Break it off
Sir — Valentine’s Day is universally believed to be the day of love. But naysayers will disagree. For them, February 14 is a day of bitterness, marital discord and loneliness. Research has shown that partners in a romantic relationship going through rough times are almost five times more likely to call it quits during the Valentine’s Day fortnight than during any other time of the year. Similarly, the official demise of the web browser, Internet Explorer, on February 14 this year marks the end of its long, dysfunctional relationship with users. In spite of being the first of its kind, IE failed to keep up with modern browsers and increasingly became a pain to work with. Perhaps like most breakups, this one was painful but necessary.
Piyali Sarkar, Calcutta
Sir — The Animal Welfare Board of India withdrew its appeal to hug a cow on Valentine’s Day after it elicited sarcastic comments and ridicule on social media and elsewhere (“Hug-a-cow call off after it becomes a butt of jokes”, Feb 11). The Board’s plea was definitely an overreach and in line with the Hindutva agenda. Since coming to power in 2014, the Narendra Modi-led dispensation has been pushing for Hindu supremacy at the expense of India’s secular values. In 2018, the saffron regime had similarly tried to celebrate February 14 as Matru-Pitru divas. Fortunately, that was rejected as well. According to the livestock census, there are more than 50 lakh stray cattle in the country. Further, the rehabilitation of abandoned cows remains a challenge. The government should ensure the safety of strays instead of indulging in brazen political symbolism.
S.S. Paul, Nadia
Sir — The AWBI made a mockery of itself by declaring February 14 to be Hug-a-Cow day (“Cowed down”, Feb 12). The choice of Valentine’s Day to cuddle cows is unsurprising — it has become common for couples to be harassed on that day by Hindutva goons. Respecting and loving animals cannot be a one-day affair. The government must realise this.
Kirti Wadhawan, Kanpur
Sir — During the assembly elections of 2022, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, had promised farmers a new policy to deal with the menace of stray cattle. But the problem has only aggravated since then. Recently, two dozen stray cows were run over by a train in the Sambhal district of Uttar Pradesh after being allegedly pushed towards a railway track by angry farmers. It is obvious that the Yogi Adityanath government has failed to take any effective steps to tackle the problem.
Kamal Laddha, Bengaluru
Sir — The prime minister, Narendra Modi, has criticised the Left-Congress alliance in Tripura, alleging that the two parties have chosen “kushti” in Kerala and “dosti” in the northeastern state. The prime minister’s remark is rather simplistic. The political realities of Kerala and Tripura are very different. It is obvious that the two Opposition parties have joined ranks to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been in power in poll-bound Tripura since 2018. In Kerala, the BJP is a minor player. The Left-Congress alliance is a welcome development because it can prevent the split in the secular vote. It could also prove to be a template for the Opposition parties to form a united front against the saffron party before the 2024 general elections.
G. David Milton, Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu
Sir — The ministry of mines has prepared the draft geoheritage sites and geo-relics (preservation and maintenance) bill, 2022 with the aim of providing for the declaration, preservation, protection and maintenance of geoheritage sites and geo-relics of national importance. In January 2023, a team of palaeontologists discovered 92 dinosaur nesting sites with 256 fossilised eggs of the Titanosaurus — among the largest of its kind — from 100-66 million years ago when ‘India’ was a continent and yet to merge into the Eurasian land mass. Similarly, the deserts of Kutch and the Deccan traps in Maharashtra bear witness to the forces that shaped the diverse geography and, tangentially, history of this country. Unlike the quest to preserve cultural history and man-made artefacts from archaeology, there has been limited effort to preserve natural geo-history such as rock formations, sediments and fossils. Given the premium for land and India’s economic needs, there will be conflict over questions of preservation and livelihood. Any legislation must endeavour to balance these forces.
Tathagata Sanyal, Birmingham, UK
Sir — The Centre has banned more than 230 illegal betting, gambling and loan applications with links to China on an emergency basis. This is welcome. The mushrooming of online gambling has become a menace. The government should ban such applications irrespective of their country of origin. Many of India’s online gambling applications have been promoted by the media. This is disconcerting as these apps have adverse effects on people, especially the youth.
Vinod Mody, Calcutta
Sir — Drivers honking for traffic lights to change to green is a common practice across the country. In 2020, the Mumbai Police introduced a measure to curb this menace of reckless honking which leads to noise pollution. The traffic signal system was reprogrammed so that the timing of the red light was reset every time the sound of the horns crossed 85 decibels. This is an innovative method. This should be adopted across all cities to rein in impatient drivers.
M.C. Vijay Shankar, Chennai