The dying animal
Sir — In the last few years, there has been a great deal of media publicity about the dwindling number of tigers in India. Filmstars, mobile phone service providers and many other organizations have tried to create awareness on this issue. With the spotlight on the tiger, everybody seems to have forgotten the rhino, which continues to be poached with regularity (“Rhino killed in mini-Kaziranga” Dec 8). The government seems to be indifferent to the fate of this rare animal, which is not given the protection it deserves.
Shibram Halder, Habra, North 24 Parganas
Sir — The editorial, “Hello darkness” (Dec 7), gives the real picture that lies behind the much-hyped stories of good governance by the chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar. It is sad that after more than six decades of Independence, a large number of people in India are still deprived of basic education, healthcare, drinking water, employment and suitable shelter. As a result, poverty and the attendant social evils like oppression, superstition, prejudices, along with immoral activities, have become a part of our lives.
A social consultative committee formed in Tupamari village in Bihar’s Kishanganj has ordered a complete ban and a fine of Rs 10,000 on the use of mobile phones for unmarried women, restricted use and a Rs 2,000-fine within the confines of the home for married women, and a ban on women bathing in the open. This strange order, passed by a semi-formal local self-government group, shows that political leaders have failed to bring about any social reform in village life. This is not the tale of Kishanganj only: there would be many districts throughout the country that would present a similar picture.
And yet we see that our beloved politicians are sacrificing their lives on the floor of Parliament for the sake of the deprived classes — raising slogans for reservation, food for work, right to education, minority development, midday meals and so on. In their enthusiasm, they have forgotten to look at the darkness under the lamp. Perhaps they are not interested in the darkness at all since their real aim is to capture the vote of the disadvantaged classes by mouthing slogans. Big malls and highrises are not the signs of good governance. There can be no real development unless the backward classes prosper. For Kumar, there is a lot of work waiting to be done.
Mihir Kanungo, Calcutta
Sir — Women always make a soft target for conservative societies, which try to circumscribe their lives and sexuality with laws. Bihar, once notorious as one of the most backward states of India, had taken a turn for the better with the arrival of Nitish Kumar on the scene. But the recent incident in Kishanganj proves that the change has been more apparent than real.
Somesh Jha, Dhenkanal, Odisha
Sir — The women of Kishanganj do not bathe outdoors to titillate men: they simply do not have access to running water in their homes. The “social consultative committee” is incapable of ensuring a supply of water in each of the homes. But it can prohibit women from bathing in the open.
Since India is a democratic country, even the State or a constitutional body cannot dictate whether any individual should use the mobile phone or not. The order of the self-declared guardians of society amounts not only to sexual communalism but also to an assault on democracy.
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur