Injurious to health
Sir — Much has been written about the side-effects of using monosodium glutamate (ajinomoto to the layperson) in food preparation — reports have shown that MSG can cause headaches and chest pain if consumed on a regular basis. Much less, however, has been written about the ill-effects of the other MSG — one of India’s many so-called godmen. Amidst the mental health crisis in educational institutions, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh — the self-styled ‘Messenger of God’ — has attributed depression to a “lack of spirituality”, assuring his followers that meditating regularly can stave off mental illnesses. While the jury is still out on whether the additive MSG is poisonous or not, blanket statements made by human MSGs seem injurious to health.
Sambit Chakraborty, Calcutta
Sir — It is disheartening that the search operation initiated by the Punjab Police to nab Amritpal Singh, the leader of the Khalistani separatist group, Waris Punjab De, has been unsuccessful so far. This is worrying as Singh, who has fashioned himself as ‘Bhindranwale 2.0’, has already issued threats against the Union home minister, Amit Shah. Unrest owing to the lack of employment opportunities, easy access to drugs and years of inept governance, among other factors, have made Punjab a breeding ground for anti-national elements. Singh has exploited the resultant widespread disillusionment to broaden his support base. Political parties across the spectrum should come together to neutralise him.
Bishal Kumar Saha, Murshidabad
Sir — The crackdown ordered on the pro-Khalistan activist, Amritpal Singh, and his supporters by the chief minister of Punjab, Bhagwant Mann, is welcome. This will ensure some degree of peace in Punjab. India cannot afford the rise of another Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Central security agencies must also investigate Singh’s links to Pakistan’s InterServices Intelligence, if any.
Gregory Fernandes, Mumbai
Sir — The strategy of Bharatiya Janata Party leaders to create a ruckus in both Houses of Parliament is not surprising (“Shouting BJP stalls Parliament”, Mar 21). They want to deflect attention from debates on contentious issues like the Adani saga, rising inflation, and a flailing economy. Usually, it is the Opposition that is blamed for stalling Parliament’s functioning. But this time, Rahul Gandhi’s statements abroad have come as a blessing in disguise for the ruling dispensation.
Amit Brahmo, Calcutta
Sir — The BJP’s demand for an apology from the Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi, is unwarranted. The Opposition has rightly alleged that such brouhaha is just an attempt to divert attention from the Adani scandal (“Cry: PM Save Adani Yojana”, Mar 21). The Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the chairman of the Rajya Sabha should act impartially to solve this impasse.
K. Nehru Patnaik, Visakhapatnam
Sir — Plans for a third front against the Bharatiya Janata Party, excluding the Congress, as elucidated by the chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, seem unviable (“Congress shouldn’t view itself as boss: Trinamul”, Mar 18). Her party leaders are embroiled in a number of corruption cases and have lost the people’s trust. No national front can challenge the BJP without the support of the Congress, which continues to be a major power in numerous states.
Arun Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — The assertion by the Trinamul Congress supremo, Mamata Banerjee, that the Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi, makes the prime minister, Narendra Modi, look good in comparison is an egotistic attempt to establish herself as the principal Opposition leader in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls in 2024 (“Mamata: Rahul is Modi’s biggest TRP”, Mar 20). Rahul Gandhi has proven himself to be a mature politician through the Bharat Jodo Yatra and has gained the admiration of the people for his unflinching criticism of the Modi government. Jahar Lal Saha, Calcutta
Lift the veil
Sir — It is gratifying that a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, has expressed strong disapproval of the practice of submitting sealed cover reports during hearing pleas involving the payment of arrears to defence pensioners under the onerank-one-pension scheme. The apex court rightly condemned the secretive method as being fundamentally contrary to the transparency of the judicial process.
S.K. Choudhury, Bengaluru
Sir — The resignation of Bhushan Patwardhan, the chairman of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, after he alleged that “vested interests and malpractices” have compromised the grades awarded to various institutions, is disheartening (“Bad omen”, Mar 21). A thorough investigation should be conducted to remove any potential irregularities in the assessment process.
S.S. Paul, Nadia
Sir — It is alarming to see how air pollution levels in Calcutta and other Indian cities have been increasing with rapid urbanisation (“Inhale death”, Mar 21). Laws enactedto curb vehicular emissions are either toothless or poorly implemented. Political apathy also plays its part in the worsening of air quality.
Abhijit Chakraborty, Howrah