Editorial 1/ good counsel
Editorial 2/ pell mell house
Unproductive spending
Fifth Column/ They voted the bogeyman to power
Mani talk/ A tale of two TMCs
Letters to the editor

The report of the prime minister’s economic advisory council needs to be applauded for the unqualified opposition it has to untargeted subsidies, including those for the railways. Among subsidies singled out for rationalization and resultant hikes in user charges, the council mentions water, power, food, fertilizer, post, railways, university education and healthcare. In each of these cases, there are empirical studies that show that these subsidies don’t benefit the poor. Unfortunately, the poor pay for them, if not through indirect taxes, then through inflation. While subsidization for the poor is necessary, such subsidies have to be targeted and cannot be across the board and this raises the issue of delivery of subsidies. Specifically on primary education, the council draws a necessary distinction between financing and delivery functions. While the government may need to subsidize and finance primary education, there is no need for the government to actually deliver these services. A government that is inefficient in making steel does not become efficient in providing primary education. Hence, the council mentions subsidization of mid-day meals and transportation, but also talks about vouchers that will be freely transferable across government and non-government schools. Simultaneously, management of primary education has to be decentralized to local bodies. Injection of competition, direct payments to beneficiaries and decentralization are the key to improving delivery of all services, not just primary education. Clearly, the council has a similar framework in mind for agriculture.

Hence the argument that to ensure four per cent growth rate for agriculture, controls on movement and stocking of agricultural commodities be eased, private sector entry be allowed for storage and bulk handling and the levy system (rice, sugar) be ended. With the public distribution system re-targeted, procurement for PDS purposes will obviously be opened up to the private sector and the Food Corporation of India will restrict its operations only to buffer stocks of up to 10 million tonnes. There are also sensible suggestions on reforming labour markets. Mandatory permission from the government for retrenchment, closure and lockout will be scrapped, the severance package increased to 30 days wages (for every year worked) from the present 15 days and contract labour and outsourcing allowed. Exit of companies will be facilitated by revamping the Sick Industrial Companies Act and the board for industrial and financial reconstruction.

Certainly, some swadeshi tints have crept into the recommendations. For instance, although the average import duty will be reduced to 12 per cent by 2005 (from the present 34 per cent), duties on agro products must increase. Foreign direct investment must be Indianized, whatever that expression means. Small-scale industry reservations can immediately be scrapped only for high growth sectors, other sectors will have to wait for five years. Looking ahead to the budget, there are three direct recommendations — a reduction in the interest rate on small savings, perhaps by one percentage point; downsizing government through implementing recommendations of the expenditure reforms commission and the committee of secretaries and rationalization of excise and modified value added tax. Not a single recommendation is really new and economists have advanced the arguments for several years now. The problem lies in the political economy of implementing the agenda. If the idea was that the council provide a handle to the prime minister to introduce required reforms, the council has done its job. Over to the prime minister now.


The Manipur legislators have taken political absurdism to new heights. The situation would have been immensely entertaining had it not also meant the dragging down of the entire state to a situation of protracted and pervasive chaos. It is difficult to freeze the maddeningly fluid political configurations in the state for comment. But there seems to be a riot of expulsions going on in the Manipur State Congress Party. And none of these makes much sense. The working president had earlier expelled the chief minister from the party. This was followed, the next day, with the chief minister expelling the working president. Both persons took away with them a number of other cabinet ministers. Complicating this bizarre split between the party’s central executive council and its legislature wing, a group of eight MSCP legislators crossed over to the opposition. This had reduced the United Democratic Front, led by the (now expelled) chief minister, Mr W. Nipamacha Singh, to a minority. Mr Singh’s political rival, possibly masterminding these splits and defections is the working president, Mr T. Chaoba Singh. He also happens to be a Union minister. But he too has been expelled now. With such entirely random movements going on across the floor and within the MSCP, and with Manipur’s legislators being notoriously susceptible to lucrative beckonings, the eventual configuration of the assembly seems quite impossible to predict.

It had all started with the threat of president’s rule. The MSCP legislature wing, led by the chief minister, threatened to pull out — and actually thought it had pulled out — of the National Democratic Alliance. But the party’s executive wing, led by Mr Chaoba Singh, chose to ignore this. The schizoid MSCP will have to decide whether it is, or is not, part of the NDA. With schisms, expulsions and confusion multiplying everywhere, the only option seems to be for the speaker to reconvene this hopelessly pell-mell house.


The government needs to give greater attention to, and provide larger resources for, primary education and primary health. With regard to public funded schools and difference in the quality of healthcare, the Global Competitiveness Report 2000 places India at the 54th and 57th ranks respectively. In the sphere of raising the literacy levels and providing greater access to basic health services, the government is required to play an enlarged role. Much higher levels of literacy could be achieved through creative mobilization of new information technology approaches, better school attendance, and other policies, all with a clear focus on inclusion of girls and other traditionally disadvantaged groups. Evidence from across the world suggests that high levels of literacy have helped raise growth rates and reduced fertility rates over time. Aggressive public health campaigns are required to address major infectious diseases (pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases, and malaria) and the incipient AIDS epidemic, which now threatens India with tens of millions of cases unless properly addressed.

Rather than providing across-the-board subsidies on food prices which tend to get dissipated in corruption, administrative costs, and lower food prices for the wealthy, in part these programmes could be targeted at school children, by guaranteeing one nutritious meal a day for every school child in every school throughout the country. Schemes such as mid-day meals for school children should be expanded. However, the scheme currently being implemented does not envisage any re-targeting of subsidies as we suggest. Not only would this help to target the aid to needy households, but would also provide a vital economic incentive for poor parents to send their children to school.

Expenditure on educating girls is perhaps one of the most productive expenditures. It helps bring down both fertility and infant mortality rates. The impact on the former is seen to be significant and similar in most Indian states. Besides, female literacy would also be instrumental in greater female labour force participation and raising the status of women in the society. The Centre needs to provide greatly enhanced transfer payments to the states to help support primary health and education. This may be done on a matching-grant basis, so that state governments are given an incentive to increase their own effort in expenditures directed at these areas. In addition, some part of the privatization revenues could also be earmarked for increased expenditures on primary health and education. Briefly put, a reorientation is required in the government’s social policy — high priority to human resource development.

India’s growth strategy should focus heavily on exports. Export-led growth in services is one of the most interesting developments; and in manufactures, the more traditional textiles and apparel, in electronics and other labour-intensive operations, it remains an area where India could do a lot more than in the past.

India’s export environment suffers from several institutional weaknesses. India’s labour laws make it very costly to fire workers in enterprises of more than 100 workers (on hiring and firing practices, India ranks 53rd out of 58 countries). The result is that formal-sector firms (those that are registered and that pay their taxes) are loath to take on new employment, and the vast majority of India’s employment is informal, in small, tax-evading, inefficient enterprises. India continues to restrict the entry of medium or large firms, or the growth of small firms into medium or large firms, in several areas of potential comparative advantage. Thus toys, shoes and leather products continue to be reserved, to a varying extent, for small-scale producers. The recent decision to remove garments from the list of products reserved for the small-scale sector is a very welcome step.

Such restrictions virtually assure China’s dominance in these sectors compared with India. India’s tax and tariff structures similarly remain anti-export biased. India’s high overall tariff rates, especially tariffs on intermediate products that are used by exporters, impose a heavy indirect tax on export competitiveness. Furthermore, the Union budget for 1998-99 had imposed an additional non-modvatable levy of 8 per cent on imports, which was later reduced to 4 per cent. There are duty drawback systems to reduce this anti-export bias, but such programmes are administratively burdensome and often too costly to use effectively. Finally, the regulatory attitude to foreign direct investors, who could be the fuel for India’s export drive, continues to be ambivalent. The government promotes FDI on the one hand, but then maintains regulations against full foreign ownership, or insists on lengthy approval processes, on the other hand.

The development of industrial parks for exports should be enhanced. Private developers need the freedom to acquire urban and semi-urban land to develop privately financed infrastructure in support of exports. The government must take urgent measures to reduce export costs, including private-sector provision of port services, zero tariff ratings on capital and intermediate goods imports used for export based on an effective duty exemption scheme and enhanced export-oriented infrastructure.

The reservation of labour-intensive sectors to small-scale enterprises should be scrapped. This will give India a chance to provide stiff international competition in labour-intensive exports to countries such as China. The government should encourage inward investment in export-oriented sectors, allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership without administrative interference, and with the provision of generous tax holidays as necessary to attract internationally mobile capital from other locations.

China has achieved a lot more in manufactured export production than India and for no particular reason. India has the resource base, it has the entrepreneurship, access to the sea coast, a vast labour force; it has everything that coastal China has had except the interest of the government, which neglected this for a long time and which even today under-emphasizes the role of industrial facilities, infrastructure, of land area and effective port facilities needed to be able to compete with China in this area. But it is, we believe, a place where one could find tens of millions of jobs over the next few years in real, significant foreign exchange earning private-sector activity.

India’s growing capacity in service-sector exports based on information technology must be mentioned. Here, as in labour-intensive exports, Indian government policy could do much more to spur export growth. On the plus side has been the government’s long-term commitment to the Indian Institutes of Technology. More recently has been the government’s support for software technology parks in Chennai, Bangalore, Pune and other cities, which are the IT-industry equivalent of the export processing zones in manufacturing industries.

However, there are serious negatives. India’s telephone density is abysmally low, at around 1.3 per hundred in 1995, compared with around 62.6 per hundred in the United States. Charges for domestic long distance and international telephone calls in India are among the highest in the world, largely due to lack of competition.

India is becoming one of the most important players of the world in the IT sector and it is the fastest growing foreign exchange earner for India. The government could do more for this industry, through liberalization of telecom, allowing for lower priced telecommunication services, by allowing new entry of major international players in telecom who would lay down a fibre-optic network in India and increase the bandwidth available for Indian business.

Some of the key areas requiring further reform to attain and sustain higher rates of gross domestic product growth are: greater openness of the economy; dereservation of items from the reservation list of the small-scale sector; deregulation of India’s private sector, including liberalization of labour laws and exit policies; demonopolization of infrastructure; and decentralization of economic policy-making. Fiscal deficit remains high. Ominously, the ratio of internal public debt to GDP has continued to rise, and the debt service burden has risen even faster because of rising interest rates.

Quite evidently, expenditure reform has lagged behind tax reform. Hence, the expenditure-GDP ratio needs to be brought down considerably. The composition of government spending is skewed towards unproductive current expenditures and away from basic infrastructure as well as vitally needed spending on human resource development, especially in the areas of primary health and education.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is director of the Center for International Development, Harvard University. Nirupam Bajpai is director of the Harvard India Program at the Center for International Development


You cannot say that Israeli voters were not warned, so why did they do it? Five years ago, no political analyst in Israel would have believed that Ariel Sharon could ever be elected prime minister. He was too much of a loose cannon, with too many black marks on his past.

Now the voters have made him the country’s leader by an overwhelming 63-37 margin. Ask them why, and they’ll say it’s because he will bring them “security”.

This is a country with an army that has never been beaten (except, arguably, in the war in Lebanon that Sharon started in 1982, and even then it took 18 years for Israel to pull out). It has far greater military superiority over its Arab neighbours than it had at the time of its past wars with them, for they have lost their old Soviet patron.

Just in case anything goes wrong, Israel also has a couple of hundred nuclear weapons, the only ones in the region, plus the almost unqualified backing of the world’s sole remaining superpower. So why were Israeli voters in such an extreme state of anxiety about their security that they were willing to call on Sharon?

Because about 50 Israeli Jews have been killed in the past four months as a result of the second Palestinian intifada. Some 350 Palestinians have also been killed, but that is of little consolation as Israelis do not mourn Arab deaths.

Slap ’em down

Fifty violent deaths in four months is bound to have an emotional impact on a society of only five million Israeli Jews, but why is it so much bigger than the impact of seven times as many deaths on a Palestinian community half that size? The Palestinians haven’t been stampeded (yet) into rejecting Yasser Arafat for the fundamentalist movements that condemn peace. Israelis, by contrast, have concluded that only a man like Sharon can ensure their security.

The answer lies not in logic but in psychology. There is and always has been a siege mentality in Israel. It was justified in the early days of the state’s existence, when one major defeat could have brought the country to the brink of catastrophe, but it has not diminished with the changing realities.

As the real threats have shrunk, Israelis focus obsessively on those that remain, and remain prey to attacks of acute anxiety. This one, ironically, has driven them to choose the one leader whose actions might really put their hard-won security at risk.

Of course, they haven’t elected Sharon to lead them into a war against the entire Arab world. All they really want him to do is cow the Palestinians into submission.

As David Margolis, a Jerusalem Post writer, who voted for Barak last time but backed Sharon this time, put it: “Maybe a bully is just what we need to cope with the bully Arafat. Perhaps, instead of being coddled and spoken to earnestly, the Palestinians, like wayward children, need to be slapped hard once or twice to bring them to their senses.”

If the fat fizzles

Three hundred and fifty dead and he thinks Palestinians are being “coddled”? Thirty-four years of foreign military occupation, Jewish settlements all over their land, the annexation by Israel of all of Jerusalem, and they are “wayward children” who need to be slapped around until they come to their senses? It is an ignorant, patronizing, racist attitude, but it resonates with the public mood in Israel.

So Israeli voters have mandated Sharon to “beat some sense” into their unwilling subjects, and no doubt he will try. He won’t attack Iran and Egypt, or even Jordan and Lebanon; he’ll just make life hell for the Palestinians. The problem is that the brutalities he inflicts on the Palestinians may have repercussions elsewhere.

Israel has made peace with Jordan, but young King Abdullah is only two years on the throne and rules over a population around 70 per cent Palestinian. The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, is another callow young man who only has the job thanks to his father (who ruled Syria with an iron hand for 30 years until his death last year).

Either or both of these men could be overthrown if popular outrage against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians boils over. And if a radical new regime in either Jordan or Syria opened its borders with Iraq and let Saddam Hussein send his troops to the Israeli frontier, then the fat would really be in the fire.


The two TMCs are, of course, the Tamil Maanila Congress and the Trinamool Congress. I refused to join the first but was briefly a founder-member of the second. Both are back in the news with the two states in which they operate, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, heading for state assembly elections next April. Both are breakaways from the parent Congress, both an assertion of state autonomy over high command control, both survive on alliances, and both pretend to being the “real” Congress as opposed to the ersatz Delhi-based version. Ultimately, both are an attempt to secure a Congress destiny outside the Congress.

The Tamil Maanila Congress was the first off the block. Against the overwhelming opinion in the Tamil Nadu Congress committee that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had forfeited public confidence, the Congress high command decided on the eve of the 1996 general elections (which also involved state assembly elections in Tamil Nadu) to stay with the AIADMK alliance. At this, the bulk of the TNCC, led by veteran Tamil Nadu Congressman, G.K. Moopanar, broke from the parent party to form the Tamil Nadu version of the TMC.

In itself, the break was unexceptionable and a deserved rebuke to the high command for misassessing the ground realities in the state. What was morally unacceptable was that instead of fighting the two Dravidian parties as a third force, the TMC went from birth to wedlock within minutes, tying up with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, whose government the Congress had succeeded in persuading the then prime minister, Chandra Shekhar, to dismiss in January 1991 after producing irrefutable evidence of the organic links in organized violence between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the DMK, specifically the complicity of chief minister, Muthuvel Karunanidhi, in the escape from India of the assassins of Padmanabha and 12 other Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Chennai.

After the dismissal of the DMK government, the same Sivarasan (“One-eyed Jack”) who had led the Padmanabha assassination squad, and escaped the Tamil Nadu police dragnet on the explicit instructions of the chief minister, Karunanidhi, returned to India with Dhanu in tow and blew up Rajiv Gandhi (and 11 others) at Sriperumbudur. The Central Bureau of Investigation’s multidisciplinary agency is even now engaged in investigating Karunanidhi, who, said the Jain commission, holds the key to unravelling the tangled conspiracy behind the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

Whatever its moral dimension, the TMC-DMK tie-up could hardly be faulted for its realpolitik: Moopanar emerged as the king-maker of the H.D. Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral regimes; P. Chidambaram gained world renown; and the Congress was virtually wiped off the face of Tamil Nadu politics. Let us pause there and turn to the other TMC — the Trinamool Congress.

West Bengal’s TMC was, in effect, born at the Calcutta plenary session of the Congress in August 1997, when the then Congress president, Sitaram Kesri, distanced the party from an enormously successful rally organized by Mamata Banerjee to coincide with the plenary. With the precipitation of the fall of the Gujral government, Mamata’s parting of ways with the Congress was also precipitated. On December 29, 1997, the West Bengal TMC was launched. I was present at the creation.

The moral dilemma of the West Bengal TMC was the same as that of its Tamil counterpart. Neither had the strength to stand on its own. The one, throwing all discretion to the winds, jumped straight into the DMK bed. The other was more circumspect. Initially (through the four weeks I was with her), Mamata took the line that she was certainly not in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party, not even in a seat-sharing arrangement with the party, and if there was any link between the two, it was only because the TMC’s resources were limited to fighting 22 parliamentary seats. By the time the 1998 election results were out, Mamata had become a full-fledged supporter of the BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee and a member of the National Democratic Alliance, but still too coy to be part of the government. After the 1999 elections, the wheel had turned full circle and the Trinamool, as a member of the Central government, was wholly aligned to the BJP.

The break between the Tamil TMC and the DMK came over the DMK’s alliance with the BJP. By then, several things had become clear. One, the third front experiment at the Centre had failed and for political relevance the choice was between a BJP-led coalition and an anti-BJP grouping with the Congress as the largest single component. Second, the alliance with the DMK had served no TMC purpose in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections in which they had lost many of their seats. In 1999, the TMC chanced it on its own, and ended losing in 233 of Tamil Nadu’s 234 assembly segments. To stay politically alive, Moopanar, from October 1999, positioned himself virtually in alliance with the till-then reviled J. Jayalalitha, but that alliance is still to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, the Pattali Makkal Katchi — a professedly pro-LTTE, almost secessionist, party, which had notoriously celebrated the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, blatantly casteist and viciously anti-Dalit — jumped into the breach and confirmed its alliance with Jayalalitha. This has pushed the TMC back into the waiting arms of the Congress and the two are back to being virtually indistinguishable. If the Congress has discovered that there is no destiny for the Congress in Tamil Nadu except through a joint Congress-TMC presence, the TMC has discovered that a Congress destiny cannot be found outside the Congress.

That stage is still to be reached in West Bengal. The denouement will probably have to wait till after the next state assembly elections. For the West Bengal Trinamool Congress in alliance with the BJP is as unacceptable to the Congress as the Tamil TMC was in cohorts with the DMK. Yes, there is an off-chance that Mamata will pull off a miracle victory. But the more likely outcome is a return of the Left Front, albeit cut considerably down to size.

Mamata will then have to acknowledge to herself the reality that the Congress is a better bet for her in West Bengal, both morally and politically, than the BJP. As for the Congress, it probably already realizes that the tallest Congress leader in West Bengal is a young woman who is at present out of the Congress. Thus the stage is set for a post-election Trinamool Congress-Congress reconciliation.

The aberrations of 1996 and 1997, in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal respectively, are thus more likely than not to come to a virtually simultaneous conclusion before the current year is out.



Palace of controversy

Sir — What is this drama about the rajmata, Vijayaraje Scindia (“Rajmata’s last testament portrays a palace at war with itself”, Feb 8)? Given the fact that her death has brought to the forefront the fate of the Rs 30,000 crore Gwalior inheritance, no one doubts the newsworthiness of her death. But making such a big ruckus is overdoing it a trifle. Madhavrao Scindia is not the only son in the country to have an embittered relationship with his mother. Again, this is not the sole instance when members of the same family have been loyal to different political groups or ideologies. After all, even in the Nehru-Gandhi family, such things have happened. Besides, the vulgarity with which the rajmata’s relationship with Sambhaji Rao Angre (one of the executors of Vijayaraje’s will) is being analysed is unseemly. Why is so much coverage being given to this “controversy”? Is it because it is automatically assumed in this country that members of the same family will invariably have identical viewpoints? Or is it just the money?
Yours faithfully,
Vinay Agarwal, via email

Raise the curtain

Sir — In his article, “Liberal reconstructions of India” (Feb 7), Rajat Kanta Ray infers from my earlier article, “Veiled revolution” (Jan 29), that I personally oppose “liberalism”, “advocate the hijab”, and “equate and downgrade Kemal Ataturk and the Shah of Iran”.

Ray fails to realize that my references to Ataturk and the Shah constituted not my opinions, but the opinions circulating within a self-styled “contra-modern” pan-Islamic discourse. These opinions, together with the examples of women who had voluntarily adopted hijab, were offered to the readers of The Telegraph to indicate that women such as Asiya Andrabi are not necessarily forced to wear what they would term “hijab” (rather than “burkha”).

From this fundamental misreading of my article, Ray concludes that I oppose “liberalism”, even while conceding that “liberalism” accommodates diverse ideological imperatives. He thereby appears as illiberal to me as I undoubtedly seem to him. Relativism apart, several contemporary political theorists argue for a liberalism that uncompromisingly engages with cultural rights of minorities within pluralist democracies.

If we are interested in formulating such rights for a “liberal reconstruction of India”, we must factor in the visible forms of minority resistance to the ever-strident Hindutva rhetoric. My article was itself one such form of resistance. Even as I used my keyboard, others may have chosen to deploy a headscarf.

It is counterproductive to bracket, as Ray has done, Islamic dress with Muslim personal law in India. Today, the Muslim Indian finds herself unable to advocate reform of the personal law for fear of providing ammunition to Hindutva-wadis. Ray’s statement, “Don’t force the civil code down the throats of Muslims” took me back to a 1991 scholarship interview in New Delhi, when a panel of the “liberal intelligentsia” had inquired into my views on the common civil code. When I unhesitatingly advocated its imposition, they derisively responded, “What? And force it down the throats of your Muslim brethren?” My reservations today attest to raised identity stakes today, not my retrogression from a liberal feminist standpoint.

Being an optimist, I see Ray and myself diverging in methodology alone. I drew attention to the pejorative connotations of the term, burkha, and the ideological impact of Andrabi-esque images. Ray had some trouble reading my text — he misunderstands, for example, my clear qualifier, “predominantly” — “a lady, which Ananya Jahanara Kabir somehow conflates with the deep paranoia of the “predominantly Bengali Hindu, educated male audience.”

Yours faithfully,
Ananya Jahanara Kabir Cambridge, UK

Sir — Rajat Kanta Ray deserves full appreciation for his bold attitude and authentic analysis of the Kashmir problem in his article. Indian newspaper and television reporters should take a more active role in their reporting of the militancy in Kashmir.

The Indian press, while reporting the violence perpetrated by militants, seldom publishes details of the rape, torture and killing by the security forces that happen every week. Our leaders are demanding reservations for women, delivering endless speeches about their dignity and honour, yet they maintain a shameless silence about the brutality against women in Kashmir. This doublefacedness should be attacked. Why should we spend so much public money on the defence forces when its members are unleashing these attacks on our citizens?

Yours faithfully,
S.A.R. Barkati, Calcutta

Preying on need

Sir — Distress creates the ideal scenario for testing how humane people really are. But the Gujarat calamity shows that if we are even halfway towards being self-respecting, we should not call ourselves human beings (“Parent today, master tomorrow” Feb 9).

Volunteers from all over the world rushed to help the quake victims. And all of them saw what kind of people make up the Indian nation — one of the oldest “civilizations” of the world. But this has not perturbed the followers of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s ideology. Remember, they have been the most vociferous champions of the adoption cause in Gujarat (“VHP in orphan instalment scheme”, Feb 2). But clearly, what they want is a group of unpaid servants, not foster children. What sort of Hinduism is this?

Yours faithfully
Sagarika Dasgupta, Calcutta

Sir — Poor relief management and an equally poor maintenance of law and order (“Law’s long arm reaches out to loot amid ruins”, Feb 10) by the Gujarat government cast ridicule on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s chants about good governance. It is no different from the corrupt regimes that have governed this country. The prime minister, the much-hyped “honest” man, was busy luring his home constituency voters when the misery of the earthquake victims was at its worst. And the so-called defenders of Hindutva, following the instructions from their VHP brethren, are trying to “share” the burden by adopting orphaned children and making them work like servants. It is unfortunate that only a calamity of such proportions could reveal the ghastly nature of the Hindutva bogey.

Yours faithfully
Aditya P. Chatterjee, Calcutta

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