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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Indian Society Degrades Women

IN an outrageous incident in a girls hostel of a college at Bhuj in Gujarat, the management led by the woman principal in a bid to ascertain who threw a sanitary pad from a toilet window forced 68 inmates to strip to ensure that they were not menstruating. During the investigations it was  revealed that a register is maintained asking the girls undergoing the monthly periods to sign and thereafter they are quarantined for four days in the most unhygienic dingy basement without even proper lighting. In the classroom they are made to occupy only the last benches. Furthermore it has been disclosed that the girls during such cycles are not allowed to enter the kitchen or the dining area and have to maintain a distance from the place of worship. That opens a chapter for us to introspect where are we heading to! We talk so much of development and progress in every walk of life but such nauseating incidents make us wonder whether in moving a step forward are we moving two steps backwards. But then take a breather and rewind to the more glaring issue on similar topic that shook the nation on the Sabarimala episode wherein women in the menstruating period of 10-50 years are forbidden from entering the shrine under the ridiculous belief that the deity housed therein does not like the sight of menstruating ladies. When the matter came up in the Supreme Court and the verdict favoured the entry of women of all age groups there was an unprecedented outcry to the extent of threatening the women entering the shrine with dire consequences; even the women were against the court verdict. More significantly the lone dissenter in the 4-1 verdict of the apex court was the woman judge. Union minister Smriti Irani questioned fellow-women whether they would visit their friend with the napkin soaked in blood. Prime Minister Narendra Modi instead of urging the people to respect the court verdict stated that he would not allow the Hindu traditions to be confronted. That shows that the male mentality dictated by the millennia-old Manusmriti is still predominating, downgrading the Indian woman, for which the women are not less responsible.

MICHAEL VAZ, MERCES

Plasma Treatment For COVID-19

AS of now plasma treatment could be the only cure available for those infected by the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. It has been proven that convalescent plasma-derived therapeutic products is effective in curing infected patients who are in critical conditions. It is understood that 20  doctors and nurses from  a hospital in Wuhan, who recovered from coronavirus, donated their plasma to those in severe condition. These patients who have received the plasma have shown improved clinical symptoms about 12-24 hours after they had received the treatment. Plasma donation does not hurt the donor once he/she has been cured. People in China who have been cured need to come forward and donate plasma so more lives can be saved. Those who have recovered from the disease must give back to the society after they received timely and effective treatment. This is absolutely necessary to control the disease, which is going out of hand.  People of China owe it to the world to remove the scar that the disease has caused.

ADELMO FERNANDES, VASCO

Checkmating Train Ticket Touts

NO matter what the  Indian Railways does to curb the menace of illegal online tickets, touts using sophisticated software, are always  one step ahead of them. Recently the Railways unearthed a scam involving 20,000  agents, cornering 50 per cent  of all Tatkal tickets in just 40 seconds! That explains why Tatkal tickets disappear in five  minutes. Similarly, during the peak summer holiday season, it is difficult to get  regular confirmed tickets even if one stands in a queue  at a booking window 120 days in advance. I don’t think the Railways has the expertise to counter the online scamsters. I suggest two measures to address the problem. First suggestion is that regular tickets may  be booked anytime in advance like airline tickets and not be restricted to 120 days. Secondly, online booking of Tatkal tickets should be completely abolished. Tatkal tickets should be available only at railway booking counters. Like the  airlines, train travellers should be allowed to book regular tickets anytime in advance and not restricted to 120 days. However, the cancellation charges should be increased substantially with a minimum cancellation charge of 25 per cent  and additional 1 per cent  everyday beginning from  60 days before departure of the train. Undoubtedly there will be a huge waiting list. However,  this list will get whittled down rapidly  everyday beginning 60 days  before the departure of train. (Presently people do not bother to cancel tickets till the last three days as cancellation charges kick in only then). For unplanned journeys and emergencies, Tatkal tickets should be sold, but only at booking windows. There should not be  online booking. Tatkal was initially introduced only for  emergencies.  But as the Railways earned a huge amount of revenue from this source, the Tatkal quota was increased considerably. Today the Tatkal quota is 18 per cent  and another 18 per cent  of premium Tatkal on dynamic pricing for popular trains. Tatkal has become just another booking option  for those willing to pay a premium. This is unfair  to the common man who stands in long queues for regular tickets, days and months in advance. Hence the Tatkal premium must be increased. If there is an emergency, travellers will not mind standing in a queue  at booking counters or paying a higher premium for Tatkal tickets.

Moreover, as such tickets will be available only at booking counters there  be a huge number of tickets available to satisfy most  people in the queue, unlike what happens now. These suggestions, if implemented, will sound the death knell of touts.

ROBERT CASTELLINO, MUMBAI

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