Editorial 1 / Late but right
Editorial 2 / Hung again
The General’s dilemma
Fifth Column / It is a case of mind over matter
Mani Talk / Indo-Pak options
Document / Nature is not for polluting
Letters to the editor

Wisdom is better late than never. The Congress has realized that it is self-defeating in the prevailing political climate to call a bandh in West Bengal. It has thus withdrawn the call for a bandh on June 14. This decision can only be welcomed. A bandh is one form of agitation which has completely outlived its usefulness and made the people of West Bengal utterly weary. The leftists, who made a fine art of this form of protest and agitation, after having ruined the work ethic in the state, have now seen the light and have abandoned bandhs. In fact, as the political formation in power, the Left Front, especially under the leadership of Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, has become anti-bandh and anti-agitation. The Congress, in its post-independence incarnation as the party of governance, was not inclined to the calling of bandhs either in West Bengal or in the rest of India. In its role as an opposition party, it has always faced the temptation of following in the footsteps of the communists when the latter were in opposition. In the last two decades or so, the people of West Bengal have had to suffer a fair clutch of Congress-called bandhs as well as innumerable government-sponsored ones. But now both the communists and the Congress have come to realize that there is nothing to be gained from a bandh. A bandh only further tarnishes the image of West Bengal as a state that has no work culture and is not friendly towards capital and investment.

This realization and its implementation by the Congress can with good reason be seen as a sign that attitudes within the Congress are changing. It is willing to slough off its quasi-socialist skin and stand forth as the party of reform and liberalization. This is its rightful place in Indian politics since it initiated the process of economic reforms in 1992. The Congress, of late, has been rather reluctant to don this mantle. But now, as the party-in-waiting in New Delhi, it cannot afford to waste its time in self-defeating agitations. The decision to withdraw the bandh will go a little way in projecting the Congress as a responsible party committed to the development and welfare of the state. The party will lose its lumpen image which has now been appropriated by the Trinamool Congress. Not surprisingly, the leader of the Trinamool Congress, Ms Mamata Banerjee, now in political suicide mode, has refused to withdraw the bandh she has called on June 7. The bandh-weary people of West Bengal have been spared the curse of two bandhs in two successive weeks. The people should thank the Congress and should also oppose the bandh on June 7 and any other bandh called by any party for whatever cause. West Bengal is poised to turn a corner. This is not the time to send out wrong signals to investors. This is also not the time to erode West Bengal’s dignity, or whatever is left of it.


The Congress did not get its fifteenth state. Goa, outstanding for its quick-change governments, has allowed the Bharatiya Janata Party even more space than it did last time. Mr Manohar Parrikar is also back as chief minister which is not surprising given the deftness he has displayed in a volatile set-up. Evidently, the electorate has grown sick of defectors, and has tried to put an end to the instability in the state that started with mass defections in 1990. As a result, the parties to suffer real punishment have been the regional parties, especially the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, and the Congress, which fielded defectors as candidates. In an age of powerful regional parties, Goa has gone the opposite way, with two “national parties” gradually acquiring ascendancy. Of these, the later entry is now ahead — the Congress had got its toehold in Goa in 1972 and the BJP in 1984. The results have dampened the Congress’s spirits. Clearly, voters in Goa were unaffected by events in their neighbouring state and the perceived role of the BJP government there with regard to minorities. Perhaps the Congress had taken for granted that Goa, with its own large minority population, would react to Gujarat. The party has realized to its cost that fielding candidates with poor credentials was considered more culpable than the BJP’s less-than-secular image.

The BJP’s crowing in this context is both distasteful and ill-timed. The party has reportedly cited the percentage of Christians in the state in comparison with the much larger Hindu population, and claimed that the BJP’s one-seat victory is a triumph of exactly the kind of polarization that is desired. Both the BJP and the Congress would be silly to read the verdict as anything more than a reaction against continuing instability. The BJP may have gained seven more seats than last time and beaten the anti-incumbency factor, but in real terms it is only one seat ahead of the Congress. It can celebrate the fact that it has now one more state to govern, but it has simultaneously lost the Dumka Lok Sabha seat in Jharkhand where it had a sitting member. Goa is not yet reason to think that its losing star has reversed track. The Congress, on the other hand, has immediately gone into introspective mode, identifying the reasons for which its winning streak has paled. Although this sounds positive, the Congress’s introspection will not necessarily give it a firm policy, if recent history is anything to go by. It will go on depending on its combination of luck, local strength, the voters’ negative feeling for the BJP and the right partners. Its fielding of tainted candidates in Goa was a sign of its indecisiveness. It is important that the party uses its strength in opposition to help establish stability in the state.


Pervez Musharraf has given his second speech but said little to satisfy the international community or Indian expectations. He has however expressed his readiness to fight till the last drop of blood, if India goes to war with his country. The speech was preceded and followed by missile tests which impressed no one. It evoked a rebuke from the American president, George W. Bush, while he was in Paris and a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders from India. Currently India scores handsomely in the media and government circles in major capitals for its restrained response to the Pakistan president’s intransigence. It would however be wrong to think that an Indian military offensive would be equally well received. Support in governments, media, and the strategic community in major capitals to the Indian cause stops well short of the military option.

There are, despite the sense of deja vu after the speech, pointers to the future in what Musharraf had to say. It is important to understand why he made the speech rather than what he said in it. The strong posture that Musharraf has adopted goes against the realities in Pakistan. Its economy is in a deep trough, its international image in tatters, its army strung out on the border to face the Indians and to support the United States of America’s campaign in and outside Pakistan, and the risk of a war is as real as it can be. What is expected of the general is one telephone call to the general headquarters in Rawalpindi. That would end cross border terrorism almost overnight.

The army on the line of control would, as it surely can, stop infiltration across the LoC completely. The Inter-Services Intelligence would make a few radio calls to its jihadi warriors in Jammu and Kashmir to stop the depredations and assassinations, and those instructions would be implemented almost immediately. Instead, Musharraf denies any knowledge of terrorist networks operated by and in his country. He blames Indian tyranny for the “freedom struggle” being waged in Jammu and Kashmir and washes his hands of the matter. He fires off a few missiles to show his resolve to take his country down the slippery road to being a failed state.

The reasons for this speech of no consequence rest in the uncertain hold the general has over his power structure. As the referendum showed, there is considerable resentment against him. His policy of support to US military operations against terrorist organizations is anathema to right wing organizations, which have named him an enemy of Pakistan. His attempts to gain legitimacy through a flawed referendum have put political parties’ backs up. He is having difficulties getting the right calibre of candidates to take part in the elections due in October this year. His military apparatus has been Islamized and there is uncertainty about the extent of support in it for the sentiments of the right wing Islamic extremists.

The general has little choice on cooperating with the superpower. He has absolutely none, in view of domestic political compulsions, on cooperating with Indian infidels readying for war against his country. He needs to embrace the hardline policy against India, if he is to keep the domestic challengers to his authority at bay. Therefore the strong posturing against India and the attempt to paint India as the aggressor.

The general is going to be in power in Pakistan for five years, despite domestic challenges to his authority. He will therefore be the entity India needs to deal with for quite some time to come. He is the common thread that runs through the episodes of Lahore, Kargil, Agra and the use of terrorism as the instrument of policy. He is not going to accept being shown his place by New Delhi. The lack of trust and confidence between him and the Indian leadership will remain a major stumbling block for building bridges for the future. New Delhi will therefore have to re-evaluate its policy on Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir.

International respect for Indian restraint in the face of Pakistani provocations is an asset whose importance cannot be over emphasized. That is, as one Paris-based analyst put it, worth many a battalions in the war against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Without international support, India would be fighting the war singly and doing so avoidably. New Delhi’s choosing to go to war against Pakistan would quickly dissipate that support. In fact it might well build a coalition of powers against India in favour of Pakistan. Instead of continuing to retain pressure on Musharraf, a war by India will rally international support for him.

India needs to build on its considerable assets of size, democratic credentials, and economic strength to put into place a viable policy against the instrument of terrorism being applied by Pakistan. Choosing the military option alone will be counter-productive to Indian interests. That is what happened when New Delhi chose to mass its military on the border with Pakistan. It left the government with the stark choices of going to war or a climbdown with considerable political costs. That mistake having been made, New Delhi has worked hard to re-establish an escalation ladder whose many steps can be ascended one at a time.

Simultaneously, New Delhi needs to work over time on pushing forward the political process in Jammu and Kashmir. Elections which are due in the state in a few months, offer a unique opportunity to widen the political base and allow a new legislature to emerge which reflects the aspirations of the people. The need for a free and fair election, the participation in that electoral process by a wide cross-section of political groups, should form the foundation of a new Indian policy.

India would need to establish the credibility of the electoral process just as much as it needs to make it safe from Pakistani interference. International pressure on Pakistan for keeping its hands off the Jammu and Kashmir elections should form a substantial part of the Indian policy. If Musharraf does not reign in the militant organizations from sabotaging the process through terrorist attacks and assassinations, his already doubtful commitment to the war against terrorism would be confirmed.

Once the elections in Jammu and Kashmir are successfully completed, India will be able to work a range of economic, diplomatic and military measures against Pakistan. These measures will have international support and cooperation. A war at this juncture would not only evoke an adverse international response, but also set back the political process in Jammu and Kashmir. The success of that process should be the first priority of the government. War on the other hand is likely to make India’s security challenge more complex and unpredictable.

The author is former director, general military operations, and currently director, Delhi Policy Group


The Indian media went completely gaga over Anil Kumble’s taking the field at Antigua with a broken jaw. So he did. But a fractured jaw does not impede movement, nor does it hamper a spinner’s bowling action. Certainly, there was some amount of physical discomfort, but hardly enough to create such a hoopla. In the annals of cricket, acts of far greater fortitude and character have passed by without any recognition. There are numerous instances, even in Indian cricket, when a player has overlooked grievous personal injury for the sake of his team.

In 1962, the Indian opener, Vijay Mehra, played a match-winning innings of 62 runs against Ted Dexter’s England at Eden Gardens — with a broken thumb. Instead of leaving the field, Mehra shouldered on like a champion. He came in to bat at number 11 again in the second innings, and remained unbeaten to help India establish a substantial lead. One can visualize how painful it must have been to bat with a broken thumb — every time the ball hit the bat would have been like a painful stab. Yet Mehra held his ground, displaying great strength of character. Unfortunately, Mehra never got his due and his great courage, which helped his country win the test, has been forgotten.

Batting on

Vijay Manjrekar went out to bat against West Indies with a bandaged arm in Delhi in 1959, so that Chandu Borde could complete his second century of the match and India could draw the test. Borde, unfortunately, hit his stumps while on 96, as he tried to hook the fearsome Roy Gilchrist to the fence. Thanks to Manjrekar’s courage, West Indies was deprived of yet another victory. Today, however, the story of the courage of Manjrekar and Mehra has been consigned to the footnotes of India’s cricket history.

England’s Colin Cowdrey, his arm in plaster, faced the awesome pace of Wesley Hall to save England from defeat at Lord’s in 1963. In 1953, Bert Sutcliffe of New Zealand, his head in a plaster after being struck by a Neil Adcock ball, played a daredevil innings of 80 not out, which included 7 sixes, at Johannesburg to salvage national pride. These cricketers showed character and class, but they never received any sympathy or publicity.

Perhaps, one of the most notable story of raw courage in the face of personal injury is that of Lionel Tennyson, grandson of Alfred Tennyson. At Leeds in 1921, while playing against Warwick Armstrong’s all-conquering Aussies, Tennyson, then the English captain, suffered a split in the webbing of his left palm. Unfazed, Tennyson still strode out with a kid-sized bat to face the Aussie onslaught. His innings of 63 and 36, using his small tennis racquet-like bat, was a supremely gallant effort.

Heroes all

England’s Eddie Paynter, playing in the fourth test of the bodyline series of 1932-33, disregarded an attack of tonsillitis and left the hospital bed to rescue his team with an innings of 83. Ultimately, that innings proved to be a match- and series-winning effort.

Nari Contractor too had faced Fred Trueman and Harold Rhodes with a broken rib at Lord’s in 1959 and scored 81 runs. At Melbourne in 1981, Kapil Dev’s injured ankle and Dilip Doshi’s painful spinning finger did not stop them from running through Greg Chappell’s Australians and giving India a great victory against all odds

Modern cricket, with its numerous doctors and trainers, has turned cricketers into weaklings. And the media, through ignorance perhaps, seems bent on mollycoddling them.

It is time we learn to give credit where it is due. Note that Kumble did not take the field with his teammates — he was recovering inside the dressing room. It was only when he saw that Sachin Tendulkar was able to get some turn from the pitch that Kumble expressed the desire to join his mates on the field.

That Kumble went on to capture Brian Lara’s wicket and also caused problems to other West Indian batsmen is a tribute to his skills. If only he had stayed on the field throughout, he would have been said to have displayed exemplary courage. And that would have made him a genuine hero.


“All options are open,” says Jaswant Singh, the external affairs minister, without even taking the marbles out of his mouth. What options?

The Advani option: Cross LoC or hot pursuit.

If we cross the line of control, what makes us different from Pervez Musharraf? Would not that end the Blair House agreement with Nawaz Sharif which led to the Pakistani pull-back from the LoC?

Moreover, what becomes of the Shimla agreement, which commits both sides — ours as much as theirs — to not violating the LoC, and especially not by resorting to force? If we ourselves violate Shimla, would that not enable Musharraf to fulfill his ardent dream of springing the trap into which Shimla has confined Pakistan for three long decades?

Do we want Shimla to end? What will replace Shimla? Nothing? Do we want to deliberately create a vacuum in Indo-Pak relations? Is that foreign policy in the 21st century?

If Shimla ends, would that not open wide the doors to international intervention on the entire question of Jammu and Kashmir? After all, before Shimla, Jammu and Kashmir was in the international realm alone. It was taken off the multilateral agenda and brought on to the Indo-Pak bilateral agenda by Shimla alone. There, on the bilateral agenda, it has endured for thirty years — whatever the vicissitudes of the bilateral relationship. Even the United States of America has been compelled to repudiate the first-term interventionist Bill Clinton line on Jammu and Kashmir.

But the US pro-consular procession continues: Christina Rocca, Robert Armitage, Colin Powell, in quick succession, come to teach doddering old Atal Bihari Vajpayee the basics of governance. How has our once-proud nation come to such a pass? Remember the post-Pokhran-II/Chagai security council resolution, which mentions Kashmir for the first time since 1965 — wiping out in a single line an entire generation of achievement by the Indian diplomacy — has not been repealed. And in the Central Hall of Parliament, Clinton had the gall to say straight out in our faces — and our government had the pusillanimity to sit through it close-mouthed — that Jammu and Kashmir is a “disputed area”.

So, do we want to go back to the United Nations as petitioners in the chancelleries of the world? Do we so trust George W. Bush and Tony Blair that we wish to leave it to them to decide the fate of Jammu and Kashmir? What is the point of having secured our independence if we are to surrender as meekly as Siraj-ud-daulah at Plassey? Do we really want to turn for justice to the privy council in London in its new avatar as the United Nations in New York?

The Shourie option: Take out the terrorist camps.

Big deal. Set a terrorist to catch a terrorist! Arun Shourie seems to think terrorists are like hapless public sector undertakings waiting to be disinvested. Camps are not the problem; terrorists are. As Osama bin Laden has so deftly demonstrated, you can bomb the hell out of his bases: he has only to relocate. And the cross-border terrorists have all of Pakistan within which to relocate. And once they are compelled by the Indian forces to relocate, there will be no restraints left on how, where, when and in what shape they will re-launch their war of attrition — and this time not even with the fig leaf of pretending they have nothing to do with jihadis. Moreover, if we can take out their installations, what is to stop them from taking out ours? They only have to describe Vijay Chowk as a “terrorist camp” to give themselves a Shourievian excuse to take it out. And if Shourie thinks the Americans will not stand for it, would someone please remind him that America’s principal ally in its war against terrorism is the biggest state-sponsor of terrorism on the globe?

The Fernandes option: Limited war.

And who, pray, will determine where, when and how to limit the war? We, they or who? We want the war to be both limited and decisive. For that very reason, the Pakistanis would want neither a limited nor a decisive conflict.

The Pakistan army is not going to sit back hoping to be defeated. Pakistan is not Bangladesh. Defeated there, the Pakistan army could still return to the only country it has ever conquered — Pakistan! But this time there is nowhere to run. The Pakis cannot go home — because they are already home.

It would, therefore, be a fight to the finish. They would know that if they lost, there would be no other country to escape to. So, rather than going alone, they will take us with them. That is what their nuclear weapon is for — a weapon of last resort, true, but to be used when there is no other resort. Escalation is thus inevitable. The logical conclusion of escalation would be annihilation. George Fernandes might have the satisfaction of annihilating Pakistan — but there will be none to tell the tale to in an annihilated India. And my little Georgie-Porgie, have you forgotten so quickly what you wrote in cold print in your introduction to the Penguin edition of D.R. Mankekar’s The Guilty Men of 1962? Here is the quote. You claimed your little Diwali at Pokhran had destroyed “the well-fostered myth” of “the threat from Pakistan”. If the threat from Pakistan was (is?) a “myth”, how come the Pakis enter even your cantonments with such impunity? Tragically, I cannot ask you to resign because I do not recognize your having been appointed.

The Khurana option: Into the akhara — from Wagah to Gawadar.

Remember Madan Lal Khurana? If you do, please remind Vajpayee. For this is the currently jobless one-time Bharatiya Janata Party chief minister of Delhi who, in the immediate aftermath of Pokhran-II, invited the Pakistanis into the akhara to wrestle with him. His is the school of thought that thinks taking Pakistan today will be the child’s play it was taking East Pakistan in 1971. Apart from the fact that Indira Gandhi could fashion bangles for this lot, anyone mad enough to imagine that the Indian army — which had such a difficult time reaching the outskirts of Lahore after our jawans had forded the Ichhogil Canal in the 1965 war — can conquer Pakistan, ought to ask himself what we will do with 12 crore seething Pakistanis once the war is over (assuming we would not have mutually nuked each other out of existence by then).

Could the Allies rule over Germany after World War I? Could they even impose the peace terms of Versailles beyond the first few years? Even after Adolf Hitler was overthrown, could the Germans be kept down? What makes Khurana and his ilk believe that when most Hindus cannot stomach the idea of remote-control rule by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Pakistanis would be delighted to accept the tutelage of the likes of Narendra Modi?

Mani Talk option: Talk, talk and more talk.

It is not only the sensible option, but it is also the only option. If we do not talk to the Pakistanis of our own accord, we are going to be compelled to talk to them at the behest of the West. That is the sorry state to which we have been reduced by Jaswant Singh’s bending of our collective knee before insolent might. And if you are wondering how to talk to Pakistan and what on earth to say to them, then it’s time for a commercial break: read my Pakistan Papers, Rupa, 1994. There are still a few copies around.


India’s is an integrated approach that seeks to improve all modes [of transport] — land, sea and air. The surface transport sector requires most attention. Financial resources, terrain, climate and population pressure are some of the constraints. These issues are beginning to get addressed with the economy registering a healthy growth. Emissions can be reduced through the supply of fuel of appropriate specifications, use of appropriate technology in vehicular engines and better inspection and maintenance of on-road vehicles. As regards technology, it is available in the country and can be introduced in a phased manner corresponding to the availability of appropriate quality of fuel. As regards inspection/maintenance, in case of commercial vehicles, annual fitness tests are mandatory after the first two years. For non-commercial vehicles, the period is 15 years. The norms of fitness are being progressively tightened. However, due to a stay order granted by the Calcutta high court, the involvement of private sector in inspection of vehicles is not allowed. The ministry of environment and forests and the Central pollution control board have appealed to the Supreme Court for a vacation of the stay. Involvement of the private sector for inspection and maintenance is essential to improve the ambient air quality by a reduction of emissions from on-road vehicles.

Transport and traffic systems that are not managed well put people’s health at risk. Accidents, holdups and polluting vehicles cause problems that affect society.

Capacity-building, education, training and awareness-raising :

There are several efforts being made by governments at all levels to increase public awareness. Public awareness drives on environmental issues are being taken up on a mass scale and have been included in school curricula. The issues which are included in the school curricula include topics like steps to increase forest cover, control soil erosion and reduce green house gas emissions, and so on. Separately, major campaigns are launched by various schools on environmental issues whereby children try and educate the public on the need to improve the environment. State-controlled television and radio media very frequently feature programmes...on how to stop environmental degradation.

A number of seminars, workshops and training programmes are organized by the government of India for creating awareness about renewable energy among different sections of society, including policy-makers, industries and users. These programmes are carried out by state governments, academic and research and development institutions, nongovernmental organizations and industries.

There are no rules at the national level regarding non-motorized transport. However, local bodies may prescribe certain rules at their level. Government has incentives like seasonal tickets in public transport system. Car pools have been formed for senior government officers. The government has planned efficient mass rapid transport systems for all metros. In Delhi construction is already underway.

Awareness about road safety is being generated using audio-visual media, news, programmes in schools, campaigns through NGOs as well as distribution of posters, pamphlets, games, and so on. In addition, refresher training in driving is being provided to drivers of heavy commercial vehicles through various NGOs...

Nature study field visits coupled with audio-visual presentations are part of the school curricula. Children are made to do projects that are designed to teach more about the environment and its relationship with other sectors. There are many issues on environmental protection in the school curricula. Various trainings programmes in the country and abroad for training of highway/traffic experts, technical staff are in operation...

The ministry of surface transport is maintaining the traffic census database for national highways. The traffic census is made manually by the respective state public work departments and hard copy of data are forwarded to this ministry. This data is then fed into computers and analysed. Railways maintain comprehensive data relating to all aspects of their working. This data is essential for management of traffic planning, forecasting and fixing targets.

Central pollution control board, a statutory body under the ministry of environment and forests, has established 290 ambient air quality monitoring stations covering major cities and urban centres in the country and the data obtained is so processed and evaluated as to recommend necessary mitigative and control measures.

Based on measurements of total suspended particulate matter, the air quality in 70 cities during 1997...the following categories could be made.

Twenty-nine cities are critically polluted (above 1.5 times the standard). Twenty-two cities are highly polluted (between 1 and 1.5 times the standard). Seventeen cities are moderately polluted (between 0.5 and 1 time the standard); and two cities with clean air (0.5 times the standard).

Tto be concluded



Unwelcome intruder

Sir — The United States of America, most vociferous in matters regarding civil rights, is about to witness their violation by its Federal Bureau of Investigation which has won the power to conduct surveillance at places like mosques in order to counter terrorism (“FBI granted right to monitor mosques”, June 1). The process in fact might bring back the dark days of domestic spying when the FBI used the Cointelpro to keep an eye on civil rights activists during the Vietnam crisis. The overhauling of guidelines by the US attorney general, John Ashcroft, would witness the escalation of fear and distrust among Muslims who are already suffering from a sense of alienation after the September 11 attacks. This drastic measure will be seen as an intrusion into the private space of the minorities and emphasize their second-class status. This is a gross injustice. The US authorities should have considered the pros and cons of such a step before taking the final plunge.

Yours faithfully,
Ananya Sen, Mumbai

Speaking one’s mind?

Sir — Quite expectedly, the much-awaited speech of the Pakistan president, Pervez Musharraf, to his nation brushed aside India’s complaint of intensified infiltration of Pakistan-sponsored terrorists, and pledged Islamabad’s diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiri struggle for liberation (“Trust Pervez: no infiltration”, May 28). The testing of three nuclear ballistic missiles by Pakistan in the midst of the crisis has added to the tension. Which in other words means that there is every chance the decades-old proxy war between the two countries could now escalate into a full-fledged conventional war. India has rightly described the speech as “disappointing and dangerous”.

Pakistanis who wish for peace and fast-track economic development of their country do not need to be reminded that all the three armed conflicts between the two countries have taken place when military dictators have been in power in Pakistan. There have been no wars during the brief spells of democratic governance in Pakistan.

To prevent the possible nuclear conflict between the two subcontinental neighbours, the international community has to pressurize the general to step down. He should be replaced with a caretaker government, followed by elections in Pakistan. This requires the political will of the three most powerful men in the world — George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin and Tony Blair. They alone can stop the outbreak of a serious war in the region and put an end to cross-border terrorism.

Yours faithfully,
Sashanka S. Banerjee, London

Sir — Pervez Musharraf’s address once again proved his brilliance both as a leader and an administrator (“General shriek”, May 29). But it is disappointing to see a brilliant leader fight for the wrong cause. Musharraf has misused the opportunities at his disposal and steadfastly refused to solve the longstanding problem with India. Indian leaders have also missed their chance. In fact, they look incapable of negotiating the situation to India’s advantage. In this respect, they have much to learn from Musharraf.

Yours faithfully,
A. Kapoor, Calcutta

Sir — India has been guarded in its response to the Pakistan president’s address. In fact, India should be lauded for showing a lot of restraint despite repeated provocations from its hostile neighbour. It is strange that despite reports that in an eventual war about 12 million people would die, 7 million would be injured, and an unspecified number would be affected by cancer and other radioactive disease, Pakistan continues to take the issue casually.

India has stuck to its earlier commitment to not be the first user of nuclear weapons. The holding of the annual meeting of the Indus water treaty despite the escalation of conflict and India’s opposition to its abrogation is a pointer to the fact that it still wants peace with Pakistan. Its neighbour obviously has other things in mind. Its arm-twisting of the United States of America in Afghanistan has ensured that the US is left with little voice in matters between India and Pakistan. The United Kingdom and other Western countries have no option but to follow Uncle Sam in such matters. This means India is now left with little choice but to be self-reliant where its relations with Pakistan are concerned.

Yours faithfully,
Srinivasan Balakrishnan, Jamshedpur

Sir — Pervez Musharraf seems to have run out of ideas. This was demonstrated by his recent speech. His remarks on the internal affairs of India, particularly on the Gujarat riots are unacceptable. However his admission that the attacks on the Indian Parliament and Kashmir were the work of the militants deserves praise. There have been attempts to prove these as being self-perpetuated by India in order to defame Pakistan. Musharraf is trying to prove that any attack against Pakistan would be commensurate with an attack against the Muslim community. But Indian Muslims are not so naïve that they will be swayed by the sinister designs of the general.

Yours faithfully,
Manoj Agrawal, Purulia

No mean achievement

Sir — Events over the past one year indicate that West Bengal under the able leadership of its chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, is moving, in the right direction (“A year on, Buddha’s hits and misses”, May 18). Although the decision to leave the Haldia Petrochemicals Limited to professional entrepreneurs was a decision prompted by economics, the sincere efforts of Bhattacharjee on the industrial and technological front should not be belittled. Initiatives in the realm of healthcare and educational reforms have been aimed at improving the two vital sectors that have been cause for much public discontent.

Moreover, his efforts to establish a work culture and enforce discipline in government offices are still on. To lend more substance to his reform, the chief minister should convince his party comrades about the need to dismantle organizations involved in anti-national activities. Implementation of these tough decisions would rally the entire state behind the chief minister.

Yours faithfully,
Phani Bhusan Saha, Balurghat

Sir — The editorial, “Year that was” (May 20), has correctly assessed the achievements of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in the last one year. Even the most hardened critic of the Left Front has to acknowledge that finding a solution to the innumerable problems of West Bengal requires much more than a year. Nevertheless, Bhattacharjee has tried to come up with some constructive solutions to matters relating to the state’s industrial sickness. He has taken a serious note of the abysmal state of education and healthcare. Bhattacharjee, has at least made a pious beginning.

Yours faithfully,
Naren Sen, Howrah

Sir — It has just been a year. Maybe the enthusiasm that spurred Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in his first year as chief minister might lose its way in the sand of party stipulations and political exigencies in the next year and the many years after. So let us be less enthusiastic about it all.

Yours faithfully,
J. Sharma, Calcutta

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