‘‘Expanding Club’’
This has reference to editorial "Expanding Club" [Frontier, August 3-9, 2014]. In fact, the only "contribution" that the CPI-M together with its hangers-on which went by the high-sounding name of 'Left Front'—made during its 34-year rule was to turn West Bengal—once known as the 'citadel of the Left'—into a fertile ground for raising a rich harvest of extremely right-wing communal fascist forces. Even while trying to 'expand the club', the CPI-M refuses to take in those (like Rezzak Mollah or Prosenjit Bose) who had honest political differences with the party and left it, calling them deserters. The CPI-M conveniently forgets first, that it also once 'deserted' the undivided CPI and secondly, that by extending its hand to the CPI-ML (Liberation) it is again showing its willingness to enlist the cooperation of those who once 'deserted' the CPI-M. The CPI-M's mindset has not changed a bit. "We will be in a united front only if we can dominate it and dictate to it". This attitude is no way to Left unity. The party has become ideologically bankrupt. It just does not know what to do in the present circumstances.
Barun Das Gupta, Kolkata

When Lightning Strikes
On May 31, 10 people were killed and 32 were injured in lightning strikes in three districts of West Bengal. Senior weather officials have spoken about the vertical growth of a 'super cloud' which sent out the first signals for the lightning strikes which soon followed (in the early hours), sending down several thousands volts of electricity. As a result 5 persons died in Murshidabad, 2 in Bardhavan and 3 in Purulia. The 3 persons who perished in Purulia were all working in their fields. 24 persons were injured in West Midnapur district. These workers were preparing to go to a NREGA site for work.

During the previous day three persons died from lightning strikes in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand.

Among various natural disasters, it is lightening which has received the least attention. Loss of lives caused by lightening are often not reported at all, or frequently under reported. Therefore it is all the more important to consider the surprising analysis of data contained in a recent research paper titled 'Lightening Risk in India Challenges in Disaster Compensation'. This paper, written by Faisal T Illyas, Keshav Mohan, Shibu K Mani and A P Pradeep Kumar has analysed 45 years of records of casuality figures for five major calamities—flood, landslides, cold stroke, heat stroke and lightening. These calamities together caused 195745 deaths during the 45 years under review, out of which as many as 39% were due to lightening followed by floods (18%), landslides (15%) heat stroke (15%) and cold stroke (13%).

During this period 1967-2012 the average annual mortality was 1755 for lightening, compared to 795 for floods, 670 for landslides, 573 for cold stroke and 673 for heat stroke.

"The historical data gives clinching evidence that lightening is the most damaging natural disaster in India vis-a-vis loss of lives."

Apart from being the most important killer among all major disasters, lightening also causes huge damage to housing, agriculture and industries. It is clear that the many sided risks and damages associated with lightening should receive more attention.
Bharat Dogra, New Delhi

Poor Planners
It referes to media reports that Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has no information even about how and when photos of Mahatma Gandhi started to be put on currency-notes! Every collector of notes and coins can recall that currency notes with photos of Mahatma Gandhi were first time issued on the occasion of Gandhi birth-centenary on 2nd October 1969. Poor knowledge of RBI was also reflected when it could not reveal under RTI response about the change in system of issuing silver-alloy commemorative coins not being made available to commoners at their face-value.

RBI should update its knowledge that India in post-independence period for the first time issued silver-alloy coin of rupees ten again on occasion of Gandhi birth-centenary on 2nd October 1969 that too at its face-value so that even commoners could become part of commemoration by having commemorative coins at their face-values, a practice later discontinued with RBI selling such high-value coins being only in plastic packs at prices multiple times of their face-values in categories like 'uncirculated' and 'proof coins. Funny aspect is that now commemorative silver-alloy coins have face-value much-much lower than their respective metal-value!

Poor planners of RBI should ensure that face-value of silver-alloy coins should be about double the metal-value of these coins, and then should be made available to general public at their face-values right from the day of release through all branches of public and private sector banks, rather than their being only for VVIPs getting free, and rich getting at exorbitant high costs in plastic packs.
Madhu Agrawal, New Delhi

Vol. 47, No.8, Aug 31 - Sep 6, 2014