Published: Saturday 31 October 1998

To bring about a change

The news of Anna Hazare's arrest came as a shock to many people 'Anna Hazare behind bars' (Down To Earth, Vol 7, No 9; September 30). Hazare might have made a mistake by accusing someone of corruption without substantial evidence. But does that merit a three-month jail term, when the person is one of India's well-known social activists? A token punishment of one-day in judicial custody would have sufficed.

Politicians today are a very insecure lot. They want to stifle opposition. Hazare was in the forefront of a movement for people's empowerment and against corruption. When people are told about their rights, the corrupt politicians fear their extinction, because they have kept them in the dark till now. But these kind of pressure tactics should not deter crusaders to abandon their movement. As history has taught us, no revolution has come about without stiff opposition....

Pioneering work

I am an avid reader of your magazine. Of late, I have taken a special interest in reading the Editor's column. Anil Agarwal's comments on politicians, bureaucrats and on the state of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITS) deserve special praise. Anil is probably the first alumni of IIT who has rightly criticised the flaws that engulf this centre of excellence. I hope his views are published in other newspapers and magazines so that more people get an opportunity to get enlightened....

Devils in our midst

This is with reference to the article 'Programmed to kill1 (Down To Earth, Vol 7, No 7; August 31). The way changes are taking place in the scientific world, it seems nature has incorporated greed as the "terminator gene" in Homo sapiens. Scientists cannot prevent this gene from becoming. It requires prophets and wise people such as Gandhi....

Playing with pesticides

The article 'Abetment to suicide' (Down To Earth, Vol 6, No 19; February 28) made interesting reading. In 1987-88, a severe outbreak of H. armigera affected the cotton crop in Andhra Pradesh. Conventional pest control measures, which depend on chemical pesticides, failed. Excessive use of pesticides has led to the resurgence of Bemisia tabaci and Anopheles culicifacies in some part of Andhra Pradesh.

During the last budget (1988-89), the Union government took a decision to import 15 technical grade pesticides under the open general licence policy. The import duty was reduced from 105 per cent to 70 per cent. The aim was to sell pesticides at a low price. But these pesticides have been rejected or restricted for use in most of the developed countries.

Pesticide manufacturers and dealers are not the only people to be blamed, the government itself, through reduction of import duty, has promoted the use of hazardous pesticides. They are responsible for what is happening among the farming community in India today....

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