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Policies of denial
Sir: A girls’ college has issued a notice banning its students from wearing red, orange or black on Valentine’s Day. It has also prohibited its students from bringing any gifts to the college premises on the 13th and 14th of February. This is as arbitrary of the banning of the cell-phones, and equally ridiculous. Just like banning cell-phones will not solve the problem of low attendance in classes, or prevent sneaky dates, forcing students to wear anything but red can not and will not ensure that they will not celebrate Valentine’s Day. What is so harmful about Valentine’s Day anyway! It is a day that celebrates love; if anything, we need more of such days in our country, given the abundance of hatred and antagonism!
Phase out CFCs
Sir: I would like to bring the attention of the public in general and the Ministries of Health and Environment in particular, to the hazards associated with the usage of inhalers containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) for asthma management. Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are the two most common chronic airway diseases and it is estimated that around three hundred million people worldwide suffer from these ailments. In order to manage these ailments CFC-based Multi Dose Inhalers (MDIs) are used in Pakistan to provide immediate relief from asthma and COPD.
CFCs are inert at ground level but rise towards the stratosphere due to sunlight and cause the release of chlorine fragment which destroys the ozone layer. Papers published in 1985 in the journal Nature by the British Antarctic Survey recorded the first evidence of significant ozone depletion, and those ozone holes have subsequently become larger and deeper and are being detected elsewhere as well. Thinning of ozone layers permits increased level of damaging ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation to reach the earth surface. Increased UVB radiation in the future is likely to lead to a significant increase in the occurrence of skin cancer including melanomas, as well as an enhanced risk of cataracts. Plant life and other ecosystems are also likely to suffer considerable damage.
Montreal Protocol was first signed in 1985, whereby signatory countries committed themselves to phasing out CFCs; after a series of amendments and acceleration of dates, it was determined that this objective would be achieved by 1996 in developed countries and by 2010 in developing countries. Pakistan was among the signatories to this protocol whereby CFCs in inhalers for asthmatic patients, were also to be phased out.
Through your esteemed newspaper, I would like to call upon the concerned Environmental and Drug Regulatory Authorities to take notice of the CFC containing inhalers and its usage and address the concerns of many who would like to see Pakistan, being a signatory to these international commitments, aware of its responsibility. We need to ban usage of CFC containing inhalers, whose production is estimated to be around five million units per annum in Pakistan alone, and substitute these with non-CFC inhalers immediately.
Sir: From your newspaper (DT, February 13) we find that the administration of Lahore College for Women University barred their students from celebrating Valentine’s Day. On another page of the paper, we find a photo of activists from a hardline Hindu Group burning Valentine’s Day cards. What an interesting sharing of values. PERVAIZ VANDAL
Sir: It was sad to read about the passing of Swarnlata and it was even sadder that the death of the once popular actress, both of pre-1947 and post-independence cinema, was dealt with in no more than a couple of lines in the press.
Let me fill the gap with information about her careers, gathered from my cinema historian friend Muhammad Rafiq in England. Swarnlata made many films, the most famous of which undoubtedly was Ratan, whose great hits by Naushad continue to delight (Sawan ke badlo, Pardesi balama, Mil ke bichhar gayain akhian etc.). She married Nazir and the mention of one brings back memories of the other. Nazir was born at the turn of the last century, and after silent films in Lahore with AR Kardar, moved with him to Calcutta. He appeared in silents like Chankaya with Kardar directing. In 1932, he acted in Ezra Mir’s Zarina and shifted to Bombay. After Kardar’s Baghban, Nazir became a hero and appeared with Sitara Devi in films like Salma (1943).
Swarnlata had appeared with Dilip Kumar in Pratima (1945), directed by Arun Kumar. Nazir took her on for his Laila Majnu (1945) in which they played lead roles, follwed by Wamaq Azrra in 1946 and Abida in 1947. She also appeared with Navin in Insaaf in 1946. Nazir and Swarnlata married and moved to Pakistan where the inseparable pair appeared in the Punjabi movies Pherey (1949 — the first Punjabi film made in Pakistan), Mundari (1949), Laarey (1950), and Shehri Babu (1953). Nazir was getting on in years and on the set of Heer (1955), he noticed Inayat Hussain Bhatii in a minor role and suggested to Swarnlata that the younger man may be more appropriate as her male lead. An so it was. Swarnlata’s last Panjabi film was Billo Ji (1962).
Swarnlata was born in Lucknow and was Urdu-speaking. She was coached in Punjabi by Baba Alam Siahposh, the Punjabi lyricist and poet. Swarnlata said in an interview once that it was she who had brought Inayat Hussain Bhatti and Zubaida Khanam to films in 1955. Her Urdu movies in Pakistan were Sachai (1949), Bheegi Palkein (1952), Khatoon (1955), Naukar (1955), Sabira (1956), Sauteli Maa (1956) and Noor-e-Islam (1957). The last film also starred our Sialkot friend, Qayoom Shah who was given the filmi name of Dawar. Nazir died in 1983. Without doubt, Nazir and Swarnlata formed the movie industry’s golden couple. In her last interview she said that the great hero of the 1940s, Motilal, wanted to marry her but she declined. She was 90 when she died but her movies and the songs associated with them will live.