The face behind the mask
What has India gained by conducting the nuclear tests? While the world opinion is against us and sanctions are being slapped on us, our politicians boast of a new-found pride. The eminent nuclear scientist, Raja Ramanna, has said that "India has once again shown that it is a great nation". Were we not a "great nation" even before the blasts? ('Make it a bomb to disarm' Down To Earth , Vol 7, No 2; June 15).
Why did the Bharatiya Janata Party ( bjp) go for the testing of these devices? If it was to scare Pakistan then it has achieved little. Pakistan has tested seven devices to India's five. So we are back to square one. Political analysts say that the bjp wanted to prove to the country that it had nuclear weapons. The truth, in fact, lies elsewhere.
Exploiting the temple issue to garner votes could not get the bjp a majority in Parliament. Now, in the name of "national pride" it seeks to widen its support base. Sadly, the media has also got carried away in this rhetoric. It is time the bjp tackles the real issues -- clean water, clean air and education.
This is with reference to the story 'Family bonds' ( Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 24; May 15). The article dealt with the various reasons for the self-destructive tendencies among teenagers all over the world. One major cause of teenage depression, as the story rightly points out, is the almost-inhuman parental pressure on teenagers to perform well academically. Thanks to the parents' indifference to their children's emotions and aspirations, a formidable number of teenagers are ending up either dead or as mental wrecks -- wholly incapable of existing in this age of cut-throat competition.
Further, peer pressure and pressure from poorly-trained teachers are also contributing to the suicidal waves sweeping across the country every time results of important examinations are declared. Unless some effort goes into making parents understand how they are responsible for their children's miseries, the scenario will only get worse.
Lessons from Kerala
There are a lot of lessons to be learnt from the people's movement in Kerala ('People power' Down To Earth , Vol 7, No 2; June 15). Developmental cannot be achieved only by government agencies. The people must be involved in the decision-making process. On many occasions projects initiated by one political party are discontinued by the successive political party, without giving proper reason for it.
The concept of panchayat-level planning was introduced by Rajiv Gandhi. Thankfully, it was continued by the Left-front government, albeit in a different manner. Another reason for Kerala's success was the high literacy rate in the state.
MATHEWS K THOMAS
While countries in the West are getting stricter about the import of hazardous waste, India seems to welcome it. Even though we have laws, there is no proper implementation. Ironically, India was one of the first countries to draft out hazardous waste import rules as early as 1989. ('In the dumps', Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 19; February 28)
The problem is that India has a 7,500-km coastline and regulating hazardous waste is not easy. In a poor country like India there are many people who would prefer to work in hell holes like Alang than starve to death. It is alleged that in Alang, Gujarat one person dies every day because of bad living conditions.
The government will have to set up a mechanism to monitor the waste that is being dumped in India.
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