Army in Kashmir
This refers to the report “Army out, stages flag march in Srinagar” (July 8). The army's assistance to the Jammu and Kashmir government in restoring normality may provide an immediate solution. But it will be temporary. Summer violence and protests not only recur every year but also become more violent. Human rights violations serve as an immediate cause for protests, which eventually lead to the enhanced alienation of people and trust deficit.
The government should rebuild trust by ensuring zero tolerance of rights violations, reconsideration of the AFSPA, demilitarisation of the areas which are free from militancy, dialogue with the separatists on more relaxed terms and good governance.
The Centre and the Kashmir government seem intent on undermining the Indian state's legitimacy in Kashmir. Calling in the army is a knee-jerk reaction. The cure is worse than the disease and a part of the problem rather than the solution. When the Centre is so reluctant to send the army into the red corridor in spite of heavy losses, why is it so eager to deploy the army in Kashmir?
Syed Abid Shah,
The Centre has steadfastly refused to deploy the army in the naxal-infested areas saying the Maoist rebels are our own people. But it has resorted to a diametrically opposite approach in Kashmir. Are not the protesters in Kashmir as much Indians as the naxal cadres operating in Chhattisgarh, Orissa and West Bengal?
Once again, Kashmir is on the boil. Normal life has been paralysed with over 15 civilians killed. Demonstrations and protests are part of democracy and the legal right of every Indian. Why should the government forcibly prevent the Kashmiris from exercising their right?
Why is something that is common everywhere seen as an offence in Kashmir? The government should consider the protests the voice of its own people, not a threat to the State.
The army is out on the streets of Srinagar after two decades. It was not intended to be deployed but the situation in Kashmir warrants its presence. In fact, the National Conference-led government of Omar Abdullah did its best to bring peace. A large number of Kashmiri Pandits went back to the Valley to celebrate one of their annual religious festivals. It was surely a big step forward. What went wrong is understandable. The separatists have their own agenda and support from across the border.
I read with tremendous interest the compelling arguments in two related articles — P. Sainath's “Food security — of APL, BPL & IPL” (July 6) and Jean Dreze's “The task of making the PDS work” (July 8).
There is really no substitute for universalisation of the PDS to address the food security issues. Can the issue of nutritional security not be addressed by integrating millets into the PDS? Why the obsession with wheat and rice, particularly polished rice that is provided by ration shops which has empty calories with very little nutritional value? Many of us working in the area of food security continue to raise the issue of integrating millets into the PDS. The move will promote its cultivation, thereby reducing the impact on natural resources since the cereal is not resource-intensive. This will also provide an opportunity to consider reduction in agricultural subsidy on chemical fertilizers with much less of an impact on food production. Funds being spent on subsidising fertilizers could be allocated to promoting the cultivation of vegetables, improving sanitation and public health and several other areas that will improve genuine food security.
There is lack of political sensitivity in allocating funds for food subsidy and the prevalence of corruption at all levels of the PDS, including identification of BPL families. Our store-houses are overflowing, but poor storage methods, clandestine siphoning off of food grains, and the bureaucratic inertia to release them leave the underprivileged perpetually hungry. We need compassionate, sincere, efficient and educated politicians at the helm, who not only understand the ground reality but are also willing to take tough decisions.
Ensuring food security is a moral responsibility of all citizens. Over the years, we have migrated to cities and forgotten that we, and only we, have to till our lands. Unless every citizen contributes to this cause in some form or the other, food security will remain an illusion.
Major S.B. Kadam,
India, a land of many billionaires, is unfortunately the land of tens of millions of hungry too. A majority of its population is under a poverty regime. Universalising the PDS is the democratic way of doing justice to the poor, even if it costs twice of what is projected to operationalise it.
Food is first among the fundamental needs. What is the point in talking volumes about development without providing food security to the masses?
True, as a potential power with a rapid pace of growth the country does require world class infrastructure and facilities that match the best. It does need to shed the wretched and distressed image it has. But not at the expense of the aam aadmi. Increasing number of starvation deaths in a surplus nation is unacceptable. Let us not give rise to a tale of two worlds.
Robin T. Varghese,
According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, India's performance on hunger elimination is lacklustre, understandably due to inadequate funds and insensitivity to the problems of poverty and malnutrition. Lack of awareness among the public is also one of the reasons for the poor performance on the food security front. We need to constitute a national authority on hunger elimination under the leadership of the Prime Minister.
On Dr. Krishnamurthi
The article, “A doctor and an institution-builder” (July 7), was indeed poignant. It gave an insight into the work of Dr. S. Krishnamurthi and the role his mother played as his mentor. The doctor's life is an inspiration for all. The idea of devoting one's life to serving the humanity is praiseworthy.
M. Rekha Menon,
The article was stimulating. In Dr. Krishnamurthi's death, thousands of poor cancer patients have lost a dear friend. His words, “there's more to be done,” epitomise his character. Such institution-builders deserve better recognition.
P. Sambath Narayanan,