Why be regressive
There are several ways of looking at a problem ('Climate lectures don't make lessons', February 16-28, 2009). One is the approach you have enumerated in your editorial that India expects the developed world to do more. This is fair enough.
The other approach is, with certain timely changes in domestic policies, incentives and opportunities, India can prove even a developing country can act proactively without waiting for the developed world to take the first step.
While the former is a regressive approach, the latter is a progressive one. The opportunity lies in thinking differently and being proactive.
Examples of not-so-affluent Indians switching to compact fluorescent lamps and renewable energy are fine. But just take a closer look at our industries and you will realize how much they are doing to combat climate change. I am surprised your editorial has taken a slightly regressive approach.
It was frustrating to read about global warming and the big nations' outbursts against India and China. Why are we not retaliating?
But then when I look at our own scenario, it is equally frustrating. Our own industries, mining activities and thermal power projects are destroying the countryside. The government is giving benefit to Pepsi, CocaCola, Dow and other multinationals, spreading their evil limbs and tentacles all over the country.
In schools we were taught that there was a time when India was known as a nation with abundant free air, water and crops (Sujalaam, suphalaam, malayaj seetalaam, sasya shyamalaam...). But what about now? The present-day politicians are not concerned about anything but their chairs, rapping the land left and right. Is there any minister at the national or state level who has a thorough knowledge of his or her ministry? Yet they become decision makers.
ANAND D BAPAT
Now is the time
Now is a good time for the government to initiate sustainable development projects like efficient mass transportation systems and transportation infrastructure. The economic slowdown provides the government a good opportunity to stop pandering to the industry and focus on correcting excesses of rapid urbanization.
SURESH KUMAR D S
I read your cover story on low-floor buses ('City Bus: In demand, out of supply', October 16-31, 2008). Instead of easing traffic flow, the new lowfloor buses in Delhi have done just the reverse. As a regular commuter, I find the service of these new fleet of buses is poor. The buses are overcrowded and they often don't stop at the bus stop. This causes great difficulty to commuters who have to run to board the bus. If you ask me, I found the earlier buses more spacious.
I read with interest about parthenium becoming part of folk remedies for skin afflictions ('Biocontrolling congress grass', February 16-28, 2009).
The use of a variety of beauty products is the cause for many skin ailments. Most of these products contain chemicals that damage the skin. I can vouch for natural beauty aids like neem, turmeric, milk, sandalwood paste and multani mitti.
Oil is an important source of nourishment. But it does not seem so any longer. Today, oil is regarded as the main cause of health problems and there is a lot of emphasis to cut down on its consumption.
The credit certainly goes to our wily manufacturers, industry-friendly regulators and some foreign countries who dump their scrap in our market ('Fat of the matter', February 1-15, 2009).
For instance, flaxseed (alsi in Hindi) is an important source of essential fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6. Instead of deriving them from flaxseed, a commonly found shrub in most kitchen gardens in northern India, we depend on sources such as fish and shellfish. Anyone with a heart problem, who has taken to eating healthy, can tell how rich flaxseeds are as a source of omega 3. It has six times more omega 3 than most fish oil. But for effective absorption, one has to roast the flaxseed lightly and then grind it properly.
Though grown widely, flaxseed is mostly used as a winter culinary tradition. Mixed with garlic and chopped green chilly, it makes a delicious stuffing for chapattis. Traditional Indian food is smarter than what we eat today. I wish cold-pressed oil were available once again.
Desilting no solution
To revive the Upper Lake, the lifeline of Bhopal, the Madhya Pradesh government has undertaken a desilting programme. The lake is nearly 1,000 years old. But before starting the desilting work, I doubt if the government has carried out a proper study to understand the causes of siltation of the lake.
As far as I can fathom, the problems with the Upper Lake is reduced runoff contribution from the catchment area that was once surrounded by forests. Most of the catchment area is now cultivated. This has drastically reduced the runoff contribution to the lake. Low rainfall has worsened the situation.
As the storage capacity of the lake reduced, people started depending on groundwater. This depleted the groundwater table, which also affected the lake's storage capacity. Therefore, along with desilting, adopting measures to recharge the depleting groundwater is also important to revive the lake. Some of the additional measures are:
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