Sir — It is irrelevant that Rajnis Patel was a promising cricketer. Or that his parents could not afford private nursing homes for their son (“Teenage cricketer dies after five operations in five months”, 3 June). It is as criminal to let a person die of a broken shinbone as it is to let people die of polio, a disease which has been eradicated in all but seven countries of the world. It is equally disgusting that a government hospital, where the state’s ministers are admitted regularly and provided the best treatment and care, should be so uncaring as to insert a smaller steel plate than Patel required, or leave the bleeding patient unattended for long hours. And why should a patient with a simple case of broken bone need to undergo as many as five surgeries, and have all of them performed with the greatest degree of indifference and carelessness, bordering on gross cruelty' Losses such as the Patels’ cannot be compensated by money or benefits in kind.
Sohinee Majumdar, Calcutta
For the people
Sir — I feel that there is strong reason behind the Jharkhand people’s demand for quotas in recruitment (“Not at home”, May 29”). Being the residents of an autonomous state, they have every right to demand preference over people from other states when it comes to government jobs. There have been no efforts to coopt the tribals and indigenous people of Jharkhand into the mainstream of Indian society. But the rich mineral resources of the state have been exploited to the full by people from the rest of the country. Not only are most of the indigenous people here deprived of the basic amenities like food, shelter, education, jobs and healthcare, they are also treated like minorities in their own state.
It is true that all the citizens of India should have the right to take competitive examinations for recruitment in the public sector, but the violence witnessed during the test for the recruitment of primary schoolteachers was precipitated by a deep sense of injustice among the people. If there can be reservations for the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes for government jobs; if permits need to be obtained to visit Nagaland and Mizoram; if Indians can be prohibited from purchasing land in Jammu and Kashmir, then I cannot see how the provision of quotas for the tribals in Jharkhand would lead to the disintegration of our country'
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur
Sir — With the rising unemployment graph, a job in India is a man’s passport to freedom. The examinees who came to Jharkhand to take the primary teachers’ examination must have come with the dream of securing a job. The Jharkhand government showed great courage in going ahead with conducting the examination in the face of tremendous violence and resistance. It is sad that a few innocent people, including a ten-year-old boy, had to pay with their lives for a conflict raked up by the irrational demands of the people of the state. Being a part of the nation, every citizen has a right to appear for recruitment examinations held in any part of the country. If each state decides to play along narrow parochial lines, barring candidates from outside the state to take examinations held under its supervision, then the unity and solidarity of India would be at stake.
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — The findings of the World Health Organization have revealed that India has shown a steady rising graph when it comes to smoking. The increase in the number of smokers is alarming as far as the future of our country is concerned. The WHO report also draws attention to the loss in working hours because of smoking. If the tobacco industry makes huge profits and contributes to the country’s economy, then a larger sum is spent by the state to treat patients who fall victims to smoking. Which means that the losses caused by the tobacco industry, in terms of money and manpower, is much greater than the profits it brings.
The WHO is correct in observing that filmstars instigate the smoking habit in the youth of our country. However, this is not the only or the biggest reason. Since the Supreme Court has also given its approval to ban smoking, every effort should be made to discourage advertisements that promote tobacco and tobacco products. Creating public awareness about the evils of smoking should be the first task of the government.
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore
Sir — As the world celebrated No Tobacco Day on May 31, the number of smokers in India was reported to be going up. However, the advertisers promoting different brands of cigarettes are perhaps unaware of the fact. The advertisements are still being printed and telecast unashamedly. Who is to blame for things coming to such a pass' The government cannot possibly put a stop to the practice of smoking on its own. The people of the country should come forward and cooperate with the government so that the crisis does not get any worse.
Jujhar Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — I was shocked to find Bollywood actors participating in World No Tobacco Day programmes. The idea is ridiculous, more so because the same actors and actresses are often seen smoking on the screen. Why do we need film actors to spread the message' If the question is to communicate a message to all Indians, then isn’t it a better idea to use ordinary people as models rather than filmstars with whom we have little in common'
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — Smoking and drinking have become symbols of prosperity in India. Unless smoking is deglamourized and shown up for what it is, anti-tobacco campaigns will not have their desired effect on people.
S.K. Gupta, Calcutta