Editorial 1 / Best choice
Editorial 2 / Hard lesson
Options and hunches
Fifth Column / Concerns for a growing India
The silent war within
Document / Working out a future programme
Letters to the editor

 
 
EDITORIAL 1 / BEST CHOICE 
 
 
 
 
Diplomacy, it has famously been said, is war carried on by other means. When the prime minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, announced in Parliament that efforts should be made to avert a war, he had in mind only the military aspect of it. The diplomatic offensive to eradicate terrorism and to isolate governments that sponsor it must continue with renewed vigour. On more realistic terms, Mr Vajpayee’s announced aversion to war in the present context is a recognition of the strategic cul-de-sac in which he finds himself. The attack on Parliament on December 13, and the subsequent findings which point to terrorist groups trained on Pakistan soil have mounted a pressure on Mr Vajpayee’s government to act decisively against the enemy. The pressure is present within Mr Vajpayee’s own political organization as well as within a wide range of popular perception. In the latter and within the sangh parivar, “the enemy’’ is identified with Pakistan; no fine distinctions are invoked. But Mr Vajpayee, as the prime minister of India and the head of a responsible government, cannot afford to think in such blanket catch-all labels. His decisions have to be based on more nuanced thinking and with longer term goals in mind.

From such a vantage point, a military action across the line of control in Kashmir may not be to India’s advantage. An intervention now will lack what is crucial in a military encounter: the surprise element. Moreover, an attack on entrenched positions always entails a heavy price in terms of men and machines. Mr Vajpayee, with a crucial assembly election around the corner, can ill afford to have dead soldiers returning to their homes. The political and the military costs of any kind of adventurism across the LoC are thus too high. Mr Vajpayee has to weigh these and not succumb to populist pressure. Moreover, the Indian government has earned for itself an enormous amount of goodwill by its role in the diplomatic parleys that preceded the war in Afghanistan and the discussions that came in its aftermath. A military action might put that goodwill in jeopardy.

There is another factor influencing Mr Vajpayee’s way of thinking. It has been an accepted premise that Mr Pervez Musharraf’s government in Pakistan should not be identified with the jihadis operating out of Pakistan. In fact, eliminating the jihadis is to the interest of both the Indian and the Pakistan governments. A precipitate military action against Pakistan by India will, in fact, blur the distinction that exists between the jihadis and the Pakistan government. It would be playing into the hands of the jihadis, whose actions are designed to provoke India into a confrontation with Pakistan. This analysis might convey the impression that India is caught in a no-win situation. Such a view would be myopic. Statesmanship does not consist of immediate retaliation. It consists in pondering the strategic options and in maximizing advantage in the middle term. Mr Vajpayee and his security advisors have obviously done their home work and looked hard at the options available. Their choice may not make Mr Vajpayee popular with the masses, but it is based on realities.

   

 
 
EDITORIAL 2 / HARD LESSON 
 
 
 
 
It is always the immature or the opportunistic who forget that freedom also means responsibility. The judgment of the Supreme Court regarding the fee structure and the practice of demanding donations and capitation fee in minority educational institutions is a reminder that such a connection exists. According to the court, the freedom of minority groups under Article 30 (1) to establish and administer educational institutions of their own choice does not include the right to turn them into profit-making enterprises in violation of the law of the state in which they are situated. The ruling was made in the context of a particular complaint lodged by a parent trying to get his child admitted to a school in Maharashtra. The school had evidently violated the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Prohibition of Capitation Fee) Act. The logic of the court’s judgment is clear enough. No school or college is above the law, and a constitutional freedom is not meant to be misused. The question of capitation fees is a troubled one though, and many institutions, minority or otherwise, subscribe to the practice in different states. Privately-run institutions feel they have the right to decide how they will raise the funds they need. An established system of private education would require a clear formulation of norms, something that has not yet happened. The court’s judgment has been made strictly within the parameters of the laws of the state in question.

But the Supreme Court has also raised certain other important issues. It has commented on the “unethical practice” of demanding money from persons wishing to join as members of staff and extorting large amounts from parents of aspiring students as “donations”. Once again, these are not practices confined to minority institutions, but are evils that have long been overlooked. It is taken for granted in certain districts in West Bengal, for example, that a fixed amount is needed to join a school as teacher. And “donations” from parents are quite routine in some of the best-reputed schools in urban areas. The administrators of each state need to look into these aspects of malpractice as urgently as they need to check misuse of privilege by minority institutions.

   

 
 
OPTIONS AND HUNCHES 
 
 
BY SHAM LAL
 
 
The shrill cries for a singing response to the terrorist assault on Parliament House in the form either of hot pursuit of militants in future or of bombing raids on bases of such jihadi outfits as Jaish-e-Mohammad are easy to understand. Many people feel that this strike at the heart of the Indian democracy has carried the proxy war, which Islamabad has been waging against this country for long, beyond the limits of endurance. The government’s own resolve to “liquidate” not only the terrorists but also their sponsors, which can only mean both religious and political establishments in Pakistan, echoes the same sense of rage and outrage. The question is whether it can live up to its words?

If the Vajpayee government thinks coolly about what it can or cannot possibly do, it will find to its chagrin that the option of eliminating the sponsors of terrorism is not open to it. The very system, which has somehow held together a wide diversity of religious and ethnic communities, rules out any adventurous policy. A few bombing raids, far from demolishing terrorist bases for good, may only destroy empty buildings, and cause some civilian casualties. This is not all. Such action will inevitably invite retaliatory raids and the resulting chain of events can only end up in a war.

It is not only the risks involved in a direct armed confrontation which New Delhi needs to take into account. What count for even more are the likely international repercussions of an armed confrontation between the two neighbours. It does not require much imagination to see the conflict provoking an international hue and cry over the danger of the hostilities turning into a nuclear war, which in turn will create intense pressure from most powers on the two adversaries to negotiate an immediate ceasefire. This can also sour India’s relationship with the United States of America, just when the two countries are getting closer together.

It is true that last week’s attack has forced even the US administration to concede India’s right to take whatever action it deems necessary in the interests of self-defence. At the same time, it has advised New Delhi to act with caution. There is no room for any illusion that it has given the Vajpayee government the kind of green signal Israel has received to act tough and get hold of the Hamas and other terrorists on its wanted list. In any case, Palestine is not a full-fledged state and Israel is strong enough to deal not only with it as it pleases, but also to confront any Arab state which comes to the aid of the weaker party. That is why it can get away with treating Yasser Arafat as “irrelevant”.

India being a member of the US-led coalition in the war against terrorism does not have the same freedom. Nor can it afford to get isolated from the world community in dealing with a problem which can get more tangled than it already is as a result of a war in south Asia. In any case, the ousting of the taliban from power, dismantling of the al Qaida camps, putting Osama bin Laden as well as Mullah Omar on the run, choking all sources of funding for the terrorists and closer scanning of their activities cannot but demoralize the fanatical militant outfits.

In the short run, some of the stragglers from al Qaida and its allied groups may seek refuge in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and try to intensify militancy in the valley. But judging from their media reports, the Americans are painfully aware that even the conclusion of the war in Afghanistan, which is far from over yet, is not going to dispel the spectre of international terrorism that haunts not only it but also many of its allies, that actual or potential terrorists in their own midst have to be identified, and multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies have to be insured against the threat of destabilization implicit in fundamentalist movements committed to terrorism.

Again, whatever they may say for public record, the Americans do not trust Pervez Musharraf half as much as their certificates of good behaviour to him would have some naïve people here believe. They cannot shut their eyes to the double-crossing implicit in an allied government supporting the war on international terrorism even as it permits hundreds of its soldiers to fight in the enemy’s ranks. Nor does it make any secret of the fact that large sections of the Inter-Services Intelligence are deeply implicated in all the crimes committed by the taliban and al Qaida.

Indeed, the uneasy alliance between the US government and the Musharraf regime is ironically apt to come under increasing strain as the war draws to a close, and an increasing number of top people in the American establishment suspect that not only Omar and most members of his cabinet, but also bin Laden and his main aides are in hiding in Pakistan. For weeks they were patting Musharraf on the back in public for having posted a large number of troops along Afghanistan’s porous border with Pakistan just to prevent the escape of these men from US clutches. It is all too obvious by now that they have enough sympathizers in the ISI to have got a safe passage.

No one is so daft as to buy the story that all the leading men of the detested taliban regime or bin Laden’s entourage could reach a place where they feel safe from prying American eyes and deadly US bombs without the connivance of the ISI. The next sequel in this thriller is not too hard to imagine. Just as the US administration told Musharraf that it was up to him to deal with the fanatical jihadi groups as best he could while the war was on, it would not be long before it tells him to produce his rogue guests, once so dear to him, or leave the task of finding them to US commanders.

But these are all hunches. Though the Afghanistan war has been widely advertised as a neat affair from the US point of view, considering that the total American casualties in both air and ground operations so far have been less than a dozen, politically it has been a messy business.

Different anti-taliban groups or warlords have entered into all kinds of agreements with taliban leaders while negotiating the surrender terms, which have on the whole been pretty lenient. Hamid Karzai himself, the designated head of the provisional government which is to assume power this week-end, was at one time inclined to grant amnesty to the taliban according to the Pashtun code, and it was only under American pressure that he insisted on the somewhat harsher treatment of Omar and his top men. Even so, the local warlords have had their way, and not only the taliban chief but also many of his key aides are already safely lodged somewhere in Pakistan.

How it will all end is anyone’s guess. The US’s stakes in this bloody business are quite different from those of Pakistan, India, Russia and even some of its NATO allies. It is hard to say how far the new situation has changed Musharraf’s outlook. Nor is it certain whether in its search for bin Laden Washington will pressure the Pakistan president to fall in line with it to the point of risking a new military coup. It is also hard to say what will be America’s next targets in its pursuit of the war against international terrorism. Considering the present balance of power, with the US’s overwhelming military superiority, New Delhi’s legacy of soured relations with most of its neighbours, and the risk implicit in a recourse to war, the Vajpayee government’s options are severely limited. Its best bet is sufficient US pressure on Pakistan to make it stop sponsoring cross-border terrorism.

In the long run, its freedom of action depends on how soon it can put its armed forces in good shape, make up for lack of adequate equipment in some crucial fields, build up a more stable political order and contain the tide of discontent that can disorient it if it is not able to get its economic priorities right and create enough jobs for the fast increasing number of those without work. As for taking such action as it deems necessary for its security, a better relationship with the US is a harsh necessity.

This does not mean ignoring its self-centredness and quirkiness or dittoing whatever Washington does, but making a more strenuous effort to make US policy-makers see that al Qaida, the taliban, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba and many other terrorist outfits are all parts of the same problem, spawned as they all are by the same mindset, and that the war against terrorism would be of no avail if states which recruit, fund and train terrorists to operate in other countries to advance their strategic and other interests are not duly penalized.

   

 
 
FIFTH COLUMN / CONCERNS FOR A GROWING INDIA 
 
 
BY P.K. VASUDEVA
 
 
Indian farmers are likely to benefit from the Doha declaration that was arrived at following the World Trade Organization’s 4th ministerial conference. This is because developed countries will have to reduce their subsidies on agriculture. The export subsidy in all countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development amounts to $ 361 billion, which they have to phase out now. India will be able to compete more freely with regard to agricultural commodities provided its agricultural productivity improves in the coming years. Otherwise, the effects might be negative.

The earlier deadline for the implementation of WTO agricultural provisions was 1996, which, however has not been met. As things stand now, India has made no commitments to cut subsidies. It can offer subsidies worth Rs 42,000 crore under the agreement on agriculture of the WTO, that is if it has the money. There are no restrictions on the public distribution system, nor any compulsions for phasing out the PDS. Doha has assured special and differential treatment for developing countries, ensuring longer phase-out of time frames and limited number of regulations.

Positive signs

The WTO has also committed its members to immediate negotiations with regard to Darjeeling tea, basmati rice, and alfanso mangoes, which would guarantee India the same protection which accrues to Champagne and Scotch whiskey. In that case, India will be able to protect its bio-diversity, especially given that a large number of its products has already been patented by a number of foreign companies.

The agriculture minister, Ajit Singh, has hailed the Doha declaration as a “victory” for the Indian farm sector and said that the phasing out of export subsidies in developed countries would help encourage exports from developing countries. As Singh put it, “All fears about harm to farmers’ interests have been proved unfounded.

Though the European Union had its way at the meet and did not commit itself to such a phase-out, there is no doubt that further negotiations at the time of the “Development round”, 2003, will help sort the problems. “The willingness to do away with export subsidies and domestic support by developed nations…is a positive development," Singh has said. As demanded by India, the Doha declaration also agreed to make the issues of market access, domestic support and export competition an integral part of the negotiations. India had wanted special and differential treatment for developing countries in these three areas of agriculture.

Package deal

High tariff levels maintained by the developed countries have been causing distortions and protectionism in world agricultural trade, denying market access to developing nations. In the EU, farm export subsidy was as high as $ 5 billion annually, while the United States of America was contemplating a bill to provide $ 170 billion worth domestic support to agriculture in the next 10 years.

It is an established fact that industrialized countries have been providing subsidies on farm items to the tune of one billion dollars per day. India and other developing countries are not in a position to provide such huge volumes of subsidies to gain market access abroad. Hence the elimination of farm subsidies would be a definite benefit.

Since international prices of various commodities are still quite low, India has been finding it difficult to push its agricultural products abroad and the situation has been further aggravated by the high subsidies by rich nations. India appears to be more or less satisfied with the separate declaration on implementation concerns. The concerns of developing countries, so far as implementation is concerned, are mainly in the areas of textiles and clothing, agriculture, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, subsidies and countervailing measures.

The Doha declaration has agreed that negotiations on the outstanding implementation issues will be an integral part of the work programme being established and will be addressed on a priority basis by WTO bodies.

   

 
 
THE SILENT WAR WITHIN 
 
 
BY ANURADHA KUMAR
 
 
The meeting of the prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, with senior leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) on his recent visit to Japan, has been widely welcomed as a move which would take the Naga peace process further.

Though this was the first time the two sides met after the proposal for the ceasefire extension was revoked earlier this year, what transpired at this meeting and the one held soon after in Bangkok has been kept secret. The Centre and the NSCN(I-M) have once again reiterated their need to abide by the framework worked out earlier this year at the Hague, which promised to wrap up negotiations by 2003, when the assembly elections are scheduled to be held in Nagaland. There were also indications that while the Centre would not moot the idea of a Greater Nagaland, it would offer a special package for Naga-inhabited areas in the three states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Assam. This may include autonomous councils for the Naga people living in these regions.

However, even as the government continues its peace excursions with the NSCN(I-M) and seems willing to give this Naga group a greater role in the future, another vexatious problem remains — whether to involve in the talks all Naga factions, including the rival Khaplang group that has for long challenged the claim of the NSCN(I-M) of representing the interests of all Nagas. The NSCN(I-M) on its part has been adamantly opposed to sitting with the rival Khaplang faction for working out a solution.

Since rivalry between these two groups, which are divided on ethnic lines as well, has dogged all attempts to allow an effective cease-fire to prevail, the Naga peace talks have always appeared to lack direction. Though the guns have been muted since 1997, it is anything but a ceasefire. Hundreds have reportedly died either in clashes between these rival factions or in militant activities. The Khaplang group has been warning the government of the perils of ignoring it in the peace process. Only last year, it was assuaged to an extent by the Centre when a separate ceasefire agreement with the NSCN(Khaplang) came into effect. The faction is still believed to maintain its links with several militant groups who are engaged in extortions and run camps across the border.

There are divisions among prominent Naga leaders as well. The Nagaland chief minister, S.C. Jamir, has been time and again accused by the NSCN(I-M) of nipping unity moves in the bud and using the Khaplang faction to wreck peace negotiations. Jamir has repeatedly urged the Centre to involve all underground groups, the state government, other political parties, non-governmental organizations and churches in the dialogue process, instead of only one or two militant factions.

On the other hand, there are other groups claiming to be noticed by the Centre. The largest Naga tribe in the region, the Zeliangrong, represented by the All Zeliangrong Union (Assam, Nagaland and Manipur), sundry women’s and students’ unions have demanded urgent steps to integrate all Naga dominated areas under a single administration. The United Naga Council, representing Nagas living in Manipur, has time and again apprised the Centre on the “grave situation” faced by the Nagas, particularly those displaced from Manipur after the violent anti-ceasefire agitation in Imphal valley.

The credit for bringing the two NSCN factions to a ceasefire stage and urging them towards negotiations goes largely to a motley comprising several students’ federations as well as the Naga Hoho, an apex body comprising Naga leaders of tribal councils. The Naga Hoho, which has unanimously resolved to launch the reconciliation process from December 20, has also long warned the NSCN(I-M) of serious consequences if it remained adamant about its demands for the cessation of Nagaland from the Indian Union. In its bid to foster peace and unity among people in the Naga inhabited areas of the Northeast, the two apex church organizations of Nagaland have also called for reconciliation among the Naga underground groups. The NSCN (Khapland) is also reported to have sent feelers to the NSCN(I-M) through the Naga Baptist Church Council, which is trying to unite the Naga groups.

T he general secretary of the Ao Students’ Conference, Imotemjen Longchar, also recently admitted that the never-ending conflict and armed revolution has had a telling impact on the younger generation who feel frustrated by the difficult future ahead of them. Longchar also called upon the rival NSCN factions to bridge their differences since he believes that sans unification among rebel groups, there will not be a permanent solution to the Naga problem.

But while there is need for a joint platform or an umbrella organization for conflict resolution and political dialogue, peace efforts launched at the grassroots level also need to be encouraged. In a bold move in January this year, villagers of Mangkolemba declared their sub-division of Mokokchung district a “peace zone”, indicating to the many underground factions in the region their desire to work towards peace in the area. This followed repeated clashes between rival NSCN factions in Mokokchung. Last year, tribal councils of Zunheboto and Tuenchang districts had also declared their areas as peace zones, restricting armed conflicts among underground factions.

In a peace rally at Mangkolemba, representatives from 29 village councils resolved not to allow underground activists to take shelter in their villages and “to avert any possible armed conflict between the rival factions”. The rally also asked armed cadres of the outfits to leave the villages and requested security forces to set up post in Mangkolemba in order to instil a sense of security among the villagers. Though the “yearly contribution” to underground groups would continue, the decision that no other extortion demand would be entertained was unanimously endorsed.

A five-member sub-committee has been constituted to implement the resolution, signalling a new beginning in the district. This in turn reveals the unanimous desire for peace.

This move is akin to the resistance put up by the Chakmas and the Jamatiyas of Tripura against militant demands. These people continue to stubbornly hold out against the exploitative demands of the National Liberation Front of Tripura. These fledgling resistance movements, if encouraged, may realize the promise of peace in the beleaguered region.

   

 
 
DOCUMENT / WORKING OUT A FUTURE PROGRAMME 
 
 
 
 
The negotiations to be pursued under the terms of this declaration shall be concluded not later than January 1, 2005. The fifth session of the ministerial conference will take stock of progress in the negotiations, provide any necessary political guidance, and take decisions as necessary. When the results of the negotiations in all areas have been established, a special session of the ministerial conference will be held to take decisions regarding the adoption and implementation of those results.

The overall conduct of the negotiations shall be supervised by a trade negotiations committee under the authority of the general council. The trade negotiations committee shall hold its first meeting not later than January 31, 2002. It shall establish appropriate negotiating mechanisms as required, and supervise the progress of the negotiations.

With the exception of the improvements and clarifications of the dispute settlement understanding, the conduct, conclusion and entry into force of the outcome of the negotiations shall be treated as parts of a single undertaking. However, agreements reached at an early stage may be implemented on a provisional or a definitive basis. Early agreements shall be taken into account in assessing the overall balance of the negotiations.

Negotiations shall be open to: (i) all members of the World Trade Organization; and (ii) states and separate customs territories currently in the process of accession and those that inform members, at a regular meeting of the general council, of their intention to negotiate the terms of their membership and for whom an accession working party is established.

Decisions on the outcomes of the negotiations shall be taken only by WTO members.

The negotiations shall be conducted in a transparent manner among participants, in order to facilitate the effective participation of all. They shall be conducted with a view to ensuring benefits to all participants and to achieving an overall balance in the outcome of the negotiations.

The negotiations and the other aspects of the work programme shall take fully into account the principle of special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed countries embodied in: Part IV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994; the decision of November 28, 1979 on differential and more favourable treatment, reciprocity and fuller participation of developing countries; the Uruguay round decision on measures in favour of least-developed countries; and all other relevant WTO provisions.

The committee on trade and development and the committee on trade and environment shall, within their respective mandates, each act as a forum to identify and debate developmental and environmental aspects of the negotiations, in order to help achieve the objective of having sustainable development appropriately reflected.

Those elements of the work programme which do not involve negotiations are also accorded a high priority. They shall be pursued under the overall supervision of the general council, which shall report on progress to the fifth session of the ministerial conference.

Concluded

   

 
 
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 
 
 
 
 

Goan holiday

Sir — I would like to comment on the rather cynical use of the current terrorist alert by the Goan administration (“Goa fishes in mishap waters”, Dec 18. The incident, where the bodyguard for the Union minister of state, Shripad Naik, opened fire on two motorcyclists after a minor altercation, has become the latest unlikely incident in international terrorism. Maybe the motorcyclists had “some other purpose”, the police said. It would seem, though, that it is the Bharatiya Janata Party administration which has some other purpose in raising the rhetoric of terrorism to cover up an otherwise embarassing incident. The administration has begun checking entry of migrants, and the police have held talks with minority groups over the apparent “sudden rise” in migrants. As your article suggests, the BJP is trying to stir up communal tensions. One must hope that Atal Bihari Vajpayee will call for calm and not allow the rhetoric of terrorism to be misused.

Yours faithfully,
Sunrita Ray, Calcutta

Way through the crisis

Sir — One of the most wonderful developments regarding the “war on terrorism” is the founding of an organization, Muslims Against Terrorism, by Asma Khan, a Muslim citizen of the United States of America, who lives in New York. She has enrolled 120 co-religious activists. As reported by the Voice of America, she has called upon the intelligent and responsible in her community to join a movement to “take back” the religion of Islam from the likes of Osama bin Laden and Mohammad Omar.

She holds that Islam, essentially a religion of peace, has been converted into a menace by many of its Muslim followers in different countries. She and her associates are visiting schools in the US where there is a large number of Muslim students, and all 1200 mosques in the US, to preach against the un-Islamic practices of fundamentalist Muslims. She is also planning to spread her movement to other countries.

In India many a Muslim intellectual has been asserting that Islam is against terrorism and suicide bombing. Many responsible Muslims have banded together to proclaim that the true message of Islam is that of peace, tolerance and respect towards other religions.

But are there any movements like Asma Khan’s, the members of which would go and preach in all the madrassahs and mosques, and to the Muslim masses? Following your illuminating editorial dissociating Islam from barbarism, let us hope movements will arise to spread this message

Yours faithfully,
Rabindranath Mukherji, Hyderabad

Sir — The editorial, “Crisis of Civilization” (Dec 15), laudably placed the relationship between Islam and terrorism in a historic context. Now that the facts behind the confusion have been elucidated, it is clear that only sweeping reforms can prevent Muslims, both in India and abroad, from being further marginalized.

I would suggest that any change must focus on education. The madrassahs of the North Western Frontier Province in Pakistan have made the disastrous mistake of mixing nationalism with religious fundamentalism. One would hope that their leaders, in the light of the failed taliban experiment, will adopt a broader and more balanced educational strategy. Change from within will do the most to dispel the reality and the perception of what the editorial described as “barbarism”.

Yours faithfully,
S. Ramakrishnan, Calcutta

Keeping the side up

Sir — I would like to congratulate The Telegraph on acquiring Geoffrey Boycott as commentator (“Deep needs lessons in wicketkeeping”, Dec 16). Boycott is as formidable a commentator as he was a batsman. He has rightly criticized the complacency of the Indian cricket team during the Ahmedabad test.

The series has so far failed to capture the imagination of spectators. What with the Denness affair, the withdrawal of two English bowlers before the tour, and Graham Thorpe more recently, the atmosphere has been rather subdued. Let us hope that the damaging idea that the final test in South Africa was just “for practice” does not affect the final test in Bangalore.

In the meantime we can continue to enjoy the “world test championship” currently being played between Australia and South Africa in Australia.

Yours faithfully,
Himansu Sanyal, Calcutta

Sir — The Indian captain has shown again what a liability he is to the team in the recent test match at Ahmedabad. Sourav Ganguly’s devil-may-care attitude has cost India dearly in recent times. As the captain of a side, he must be more responsible.

Ganguly has no business being critical of Steve Waugh. Instead of criticizing his Australian counterpart, he should follow the lattter’s example and try to inspire the team to victory.

Waugh’s commitment to the game cannot be questioned. He has dug Australia out of trouble on more than one occasion. In fact, Waugh’s determination and leadership have made him an icon in the cricketing world. How many times has Ganguly done the same for his country?

Yours faithfully,
Chandragupta Ghosh, Santiniketan

Sir — Indian cricketers play impeccably at home , as is being demonstrated by the current series against England. Even formidable teams like Australia and South Africa are unable to defeat the Indians on their home turf.

As Steve Waugh has said, Australians cannot claim to be “world champions” until they beat India on their home turf. The Indian team never fails to deliver a convincing performance at home, but it has never built on this to perform better overseas, at least not since the Sixties. The Indian team during those years had been capable of beating formidable rivals like Australia, South Africa and England. Our cricketers lack the talent, or worse, the commitment, to become “world champions” again.

Yours faithfully,
Abdul Aziz, Calcutta

Letters to the editor should be sent to:

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