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Discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients persists

The fear of social ostracization makes it difficult for those living with the virus to seek treatment

By The Editorial Board

  • Published 4.12.19, 2:19 AM
  • Updated 4.12.19, 2:19 AM
It is important to speak more openly about HIV/AIDS in order to spread awareness among the people as well as extend support to the patients
It is important to speak more openly about HIV/AIDS in order to spread awareness among the people as well as extend support to the patients Shutterstock

Sir — Last Sunday, World AIDS Day was commemorated in different parts of the world, including India. To this day, society continues to discriminate against patients of HIV/AIDS. The fear of social ostracization makes it difficult for those living with the virus to seek treatment, and the illness persists. In view of this, the suggestion given by the Union health minister, Harsh Vardhan, to do away with derogatory terms like ‘AIDS community’ is welcome. It is also important to speak more openly about HIV/AIDS in order to spread awareness among the people as well as extend support to the patients.

Abhinaba Gupta,
Calcutta

 From the looks of it, the monkey menace in Mathura seems like a fairly straightforward issue.
From the looks of it, the monkey menace in Mathura seems like a fairly straightforward issue. PTI

Tricky situation

Sir — From the looks of it, the monkey menace in Mathura seems like a fairly straightforward issue. Yet, it turned out to be grave enough to bring together warring political parties when Hema Malini, the Bharatiya Janata Party parliamentarian, brought the matter up during the winter session of the Lok Sabha (“Monkey business”, Nov 30). Simian terror is not limited to Mathura or Vrindavan; people suffer from it in Delhi, Patna and other north Indian cities. Controlling these creatures will not be an easy job. It will require a joint effort by all sections of the administration.

Since the goal is neither to annihilate the species nor to continue to suffer, the issue must be dealt with cleverly. The government should allot a spacious enclosure stocked with food into which the monkeys can be lured. This would restrict their movement. It has also been pointed out that attempts to sterilize the simians have agitated them further. In that case, the food offered to the monkeys within the enclosure could be laced with oral contraceptives, as per the instructions of veterinary experts. This could also serve as a park for visitors, where the entry fee would be used for the purchase of food and medicines for the animals. Building a Hanuman temple within the premises could also draw devotees and tourists.

Asit Kumar Mitra,
Calcutta

Sir — The actress-turned-politician, Hema Malini, has been criticized by her constituency for raising issues regarding monkeys in Parliament while ignoring crucial problems plaguing the areas of Mathura and Vrindavan. This seems justified since the monkey issue could have been solved at the state-level.

Malini complained that the people of Vrindavan are forced to deal with this menace because the natural habitat of the simians has shrunk. Here it would be pertinent to recall that in September 2014, Malini had said that widows from West Bengal and Bihar should not crowd Vrindavan, which is a part of her constituency in Uttar Pradesh. It is ironic that she is insensitive to the plight of widows abandoned by their families and cares only about highlighting the health and habitat problems faced by monkeys.

S.S. Paul,
Nadia

Sir — Under the current dispensation at the Centre, both cows and monkeys seem to enjoy similar levels of veneration. Their nature, however, differs greatly. Monkeys, unlike cows, are highly unpredictable in behaviour and it is often difficult to deal with them. This is what has forced politicians who otherwise always fight against each other in Parliament to take a united stand against the simian menace in Mathura.

Strangely, the vice of taking bribes, which has become a defining trait of human beings, seems to have infected the monkeys too. Contrary to general practice, the parliamentarian, Sudip Bandyopadhyay, himself admitted to having bribed a monkey to get his spectacles back. Under these circumstances, it may be a Herculean task for Hema Malini to get the simians to submit and be herded into designated shelters as is done with cows in gaushalas.

Sukhamay Biswas,
Calcutta

Take care

Sir — Small steps at a personal level can go a long way in saving the environment. For instance, water wastage can be prevented by ensuring that no taps are left running in the house and fixing pipelines that have leakages. Public faucets without valves should also be reported without delay. The use of tubs or buckets for baths instead of showers also saves more water.

While taking printouts on paper, one should make use of both sides of the sheet. Planting seeds to commemorate special occasions in the family, such as birthdays or anniversaries, could turn out to be a helpful practice.

Md. Sabiuddin,
Patna

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