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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

Letters to the Editor: How capitalists have turned environmental pollution into a business opportunity

Readers write in from Calcutta, Hooghly, Chennai and Birmingham

The Editorial Board Published 26.02.24, 06:12 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File Photo

Pay the price

Sir — Even environmental pollution has been turned into a business opportunity by capitalists. A start-up in Greenland claims to sell ‘pure’ ice from natural Arctic glaciers that have been frozen for more than 100,000 years and is thus untouched by human pollutants — never mind the fact that Arctic ice also has trapped viruses and diseases from ages ago that humans are not immune to. This business venture might not come as a surprise to Delhiwallahs who have been paying a premium price for a whiff of pure air at oxygen bars around the city for years. Humans have wreaked havoc on free natural resources like air and water and are now paying a price for it, literally.

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Debjani Sengupta, Calcutta

Bad business

Sir — Internet shutdowns and arbitrary curbs on free speech on social media have become effective tools for those in power. The Global Government Affairs page of X has announced that the Narendra Modi government has issued executive orders to withhold specific accounts and posts and said that failing to do so will attract fines and imprisonment for officials. The post also noted that while X will comply, it is not in agreement with the order.

By admitting that it has decided to withhold accounts and posts flagged by the government, even if it disagreed with this action, X was giving up any recourse for its users affected by such a step. This is not unexpected. Under Musk, X is no longer a thriving platform for free speech that strives to promote discussion, information-sharing and even critique of governments. It now takes its cue from the views and the business interests of its owner.

M.N. Gupta, Hooghly

Sir — The government directive to ban certain accounts and block some posts on X puts the spotlight on the struggles faced by foreign technology giants operating in India under the Narendra Modi government, which has often criticised Google, Facebook and X for not doing enough to tackle what it calls fake or ‘anti-India’ content. A similar predicament is being faced by Google after its Gemini AI highlighted accusations of fascism against Modi. Do Modi and his ministers, who have said much about ensuring the ease of doing business, not consider the damage that such intimidation does to the image of India as a place to do business? Social media giants might have no option but to appease India given that it makes up a sizeable market, but such tactics will discourage new businesses from approaching the country.

Sanjit Ghatak, Calcutta

Sir — The post from X saying that it disagrees with the orders of the Indian government means little in the face of its immediate compliance with the diktat. When Elon Musk took over X, he had claimed to be a champion of free speech. This incident proves that Musk is nothing but a selfish businessman.

Jahar Saha, Calcutta

Unhealthy trait

Sir — As per the terms of the Agniveer scheme, 75% of those recruited will leave the service in four years and only 25% of them will be allowed to continue. The number of Agniveers retained in service is likely to be enhanced to 50%. But is this enough? Setting such a goal would undoubtedly lead to the development of a tendency of one-upmanship amongst the Agniveers who would all fight their fellow soldiers to be retained.

This goes against the goal of developing cohesion and brotherhood that are characteristic of not just the Indian army but also any armed force in the world. The challenge, then, is to arrest the growth of undesired personality traits among the Agniveers who will be retained. If not, such traits could affect the health of the armed forces in the long run.

Tharcius S. Fernando, Chennai

Memorable tales

Sir — Satyajit Ray’s Doctor Shrivastav is not the only one with a poor memory (“Mutiny and a bounty”, Feb 25). Uddalak Mukherjee, too, forgot to mention Shakuntalar Kanthahar when writing of Feluda’s imprint on Lucknow. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the many treats that Ram Ashray has to offer, I felt that he should have continued to explore the setting of Lucknow through Feluda’s lens — how he memorised the map of the Bhool Bhulaiya in an hour, for instance. Moreover, there are more traces of Lucknow to be found in Shakuntalar Kanthahar, a lesser-known Feluda adventure. The dénouement of Mukherjee’s piece seemed too sweet after the thrilling setup with Bonbiharibabu.

Tathagata Sanyal, Birmingham, UK

Green friends

Sir — People have begun flaunting their green thumbs ever since dabbling with nature-oriented hobbies was hailed as a sustainable stress-buster. From low-budget kitchen gardens to expensively aesthetic greenhouses, cultivating some form of green life has not only become a popular pastime but has also yielded significant results for personal health and mental well-being. Fortunately, this benefits more than just the human cultivators. Squirrels, birds and a legion of other creatures benefit from such domestic green ventures. In return, humans get pollinators who ensure increasing yields.

Rupanjali Samadder, Calcutta

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