Sir — Australia will have to import wheat for the first time in more than a decade owing to severe drought. One wonders how this will affect the bountiful pantry of MasterChef Australia. The show has aired an episode were contestants cooked for drought affected farmers. But is this enough? It always foregrounded the rich produce that the country had to offer. It is time, the show highlighted alternative, less wasteful consumption patterns that might actually help contend the drought.
Sir — It was disturbing to read that onlookers jeered and pelted stones at a pachyderm that had just lost its calf after giving birth in Lalgarh (“Jumbo loses calf, kills onlooker”, May 18). It is only natural that the mother elephant chose to vent its anger at the crowd. Humans are capable of the most inhumane acts. Last year, a tiger had been brutally killed in Lalgarh. This was during the annual hunting festival in the village. Given this yearly carnage, the behaviour of people is not really surprising.
Awareness campaigns launched by the forest department do not seem to have reached the people. Conservation efforts that lack popular support will not work — no matter how exemplary the punishment meted out to the culprits. What is needed is creating awareness amongst school kids. We need to raise a generation that will be sensitive towards the environment and will make a positive impact.
Sir — Cyclone Fani came as bane for most people. But the same cannot be said for the litchi farmers of Malda in West Bengal. (“Rain nourishes litchi growth”, May 21). Farmers there have said that owing to scorching heat this summer, there had been a spate of pest attacks on litchi trees. Even pesticides had not helped in arresting the attacks completely.
The rain and storms that accompanied Cyclone Fani at this point came as boon for farmers. While the storm helped drop the damaged fruits, which may otherwise have affected the whole crop, the rain washed away the insects and the pests. Litchi farmers are now hoping for a bumper crop of fruit this year. If these hopes are realized, the price of litchis will come down and the rich and the poor alike will be able to savour the sweetness.
Sir — Most defence procurements are done in bulk. It is thus important that rigorous checks are carried out before placing orders. Samples from all the vendors must be tested with equal seriousness. Any corruption at this stage will cost our soldiers dearly.
The jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force — one of the largest groups of defence personnel — are posted in heavy numbers in Jammu and Kashmir. A complaint has surfaced that the helmets supplied to them are substandard and cannot withstand bullets from assault rifles like the AK-47, the weapon of choice for many militants (“Dud helmet glare on CRPF”, May 19). The present helmets are apparently effective only against 9-mm bullets. Worse, there is a severe shortage in helmets — 5,466 helmets have been supplied against the authorized number of 1,22,480. This is a shortfall of more than 95 per cent.
Some conspiracy is clearly afoot. The defence department and the former defence minister must be held responsible for putting the lives of thousands of CRPF jawans in jeopardy. A thorough enquiry in this regard is a must without any further delay. The culprits should be handed the strictest of punishments.
Asit Kumar Mitra,
The rain and storms that accompanied Cyclone Fani came as boon for the litchi farmers of West Bengal (Shutterstock)