Sir — The hullabaloo over Mother Teresa’s beatification has got a fresh impetus with Monica Besra, the woman reportedly cured of stomach tumour by the Mother, all set to travel to the Vatican (“Mother and city in blessed bond”, Oct 16). But one feels a trifle puzzled on recalling the sequence of events leading up to this. Wasn’t it only last October that Besra was drawn into a controversy following doctors’ reports which established that she had been cured of an ovarian mass more than three months before she claimed she was cured by prayer' Why is no one asking any questions about these doctors now'
P.K. Majumder, Calcutta
Old and weary
Sir — The Delhi high court’s order that schoolchildren be involved in providing emotional support to senior citizens living in their neighbourhood is important (“What’s it like to be old and lonely'”, Sept 9). The grey population in India is increasing. With children in larger numbers moving away from their parents’ establishments, loneliness has become a problem equivalent to physical ailment and depression.
We tend to forget that retirement from work or from the routine of daily chores, and the inability to do something productive can be a traumatic or humiliating experience for people. It is during their phases of dejection and listlessness that many senior citizens long for solace and companionship. And more often than not, there is nobody to provide them with these.
It took a series of murders of senior citizens in the capital for the Delhi high court to pass the order. Closer home, an elderly and lonely man jumped to death from the highrise which was his residence. And these are not a few isolated incidents. It would be good if the Calcutta high court also passed a similar order, because it never harms to be alert.
Urmila Guha, Burnpur
Sir — October 1 is celebrated as the International Day for the Elderly every year. The United Nations charter also lays down a long list of rights to be enjoyed by the aged. But what percentage of the elderly and ageing population of our country — The Telegraph reported that in 2001, the population aged 60 and above grew to 75.93 million — are even aware of these rights' Let alone Calcutta, even across the country there are very few organizations which cater exclusively to the problems of the aged. It would help many senior citizens like me if there are a few individuals and organizations who we can turn to in times of distress.
Sachindra Nath Mitra, Calcutta
Sir — The letter of the lonely J.L. Mehta, sent to the principal of the Delhi Public School with the request that the children of the school pay him a visit to cheer him up, was a simple yet touching pointer to an insidious problem in our country. That a lonely senior citizen was distressed enough to request complete strangers to help him out speaks volumes about the ordeal that people like Mehta face in a world where no one has time to spare for the elderly.
Getting schoolchildren to offer their company to the old is a brilliant idea, though not entirely a novel one. Many schools across the country, a number of them in Calcutta itself, have volunteers who visit old age homes on a regular basis. The problems arise because many such practices die a natural death as students get dragged into the rat-race for a better career and lifestyle. The schools probably continue with the work with newer batches, but it would be more meaningful if there was some way of ensuring that these exercises leave such an impact on the minds of the young students that they become more sensitive to the entire issue of old-age.
Saptarshi Mukherjee, Asansol
Sir — The Durga Puja committees in Calcutta truly go overboard in conceiving themes for their pandals. One pandal in Kasba was modelled after an old-age home, the organizers proudly claiming that the idea was to create awareness among the people. Surely there are other ways to generate such awareness' Perhaps the money spent on the pandal could be invested in a new old-age home.
Anindya Ghosh, Calcutta