Published: Thursday 31 December 1998

Shooting to kill

The killing of a Blackbuck and Chinkara by Salman Khan and other film stars in the very heartland of the Bishnois has come as a rude shock to many animal lovers. The offenders were lucky to have escaped, for had the Bishnois, caught them, they would not have been alive today.

The Bishnois are the well-known guardians of the wild. For them, animals are not merely endangered species, they are like their own children. They worship Sant Jambeshwar and live by his 29 edicts. His teachings, among other things, call for the protection of wildlife against poachers or hunters. They belong to the warrior caste and are god-fearing vegetarians and custodians of the dumb and helpless creatures.

Down To Earth deserves special praise for publishing the report 'Reel-heroes and real ones' (Down To Earth, Vol 7, No 12; November 15). Film stars should learn a lesson from this incident and should also follow the example set by the Bishnois. They must realise, that if they want to shoot animals, they should do it with the camera and not with the gun.

AMARJIT SINGH Bathinda, Punjab

After reading about Salman Khan's disgraceful shooting of the Blackbuck one realises the wisdom of the old saying: they ought to shoot more actors and less films.


The price of going nuclear

I believe that the government and the traders are responsible for the rise in the prices of essential commodities in India. The government has a nexus with traders and the media must expose this nexus. The ban on onion exports should have come immediately after the news of the shortage. But the government chose not to do so. The ban was imposed only after the traders had exported their stocks and earned profit. Today, the common people are made to suffer due to the contamination of mustard oil and the spiralling prices of essential commodities like onions. The air quality in most cities is deteriorating. Tomorrow, we might even have to pay for oxygen. In my opinion, the rising prices of essential commodities is a result of the worsening economic cri- sis in India. One factor that has aggra- vated this economic mess is the sanc- tions that were imposed in the after- math of the nuclear tests, which India conducted on May 12 1998. One must ask this question: "Do we need nuclear weapons - weapons that have not only shattered peace and killed thousands, but pose a serious health risk to living beings the world over?" ...

Unscientific alternatives?

The article 'Fuel for thought' (Down To Earth, Vol 7, No 10; October 15) says that "renewably grown biomass is a co 2- neutral fuel with a low sulphur content" and that "little is said about using trees and other forms of biomass as an energy source to substitute the use of Co 2 emitting fossil fuels."

Both these statements are incorrect - neither is all biomass necessarily low in sulphur, nor are all fossil fuels necessarily high in sulphur. As far as pollution is concerned, there is not much difference between them.

Another article in the same issue, 'Power pedaling' by Anil K Rajvanshi advocates the use of electric cycle rickshaws, advising that "the govern- ment should make it mandatory that in congested areas in big cities only electric rickshaws... should ply". The article goes on to state that "the cost... is prohibitive for India". It also fails to acknowledge the severe environmental pollution caused indirectly during the manufacture of electrically-powered vehicles.

These articles reflect a simplistic perception, bordering on naivete that most scientists hold for alternative energy sources. One is reminded of the common perception that ayurvedic medicines are non-toxic and do not have adverse effects unlike their allopathic counterparts. The reality is that whereas the toxicity of allopathic medicines is carefully assessed and documented, no such exercise is done for most ayurvedic medicines.

About 25 years ago, when I began working on renewable energy sources, too believed that the mentioned alter- natives are clean and cheaper than the conventional sources. Today, I am not sure. ...

A clarification

This is with reference to my interview 'Women know how to manage better' (Down To Earth, Vol 7, No 13; November 30). There were two errors in the interview. I was posted as a chief executive officer, zilla panchayat and additional collector (development), Sagar, Madhya Pradesh (mp). I was not transferred from Sagar for taking a proactive stand on the participation of women in Rural Development Programme. As a matter of fact, I had mentioned in my interview the support of the mp Government in this project. On my personal request, the govern- ment of mp had granted me a deputa- tion and I was not transferred from Sagar. ...

Expose the corrupt

In the article "The method behind the madness" (Down to Earth, Vol 7, No 11; October 31), Anil Agarwal and Sunita Narain have rightfully pointed out that corruption "has made a mockery of the entire system of governance, democracy and development".

The country is already mired in corruption. It is time the general public voiced their displeasure. One way of spreading awareness about the ills of corruption would be by writing more often about issues concerning corruption in magazines and newspapers. I would request you to publish such articles on a regular basis in Down To Earth. It could serve as an eye-opener for the general public and perhaps force implicated officials and bureaucrats to change their ways. ...


In the special report 'Left hanging' (Down To Earth, Vol 7, No 13; November 30), it was inadvertently mentioned that heavy vehicle manufac- turers Ashok Leyland and TELCO offered their buses to the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) for Rs 90 lakh each. TELCO did no such thing. Our apologies to the vehicles of the said company. ...

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