Great harm; Making history; Tough competition; Poll winds; Necessary step; Grand display; Parting shot
• Sir - I am an electrical engineer who has to visit the Calcutta leather complex frequently. The pollution caused by the work at the leather complex, which is about 20 kilometres from the city, affects the environment adversely. There are more than 250 tanneries, which produce tonnes of waste water daily. This waste water contains harmful chemicals - arsenic, cadmium, mercury and chromium - which destroy aquatic life. Worse, most of the drainage systems are open instead of being underground. The tannery owners are violating environmental laws by dumping untreated waste water. Strict action must be taken against them.
• Sir - It was exciting to watch Ireland's long-awaited inaugural Test match against Pakistan. After years of negotiations and preparations, Ireland and Afghanistan were finally confirmed as full members of the International Cricket Council last year, which meant that they could play Test cricket. It is a matter of great joy that cricket shall now have a new audience beyond the traditional bastions.
The Irish cricket team can arguably be considered best suited to represent their country on the field. Ireland received associate membership of the ICC in 1993. Ireland's historic win over Pakistan in a match during the ICC World Cup tournament in 2007 brought it recognition on the world stage. It was, thus, fitting that Ireland's first Test match was also against Pakistan. The latter may have won the Test, but the match can be considered a milestone for Irish cricket.
Although the road ahead for Ireland is full of new opportunities, it is also a matter of concern that most of the members of the current team are ageing fast. The senior most player in the team, Ed Joyce - who also happens to be the oldest cricketer ever to make a Test match debut - is 39 years old. Hence, Ireland must invest in young blood and infrastructure if it wants consistent success. Cricket is a fast-growing sport in Ireland, but it is yet to become hugely popular in the country. It will be a challenge to make Test cricket commercially successful. For now, however, fans and supporters of Irish cricket can heave a sigh of relief and take pride in their team's journey.
• Sir - It is thrilling that two nations were granted Test status during my lifetime, and one of them has already played its debut Test match. It was quite disappointing, though, that the first day of the historic Test was washed out owing to bad weather. Spectators did not even get to see a toss.
However, there were good things in store in the following days of the match. Emotions ran high when Kevin O'Brien scored Ireland's first Test century on the fourth day of play. O'Brien's feat was admirable, given that he is 34 years old. He is also credited with having made the fastest-ever World Cup hundred by any batsman - he scored it off 50 balls, against England at Bangalore in 2011.
Even though the Irish were forced to follow on, they put up a tough fight. Tyrone Kane's knock gave Ireland the chance to become the fourth team in over 140 years of Test cricket to win a match after following on. Pakistan won the Test by five wickets, but the Irish won the respect of cricket lovers all over the world.
• Sir - With the acquisition of Flipkart by the American multinational retail corporation, Walmart, for $16 billion, the e-commerce sector in India has gained a new lease of life. Walmart has the distinction of having acquired the largest e-commerce brand in India. It will now have to contend with another e-retail giant, Amazon. The latter has already made inroads into Indian e-commerce segment. The cut-throat competition between the two rivals will enhance the quality of products sold as well as their cost-effectiveness.
Walmart has also pledged to invest more extensively in the Indian market after this deal. The other domestic players in the e-retail segment will also try to consolidate their positions in preparation for the growing competition. Hopefully other big international players will follow in the footsteps of Walmart and come to India to invest. This will lead to big changes in the Indian economy.
• Sir - It was a treat to take a peep into the post-1970s world in Ruchir Joshi's article, "Younger selves" (May 15). He has drawn a beautiful picture of shy lovers, their gestures, and the state of lovers' nooks in the past. In present times, public displays of affection as well as the people's reactions to them border on the extreme. We may not like how others profess their love; if we consider the actions of some people vulgar, we could look away. But under no circumstances do we have the right to assault anybody.
• Sir - With elections approaching, the chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, is trying his best to improve the image of the government. While he has announced several pro-people initiatives like providing land rights to urban slum dwellers and crop loans to landless farmers, he is also reviewing the performance of his ministers - an exercise which has been widely hailed in the state. The purpose is to let people know that the government cares for them and is keen on making the ministers accountable. On their part, the ministers have been forced to pull up their socks and deliver. This, it seems, is Patnaik's mantra for winning the next elections.
• Sir - That the state government provided land rights certificates to slum dwellers in municipal towns of Odisha did not come as a surprise. The initiative is just the culmination of the Odisha Land Rights to Slum Dwellers Act, 2017. This measure will help the ruling Biju Janata Dal in the forthcoming municipal, assembly and Lok Sabha polls.
• Sir - The move to rehabilitate slum dwellers in Paradip port township by providing plots or affordable houses on cost-sharing basis is no doubt a positive step. However, questions are being raised about the proper implementation of the scheme. Large areas in and around Paradip are besieged by unauthorized colonies. These settlements have diminished the beauty of the township. The dismantling of the slums is thus the need of the hour.
• Sir - Giving land rights to slum dwellers is one of the most historic steps taken by the Odisha government. Recently, at a state-level function in Berhampur, Naveen Patnaik distributed pattas (land ownership certificates) to slum dwellers. However, the Opposition parties criticized the step on the grounds that it was taken just a year ahead of the general elections. They also reportedly alleged that the list of beneficiaries was selective. The government should prove that it is really sincere about ameliorating the problems of the urban poor.
• Sir - The chief minister has started reviewing the performance of various departments of his government ahead of completing the fourth year of his fourth term in office. Everyday he is evaluating the work done by one or more departments. Then the next day, the ministers concerned are highlighting the achievements before the media. But the people should know also about the failures of the government. Otherwise, there would not be any pressure on the ministers to rectify the mistakes.
• Sir - The state government has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Tata Trusts for setting up a state-of-the-art cancer hospital in Bhubaneswar. This is certainly a welcome step. But it should not just remain on paper. A few years ago, the state provided land to Narayana Hrudayalaya for constructing a hospital in the capital city. But the hospital chain later dropped the plan. The state government should make sure that such episodes are not repeated.
• Sir - Since the bifurcation of Bihar in 2000, the state does not have a scheduled area as defined in the Constitution. It does, however, have a sizeable scheduled tribe population. In fact, two assembly seats in Bihar are reserved for candidates belonging to the scheduled tribes.
The government has created the Tharuhat Development Authority and scheduled tribe commission to address the specific concerns of this population. But it needs a more constructive approach. Bihar should put in place a Tribal Advisory Council for itself. The TAC in undivided Bihar used to be headed by the chief minister. The same model can be followed now. The chief minister, Nitish Kumar, must take the initiative to set up this body.
Anand Vardhan Sinha,
• Sir - It is disappointing that the wedding of Tej Pratap Yadav - the former health minister of Bihar and the son of the Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo, Lalu Prasad - was full of pomp and show. Chaos and vandalism followed - the family of a mass leader of Prasad's stature should have expected a huge turnout at the nuptials - but that is a different matter. Everyone has the right to celebrate the weddings of their kin in whatever way they deem fit. Politicians, however, are considered leaders. They are expected to show the way to common people. They must realize this and behave more responsibly. In this context, one must recall the wedding of the son of Sushil Kumar Modi, which helped raise awareness against dowry and child marriage and encouraged organ donation.
The young and the older generations are at odds with each other when it comes to such matters. If we disagree on something, there is always the option to discuss and talk it out. Violence has never been a solution to any problem. As citizens, we must exercise self-control and try to lay the foundation of a harmonious relationship.