Flimflam about flavanol
Sir — A study claims that cocoa is a rich source of vitamin D. Cocoa is used in dark chocolate, which, logically, should be beneficial for health. But the benefits of chocolates can be attributed to cocoa flavanol, a set of nutrients that help the function of blood vessels. Sadly, commercial dark chocolates have low flavanol content; added sugar in them may cause health problems. All this makes one wonder whether the promotion of dark chocolates as healthy is a marketing ploy. One should think twice before agreeing with these research findings.
Sir — A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court has, in a path-breaking verdict, decriminalized adultery (“Equality, not hubby, is master”, Sept 28). The court struck down Sections 497 of the Indian Penal Code and 198(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, both of which were discriminatory and deprived women of agency. While upholding the dignity of women, the court observed that they have the right to explore their sexuality.
The justification behind decriminalizing adultery cannot be doubted. Yet, surely extramarital relationships are not desirable. Instead of doing away with Section 497, could not the legislature have been asked to modify its discriminatory nature instead?
Sir — The unfair law that made adultery a crime should have been struck down long ago. The legislature has, thus, failed to fulfil its duty. Significantly, if the present dispensation had its way, adultery would not have been decriminalized. The retrograde views of the party in power at the Centre became clear when it told the apex court that any dilution of the adultery law would hamper “the sanctity of marriage and the fabric of society”. The verdict of the apex court has proved, once again, that India is moving towards being a more equitable society.
Sir — Repeated judgments of the apex court stress the importance of privacy. First, Section 377 was read down and now Section 497 has been down away with. The primary takeaway from these verdicts is that the court is trying to do away with social morality by giving each citizen of India the right to explore their sexuality. But there is an underlying message to be gleaned from the judgments. The private sphere of each citizen is inviolable; as long as any activity carried out in private does not harm someone, none has the right to interfere.
Yet, the State and its institutions do not seem to be learning anything from these progressive verdicts. The attacks on inter-faith couples, at times by State machinery, are proof of this.
Tale of balances
Sir — The article, “Mahabharata as a sieve to remove ambiguity” (Sept 26), by Uddalak Mukherjee is significant as it highlights the essence of the Indian civilization. It explores the ambiguities in the Indian epics and their characters. Quite realistically, both heroes and villains are endowed with a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Even the gods are not flawless. Rationality, not blind faith is thus the basis of the epics.
Mukherjee rightly states that it is these shades of grey that can counter bigotry and fanaticism. The epics make it possible for individuals to identify the divine that is hidden inside each person. They also teach us to discard the orthodoxy of popular culture.
Sir — The article, “Mahabharata as a sieve to remove ambiguity”, brought back vivid memories of the popular television series based on the Mahabharata. It also reminds one of the saying that everything that happens in India is reflected in the Mahabharata. From the son of a king — a politician, in this instance — wanting to take over the throne only by virtue of his birth, disrespect for women, the privileged getting access to quality education or caste bias, all the themes discussed in the epic are everyday realities.
The many retellings of the epic not only treat apparent villains with the respect they deserve, they also show heroes as vulnerable and susceptible to making mistakes.
The idea of greyness explored in the piece also forced me to consider whether the Kauravas would have been the villains of the epic if the outcome of the Kurukshetra war had been different. At the time when the epic was written, the son of a king ascended the throne after his father. How then was Duryodhana’s claim to power unjust?
Keep it clean
Sir — Cleanliness is a prerequisite of good health. While most people maintain hygiene in their homes, they behave irresponsibly elsewhere. Just like one keeps the premises of one’s house clean, it is also their responsibility to ensure that the streets and roads are clean as well. Dumping of garbage in the open is a big problem in India. Piles of garbage become the breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other insects that spread diseases. One should dispose waste responsibly. The government should also take effective waste-management measures. But it is the responsibility of each person to support initiatives taken by the government in order to live in a healthy environment.