Spot a sparrow
Sir — The number of sparrows has declined all over the world. In Britain alone, there has been a decline of 65 per cent in the sparrow population between 1977 and 2000. The birds’ nesting space is dwindling since rooms rarely have ventilators nowadays. Thatched roofs, once common in rural areas, are disappearing. Pesticides used in farms also kill the birds. To keep track, an online project called “Citizen sparrow” has invited people from across India to report the presence or absence of sparrows in their localities.
Niamul Hossain Mallick, Katwa, Burdwan
Sir — Although the crew saved the lives of the 48 Guwahati-bound passengers on board Air India’s Flight ATR 9760, such incidents prove that the ground engineers and technical staff are careless and insincere (“Thud! It’s a plane’s wheel”, June 11). Before take off, every plane should be checked thoroughly to negate the chances of any technical fault occurring mid-flight. How could the aircraft’s nose wheel fall off? Was it sabotage or a mere accident? The Silchar air traffic control’s surveillance saved the lives of the passengers. All of them must have heaved a sigh of relief when the pilot, Urmila Yadav, somehow crash-landed the plane. This incident proves yet again that in situations of high tension and anxiety, women can act with intelligence and courage.
A.K. Chakraborty, Guwahati
Sir — Almost 50 passengers on board Flight ATR 9760 were saved from sure death thanks to the sagacity of the lady pilot, Urmila Yadav. The combination of presence of mind, composure and technical expertise must have helped Yadav to perform the miracle. When Yadav has made her city, Gurgaon, proud, I wonder why the media are highlighting her feeble connection with Calcutta — a city that has no work culture, accountability or responsibility.
Subhankar Mukherjee, Borehat, Burdwan
Sir — The University of North Bengal was established in 1962. It is located outside Siliguri in the Terai region of Darjeeling district. It has a lot of educational units such as the Centre for Himalayan Studies where Tibetan language is taught, the Centre of Adult & Continuing Education, Centre for Women’s Studies and the like, alongside the faculties of science and technology. It is regretful that there is no specific department here for teaching Urdu, Arabic or Persian and no centre of Islamic studies. And this when the university is surrounded by the Muslim-majority areas of Chopra, Islampur, Hemtabad, Kaliganj, Goalpokhar, Ithara, Karandighi and Raiganj.
Most of the Muslim students of these areas learn Urdu by choosing it as a compulsory subject at the school level. Many of them want to further pursue the study of these languages but because the local university does not offer them graduate or post-graduate courses in the languages, they have to drop the subjects later. The chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, recently accorded second language status to Urdu, especially in those areas where over 10 per cent of the population speak the language. The areas surrounding NBU have a predominantly Muslim population. If the appropriate departments in the university are not established, the recent move related to Urdu will make no sense since students will not get an opportunity to study the language beyond the secondary level.
Md. Shahbaz Alam, Islampur, West Dinajpur