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Past marvels: The thrill of family lores

Readers write in from Calcutta, Alto Santa Cruz, Chennai, Dhanbad, Bangalore, Mumbai and Nadia
Recently, the actor, Edward Norton, found out that genealogical records confirm that Pocahontas, the 17th-century Native American woman, is his 12th great-grandmother,
Recently, the actor, Edward Norton, found out that genealogical records confirm that Pocahontas, the 17th-century Native American woman, is his 12th great-grandmother,

The Editorial Board   |   Published 13.01.23, 04:21 AM

Past marvels

Sir — Family lore can be both enriching and eye-opening. It is thus disheartening that most people these days only make an effort to know about their ancestors when researching for children’s school projects or for medical histories. Recently, the actor, Edward Norton, found out that genealogical records confirm that Pocahontas, the 17th-century Native American woman, is his 12th great-grandmother, while his third great-grandfather was a slave owner. It is fascinating to imagine how much the fortunes of one family can change in the course of a few generations.


Monica Pakrashi, Dhanbad

Fault lines

Sir — It is unfortunate that a recent terror attack in Rajouri district in Jammu claimed seven lives and injured 14 others (“Kids die in Rajouri killers’ booby trap”, Jan 3). This exposes, once again, the fault lines in the Centre’s narrative about normalcy being restored in the Valley. Not only has insurgency increased in the Union territory over the past few months but there has also been a spate of targeted killings of Kashmiri Hindus. Worse, the government has rejected the demand of the migrant Pandit employees for relocation in order to justify its narrative. The government also organised the Houseboat Festival last month to promote tourism — this required the illumination of shikaras and houseboats on the Dal Lake at a time when the region had been experiencing lengthy power cuts amidst a gruelling winter. This shows that the Narendra Modi-led dispensation is more concerned about furthering its political agenda than people’s problems.

S. Kamat, Alto Santa Cruz, Goa

Sir — Amidst a rise in militancy, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has begun arming ex-servicemen of the Village Defence Guard — civilian groups formed to defend villages — in Rajouri with semi-automatic rifles. This is disconcerting. It is disastrous to arm civilians without providing them with formal training. The task of countering militant attacks should be given only to the Central forces. The Union home ministry should also be on high alert and step up efforts to ensure peace in the region.

Murtaza Ahmad, Calcutta 

Pitiful state

Sir — January 12 is observed as National Youth Day to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. His ideals and teachings, which include value-based education with a secular vision, are a source of inspiration for young people. It is thus a pity that under the aegis of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, who claims to be an avowed follower of Vivekanda’s teachings, a record number of the country’s youth remain unemployed.

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad

Poll gimmick

Sir — Whenever elections are around the corner, political parties come up with new strategies to sway the voters in their favour. In the 1990s, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader, L.K. Advani, started the rath yatra in order to gain political dividends. The Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi, has embarked upon the Bharat Jodo Yatra for similar reasons. Others are hopping on to the bandwagon too. The Karnataka Congress has begun a state-wide bus yatra called ‘Praja Dhwani’ to galvanise electoral support before the upcoming assembly elections in the state. Only time will tell whether such gimmicks translate into votes.

N. Mahadevan, Chennai

Sir — All the yatras that have been organised by political parties fall short of the inclusive messaging and the nationalistic spirit that were integral to the march undertaken by Mahatma Gandhi.

Snigdha Jaiswal, Mumbai

Lost fortune

Sir — The tech billionaire, Elon Musk, has broken the world record by incurring the largest loss of personal fortune in history. Musk lost about $182 billion since November 2021 owing to the poor performance of Tesla’s stocks. It seems that Musk’s hostile takeover of Twitter — he reportedly sold blocks of Tesla shares to finance the deal — has negatively impacted his wealth and that of the automobile company he owns.

Aaditya Chouhan, Ujjain

Brain drain

Sir — At the 17th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, said that members of India’s diaspora — both non-resident Indians and people of Indian origin living overseas — are the country’s brand ambassadors (“Empty nest”, Jan 11). However, Indians living abroad are not intricately connected with the way of life prevalent in India. Their effectiveness as brand ambassadors is thus limited. Further, India does not have much to gain, except pride, from the achievements of the expatriates. Besides, the aggressive promotion of emigration will only lead to more brain drain. The government should instead focus on providing adequate training and employment to the youth.

S.S. Paul, Nadia

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