital to come down south to destroy it. He did not succeed and died without returning to Delhi.

The article ignored the fact that Shivaji overcame all his reverses and defeats and regained his territory, which was much more than a few fortresses.

S. Kannan, Chennai

Eugene Garfield

EUGENE GARFIELD’S noble mission was unfortunately subverted in much of academia well before his demise (“Science watcher and entrepreneur”, March 31). The problem with scientific/research publications is bigger today than when Garfield sought to resolve it. Institutional pressure on researchers to publish, especially in English-speaking countries, has led to a proliferation of journals and bogus organisations that accredit bogus publishers. The vast bulk of these journals are “predatory”, publishing papers at speed and at competitive prices and raking in huge profits.

Such journals were identified through the tireless efforts of Jeffrey Beall (librarian at Auraria Library, University of Colorado), who since 2008 had produced a list of questionable open-access publishers and journals. Beall’s List comprised reviews, assessments and descriptions of suspect journals. But early this year, he was bullied by vested interests into taking down his blog.

An overwhelming proportion of research publications in English today contain minimal fresh information and even less new knowledge. Quantification of publication of research as a performance criterion or even the sole criterion of performance has led to the substitution of quantity for quality and a boom in the trade of non-information, misinformation and even disinformation.

S. Sivasegaram, Colombo, Sri Lanka


FIXING the price of stents to make them affordable is a good decision (“For affordable stents”, March 17). Health care is a big “industry”, with more and more corporate firms entering it. Some hospitals and nursing homes in the country are beyond the reach of ordinary citizens. The time has come to impose restrictions on the cost of treatment in all nursing homes and hospitals, both government and private, to make facilities accessible to ordinary citizens. This also applies to drugs, which are mostly overpriced. Given the technological advancements India has made in various fields, it is strange that it is unable to manufacture stents.

D.B.N. Murthy, Bengaluru

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