Perilous journey; Empty vessel; Out of reach; Choked up
- Published 8.06.18
• Sir - This year, for the first time, June 3 was celebrated as World Bicycle Day. Bicycles are considered to be the most environment friendly mode of transport. Thousands of people across the world use bicycles everyday; Calcutta is no exception. Unfortunately, only a handful of people wear helmets while riding cycles. Helmets can protect riders from serious injuries in case of accidents. Hence, wearing helmets should be made compulsory for cyclists. Simultaneously, separate lanes should be constructed for them. This would make roads safer for those who ride cycles.
• Sir - The pronouncements on ancient India's mastery of science and technology are getting curiouser and curiouser ("Hindutva lab cooks up 'test-tube' Sita", June 2). Where on the one hand, Indian leaders seem to be seeking reassurance in a mythical past, the president of China, Xi Jinping, has a different set of priorities. He is intent on using modern science to develop his country instead of harping on ancient glories of China.
India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, understood the importance of scientific and technological advancement and had set the course of the nation accordingly. Alas, today everything he is associated with is seen as evil.
• Sir - It is difficult to understand why there is such hullabaloo over the remark made by the deputy chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Dinesh Sharma. He has said that Sita must have been a test-tube baby. Sharma is not the only one from the saffron camp to have made such a comment. The prime minister, Narendra Modi, and others, too, have made such absurd and unscientific remarks in the past.
If Sita was indeed a test-tube baby, then why was her father, Janaka, using a plough to cultivate the land instead of a mechanized tractor? Not only have the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders courted controversy with their comments, they have also dented India's image in the world.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee,
• Sir - The statement made by Dinesh Sharma is both hilarious and shocking. Equally strange is his claim that journalism existed during Mahabharata, and that Narada acted like Google. Such comments are suitable in a parody, not in real life. Of late, it seems to have become a matter of pride for legislators to connect every scientific innovation with ancient Indian civilization.
Funny as these comments may be, they highlight a dangerous trend. They reveal a lack of intelligence, understanding and the parochial outlook of India's legislators. If examinations are conducted for appointing people for government jobs, ranging from the post of peons to bureaucrats, why can a similar test not be organized for legislators? In this way, one can expect better governance.
Sadiq Hussain Laskar,
Out of reach
• Sir - It is shocking that the price of petrol was slashed by just one paisa, after several days of hike in prices ("Crude one-paisa joke on petrol", May 31). Even when crude oil prices touched $147 a barrel after the 2008 global economic crisis, the prices of petrol and diesel in India were about Rs 50 and Rs 35 per litre, respectively. Now when the price of crude oil is $80 a barrel, petrol and diesel prices are about Rs 80 and Rs 70 per litre, respectively.
One of the primary reasons behind the exorbitant rates are the taxes imposed by both the Centre and the state governments. These taxes should immediately be lowered. The present dispensation at the Centre is treating oil as a cash cow to mop up additional revenue. Instead of inflating fuel prices, the government should bring petrol and diesel under the goods and services tax. This will help stabilize the price of fuel. The government should also find other avenues to generate revenue. Fuel prices have become an unavoidable burden for common people.
• Sir - The price of petroleum is growing unabated. This has been ascribed to the rise in the price of crude oil in the world market. But with the rapid rise in fuel prices, the prices of other commodities will also rise owing to the increase in cost of transportation of several products. This will ensure high inflation, and impact India's growth rate.
The government's reluctance to control the price of fuel clearly stems from the fact that it is a major source of revenue. None seems to be bothered about the plight of common people.
• Sir - Plastic has become an integral part of our lives. But plastic poses one of the biggest threats to the environment. Water bodies, whether it is the Pacific Ocean or local rivers and lakes, are choking with plastic waste. It is thus heartening that scientists in Japan have succeeded in finding a strain of bacteria that can 'eat' plastic. It breaks down the polyethylene terephthalate, leaving behind compounds that are easily biodegradable. Governments across the world should take note of this discovery and use it to curb plastic pollution.
• Sir - Plastic pollution might be a huge challenge but at the same time is not that difficult to beat. Simple steps like carrying a steel water bottle and refilling this throughout the day instead of buying packaged water or refusing plastic straws and styrofoam cups can make a big difference. Each person should think twice before buying an item that contains plastic.