LETTERS TO THE EDITOR  09-08-2000

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 9.08.00
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Mothers at work Sir - If nearly 49 per cent of women in the country are opposed to breast-feeding and nearly 72 per cent of the working women do not want to breast-feed their babies, then one should think that women are not inhibited any more in speaking their minds, even though it means prioritizing work over motherhood ("Work first, babies next", August 7). But the question that remains unanswered is whether society, particularly women's employers would accept and respect this view. Swati Bhave, at the seminar organized by the Indian Academy of Paediatrics, recommended provisions made at offices for breast-feeding mothers, and also an increasing maternity leave from 12 weeks to four months. But what about the commercial cost of these changes? Employing women means giving them extra benefits that can be avoided. Hence, these changes may end up bringing down the number of women being employed, since they are likely to be perceived as economic liabilities. Yours faithfully, Sweta Das Gupta, Calcutta Boxful of mindlessness Sir - It would not be too harsh to describe Avijit Pathak's article, "Black magic box" (July 31) as entirely one-dimensional. Explaining the evolution of an "apolitical, despiritualized, non-reflective, market-friendly middle class" only by means of an irrepressible television addiction is too simplistic a point of view to be noted. A better explanation might be found in the instinctive human enthusiasm for change. Change is integral to human life and it is the key to survival. For survival, we have moved from silent gesticulations to words, from ignorance to a deluge of information, from printed to audio-visual knowledge. Any worry that this deluge also brings unwanted triviality and non-reflectiveness due to repetition and temporality ignores the natural human ability to separate grain from chaff, in other words, to assimilate only the information that is necessary for him. Television may not be the greatest human invention, but when the global market has been divided into the information technology and non-IT spheres, television is the most indispensable in our daily existence. Yours faithfully, Susanta Kumar Biswas, Calcutta Sir - Avijit Pathak makes a pithy summary of the pernicious influences of the idiot box. Any mind which hasn't yet been desensitized by the impact of television would agree with him. Television provides the viewer with innumerable channels to choose from. He exercises his power to choose by the constant switching of channels - an action which symptomizes his brain deadness. Unable to avoid the bombardment of images, sound and information,the modern viewer, sitting alone in the couch or bed, cut off from the world, becomes a victim of the hyper-real world. He becomes static, stoic and "comfortably numb". There has to be a movement to make people conscious of the adverse effects of the information revolution. If we lose our ability to think for ourselves, it might be the end of civilization. Yours faithfully, J.C. Mukherjee, Calcutta Sir - Avijit Pathak condemns television advertising. But these advertisements attract viewers to buy the product once. If the product itself is not appealing or useful, the viewer is not going to buy it again. Advertising also provides a mechanism for comparing products. Pathak assumes the viewer to be a gullible person who is entirely and uncritically absorbed in what he is watching. In reality, most adult viewers only spend a fraction of their leisure time watching TV. Yours faithfully, Shyamal Pain, New Jersey, Dying by numbers Sir - Sasanka Sekhar Adhikary in "Man's polluting touch" (June 29) has sounded the alarm, though belatedly, on population growth and environmental damage. The point that needs to be understood, however, is that it is uncontrolled population growth that has a directly adverse effect on the environment. Though India has made giant strides in technological growth and is a de facto information technology power, this has not resulted in a better quality of life for its citizens nor has it improved the lot of the poor. The fruits of development can be enjoyed by the people only if the population is kept under control. For India, this has not happened. India's population growth is a natural result of a number of factors. One, the absence of an effective population policy. Two, a bad reservation policy that has led to brain drain and inequitable distribution of resources. A majority of the upper classes from the south are in the United States, Europe, Australia or west Asia. Three, the lack of compulsory and universal education. In fact, education appears to have been a subject of least priority for the government during the last half century. Unless a law is enacted, making it mandatory for couples to fulfil certain criteria like the ability to feed, educate and clothe their offspring before they produce them, there is no future for the country. Yours faithfully, S. Ramakrishnan, via email Sir - Population is the sole reason for India's socioeconomic problems. Resources in the country have not increased in proportion to the increase of population. A quarter of a century ago, the country had initiated vigorous steps to contain the boom. However, the misuse of the programme by some over-zealous politicians prevented it from being successful. Political parties that came to power at the Centre and states eventually did not pursue the programme for fear of a public outcry. Further, they were more preoccupied with their internal squabbles and with retaining their gaddi than concentrate on the welfare of the country. Our neighbour, China, has been hugely successful in controlling its birth rate. That is one reason it has emerged as a superpower today. India's policymakers must understand the gravity of the situation. Otherwise, the Malthusian nightmare might soon become a reality. Yours faithfully, E.M. Adithyan, Edapal Sir - The Bharatiya Janata Party ideologue, K.R. Malkani, is right in saying that Indians should "multiply to save the nation". The money wasted on population control should be spent on the welfare of mothers and newborns. The government has done enough to make Indians aware of the dangers of a population explosion. The brutal means developed by today's medical science for population control have only led to more foeticide and abortions. The affluent in our society look for excuses for their hedonism. It is really shameful that one can have two dogs, but not one more child. Our planet has enough resources to accommodate and nourish billions, provided the ecological balance is retained. Yours faithfully, Tameemuddin Humble, Gaya Letters to the editor should be sent to: