Readers maketh a magazine
Since our inception, we have received overwhelming letters from our readers showing their love and support. But there were some who also criticised and cautioned us. Their feedback was critical for our growth. On our 23rd anniversary, we present 23 such letters. Sorry, it's 22; one is our first letter wishing us good luck. We just couldn't resist republishing it
Bridge the gap (MAY 16-31, 1992)
It is a great idea to bring out a fortnightly news magazine dealing with science, technology, environment and development. It should go a long way towards creating public opinion in favour of environmental protection. P N BHAGWATI FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA NEW DELHI
Have you got what it takes?
MAY 16-31, 1992
I want to sound a note of caution for your new publication. It is easy for newspapers and magazines to promote another journal. They can absorb the initial losses and attract advertisements quickly. But a new entrant without the support of a newspaper is likely to face many challenges. I hope you have taken these aspects into consideration. N KRISHNASWAMY SECRETARY GANDHI PEACE FOUNDATION NEW DELHI
Involve your readers
OCTOBER 1-15, 1992
To make the magazine more interactive, you could feature stories that encourage readers to undertake conservation and other eco-friendly projects at home.
OCTOBER 16-31, 1992
I find the attitude of Down To Earth to be rather reactionary, especially in its support for age-old, primitive and traditional environment practices. The magazine seems to blindly brand every development project as destructive to ecosystems.
INDRA KUMAR SHARMA
NOVEMBER 16-30, 1992
I am disturbed at the passive approach
Down To Earth has taken on the implications of open defecation ("Toilet trouble", September 16-30, 1992). The article should have questioned the Delhi Development Authority's responsibility to maintain public toilets and factored in the efforts of local communities in improving sanitation in their areas.
Don't forget tourism
JANUARY 1-15, 1993
should include tourism as its subject as it has wide socio-economic implications on the environment.
MAY 16-31, 1993
We are a federation of voluntary agencies working in rural areas and are not well-versed with English, so it is not useful for us to subscribe to Down
To Earth. Your magazine should be published in Hindi too to reach people at the grassroots level. SURYAKANT PARIKH SECRETARY, GUJARAT RAJYA GRAM VIKAS SANGH AHMEDABAD
Why only politics?
JUNE 16-30, 1993
In the future issues of Down To Earth, I would like to see more on the socio-economic aspects of the environment. B N PAL DELHI
What we changed: Down
To Earth today takes into consideration both the political and socio-economic aspects of environment and development. We have featured numerous stories on the impact of river pollution, urban construction, mining and deforestation on the livelihoods of farmers, fishers and tribals.
Spotted a mistake
APRIL 1-15, 1995
In "How to kill four cheetahs barehanded!" (February 1-15, 1995), the news on cheetah deaths in Delhi zoo had the picture of a leopard. It is a shame that large sections of the Indian press confuse the spotted animal with leopard. I hope you will be careful in future.
APRIL 16-30, 1995
Your story, "Lost in the jungle" (January 16-31, 1995), was disappointing. I consider
Down To Earth a national magazine and on the issue of the Forest Policy Bill, the magazine should have brought forth views and experiences of non-profits, state forest departments and village institutions across the country. Instead, the story was restricted to covering a handful of Delhi residents.
Need more science
OCTOBER 1-15, 1996
I feel most of your cover stories are environment-related. There should be some coverage on science too. The design appears old-fashioned with too many graphics and illustrations in the stories rather than pictures.
S B SOMASUNDARAM
What we changed: Over the years, Down To Earth has evolved both in terms of content and design. The magazine was relaunched with a new look last year to make it more reader-friendly. We try to achieve a fine balance of science and environment and also cover other issues like health, natural resources, mining, energy and climate change.
Ownership is not enough
JUNE 1-15, 1995
When you advocate villagers' ownership of natural resources, who are these villagers you are talking about? Most tribes today desire amenities like education and cooking gas. Will they get this simply by owning natural resources?
MAY 1-15, 1996
As one of the few science magazines in the country, you need to give greater coverage to issues related to science. But criticising scientific institutions is not enough. You should request scientists to contribute to your magazine.
V S ASHOK
Do you use recycled paper? DECEMBER 1-15, 1996
The paper used for printing the magazine is synthetic and non-biodegradable. I request you to look into the matter and take action.
COIMBATORE Editor's response: We agree that we should be using eco-friendly paper for printing Down To Earth. But the "environmentally-benign" paper offered to us by different paper companies has been found to be nothing of the kind on further research. What is sold as wood-free paper could be manufactured from bamboo or other material like imported wood waste. However, we will continue our efforts to source such paper.
JANUARY 1-15, 2001
I disagree with your editorial, "US tastes cream paste" (December 1-15, 2000). You noted that the International Herald
Tribune's coverage of the conference on climate change was deficient and then generalised that "the US media blatantly avoided telling the citizens the reality". This newspaper is little read in the US and can't represent the US print media.
MINNEAPOLIS, US Editor's response: Your letter has definitely caught me on the wrong foot. You are quite right that the International Herald
JUNE 16-30, 2000
Your cover photograph in the May 1-15, 2000, issue of
Down To Earth was shocking. It is disheartening that we are subjected to such shabby treatment from a progressive magazine like yours. The cover photo not only objectifies women but also dehumanises her by showing just her legs. SHUBHA VIA EMAIL Editor's response:
Down To Earth does not endorse the way automobile companies use women to sell their vehicles. In fact, our cover was done deliberately as a spoof to show how when these companies use glitz and glamour to sell their cars, they are actually selling people "cancer".
Tribune is hardly read in the US and that it cannot represent print media.
JANUARY 1-15, 2001
Apropos "Now it is floods" (January 1-15, 2001), Down To Earth missed the heavy downpour and consequent floods of July 2000 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. There was record rainfall, but none of the rainwater was harvested. It was a relevant issue for your magazine.
FEBRUARY 1-15, 2007
The article, "Organic drive in Uttaranchal ignores farmers' concerns" (November 1-15, 2006), was disappointing and incredulous. The hotchpotch of quotes attributed to people in the report does not appear authentic.
Why on earth GM crops?
MARCH 1-15, 2007
The editorial, "Poor regulators do not a rich country make" (December 1-15, 2006), partially supports genetically modified (GM) crops. Isn't it irresponsible for an environment-friendly magazine to say that GM crops should be introduced?
Nuclear power, unclear issues
DECEMBER 1-15, 2007
Your article, "ABC of 123" (October 1-15, 2007), leaves
much to be desired. It does not delve into the pros and cons of nuclear power. We are aware of the dangers, but many of us know little about the economic viability of nuclear power.
DECEMBER 16-31, 2007
With reference to "Private affairs" (April 1-15, 2006), it is not fair to have such a narrow view about industry initiatives on setting up plantations. Why is Down To Earth so rigid about leasing out degraded lands to industries for plantations? Is it just because industries will make profits out of it?
Criticism alone will not help
JANUARY 1-15, 2007
In "Another India is not ours" (October 16-31, 2006), the author has taken a biased position by criticising all special economic zones (SEZs). What is missing in the story is the key idea behind SEZs— generation of employment outside the agricultural sector.
Speak about new technology
MAY 1-15, 1995
I think Down To Earth needs to provide more space to local innovations and technology which can make life easy for the common man.
What we changed: New sections in our magazine, such as Technology, New Business, Initiative and Good News, feature products, technologies and ventures that people can use/ adopt to live a sustainable life.