Stop grave misuse of groundwater
Apropos of “Let us have a national conversation on Maharashtra drought”, this problem is not new in Maharashtra. The politicians have neglected the plight of poor farmers over the years. I had visited some of these districts, as a Congress party worker, back in 1972 when there was a drought. But even after hundreds of crores of rupees spent, the poor have remain poor as ever.
I was struck by an article about Shimon Peres, the former president of Israel and nobel laureate, in which he was quoted as saying that Israelis had succeeded in transforming barren desert land into flourishing fields through creativity, love and innovation. Our politicians lack love for the poor and so we continue to suffer. In Vasai, in the 1990s, a local movement (Harit Vasai Saurakshan Samiti) opposed the tankers that were draining groundwater resources in the region, destroying the vegetable and fruit fields.
Today, the situation has changed significantly, thanks to the support of the media. But the state has ignored this effort. The renowned environmentalist William Barber had warned that the misuse of groundwater in the coastal region from Gujarat to Goa could lead to dangerous consequences, and this is happening now. I would appeal to the chief minister to camp in the drought-affected areas and carry out day-to-day matters from there.
—Marcus Dabre, Vasai
Disregard for India’s humane gestures
Was the attack on the CRPF camp in Srinagar the gift for Salman Kurshid hosting the Pakistan prime minister’s visit to Ajmer last week? Somehow, we are regularly being snubbed by all countries, in spite of our good intentions and courtesy towards them. Sri Lanka, Italy, and now Pakistan, have shown scant respect for our good deeds towards them.
India has given Sri Lanka huge financial and material help, but the country hardly respects our advice on the issue of the Tamils there. In a humane gesture, the court allowed the Italian marines visit their home, but Italy has gone back on its undertaking that they will return. Now, Pakistan which is in the habit of stabbing India when we least expect it, has done it again. Our rulers ought to get wiser with these experiences.
—VS Ganeshan, Bangalore
Some days ago, the nation witnessed chief minister Omar Abdullah breaking down in the legislative assembly, over the killing of a youth by the army during a protest in Baramulla. However, on Wednesday, his announcement of the terrorist attack on the CRPF camp was an emotionless, bureaucratic exercise. Omar never tires of blaming the Centre for the incidents of violence in the troubled state. He is even prone to shed tears over the death of protesters, but he has seldom admonished the separatists when elected sarpanches have been murdered.
—Chandramohan, by email
Catching the bull by the tail
Apropos of “India summons Italian envoy, talks tough”, the government’s stand reminds me of the popular Tamil saying, “Let the bull off the hook and try to control it by catching its tail”. The marines, anywhere, are allowed to return home according to the roster and the port of call. Otherwise, barring an emergency, they are required to be on duty on their vessels and they are not exempt for festivals or elections.
Would the Indian government, similarly, try to secure the release of Indians languishing in jails around the world to go home for Diwali, or elections? In the case of the marines, but for the Kerala high court the Indian government may have even let them go without any charge. The government let off Ottavio Quattrocchi, it is in the process of letting off Purulia arms case accused Kim Davy, and the marines case is likely going the same way.
—N Ramamurthy, Chennai
Willing player, or sheer complicity?
Apropos of “India warns Italy of consequences”, the issue has once again revealed the infinite capacity of the UPA II for blundering. It is indeed surprising that several well-meaning people believe that the government acted in good faith when it consented to conditional release for the marines, first to celebrate Christmas with their families and then to cast their votes in the elections.
From the sequence of events, it is clear that one of the following two things must have happened: either the Italian government planned an elaborate deception and conned a sovereign government and its highest court in disregard of the diplomatic consequences, or the sordid episode was a well-orchestrated and stage-managed affair in which the Indian government was a willing player.
The manner in which the government dithered in setting up a special court to try the marines and its failure to execute a bond from Italy in the event of the marines not showing up, lends credence to the theory of the government’s complicity in the escape by the marines.
—Arun Chandra, Mumbai
A Pope for our times
In choosing Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 266th pontiff of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, the 115 cardinal electors have proved that they were open to the promptings of God. The first non-European to be elected Pope in 1,000 years, Bergoglio is from the order of Jesuit priests who actually take the vows of chastity, obedience and poverty, which also explains his taking the name of Francis, the saint of the poor.
The new pope, who is known for his humility and simple living, is expected to continue the unfinished mission of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who he acknowledged in his first public address from the papal balcony. He possesses the ability and the experience to steer the barque of Peter through the stormy seas, whether it is scandals of sex abuse and financial corruption, or simply a lapse in faith and confusion in matters of morality. The affable head of the church also has a sense of humour that should help him to connect with the faithful in the pews.
—Bernie Tellis, Mumbai
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Stop grave misuse of groundwater
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