A natural disaster can become a window into the value system of a nation. During the recent flooding in Mumbai, there were stories of neighbors and even strangers helping each other. In the United States, less than a week after hurricane Katrina, 142,522 Americans offered their homes for the victims (New York Times, Sept. 6, 2005). Less admirable responses to Katrina included looting and opportunism amidst those left behind.

Several people have asked where the money for reconstruction will come from—private insurance companies, government funding, or a combination of both? But neither strong business nor strong government can substitute for the civic response that must be forthcoming.

In America, the spirit of volunteerism daily reinforces the social fabric of community and civic responsibility. We see this spirit firsthand in senior citizens who tend the community gardens every week, volunteers who work in public libraries and museums, making a difference every day in the lives they touch. In India, citizens can do the same.

Indians would benefit tremendously from emulating a “citizen army” that does not place its faith in the market to solve its problems, nor waits for the government to do so.

My plea to you is to open your hearts and your wallets, and to donate your time and resources generously to the people of Mumbai and New Orleans. Your generosity will be appreciated by those in need.

Tragedy can strike anywhere. Thank you for doing your bit as global citizens.

Geetika Jain, via email



I am a frequent visitor to the United States and read your editorial “In Hindsight” (IC, August 2005) with interest. In our youth our parents and grandparents taught us some guidelines for eating. We more or less followed them and are getting the benefits; I have not taken medicine worth even a dollar in the last 40 years!

Unfortunately, we could not pass on this advice properly to our children, especially to those who emigrated overseas. In case they want to take advantage of this advice that has been passed on for generations, here it is.

• Early to bed and early to rise; 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. is the time to rest both body and mind; 10 p.m. to midnight is the most effective period for sleeping.

• Upon getting up in the morning drink plenty of water (preferably stored overnight in a noble-metal container).

• Meals should consist of wholesome food that fills half the stomach capacity, along with sufficient water. Reheated food is not wholesome. Two meals a day are adequate. Chew your food well.

• For best digestion, the temperature of food should be around 37 degrees C and not below ambient temperature.

• Fast food and fried or baked items should be avoided as they are not wholesome.

• The interval between meals must be (at least) 6 hours; in the meantime, consume some snacks if hungry. After age 60 snacks between meals may be avoided.

• Skip one meal a week to give your digestive system a break.

• No meals within 3 hours before bedtime; you may consume some milk or seasonal local fruit (not refrigerated) before sleep.

• Cold drinks or ice cream may be had after 1½ to 2 hours interval from meals.

• Maintain regular meal timings.

• Meals should be consumed in good surroundings as well as moods.

• Half the intake of food, double quantity of water, and equal exercise is the good rule for old age.

• Banish beverages, alcoholic drinks, eggs, and non-vegetarian items and smoking from routine consumption.

Mukund Apte, via email

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