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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Effigy Burning Must Be Discouraged

With a heavy heart I would like to know, who will take the responsibility for the loss of 59 precious lives and 72 injured on Dussehra revellers run over by a train near Amritsar station? According to locals, when burning of the Ravana effigy is being held at the same venue year-after-year disregarding safety aspects, and when there are hundreds of people on the railway track on the unfortunate day, why did the loco driver not blow the horn or applied the emergency brakes?  The driver of the train Arvind Kumar (32) has claimed that he applied the emergency brakes but continued with the journey as people “started attacking the train by throwing stones”.  The stone throwing incident has not been reported in the media, while locals say that they did not hear the sound of the horn or any alert of an approaching train. How did the train take just 10 to 15 seconds to leave behind a heap of crushed and dismembered bodies?  Though it’s a clear unpardonable fault on the part of the loco driver Arvind Kumar, there will be no probe by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), since it is a case of trespassing. The Railways says no one told them about the burning of the Ravana effigy.  The Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered the immediate release of Rs 3 crore as ex-gratia payment to the next of kin but nothing can wipe out the tears of the grieving families. The celebrations near railway tracks should be banned in future and we should also discourage effigy burning which is harmful to pollution.

BIDYUT KUMAR CHATTERJEE, FARIDABAD

Mowed Down By A Moving Train

It is shocking to read that at least 61 people were killed and 72 injured, after a crowd of Dussehra revelers that had spilled onto the railway tracks while watching the burning of Ravana effigy, was run over by a train at Amritsar. In India one hears of travelers getting killed in large numbers due to train accidents as a result of derailment or collision. This is probably the first time when so many people were mowed down by a moving train. Such a tragedy should have never taken place as the function happens to be an annual feature and the local MLA was present as the chief guest. All precautions should have been in place. The movement of the trains could have been stopped or even slowed down when the function was in progress. It is understood that the people who had gathered could not hear the moving train due to the firing of the crackers. In any other country the minister in charge would have immediately tendered his/her resignation owing moral responsibility for such a man-made tragedy. However in India there will be only condolences pouring in from those in power and a probe initiated. This will do precious little to alleviate the pain and suffering of those who lost their loved ones in the tragedy.

ADELMO FERNANDES, VASCO

Mobile Obsession With Youth

With the social media creating the sort of craze that is so very evident in the present generation, there has been a marked decline in the pursuance of other pastimes that enhance the mental faculties in a youngster. The ‘mobile obsession’ with today’s youth has scaled unimaginable and illogical heights with the cellular devices serving as an appendage giving them a distinct identity. Moreover, with ‘assignments’ forming an important aspect of modern educational curricula, the dependence on the internet to complete the tasks given has been exceptional. The fast pace of the changing technology has virtually made robots out of the youngsters today. It would thus not be wrong to say that children in the new millennium have denied themselves the pleasures of growing up with healthy habits and hobbies that could develop their creative talents. It is said that as the perfect hobby, reading is one that offers vast benefits. Besides providing hours of entertainment, the habit of reading proves to be a treasure trove of immense knowledge for one who inculcates it. Besides improving the cultural literacy, reading also improves one’s ability to absorb and comprehend facts. More importantly, reading induces one to think, and this thought-process in turn differentiates one who can form opinions on various matters from one who is a strict adherent of ‘follow-the-sheep’ mentality. It is hence essential to have a child introduced to the nuances of reading from his formative years in school. However, we are today in an age where reading as a hobby appears to be finding fewer and fewer takers. Where the deluge of Indian writers making their mark in the global literary world would have raised visions of a return to the habit of reading, the publications scarcely moving out from the bookshelves portend a disappointing prospect. Be that as it may, hobbies however require leisure time for them to be pursued earnestly. But this is one ‘commodity’ that is terribly scarce for the modern generation.

While the news that the setting up of the urban library in Cuncolim is in its final stages is indeed heartening, students visiting libraries for only reference works pertaining to their courses would not do justice to the voluminous collections specially being acquired for the reading pleasure of the public.

PACHU MENON, MARGAO

Categories: Commentary
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