Those children in the box
Sir — It may be terrible news to start Book Fair week, but it’s official now: television not only enjoys a huge following among children, but it is also endorsed by mothers (“Telly babysits for modern mammas”, Jan 25). Questions can, of course, be raised about the authenticity of the findings of the survey, given that it was commissioned by Cartoon Network. But didn’t it merely confirm our worst fears' Isn’t it dreadfully true that babies these days can dance to Hindi film-songs before they learn to walk' It is useless to blame it all on mothers for not spending “quality” time with their children, because it only succeeds in making a lot of women feel guilty and does not improve matters in any way. But Indian mothers surely have better sense than to feel that “the television is a good teacher of English”. Drastic as it may sound, the only solution — for children to learn proper English, if for nothing else — is to banish the TV from households with children under the age of 12.
Meera Subramanian, Calcutta
Day of reckoning
Sir — Using the traditional presidential address to the nation on the eve of Republic Day, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam presented a kind of report card of his activities during the last six months (“President blends pats with pleas”, Jan 26). By dealing with politics, science and economics in his speech, Kalam gave a fitting reply to those who, at the time of his assuming office, expressed doubts about a scientist’s suitability for the post of president. He has been able to demonstrate in the past few months what he called, at the time of assuming office, the “core competence” required of any leader.
Kalam’s address provided a fuller picture of his “vision of a developed India by the year 2020” — which gives top priority to “environment and people-related issues” and identifies proper education for children as an area of supreme importance. The most inspiring part of Kalam’s speech was his emphasis on four types of connectivity — physical (roads), electronic (reliable communications network), knowledge (professional institutions and vocational training centres) and economic (leading to a self-reliant people’s economy).
However, Kalam’s address was, to an extent, “feel-good” since he chose to ignore most of the problems facing the country at present.
Srinivasan Balakrishnan, Jamshedpur
Sir — While watching the gorgeous parade this Republic Day live from New Delhi, my head hung in shame. My own state, West Bengal, did not bother to send a tableau showcasing its heritage and achievements as the other states did. It ought to be painful for every Bengali to see that the state which had made the highest contribution to India’s freedom struggle — a state whose sons have penned our national song and national anthem, and a state about which it used to be said: “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow” — has gone unrepresented. The gesture also amounts to showing disrespect to the republic.
This is all the fault of the state government, economically and morally bankrupt as it is. The decision-making individuals consider sending tableaus a waste of money. However, providing VIP amenities to a former chief minister is not regarded as a waste of resources at all.
It is understandable, of course, if the government could not find a single achievement worth highlighting. From basic health amenities to education to employment to infrastructure, the state’s performance in all crucial sectors has been dismal. In a way, it is a good thing then that the shame has not been compounded by a pack of lies.
Indranil Sen, Calcutta
Sir — The graphic, “Raise the tricolour but with care” (Jan 19), explained the government’s directives with regard to the national flag very clearly. It is a relief that government authorities have finally woken up to the need to preserve the integrity of the tricolour, especially after people had started using it to make fashion statements.
S. Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — The highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna, has not been conferred on anyone for the second consecutive year (“Top awards for dancer, ex-CM”, Jan 26). This is a matter of concern. Why can’t this award be given to one or two living Indian legends unanimously decided upon by the president, the prime minister and the opposition leader' The Padma awards should also be made broad-based and fairer. Since having three variants of the Padma awards means some awards are wasted in upgrading earlier honours, only the Padma Shree should be retained. The selection committee for this award should be constituted in consultation with the opposition leader. Only cases cleared by departments like revenue or intelligence should be put before the committee. Finally, only resident Indians should be eligible for these awards.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi
Sir — This year’s road safety week (January 13-19) in the city proved quite disastrous, with a few major accidents occurring at some of the busiest thoroughfares. This speaks of the indiscipline among the citizens, both behind the steering wheel and walking on the road. If they could not obey traffic rules religiously even for a week, how can they be expected to do so throughout the year' The authorities must start implementing the existing laws in a more stringent manner. Observing road safety weeks is not enough, particularly when the results are so disastrous.
Sandeep Sethi, Calcutta
Sir — During the last month, there has been a number of accidents, mostly fatal, near the Golaghata bus stop on VIP road. Golaghata has become a crowded residential area in the last couple of years. The bus stop is a very busy one too, as it is used by the residents of Salt Lake’s Sector-I as well.
The accidents occur mostly because there is no traffic management near the bus stop. There is no speed-breaker, zebra crossing, traffic signal, or traffic police. Of late, strangely enough, on the western side of the road, two home guards have been posted but they have no control on the eastern side.
The authorities should put up notices marking this zone as an accident-prone location and construct an overbridge on the road, coupled with a foot bridge over the canal connecting Salt lake to VIP road, similar to the one at Lake Town.
K. Saha, Calcutta
Sir — Why blame the drivers and the police for poor traffic in the city' Shouldn’t pedestrians and passengers of public vehicles be doing more than blaming others'
Subrata Pal, Calcutta