Apropos of the column Secularism is dead! (April 21), we gave ourselves a Constitution after three long years, post a gory and forgettable partition. Pakistan chose to be an Islamic nation. We chose to be a secular democratic republic in the hope that we shall attain, over time, our aim of an emancipated level of social and ethnic maturity. Pakistan perhaps made its choice more out of the fear of a dispersal of its religious identity sustained through its long journey over an eon from far beyond the Hindu Kush. If Indian Muslims form nearly 15% of India's population, in six decades now, the Hindu identity has divided itself into many sub-15% and even smaller parts, divided on caste. The increasing trend in reservations will make it even worse. Thus, this consolidated chunk of the Indian Muslim entity, a seventh of our population, is an attractive bait to political traders operating under overt party banners. Religious divide is another tool towards power. There must come a stage when the lure and frenzy of winning elections tries to jettison our precious secular credentials, long hauled with great pride. If Pakistan had erred in the 1950s in rejecting a secular vision, it can be attributed to fresh traumas of partition. But if after decades of successful democratic foray and improved wisdom we bring in concepts of viral electoral devices, we stand to damage our basic national fabric. Pakistan would then stand better in terms of clarity of its vision, if not quality. We will be losing on both counts.
Your editorial Exporting water (FE, April 18) rightly and shockingly highlights the excess quantities of water being used in cultivation of rice in Punjab as compared to that being used in West Bengal. Reports by agencies such as the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) seem to have been merely kept in files without taking any concrete action to correct such gross wastage of an important commodity such as water. Scientists and agricultural experts need to focus their research lenses on developing better qualities of seeds that are not only high-yielding and pest-resistant, but also use minimal water for cultivation and harvesting. There are frequent reports on experimentation being done by some universities in this field but unless the commercial viability of growing rice with less water is established, such reports are only like the proverbial oasis in a desert! One may recall about reading a report on a new type of rice being cultivated by the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore which reportedly has many advantages over typical rice varieties it requires less water to grow, it is higher in protein content and it emits less methane over its life-cycle. Reports further confirm that this rice uses 60% less water than conventional rice. Let us be hopeful that word about such successful experimental approaches to rice spread. Concerned authorities need to think, decide and implement an action plan to avoid the potential water crisis. After all, let it not be so that in times to come, the most abundant thing on this planet becomes its rarest commodity.