Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: A change in the scoring system will sound the death knell for badminton

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Bad move

The proposed change in the scoring system will sound the death knell for the game (“Badminton will become just about smashing if BWF’s 11-point-5-game scoring system is approved”). Badminton will go the way of table tennis, which has become unwatchable because games and whole matches now end in the blink of an eye. Television rules the roost and every sport is being turned into WWE-like exhibitions. It is sad to see badminton heading in that direction but as author U Vimal Kumar said, who is listening? – K Murali

***

I appreciate and endorse the author’s views on the scoring system. It should not be changed. It is exciting as it is. People are familiar with players and emotionally attached to them. To bring the game closer to people, you could have more interesting and lovable players who attract and sustain viewer interest. But the scoring system must be kept intact. – Roshanlal Nahar

***

As the author pointed out, shortening the game duration is a bad idea. We, as fans, enjoy the match most when it is at its peak, with scores nearing 20-21. Players have to work really hard to reach this point. Hence, the Badminton World Federation should not adopt 11-score games. – Shivam Singh Rajput

New beginnings

Though it is routine for a newly elected Congress president to induct a fresh team, this time around, all eyes are on Rahul Gandhi and his strategic moves to build the party (“Fresh start: Rahul Gandhi disbands Congress party’s top body to put his own team in place”). His steps will be keenly watched by political pundits, the media, the party cadre, the political class and the public across India. Everyone wants to know how the new Congress president constitutes his team to execute his long-term and short-term plans. Anita Katyal makes valuable suggestions to the Congress leadership in this piece: retain some key veterans in the apex body and induct youthful, energetic and dedicated leaders such as Jitendra Singh into the Congress Working Committee through elections, preferably, or nominations. – Manohar Yadav

***

This is an opportune time for the grand old party to show the people of India a new face capable of leading the country. While the party can be led by Rahul Gandhi, the Congress should project a capable and eligible person to lead the country. The best prime ministerial candidate they have right now is Shashi Tharoor. He is young compared to other party stalwarts, qualified, suave and intelligent. I am sure he would be the right choice. Though he faces some accusations and allegations, nothing has been proved conclusively. He can be ably assisted by the stalwarts of the grand old party. – PVV Raghavan

Cow country

Cow protection laws have nothing to do with Hinduism (“Opinion: Repealing cow protection laws should be an election issue in 2019”). As an economic measure, we need a law that covers all productive animals. The communities affected by this draconian law should take a strong stand against it and make it a major election issue. Until it is repealed, we should insist on places to be earmarked for cow slaughter if the practice hurts religious sentiments. No one is justified in banning someone else’s legitimate food. – T Mathew

Scam days

It is the Punjab National Bank’s responsibility to pay up (“Explained: How did the alleged Rs 11,000 crore Nirav Modi, Punjab National Bank scam go unnoticed?”). Their internal audit department should be sacked and their properties seized to repay the amount. The top management should be summarily dismissed. The external auditors’s role should also be looked into. The Punjab National Bank should be split and its parts merged with other public sector banks or sold off to private banks. This episode should be a lesson to all Indian banks. – Madan R

River row

Indians should welcome the Supreme Court’s decision in the Cauvery row and its declaration that inter-state rivers are a national asset (“Cauvery dispute: Supreme Court order provides no solution to central problem of distress years”). Unfair statements like “we cannot give even a drop of water to Tamil Nadu” will not be heard in the future. It will also justify the need for nationalising rivers and connecting major rivers to benefit the entire nation. – Jyotsna Padmanabhan

Ease of doing business

Stop your anti-India campaign (“The ‘Modi bounce’: World Bank’s misleading defence of 30-point jump in India’s Ease of Business rank”). You cannot stomach the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s successful policies have resulted in a good rank for India. The World Bank is not influenced by any political party. No one can bribe them to falsify the data. – Ajay Nellutla

Poll position

Jammu and Kashmir should demand both parliamentary bye-polls as well as panchayat elections (“Jammu and Kashmir: Majority of political parties favour deferring panchayat polls”). The state should not yield to pressure from the Hizbul Mujahideen and separatists. That they are threatening citizens indicates that they are against people and democracy. – Udayashankar

In attendance

No one will sympathise with students who are not attending classes, as this is their primary duty (“‘It is illegal’: JNU has made marking attendance mandatory. Here’s why we are refusing to do so”). This defiance is unnecessary. Difficult conditions for a girl student can of course be dealt with with sympathy. But that does not justify refusing to mark attendance en masse. You are trying to convert an exception into a rule. – Shriram Bapat

***

It is sheer intransigence on the part of the faculty to protest against mandatory attendance. It is high time the government applies the same rules at the Jawaharlal Nehru University as in any other regular school or college. Jawaharlal Nehru University should be freed from politics. – Jambunatha Radhakrishnan

***

This is ridiculous. A top-ranking university like Jawaharlal Nehru University is being reduced to a compliant third-grade institute with high school-like rules. It goes with the current political discourse and the regime under the current vice-chancellor. We Indians love mediocrity and compliance without challenge. – Rajratna Jadhav

***

All universities make rules. But Jawaharlal Nehru University is the only one that takes pride in breaking the rules. Millions of students pay for their studies across the country. Here, at subsidised rates, students and staff are enjoying life. – Mohan Wankar

For a ride

The author of this piece seems to have travelled blindfolded in Mumbai’s local trains (“Bad design: The Mumbai local train is the city’s lifeline. Why is the network so difficult to use?”). Every station has a list of halts along with fares near the ticket window. All indicators at stations have detailed information about arriving local trains. Inside the trains too, there is a list of stations just above the doors. Most of the local trains also have LED boards as well as announcements about the coming stations. Platform numbers, east and west indicators are there on every foot over bridge. If one still cannot understand, every station has vendors and passengers who can help new travellers. As for the crowd, even Metro systems abroad have packed coaches during peak hours. – Yash Rughani

***

Apart from lack of proper signs and directions, the biggest problem with Mumbai’s train system is that during rush hour, commuters risk their lives by hanging out of coaches, resulting in several deaths each year. The railway authorities need to urgently introduce double-decker rakes so that commuters can travel at least safely, if not comfortably. The seating system also needs to be reviewed so that more can be people accommodated. – Moiz

Appraising appraisals

The article is fair and balanced (“IAS officer’s appointment to top Himachal post puts spotlight on Modi’s 360-degree appraisal system”). As a former civil servant, I am in complete agreement with the fact that the anonymous 360-degree reporting is opaque and unjust to the officers being assessed. There have even been instances where a superior officer, in the earlier system, described an officer being appraised in glowing terms. But under the new opaque system, the expert gave negative feedback about the same officer in whom he had found no shortcomings in the previous system. Need one say more about the injustice to officers under this 360-degree appraisal set-up? – Rawal Promod

***

I do not know much about the 360-degree system but the previous system of Annual Confidential Reports was also not without lacunae. So long as the appraising officer is not honest, each system will be found lacking. This is because there is no system for evaluating a person that is scientific and fool-proof. If you see the corruption cases even against senior IAS officers, you will understand how these appraisals end up being a farce. – PD Amarnath

***

The 360-degree appraisal system is certainly better than the earlier one. All modern organisations use it. The best judges of an officer are his subordinates and equals. Being strict does not necessarily make an officer unpopular. Secondly, the inputs are received from a wide variety of colleagues, past and present. This practice will reduce, if not eliminate, sycophancy. – Bhagwat Manral

Rote nation

The write-up by Ajaz Ashraf is perhaps naive because he fails to realise that the book has been written to help children handle pressure better (“Nation of mugoos: Modi’s book for students isn’t about gaining knowledge – it’s about cracking exams”). I personally see Modi as an inspiring person.

Additionally, would this writer prefer to have his children fail in an exam while they prepare a project? This is the current system in India and he has addressed it. If Modi writes a book next on changing the education system in India, for which funds and infrastructure are already being allocated‌, I am sure the writer would say that Modi has not addressed the reality. I have not read what Nehru wrote to Indira, but surely she was the one who implemented the devastating Emergency. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh does teach that.

The bias is very clear, even though the author has written a few sentences in an attempt to balance it. – Satyabrata Dash

Bad idea

Aniket Alam, I had assumed, was a neutral voice, but his high praise for the United Progressive Alliance’s so-called progress under neo-liberal policies, which incidentally is the reason for the BJP being here in the first place, betrays an incompetence of thought and an indolence of political creativity (“Opinion: CPI(M) has proved to be a ‘useful idiot’ for BJP by rejecting alliance with Congress”). Alam’s first mistake is in assuming that the BJP came out of nowhere, like a plague, upon the innocent masses of India. That is naïve and nonsensical.

This government made no qualms about its ambitions during the 2014 elections and was voted into power despite or because of them. The blame for this lies squarely with Indian society, not with the Communist Party of India (Marxist). We can argue that those who were stupid enough not to see the BJP’s Hindutva angle fell for the “Congress is corrupt” line. Let all Op Ed folks with a liberal dispensation understand one thing: Indian society is not that innocent.

Second, is there any data or trend to show whether allying with the Congress has ever worked for the CPI(M)? If Alam believes that the CPI(M) must give up seats for the betterment of India, then he should expect the Congress to give up seats in Kerala, Bengal and Tripura completely as well. But no. Again, the liberal bias is thus betrayed.

The third mistake: logically, in which seats are the Congress and CPI(M) competing or cutting into each other’s votes? Not in any of the North Indian states or in the North East. Where they come together is Bengal, where frankly, the last alliance has shown its success.

I do wish supposedly neutral publications like Scroll.in would make an attempt to read what people are putting out there! – Arun Nambiar

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Do you really need to use that plastic straw?

The hazards of single-use plastic items, and what to use instead.

In June 2018, a distressed whale in Thailand made headlines around the world. After an autopsy it’s cause of death was determined to be more than 80 plastic bags it had ingested. The pictures caused great concern and brought into focus the urgency of the fight against single-use plastic. This term refers to use-and-throw plastic products that are designed for one-time use, such as takeaway spoons and forks, polythene bags styrofoam cups etc. In its report on single-use plastics, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has described how single-use plastics have a far-reaching impact in the environment.

Dense quantity of plastic litter means sights such as the distressed whale in Thailand aren’t uncommon. Plastic products have been found in the airways and stomachs of hundreds of marine and land species. Plastic bags, especially, confuse turtles who mistake them for jellyfish - their food. They can even exacerbate health crises, such as a malarial outbreak, by clogging sewers and creating ideal conditions for vector-borne diseases to thrive. In 1988, poor drainage made worse by plastic clogging contributed to the devastating Bangladesh floods in which two-thirds of the country was submerged.

Plastic litter can, moreover, cause physiological harm. Burning plastic waste for cooking fuel and in open air pits releases harmful gases in the air, contributing to poor air quality especially in poorer countries where these practices are common. But plastic needn’t even be burned to cause physiological harm. The toxic chemical additives in the manufacturing process of plastics remain in animal tissue, which is then consumed by humans. These highly toxic and carcinogenic substances (benzene, styrene etc.) can cause damage to nervous systems, lungs and reproductive organs.

The European Commission recently released a list of top 10 single-use plastic items that it plans to ban in the near future. These items are ubiquitous as trash across the world’s beaches, even the pristine, seemingly untouched ones. Some of them, such as styrofoam cups, take up to a 1,000 years to photodegrade (the breakdown of substances by exposure to UV and infrared rays from sunlight), disintegrating into microplastics, another health hazard.

More than 60 countries have introduced levies and bans to discourage the use of single-use plastics. Morocco and Rwanda have emerged as inspiring success stories of such policies. Rwanda, in fact, is now among the cleanest countries on Earth. In India, Maharashtra became the 18th state to effect a ban on disposable plastic items in March 2018. Now India plans to replicate the decision on a national level, aiming to eliminate single-use plastics entirely by 2022. While government efforts are important to encourage industries to redesign their production methods, individuals too can take steps to minimise their consumption, and littering, of single-use plastics. Most of these actions are low on effort, but can cause a significant reduction in plastic waste in the environment, if the return of Olive Ridley turtles to a Mumbai beach are anything to go by.

To know more about the single-use plastics problem, visit Planet or Plastic portal, National Geographic’s multi-year effort to raise awareness about the global plastic trash crisis. From microplastics in cosmetics to haunting art on plastic pollution, Planet or Plastic is a comprehensive resource on the problem. You can take the pledge to reduce your use of single-use plastics, here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic, and not by the Scroll editorial team.