Sir — It was appalling to chance upon a fact sheet prepared by an international wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC, which found that in the last decade, over one lakh tortoises and freshwater turtles have been poached for the illegal market for live pets, food and medicines. The Indian star tortoise, in particular, is in high demand. The illegal trade persists even though most of these species are supposedly ‘protected’ under the law. This attests to the fact that wildlife and environmental conservation is not a priority for the administration. If it were, poachers would not be able to get away with such activities.
Aloka Basu Mallik
Sir — Boris Johnson, whom the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party chose as the country’s prime minister in July, was totally unjustified in recommending to the Queen that the British Parliament be prorogued just before the crucial Brexit debate. He, along with his advisers, should have known that this attempt would not pass the test of the laws in the UK. It is not surprising that he suffered a seventh successive defeat in Parliament towards the end of last month, after parliamentarians rejected his call to briefly suspend their business for the Tory conference (“Boris in 7th successive House defeat”, Sept 27).
In June 2016, when the people of the UK voted to leave the European Union by a rather thin margin — 52:48 — the country was going through a turbulent phase both politically and economically. The pattern of voting, however, was rather skewed. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU. Two Tory prime ministers — David Cameron and Theresa May — have already lost their posts in a bid to negotiate the UK’s ‘divorce deal’ with Brussels. It would not be surprising if Johnson followed in their footsteps soon. He seems to believe that the UK can exit the EU without a deal. This is a rather unrealistic expectation to have. The EU consists of 27 very powerful and independent nations in Europe. What makes Johnson think that they will allow Britain to leave the EU without economic and social deals that benefit the latter? It is time that Britain realized that the days of its Empire are long over, and it can no longer do as it pleases all the time.
Wriddhiman Saha tries to dismiss South Africa's Quinton de Kock on the third day of the first Test in Visakhapatnam on Friday (PTI photo)
Sir — The coach, captain and selectors of the Indian men’s cricket team seemed to have been in a dilemma over whether Wriddhiman Saha should replace Rishabh Pant for the first Test of the three-match series against South Africa. It is heartening that they finally decided to pick Saha. As Virat Kohli acknowledged, Saha is the “best wicket-keeper” in the world for Test matches at present. While selectors have given Pant many chances, there is no denying that his performances have been below par. Many hailed him as a destructive batsman, but he has failed repeatedly to do well, especially during the West Indies tour. Saha, on the other hand, is also good with the bat, which he proved with his patient knock during the practice match against the touring South African team in Visakhapatnam.
It is good to know that Kohli thinks so highly of Saha. R. Ashwin, too, is a star performer. One hopes that both Saha and Ashwin will perform and retain their places for the remaining Test matches against South Africa, as well as for the matches against Bangladesh.
Sir — Wriddhiman Saha deserved to be chosen over Rishabh Pant for the Test against South Africa. Indian cricket has a long history of discriminating against players from the east of the country, even though two of the best captains in the history of Indian men’s cricket — Sourav Ganguly and M.S. Dhoni — have hailed from the region. As a result of this, it is not unusual for average players to be given preference over really deserving ones, simply on account of regional biases. It would not have been out of the ordinary if Pant, in spite of his sub-par performances, had been chosen over Saha. Thankfully, Virat Kohli displayed a skipper’s wisdom in choosing the best man for the job.
Sir — The Union government decided to ban single-use plastic from October 2. However, in order to truly curb the use of plastic, the need of the hour is a collective effort by government agencies, plastic bag producers, traders and, most important, citizens.
In addition, the government should specifically ban thermocol, an expanded form of polystyrene, which is a polymer product. Thermocol has become one of the most sought-after materials in the education and packaging sectors, given the ease with which it can be handled. On the streets of Indian cities, customers are served food on thermocol plates and bowls. Polystyrene, the chemical properties of which are identical to polyethylene, poses serious health hazards. It decomposes slowly and dangerously, eventually rendering soil infertile. Since it has no economic value in terms of recycling, it is burnt in landfills, which only releases a whole host of poisonous chemicals into the soil. The authorities must put an end to the extensive use of this product, as well as educate ordinary people about it.