Need To Heed
It is a great pity that Arundhati Roy's little book, For the Greater Common Good which does not take more than an hour to read, has been ignored by people who should take note of various points of view, even if they are contrary to their own. In America at the moment, there is public debate over the possible dismantling of dams built 50 years ago which are now seen to have done more harm than good. But in India, we continue to build more and more.
There is sufficient evidence to show that good watershed management is a much more effective and economical way of storing water. In conjunction with water harvesting and drip irrigation, it not only conserves water, but leads to much higher agricultural productivity with far less danger of salinisation -- one of the results of large dams and extensive irrigation systems. This has been proved over and over again since Babylonian times.
A very important aspect, which is being totally ignored, is that by watershed development, as suggested by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, rather than increasing the height of the dam, the tribal people could be gainfully employed where they live. This would make the Narmada project a showpiece of beneficial environmental management.
G Shankar Ranganathan, Mumbai
When India was fighting for her freedom, Mahatma Gandhi said, ``I want the freedom of my country so that other countries may learn something from my free country, so that the resources of my country might be utilised for the benefit of mankind''. It is perhaps not surprising that Mr A B Vajpayee, whose ascent to short-lived power in 1996 was `celebrated' in Pune by the surviving accused in the Gandhi murder case, is trying to take India in the exactly opposite direction. Creating a nuclear arsenal is not utilising India's resources for the benefit of mankind. In fact, it is the antithesis of all that not only Gandhi stood for but all that Indian civilisation has stood in the last 5000 years.
A nuclear weapon is not a weapon of war but an instrument of indiscriminate annihilation which has been condemned by our ancient seers as the episode of brahmasirastras exchanged between Arjuna and Aswathama in the Mahabharata war shows.
Sri Aurobindo has said somewhere that ``an idiot moment can destroy the work of centuries''. I shudder to think if such a moment is arriving for India under BJP rule.
S S Kaimal, Thiruvananthapuram
I was pleasantly surprised to see a TV channel telecasting a programme on the teaching of Sanskrit, Vedic mathematics, the Rigveda and the great Indian epics in a Catholic school in Ireland. The principal and teachers, all Irish, said that they found Sanskrit grammar the most compact and scientifically designed among all the major languages of the world. As for Vedic mathematics, the teacher stated that one could do complex calculations simply by looking at the figures.
It was heart-warming to know that in such a distant country, such a major innovation is being attempted. Interestingly, the school principal felt that the West had lost its way in a maze of materialism and had much to learn from Eastern values.
K R Ravi, Mumbai
It was amusing to read that X-ray examinations are no longer compulsory for candidates taking the UPSC examinations (August 13). While the ostensible reason for dispensing with this requirement is the possibility of overexposure to radiation, I am afraid our politicians may lose out in the bargain. It is now possible for a person with a spine to get selected and create problems for the political leadership.
K R Ravi, Mumbai
It is ironical that none of the political parties -- including the Congress, of which a woman is president --have allocated even 10 per cent of the seats to women in the forthcoming elections. We are about to step into the next millennium, but the mindset of Indian politicians still belongs to the medieval past. Though women form almost 50 per cent of the electorate, their number will remain abysmally low in the next Parliament. It is totally unfortunate that they have not been given their due share.
There have been a number of articles in your sports pages about two vital issues -- the use of performance-enhancing drugs and allegations of match-fixing. If sportspersons can be tested for performance-enhancing drugs, one wonders whether they can, perhaps, be tested for match-fixing as well. This could conceivably be done by putting them through a lie detector test.
Ganesh Reddy, Mumbai