Published: Sunday 15 June 2008

Dwelling on Rama Sethu

I, at times, wonder how an archaeological study alone can ascertain whether the Rama Sethu should be declared a national monument. Particularly when there is no historical evidence to it.

There is enough evidence showing that when the sea level was 300 feet below the current level, Sri Lanka and India were a single landmass with a huge submerged freshwater lake in the Palk Bay. The geomorphological marvel of the Adam's Bridge, which is now dotted with some 200 islands/islets, was then a continuous land--a broad bridge--over which the Veddas (aborigines) of Sri Lanka walked into the island country some 10,000-12,000 years ago. The Archaeology Survey of India has not yet done any search for historical artefact. It won't be surprising, if it unearths evidences for pre-historical civilisation that existed much before the Harappan civilisation.

Above all, when the world shipping industry is introducing ships of 200,000-300,000-tonne capacity, the Sethu Samudram Project is trying to make a success with small ships. Experts are already of the view that the project is a techno-economic failure.

K V S Krishna
Parkland Apartments, Kamalabhai Street, Chennai


FOSS virtues

This is in response to your cover story 'Foss time in India' (April 30, 2008). I am an ex-serviceman and have recently taken up farming. I am using the free and open source software (foss) for the past few months.

Earlier, I was using Microsoft (ms) operating system and didn't know that the software was pirated. When I started looking for alternatives, a Trivandrum-based charitable society, the Society for Promotion of Alternative Computing Environments, helped me install Debian gnu/Linux operating system.

Previously, I was using ms Excel and ms Word. Now, I use Openoffice.org Spreadsheets and Openoffice.org Writer. These have helped me handle my blog, http://keralafarmer.wordpress.com, easily and more efficiently than ms Windows. I have no difficulty in using Malayalam with this software. Since I use Inscript input method (a method where same keys are used to type letters of two languages), it is now easier for me to publish my blogs both in Hindi and Malayalam. foss has also helped me using other tools like Swanalekha and Dhvani. Swanalekha helps one type in Malayalam using equivalent sounds in English. For instance, typing "amma" results in equivalent Malayalam rendering. Dhvani is a text-to-speech engine that can read and recite in Malayalam. Whenever I encounter any problem, several gnu /Linux users groups in Trivandrum help me, that too in my mother tongue.

S Chandrasekharan Nair

Down to Earth A well-written article. It is simple for a person who does not understand the nuances of the technology


Down to Earth As rightly pointed out in the article, policymakers should deeply analyze the impact of proprietary software use in areas that are critical to nation building, such as e-governance and education.

Take the case of Iran. It was denied access to all applications from companies operating out of the us, including office productivity applications like Microsoft Office. This is the reason why Iran switched to open source solutions that are free from any kind of political interference from other countries.

Jaijit Bhattacharya

Misconceived notion

This is in response to the editorial 'Planning in the air' (April 15, 2008). I am shocked to hear negative reactions to the bus rapid transit (brt) system in Delhi. Such systems have been highly successful in cities like Curitiba in Brazil and Bogota in Colombia.

Here the system is called Transmilenio. They work the best where buses have priorities. They are like trains and not subject to traffic lights. Even at places where bus lanes are embedded within normal streets, and are therefore subject to traffic lights, they can have huge advantages.

I live in Buenos Aires, where there are dedicated bus lanes even on one-way streets. A six-kilometre bus trip, which used to take me an hour and 20 minutes during rush hour, takes me only 25 minutes after the special lanes were introduced.

Initially, there were some protests from shopkeepers along the streets and taxi drivers, but surprisingly not from motorists. With more people taking buses and public transport, more road space is available for cars. Congestion did not increase even though the reserved bus lanes took away two of the five lanes in Buenos Aires.

Hence, the organizations, which are working in the interest of Delhi and the environment, should take a strong stand on bus rapid transit and support the government's initiative.

Gautam Dutt

Down to Earth The argument in your editorial is well put. As I sit in Bangalore and hear the cacophony over the brt system in Delhi, I wonder why we are so short-sighted. Why do we not want a day's trouble to set things right?

I commute by bus and find it a better way of moving around in Bangalore. The daily bus pass costs Rs 30 and takes me anywhere in the city. There are even buses reserved for pass holders. The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation has introduced monthly and yearly pass-system at an affordable rate. But the chattering class hardly talks about these improvements.

If we had similar dedicated bus lanes and better roads in Bangalore, we would definitely beat the traffic congestion. Instead, the authorities are in a frenzy of flyover and underpass construction for the car-driving lobby, which wants to reach the airport 15 minutes faster.

Vishwanath Srikantaiah

Down to Earth You are absolutely right. The brt system must have irritated burgeoning car travellers. I support the chief minister of Delhi on this.

Hirdesh Mishra
Divisional Forest Officer,
Kamrup West Division, Assam

Time to own up

Apropos the article 'Hanging by a thread' (April 15, 2008), it is sad to read about such talents going waste and unrecognized because of mechanization and so-called modernization. The government must own up.

There is a sizeable elite class in our society who love handloom products. There is also a great demand for such products in the international market. It's just a matter of making people realise the plight of these artists and originality of their work. We need to secure our traditional art forms and handicraft. No machine can ever replace their creativity.

nivedita Ravjit Singh

Slipping under the sea

I appreciate what you have said in your editorial, 'Science drowns at the land's end' (April 30, 2008). But, I fear, it will be too late by the time people realise there is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Amitabh Thakur
SP, Intelligence, Faizabad

Random claims

This is in response to your cover story 'Pure myth' (March 31, 2008). Since people are desperate to have clean drinking water, water purifiers have become a good business. The market is dominated by multinational companies, who charge exorbitantly and make tall claims. Some say they have seven-stage filters and some claim they have stones in the medium to regulate the mineral content in water. Others boast of sensing and analysing water continuously as it flows down the pipe. Can your organization carry out a study on these claims?

Ravindran K N

Unforgivable negligence

Your report 'Bhopal to Bharuch' (April 30, 2008), shows that we have conveniently forgotten Bhopal's grim episode and have reverted to our shoddy and callous ways. Is there any reasonable explanation for the fire outbreak at the Bharuch Enviro Infrastructure Limited (beil) on April 3?

We were lucky that nature favoured us and the change in wind direction saved the day. What is worse, is the casual approach of the senior officials of beil. According to them, nothing serious had actually happened. It was this kind of general apathy that led to the Bhopal gas tragedy.

Nutan Thakur
Secretary, IRDS, Lucknow

Local concern

The cover story 'Reservoir of dams' (May 15, 2008) is well-researched. I wonder if local dailies and news channels in Arunachal Pradesh have ever taken up the issue.

lavanya ramaiah

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