Read­ers maketh a mag­a­zine

Down to Earth - - ON THE WEB -

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.



Strong re­ac­tion

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.



Shit mat­ters

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

Your mag­a­zine

should in­clude tourism as its sub­ject as it has wide so­cio-eco­nomic im­pli­ca­tions on the en­vi­ron­ment.



Lan­guage bar­rier

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.



Biased views

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.



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?



Sci­en­tist con­trib­u­tors

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.



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.

Sweep­ing state­ment

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

Den­i­grat­ing women

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.

Miss­ing facts

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.



Bo­gus claims

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.



Nar­row think­ing

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.


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