Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: On foreign policy, rest assured that Modi will do what is best for the nation

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Foreign policy

India need not show spine to US (“India could show the US some spine on Iran, but it would rather flaunt muscle at home”). India has been doing that for 66 years. We are a third world country just because we were anti US and pro Russia though we claimed to be non aligned. It is time to open our eyes to the world rather than listening to the the pseudo intelligentsia, Left-leaning intellectuals and the media. Try to name one country who has not progressed being an ally of USA? Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea are all newly developed nations. As to what happened to Pakistan, that country never was and never will be a friend of US. – Ramesh Babu

Economy talk

You too are hiding development works undertaken by the Modi government (“Modi says he hid economic data ‘for India’s benefit’. Who is to say he isn’t still doing it?”). Most of your articles are anti-Modi. True journalism is pro-development and pro-people. No one has forgotten the Emergency, or the previous government’s corruption record. I suggest you to highlight positive works and provide constructive criticism. Otherwise Scroll.in will be perceived as the official media of Congress or the Left. – Hoovinahalli Ramarao Hareesh

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NDA is contradicting its own earlier statement. If the UPA left economy in such a bad state that the new government did not want to put out a white paper in 2014, how did it rebound so fast that in 2016, it was in a good enough position to enforce something as groundbreaking as demonetisation? Many BJP leaders at the time said that the economy was strong enough to handle such a decision. Does the economy transform so drastically in two years? At this rate, India should become the next super power in five-10 years. – Suresh Prasad

Thoothukudi row

The government has failed miserably on the Sterlite issue (“Sterlite plant closure: Green court issues notice to Tamil Nadu government, pollution control board”). The actual blame lies on the local leaders of that district, who should have taken the complaints of the people a lot more seriously. There should be bi-annual laboratory test for the air and water pollution at factories, the results of which should be reported it to the people and authorities concerned. Everywhere in India, only money speaks.There is no room for honesty. – Justin Raj

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It’s pathetic that industries in India are at the mercy of politicians. They are milking every opportunity to promote themselves. It even makes us wonder whether there is any thought applied. How can a marvelous country like India flourish when such vested interests are involved? Also, pathetic will be the state of promoters and investors of such projects that were approved earlier and then shut down under pressure. – R Krishnamoorthy

Questionable decision

It’s unfortunate that the goverment has reduced the number of questions an MP can ask in Parliament (“Lok Sabha members can now ask only five questions a day instead of 10”). Parliament is a place where all the people from all the corners bring their issues to government’s notice. By limiting the questions that can be asked, the government is indirectly muting the voices of the people. Parliament represents all of India and its problems. If the government cannot listen to the issues of the people, imagine what the scenario would be at the state level? The government needs to rethink this decision. Without dialogue and discussion, there will be no solution to any problem. – Shashidhar Vuppala

Bullet train

The purpose of bullet train is to provide fast travel to various traders of Gujarat and Maharashtra (“80,487 trees and counting: Bullet train will dent mango, chikoo exports, say Gujarat’s fruit farmers”). But why is that needed when flights are already available? The huge amount going into that project can be used for the betterment of the Railways. At the very least, if the project is hurting the interests of farmers, an alternate solution such as underground tracks could be explored. – SS Dahiya

Farmer support

Farmers do not benefit a lot from minimum support prices because it is the government that has to purchase the crops (“Explained: The increase in minimum support prices for 14 crops and what it means for farmers”). The government should instead reduce input costs by providing them free canal irrigation and free power to the farmers for their irrigation pumps. The media can play a role in urging the government do so. – Gautam Jain

To the root

Thanks to the authors for raising such an important issue (“Opinion: Why felling of thousands of trees for South Delhi redevelopment project must be reviewed”). This needs to be brought up in all platforms. The people in the government do not know how to calculate the values of the environment as they only think in terms of money not, health, people or real progress. I request the journalist community to take this up more urgently as it is a matter of survival for all of us. – Charu Jain

Testing times

This is a very informative piece and as a recent PhD applicant to two of the universities mentioned, I am glad someone brought these issues up (“As JNU adopts multiple choice admission tests, experts question the selection process”). But there is one thing I would like t​​o add. In the concluding paras, it is mentioned that alternatives suggested by the teachers (such as asking questions from passages) were not taken up by the university. This is not entirely true.

The English department at the Delhi University has done much to amend the mechanical rote nature of entrance exams. In the exam conducted for entrance to MPhil and PhD in 2016, the entire paper consisted of 50 questions that were objective and required great memorisation skills. However, in 2017, the PhD exam (available on the department website) did employ measures to correct these issues by asking questions from passages and using critical theory as a hallmark to judge the analytical skills of applicants.

This year, the entrance for both MPhil and PhD was held on June 20 and the paper had a similar approach. There were passages from notable novels and literary works, and students were asked to read these five-six line passages and answer objective questions that followed. Out of 50 questions, only three to four were questions whose responses would require memorisation of facts. Even in those cases, the answers come easily to anyone with an MA in English. F​urthermore, universities like Punjab University, Chandigarh have a different criteria of admission to research courses. The university conducts a multiple choice question paper made of basic questions (clear to any English graduate) which the student just needs to pass. Afterwards, there is a subjective paper with five questions that test the knowledge and writing skills of the aspirants. ​ ​Though I think Upinder Singh is right when he says that the history department did take the suggestions of their colleagues​ (maybe when it comes to undergraduate or postgraduate courses as they attract a major chunk of total applicants)​, the English department on the other hand did show character in framing their question papers​ for research courses​. – Ishita Sareen

Delhi row

For what Ken Livingstone has proposed to happen, the local leader must have the maturity to work with the national government (“Delhi government should run India’s Capital – not Centre, says London ex-mayor Ken Livingstone”). Kejriwal messed up the opportunity due to his arrogance, ignorance and idiotic approach because he got a big mandate. Voters can bring a leader to power but it his or her responsibility to learn to govern. He failed. Now you cannot blame it on others. He himself is responsible for disaster. The Sheila Dixit and Vajpayee governments worked in harmony during BJP’s earlier tenure at the Centre. – Vijay Sardana

Water woes

It is a shame on the local government that it has not been able to sort out water management (“In pictures: Delhi’s water crisis has claimed three lives this summer and it’s only getting worse”). The chief minister has the time to stage a sit-in protest at the lieutenant governor’s house, but not to think of easing pollution or water and electricity shortage. He should be made to answer for all his shortcomings. And Sheila Dixit, who is pointing fingers, also shoulders much of the blame. – Roy Parekh

Shining a light

This is a moving report that shows the gravity of the situation (“In Jharkhand, suspected starvation death sheds light on deprivation of a whole settlement”). Despite their being several government schemes, the poor don’t get the benefit. Once a death occurs, there is some media attention and government officials come to the spot, but then both disappear and the problem persists. – Suruchi Kumari

In poor taste

This is with regard to the piece on Kashmiri food by Sarina Kamini (“Centuries after my ancestors left Kashmir, my ties with its food are unbroken”). I am alarmed by this paragraph:

“For me to consume this food was to feed the legacy of all the things I was known to be. A Kashmiri Brahmin. A card-carrying member of the priest caste. Dad whispered in my ear from birth that I claimed a spiritual inheritance. One that connected our family intimately to the world of Hindu gods. Thrice born, he would repeat throughout my infancy, at the top of the caste tree and already three turns around life’s cosmic wheel. These tales my Dad told; so rich it seemed the multi-armed deities were as close to me as the daal and rice he and Mum ladled onto my empty plate.”

It’s 2018. Should you really be publishing articles that celebrate and Brahminical pride? In the author’s words, caste is made to seem like some relic of the past by tying it to these Hindu gods – “multi-armed deities”, as she refers to them. Given Scroll.in’s progressive credentials, surely it must have crossed at least one editor’s mind that caste is not a thing of the past, that Brahmins continue to exert significant influence in the Indian landscape, overwhelmingly dominating public employment, public universities, academia in general, media houses, you name it. Surely it struck you, given the almost daily killings of Dalit men and women in this country, that caste is a problem in the present and caste atrocities abound.

Your decision to publish this piece, no matter what kinds of boilerplate disclaimers accompany it, reflects your comfort with the status-quo in this country: a savarna bourgeois neutrality to publishing decisions. When you choose to be neutral, you side with the powerful, implicitly. What a disservice to the many thousands of persecuted Bahujan folks in this country, that you get to hold the mantel for progressive alternate media in India. – Malavika Prasad

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I would love to gift Scroll.in a copy of Edward Said’s Orientalism. The Australian author has exoticised her land of cultural heritage. And, then all that nonsense about brahmins and spiritual inheritance. At least pretend to be politically correct. – Lakshmi Krishnan

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People who fall through the gaps in road safety campaigns

Helmet and road safety campaigns might have been neglecting a sizeable chunk of the public at risk.

City police, across the country, have been running a long-drawn campaign on helmet safety. In a recent initiative by the Bengaluru Police, a cop dressed-up as ‘Lord Ganesha’ offered helmets and roses to two-wheeler riders. Earlier this year, a 12ft high and 9ft wide helmet was installed in Kota as a memorial to the victims of road accidents. As for the social media leg of the campaign, the Mumbai Police made a pop-culture reference to drive the message of road safety through their Twitter handle.

But, just for the sake of conversation, how much safety do helmets provide anyway?

Lack of physical protections put two-wheeler riders at high risk on the road. According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. Nearly half of those dying on the world’s roads are ‘vulnerable road users’ – pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. According to the Indian transport ministry, about 28 two-wheeler riders died daily on Indian roads in 2016 for not wearing helmets.

The WHO states that wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death by almost 40% and the risk of severe injury by over 70%. The components of a helmet are designed to reduce impact of a force collision to the head. A rigid outer shell distributes the impact over a large surface area, while the soft lining absorbs the impact.

However, getting two-wheeler riders to wear protective headgear has always been an uphill battle, one that has intensified through the years owing to the lives lost due on the road. Communication tactics are generating awareness about the consequences of riding without a helmet and changing behaviour that the law couldn’t on its own. But amidst all the tag-lines, slogans and get-ups that reach out to the rider, the safety of the one on the passenger seat is being ignored.

Pillion rider safety has always been second in priority. While several state governments are making helmets for pillion riders mandatory, the lack of awareness about its importance runs deep. In Mumbai itself, only 1% of the 20 lakh pillion riders wear helmets. There seems to be this perception that while two-wheeler riders are safer wearing a helmet, their passengers don’t necessarily need one. Statistics prove otherwise. For instance, in Hyderabad, the Cyberabad traffic police reported that 1 of every 3 two-wheeler deaths was that of a pillion rider. DGP Chander, Goa, stressed that 71% of fatalities in road accidents in 2017 were of two-wheeler rider and pillion riders of which 66% deaths were due to head injury.

Despite the alarming statistics, pillion riders, who are as vulnerable as front riders to head-injuries, have never been the focus of helmet awareness and safety drives. To fill-up that communication gap, Reliance General Insurance has engineered a campaign, titled #FaceThePace, that focusses solely on pillion rider safety. The campaign film tells a relatable story of a father taking his son for cricket practice on a motorbike. It then uses cricket to bring our attention to a simple flaw in the way we think about pillion rider safety – using a helmet to play a sport makes sense, but somehow, protecting your head while riding on a two-wheeler isn’t considered.

This road safety initiative by Reliance General Insurance has taken the lead in addressing the helmet issue as a whole — pillion or front, helmets are crucial for two-wheeler riders. The film ensures that we realise how selective our worry about head injury is by comparing the statistics of children deaths due to road accidents to fatal accidents on a cricket ground. Message delivered. Watch the video to see how the story pans out.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Reliance General Insurance and not by the Scroll editorial team.