Cursed childhood; Stay alert; Urgent need; Fatal attraction; Kind gesture; Stem the flow; Parting shot
• Sir - The widespread prevalence of poverty is the main reason behind the growing incidence of child labour in the country. It has been reported that 21.9 per cent of the population in India lives below the poverty line. Children are thus forced to work in order to support their families. Working from an early age affects the mental and physical development of children. It also generates attendant problems like child trafficking cartels. It is disheartening that the government has not succeeded in curbing this menace. Although there are laws that do not allow underage children to work, these are not implemented strictly enough. The authorities concerned must take measures to ensure that children get to enjoy childhood.
Md. Rustam Parwez,
• Sir - The Congress has managed to retain both the constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, Mungaoli and Kolaras, where bypolls were recently held ("Fear behind parallel poll plan: Cong", March 3). This must have come as a relief for the party at a time when more and more states are slipping away from it. However, the margin by which the Congress won these seats is nothing to be cheerful about. This shows that the Congress cannot rest on its laurels. Moreover, the Bharatiya Janata Party has increased its vote share significantly. If the BJP government learns from the mistakes it made during these bypolls, the results of the assembly elections slated to be held later this year could turn the tide for the party.
Elsewhere, in Odisha, a Biju Janata Dal candidate won a landslide victory in the Bijepur by-election. Political analysts feel that this was the result of the negative campaign against the chief minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik. The BJP also lost seats in Rajasthan and its victory margin saw a steep decline in its stronghold, Gujarat. The party must reflect on the means it adopts to win elections if it wants to retain power in 2019. More importantly, the skeletons in the BJP's closet - take the Punjab National Bank scam, for instance - are now tumbling out. The party must tread carefully.
• Sir - It is being contended that the Bashar al-Assad-led government in Syria is carrying out a genocide in the garb of fighting terror. In spite of the tremendous progress that has been made by technology, wherein even the slightest movements of people can be traced, the Syrian army is reportedly carpet-bombing residential areas.
Eastern Ghouta has been the target of such attacks recently. Residents do not have access to basic amenities, let alone the medical help that they need as a result of the indiscriminate assault. According to some estimates by humanitarian agencies, more than 800 lives have been lost in Ghouta so far. Chemical warfare has made life impossible for people in this region.
Unfortunately, criticism of Assad from countries around the globe have not amounted to anything on the ground. It is high time world leaders put humanitarianism before geopolitics.
• Sir - The editorial, "Happiness in hand" (March 3), was an eye-opener when it comes to Indians' dependence on their smartphones. It rightly points out that this reliance has spelt doom for inter-personal relationships. In the early days of the television in India, an addiction to daily soaps had led to a similar crisis.
Another disturbing aspect of the addiction to smartphones is evident in the rising number of road accidents. Surely, booking a cab online while crossing the road is not more important than one's life.
• Sir - The chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, should be lauded for undertaking the responsibility to renovate the flat of her predecessor, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The latter has been living in a dilapidated government-owned building for a long time ("Chit in hand, Didi gets cracking on Buddha flat", March 1). Banerjee's initiative has attracted heaps of praise. It has also sent out a positive message to other political leaders in the country. Banerjee has shown that she can be professional when it comes to politics instead of being swayed by pettiness.
It is unfortunate that ego clashes and the desire to beat the opponent often pose hurdles in the way of basic decency when it comes to dealing with political rivals.
Ratan Kumar Halder,
Stem the flow
• Sir - The world is facing a serious drinking water crisis. This does not seem to have sunk on the Calcutta Municipal Corporation though. Studies have shown that the problem of water shortage is, in fact, not because of a lack of water but because of wastage and poor management.
It is bothersome to see innumerable water pipes all across the city pumping out large volumes of water endlessly. Most of the water from these pipes and wells just flows into the streets and then the drains. The lack of taps means that enormous quantities of water gets wasted every day. One wonders whether it really requires a huge effort on the part of the municipal authorities to prevent such wastage. The state government should look into the matter at the earliest. Otherwise, potable water will soon become a luxury.
• Sir - The availability of good quality medicine at affordable prices can mean the difference between life and death. Reports of overpricing by pharmaceutical companies are increasing. In the United State of America, such discrepancies in pricing, and the production of inferior quality medicines lead to prosecution or the cancellation of licences by the Food and Drug Administration. Lax monitoring by the drug pricing regulators in India is one of the primary causes behind this. They should pull up their socks at once.
Subrata Kumar Som,