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The Hindu on : Facts & propositions

Online edition of India's National Newspaper on
Tuesday, May 30, 2000

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Facts & propositions

Sir, - This refers to the article by Shripad Dharmadhikary (TheHindu, May 15).

I give below a series of facts (F) and propositions (P). Facts are true events that have already occurred. Propositions are surmises for the future. Propositions are right in some cases; false in some others. It is for the readers to decide which of these propositions are, on balance, more right than wrong.

(F) In the 1940s, when the population of India was less than a third of what it is today, and when traditional water harvesting structures were well maintained by hereditary village headmen, the rice ration in Kerala was reduced to 100 grams a day. At that time, life expectancy in India was 27 years. (P) Traditional techniques are good but not good enough. If the Bhakra, Mettur and other dams had not been built, and if the trio of Subramaniam, Sivaraman and Swaminathan had not brought in the Green Revolution through irrigation, hundreds of millions would have died of malnutrition and starvation.

(F) The monsoon can fail for several years in succession. Small check dams can store water for only one season, large dams for several seasons. (P) In Indian climatic conditions, small dams can supplement but not supplant large dams.

(F) All technologies (railways, telephones, computers and the like) were opposed by self-appointed activists at the time of their introduction. (P) Activists are fanatics who claim they are absolutely right when they are only partly correct. If they have their way, there will be no progress and humanity will be condemned to stagnate.

(F) Tribals are backward, so backward that in spite of artificial props like reservation, they are unable to compete with others. (P) When tribals give up their cultural inhibitions, get out of their homes to learn from others, they (at least their children or grandchildren) can take their due place in the national economy.

P. V. Indiresan,

New Delhi

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