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Neola Castellino plants saplings in Dubai. Image Credit: Neola Castellino

  • Readers discuss 2018, the Year of Zayed and more.

Adopting Shaikh Zayed’s values

The Year of Zayed is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean we cannot continue practicing Baba Zayed’s teachings.

Shaikh Zayed once said: “On land and in the sea, our forefathers lived and survived in this environment. They were able to do so because they recognised the need to conserve it, to take from it only what they needed to live, and to preserve it for succeeding generations.”

As a child, I would like to request readers, especially those of my age, to start recycling and help in growing more plants and make this country greener for the future generations. If all of us take steps, small or large, it would prove to be fruitful.

I have been doing my bit by collecting papers for recycling. I go with my jute bags to my neighbours or friends’ homes and collect them. This work is tiring, but worth the time. I even got an opportunity to plant saplings at various locations in the UAE.

It is time we recognise the importance of our actions and contribute our bit towards the future of this planet.

From Ms Neola Castellino

Year gone by

The year 2018 was a fruitful and blessed one for me. I connected with several of my elementary school friends and a few lost relatives thank to the power of technology. Meeting some of my friends after almost 37 years was amazing. It’s not the long years that should be counted, but the essence of the relationship and truthfulness, which we should take into consideration. I also managed to contact one of my school teachers after 38 years. I promised to meet her, but unfortunately, she died when the year began, before I could see her. It remains an unfulfilled dream, which hurts me a lot. And sudden death of one of my school mate was a loss, too.

I hope the New Year will usher in peace and happiness not only for me and my family, but also for everyone in this world. May we all have a peaceful, healthy and prosperous year ahead.

From Mr Eappen Elias

Focus on social issues

Angry and not scared. I like that Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah has put into words, fearlessly, what a lot of us Indians have been afraid of voicing (“‘Leave the country,’ trolls tell Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah”, Gulf News, December 21). The so-called ‘cow terrorism’ that has been unleashed in India in the past four years has me outraged. If a 68-year-old man can show that outrage, so should all of us be able to, who stand, or profess to stand, on the right path.

I do not for a moment believe that any one in their right mind would go around slaughtering a cow in states where cow slaughter is banned. This politics of murder and terror in the name of cow protection is nothing but a political gimmick and we are sick of it.

The cow has religious significance in India, stop making it into a social one. Why is a 10-year-old boy not at school? Why does he climb five flights of stairs delivering mineral water bottles? That is my social issue, as it should be of every Indian who sits on his or her couch watching cow-relevant debates unfold every night on the television screen.

From Ms Sehba Khan

Ban child labour

It is an encouraging move by the Punjab provincial government for drafting the ‘Punjab Domestic Workers Bill’ of 2018 that reportedly recognises a ban on children below the age of 15 years to work as domestic workers (“Pakistan: Court orders Punjab government to ban employment of under-15 kids as domestic servants”, Gulf News, December 20). Evidently, there are children under the age of 15 working in different fields, such as at tea shops, garages or even in households, all over the country. Despite getting education, some of them are forced to work under the labour system. But, the law now reveals that the employer, if failed to comply with the provisions of the law or abuse a worker, shall, on conviction, be punishable with fine or imprisonment and be greatly fined. This is a great decision. It is high time that all other provinces, especially the Sindh province, place a ban on child labour.

From Mr Nasir Soomro
Karachi, Pakistan

Will Imran Khan succeed?

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in his political manifesto had promised to the nation to make the country a “Naya Pakistan” with an objective where merit, fair play and justice would be the main instruments to run the government. In his manifesto, Khan also promised to provide shelters to homeless and 10 million job opportunities to our youth.

On the contrary, the Punjab Cabinet has imposed a ban on all recruitments till a new policy is formulated. Under the situation, the future of our youth is at stake. The ratio of unemployed youth in all provinces is increasing at an alarming level. In the past, corruption, lack of job opportunities, nepotism and egotism have been cause for frustration among our youth.

As far as shelters for the homeless is concerned, the anti-encroachment drive in Karachi has made hundreds of thousands of people shelterless. Remember that people can come into power because of various promises but sooner or later, their government is ousted because of non-commitment, wrongdoings, injustice, mismanagement and plunder of national wealth.

On the other hand, if a government performs good deeds and fulfils the desired expectations of the nation, there is a strong possibility to reign for unlimited period or for a second term, too. This aspect should be kept in mind by every politician and prospective candidates who wish to come in power.

From Mr Mumtaz Hussain

Help the farmers

For centuries now, agriculture has been the backbone of India’s economy, and farmers have always played a vital role in our country’s growth. As a tribute to their unceasing efforts in sustaining the needs of the large population, National Farmer’s Day is celebrated every year on December 23. Farmers work from sunrise to sunset. They can never be sure of their crop yields because of the possibilities of natural disasters. Most farmers cannot afford modern techniques of farming. If there are good monsoon seasons and favourable weather conditions, they can lead a happy life, but if not, they will enter a cycle of debt. There are times when a farmer often goes without work, especially after the sowing period.

Recently, we have been seeing many protests for farmers’ rights and benefits in India. So, a lot needs to be done to help them. They should be given information about the latest farming techniques, sowing and harvesting time, weather, pest management and fertiliser use. Farmers must be educated so that they don’t get cheated. Loans should be made available at low-interest rates so that they can increase their crop production with modern methods.

These measures are well heard of in textbooks, but no one is too sure of their guarantee in reality. We all have heard the famous saying, “a farmer is born in debt, lives in debt and dies in debt”. It is high time that we change this by helping farmers to come out of the vicious cycle of debt.

From Ms Rose Vincent

Loan waivers

Though every political party in our country, India, during elections promise waiver of farmers’ loans, it is seldom implemented. In fact, as averred by Rajiv Kumar, Vice-President of NITI Aayog, a policy think tank of the Government of India, such waivers benefit only a small fraction of farmers.

It is the elite, known to political leaders, who are the most benefited. I believes that there should be a mass “crop insurance policy”, the premiums of which would be far less than the waiver amount spent by the politicians after every state elections. Insurance companies should ensure supply of seeds and fertilisers at a reasonable cost. Such loan waiver promises should be stopped once and for all.

From Mr N. Hariharan
Chennai, India

The future is in your hands

Child negligence is a form of child abuse and is a deficit in meeting a child’s basic needs. It includes failure to provide proper health care, nutrition, clothing as well as their physical, emotional, social, educational and safety needs.

There are many such cases that you hear of in the news. Once such incident occurred a few days ago when a four-year-old boy died after being trapped inside a washing machine. There are countless cases all around the world in which a child falls of a balcony, or a child is simply left alone in a locked car. All have one thing in common, which is the fact that the child is not supervised by their respective guardian.

Studies suggest that one major reason why children are being neglected by their parents is because of the addictive use of smartphones. Many parents give their children a phone to keep them distracted and prevent them from disturbing them from their work, meal time or just watching television. This, when done for a long period of time, becomes an addiction for the child, to the point where the child throws a major tantrum on not getting a phone, even if it is just as they have woken up. But, it is not to late for change and by spreading awareness, we can potentially save a life.

From Mr B. V. S. Saket

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