Sir — Calcuttans who have been dismayed by the gradual disappearance of the natural markers of their childhood, such as sparrows and neighbourhood ponds, can take heart from the resurgence of the once ubiquitous shyama poka, also known as the green leafhopper. These pesky but otherwise harmless insects had noticeably declined in numbers in recent years. They now seem to be making a comeback and the spike in their numbers has given scientists the hope that there are now more pockets of vegetation in the urban jungle of Calcutta that are proving to be fertile breeding grounds for the insects. However, given that these insects are often viewed as pests, especially by farmers, will their resurrection be short-lived?
Subhrojyoti Tarafdar, Calcutta
Sir — It is disheartening that the Election Commission of India has withdrawn its earlier nod to the Telangana government for the disbursal of funds to farmers under the Rythu Bandhu scheme owing to concerns voiced by the Congress. Ironically, the Congress in Telangana is now blaming the Bharat Rashtra Samithi government for denying the farmers their due. This shows the double standards of the Congress.
N. Mahadevan, Chennai
Sir — The partisan behaviour of the ECI, which temporarily stopped the distribution of funds to farmers in Telangana but allowed the prime minister to make promises of free rations with impunity, deserves condemnation (“EC cracks whip on state, silent on PM”, Nov 28). The foundation of democracy will be destabilised if the ECI is swayed by the party in power at the Centre. The ECI has stopped the state government from fulfilling its welfare responsibility; the farmers’ funds should not be delayed.
Arun Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — The deal between Israel and Hamas to swap hostages for prisoners with an accompanying ceasefire offers much-needed humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza. The onus is on both sides to honour the truce and try and negotiate an extended pause in hostilities (“Gaza truce extended by 2 days”, Nov 28). Any transgression would undo the efforts of mediators like Qatar. Much will depend on whether Hamas will release all its hostages or keep some of them back as bargaining chips and how long this exchange takes.
S.S. Paul, Nadia
Sir — Hamas has already accused Israel of violating the terms of the truce, stating that its defence forces had not allowed enough aid to reach northern Gaza. If the ceasefire is lengthened beyond six days, Hamas will have more time to regroup, allowing it to mount a fiercer offensive once the fighting resumes. On the other hand, an extended ceasefire could also give mediating nations like the United States of America an opportunity to push Israel to scale back its military operations as many of Tel Aviv’s allies are shockedby the magnitude of violence unleashed on Gaza afterthe October 7 attacks by Hamas.
Tauqeer Rahmani, Mumbai
Sir — Many cities around the world have witnessed protests against the scale of Israeli military retaliation against Hamas in Gaza; even Russia’s invasion of Ukraine did not witness such widespread calls to put an end to the violence. It is heartening that the world is no longer silent in the face of unspeakable acts like it had been during the Holocaust. Let us hope that sanity prevails in the Middle East and that all the parties concerned will learn sobering lessons about the costs of war.
R. Narayanan, Navi Mumbai
Sir — The truce between Israel and Hamas — originally scheduled for four days and then extended by two days — has come as a welcome respite for the people of Gaza. Since October 7, around 15,000 Palestinians have been killed in attacks by Israel’s armed forces. The mutually agreed upon ceasefire has facilitated the arrival of humanitarian aid in Gaza. Although the relief is only short-lived, the United Nations should use this time to frame a realistic plan to end the war.
D.V.G. Sankara Rao, Andhra Pradesh
Sir — Surely, the warring factions in Israel and Gaza have realised that peace, fleeting though it is, is far better than any victory gained through war (“Israel dilemma: What to do after truce ends”, Nov 27). Both Israel and Hamas must show more humanity. The truce must be extended further, especially in the interest of the women and children who have fallen victim to this carnage.
Aranya Sanyal, Siliguri
Sir — While speaking in Mumbai recently, the vice-president, Jagdeep Dhankhar, referred to the prime minister, Narendra Modi, as the ‘yugpurush’ of this century. Such blatant sycophancy in an attempt to remain in the good books of the powers that be taints the lofty office he holds. The vice-president should be apolitical but Dhankhar has not hesitated in making contentious remarks, including statements against the judiciary.
Kamal Laddha, Bengaluru
Sir — It was highly inappropriate, though not surprising, that the vice-president has drawn a parallel between Mahatma Gandhi and Narendra Modi, referring to the two as ‘mahapurush’and ‘yugpurush’, respectively. It is also ironic because the party that Modi leads has often fawned over Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse. While Jagdeep Dhankhar is entitled to his opinion as an individual, his position asthe chairman of the Rajya Sabha and the vice-president of the country precludes him from compromising his neutrality.
S.K. Choudhury, Bengaluru