Elections & exit polls
No doubt the country eagerly awaits the results of the recently held Assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, but the post-poll surveys are not the real thing (“CNN-IBN survey gives AIADMK the edge,” May 11). Even if there is a margin of error, as the TV anchors are quick to tell us, how is it possible to predict what the electronic voting machines have in store for the candidates and the parties in these States? As people are randomly chosen across constituencies to take part in such surveys, there is scope for a very great margin of error. It would also be a mistake to write off the incumbent parties as a spent force.
G. David Milton,
It is most gratifying that the percentage of polling has increased in the recent elections to the States concerned, while voting has, by and large, been peaceful. This is an indication that democracy has strong roots in India and that the people are the masters when it comes to choosing their own leaders.
Earlier on, the results of various pre- and exit-poll surveys conducted by various agencies were allowed to be published even when all phases of voting had not been completed. These certainly caused a sensation besides indirectly influencing voters. As such, the publication of survey results this time, almost 60 hours prior to the official announcement of election results, has neither served any useful purpose nor has been of much interest to readers.
It was heartening to read about a positive development in Jammu and Kashmir (“Kashmiri Pandit woman wins panchayat poll,” May 11). Aasha Jee's victory in Wussan village, Kunzar block, is an indicator that Kashmiris want to see development.
Perhaps this is the time the Central and State governments took the first steps towards the resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits. This result shows that it is not always about religion-based politics.
That Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah endorsed Ms Aasha's win shows that there is hope for the valley and Kashmiriyat. Kashmiriyat will be possible only if all Pandit families who now live outside Kashmir are rehabilitated.
N. R. Ramachandran,
The article “The wheat mountains of the Punjab” (May 11), along with “Cartoonscape,” was timely as it presented the chaos in the so-called backbone sector of the country. There are so many issues — poor procurement, storage and distribution systems, new challenges posed by the migration of youth, a drop in the sex ratio in the wheat belt and the looming threat of land acquisition — as India moves ahead trying to fulfil the aspirations of its young generation. These problems will severely dent the lives of millions of farmers and, ultimately, the aim of the National Food Security Mission. We do face a very grave situation.
It is strange why there is no consensus on conserving soil and water resources, maintaining the ecological balance and having a grid of top-class godowns and silos to store what our farmers produce with so much of labour. There is probably no other country where the post-harvest grain storage losses and spoilages are of the magnitude described. It is criminal that when there is plenty of grain available, millions go to bed hungry each night.
It is a shame that a nation that aspires to send a man to the moon and presents the images taken by Resourcesat-2 to the Prime Minister cannot safely and scientifically store grains produced by its farmers. It is not as if India does not have land available for such a purpose. The interesting socio-economic insight into the dwindling sex ratio in Punjab and Haryana has thrown up a catch-22 situation. If the next generation abandons farming and migrates to cities, food production will decline, with serious implications for food security. It is doubtful whether the existing female population can take over farming. Since the government has only a limited role in changing entrenched patriarchal mores, community and religious leaders should step in and shoulder more responsibility in removing the bias against the girl child.
Despite the audacious and brazen 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, there is a vast constituency in India that advocates restraint, when even a casual statement related to the offensive capability of India generates, in Pakistan, a threat of “catastrophic consequences.” This underlines the vast difference in the legacies of the two neighbouring nations (Editorial, May 11). Despite all this, India has no option but to exercise restraint and help Pakistan set its house in order. And Pakistan must begin by changing the same legacy that pushed it into the Afghan war and brought home the threat of militancy of the Taliban and al-Qaeda kind.
This refers to the articles on Mother's Day (Open Page, May 8). Mothers are always taken for granted. We often fail to recognise their unconditional love and the sacrifices they make for the family. All hell breaks loose if she is ill for a day and we have a terrible time managing the house in her absence. As a teenager, I used to get angry with my mother whenever she asked me probing questions on everything I did. How foolish I was not to realise that mothers are like birds that keep their young under their wings, protecting and nurturing them always.
Rohit R. Nair,
I head a centre for challenged children and reading the articles made me think of the real supermoms — mothers who have children with special needs.
While we heap praise on “regular mothers” (who are definitely doing a great job), I often think that their work as mothers is easy, normal and pleasant when compared to the challenges faced by mothers who have to deal with autism, cerebral palsy and Down's Syndrome. It can stretch for years as there is usually no growing up, no “independence” for these children. I have heard arguments about fathers taking care, while mothers go to work. This is fine, but a mother is always the first preference as far as a child is concerned. I wonder what God planned when he made mothers of children with special needs. He created “super special moms.” I am but an ordinary mortal mother compared to these true goddesses.
Reading the articles reminded of my mother who is no more. Though she lacked formal education, she was graceful. She was deeply interested in my academic progress. I remember the days when I had to recite answers to her. She would correct me if I went wrong. She had a great memory and stunned me by naming characters in the various novels I read. She got me interested in cricket, and also improve my English, by making me listen to the radio.
Finally, she taught me to be humble. She would always say that water — even a drop — finds its level and that there is nothing wrong in being humble.