Sir — Two simultaneous developments involving animal testing have triggered a debate on the ethics of this practice. Nature published the findings of a study by the Harvard Medical School documenting a successful kidney transplant from a genetically engineered pig to a monkey, paving the way for inter-species organ transplants for humans. Around the same time, a statutory recommendation to use stray dogs in vaccine trials has been withdrawn in India. Besides the ethical dilemma, animal testing also fails to accurately map the potential effects of drugs on humans. Science has made a lot of progress. It should ponder alternatives to animal testing.
Jishnu Das, Calcutta
Sir — The INDIA bloc has rightly flagged the hatemongering that is carried out on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Google and Facebook, all of which are used by a large number of Indians (“INDIA’s ‘hate’ caution to Meta and Google”, Oct 13). Citing a report in The Washington Post, the bloc wrote to Sundar Pichai and Mark Zuckerberg — the CEOs of Google and Meta, respectively — to take action against the communal hatred and divisive propaganda being spread on social media. The Bharatiya Janata Party has weaponised social media for over a decade, using it for its vested electoral interests. The Opposition needs to counter this strategy urgently.
Aayman Anwar Ali, Calcutta
Sir — India has slipped four places since last year to rank 111 out of 125 countries on the Global Hunger Index, 2023. It is worrying that neighbouring nations like Bangladesh, Nepal and even Sri Lanka, which is grappling with an economic crisis, outrank India. The report also states that a large number of Indians suffer from malnourishment and that the country has the world’s highest rate of child-wasting at 18.7%.
Bhagwan Thadani, Mumbai
Sir — The Indian government is remarkably selective when it comes to the kind of international reports that it accepts. A report by the International Monetary Fund, which raised India’s growth rate forecast for this financial year, was publicised widely. But the latest GHI has been criticised as being biased. India’s rank on the GHI has steadily fallen recently, despite the government’s claims of providing free ration to some 80 crore citizens. Instead of trying to will away these reports, the Centre should take urgent steps to mitigate the situation.
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — India has a serious problem of malnourishment among women and children (“Lalu slams govt over Global Hunger Index as India ranks 111”, Oct 14). Policymakers must strengthen schemes like the Poshan Abhiyaan to mitigate malnourishment. It is ironic that as a growing economy, India exports its surplus produce to nations like Bangladesh and Nepal, which have ranked better on the GHI. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report stated that 74% of Indians cannot afford healthy food. The government needs to gear up if it wants to reach its zero hunger target by 2030.
Khokan Das, Calcutta
Sir — The chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, S. Somanath, revealed that the institution is struggling to attract students from the Indian Institutes of Technology owing to its poor pay structure. The Congressman, Shashi Tharoor, has previously spoken about IITians seeking higher salaries, saying that it is important
to acknowledge that engineers who may not have studied at premier colleges can contribute significantly to the public sector too. Somanath stated that many talented students cannot attend IITs. This has sparked a controversy both about the need for higher salaries as well as the dearth of meritorious students in public institutions.
Manzur Hasan, Howrah