Editorial 1 / Gas light
Editorial 2 / Mock trials
Two Indias?
Fifth Column / Cakewalk to the speaker’s chair
It’s up to the general now
Document / Come together for a better future
Letters to the editor

A new order was born in oil on June 3. The announcement made by the petroleum minister, Mr Ram Naik, that petrol and diesel prices would go up is a sign that the era of administered prices of oil is finally a thing of the past. Presumably, that odd thing called a “petroleum policy” has also been consigned to the junkyard of socialist theory. The rise in prices — Rs 2.50 per litre for petrol and Rs 1.50 for diesel, with minor variations across the major cities — has nothing to do with the intentions and policies of the government. The rise is a direct reflection of the rise in global crude oil prices. The price of crude oil has shot up from $ 19.58 a barrel in February to $ 25 a barrel in May. The previous retail prices of petroleum products had been decided on the assumption that the price of crude would remain around $ 20 a barrel. India is thus facing the inevitable fluctuations associated with being part of a global economy. It is no longer protected from such fluctuations and uncertainties by the government and a system of administered prices. There is a cyclical pattern in the movement of crude oil prices and Mr Naik recognized this when he said that oil prices would be reviewed every three months and that they would follow global trends. Today’s hike may be offset by tomorrow’s lowering of prices.

The normal response to a rise in petroleum prices in India is to galvanize the inflation-alarmists. Critics of globalization immediately begin to point to the inflationary impact of the price rise and to how adversely the common man will be affected by all this. As things stand, there are no reasons to sound the alarm bells. Inflation, over the last year and a little more, has been low. The inflationary expectation is thus also very very low. In fact, according to one calculation, the wholesale price index based inflation is expected to go up by a meagre 0.03 percentage points as a result of the hike in oil prices. Born-again Nehruvians can thus rest their vocal chords for the moment. This is not to suggest that there are no causes for concern in the future. If global prices continue to rise, there can only be an aggravation in the recessionary tendencies. High petroleum prices will inevitably push up costs and make investments and profit-making more difficult. If this happens, it will not be good news for the Indian economy. Under the circumstances, Indian industry must face the challenge of making itself more energy efficient. Only this can lead to a better marshalling of energy resources and thus bring down costs. In this sphere, India’s record is abysmally poor. The government, it has to be noted, has not raised the prices of LPG and kerosene as it should have following the logic of global trends. The illogic of subsidies still persists. India has entered a globalized economy with a socialist mindset. The mindset must change for the economy to flourish.


The justice machine seems to be grinding to some sort of a start in Gujarat. But the question remains as to whether the official custodians of law and order in that state ought to be trusted any more. Two chargesheets have been filed. The first accuses 48 people of the massacre at the Gulbarg Society in Chamanpura. The killings had happened at the end of February; this is the beginning of June. In spite of this mystifying delay, this should be, for all practical purposes, a welcome turning of the tide. But the only, and rather basic, problem with these chargesheets is that they have been filed by the state police. If the concept of justice or order still means anything to those who have managed to survive the carnage, then the police would be the last institution of the state to embody this idea to the survivors. Police complicity with the organized violence has now become part of the accepted picture of things in Gujarat. In Chamanpura, for instance, nongovernmental inquiries have alleged that several calls were made to the Gandhinagar police by the former Congress member of parliament, Ehsan Jaffri, when his house was surrounded by a 20,000-strong mob. He had called the director general, the commissioner and the chief secretary. There were police vans parked near his house. But this entire team chose not to do anything when he was brutally killed together with his family and those who had taken shelter in his house. And this applies to most of the massacre sites in Gujarat. The Naroda Patia chargesheet has also been filed now, and here too the police mobile phones were switched off for most of the time when the killings were actually taking place.

The national human rights commission has reported “a widespread lack of faith in the integrity of the investigating process and in the ability of those conducting investigations”. First information reports (on which the chargesheets are largely based) have been distorted or poorly recorded; “senior political personalities” were seeking to influence the working of police stations. The commission had therefore recommended that in order to restore integrity and credibility to the investigations, certain “critical cases” should be entrusted to the Central Bureau of Investigation. Chamanpura, Naroda Patia, Best Bakery in Vadodara and Sadarpura were deemed critical by the commission. This has obviously been ignored. When it is the state initiating justice in Gujarat, it would be legitimate to wonder if the follow-up would be of the same kind as after the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the riots in Mumbai after that.


The carnage in Gujarat that followed the brutal assault on a railway bogie at Godhra has sent shock waves throughout the country. It is not simply that the repri- sals were widespread and continuous or that the state allowed, and in some sense even encouraged, the violence. Even more shocking than the complicity of the state is the evidence from reliable and responsible citizens of Gujarat that large numbers of their fellow citizens felt that the reprisals were justified and well deserved. At such a juncture one begins to wonder where to draw the line between the normal and the pathological or indeed whether such a line can at all be drawn in contemporary India.

Liberal, secular and cosmopolitan Indians outside Gujarat — and perhaps also in Gujarat — have begun to ask whether the India they had constructed in their own image may not be a fantasy. They are beginning to wonder if the real India is not the one that has shown its face in Gujarat and may show it elsewhere too: illiberal, intolerant, hidebound, vengeful and without any respect for the rule of law. They feel that perhaps the kind of society envisaged in the Constitution cannot strike roots in India because its supporters are too few and its opponents too many.

This mood of despair will hopefully pass. At the same time, the idea that there are two Indias, in uneasy if not unhappy co-existence in the same land, is both widespread and deep-rooted. A homespun expression of that idea is in the contrast between India and Bharat. In this contrast it is often the latter with its eternal and steadfast values which is represented as superior to the artificial and borrowed life- styles presumed to characterize the former. The contrast is commonly made in these very terms by Indians who are themselves modern and cosmopolitan to their fingertips. India’s modernizing elite likes to add spice to its life with a generous dose of self-hatred.

It needs no social theorist to point out that Indian society is highly differentiated not only in terms of language, region, religion and caste, but also in terms of literacy, education, occupation and class. Vast numbers of Indians are governed less by the rule of law than by the rules of caste and community. For centuries India has been a society of castes and communities rather than one of citizens. The creation of citizenship and the kind of modern institutions that alone can ensure its effective operation can hardly be a swift or painless process. Yet, to abandon the endeavour after having gone so far along the road and to turn backwards would lead to disorder and violence on a scale we can scarcely imagine.

Democracy finds itself at odds with the kind of caste- and community-based hierarchical society inherited from the past. Bharat has to be brought forward into the modern age for democracy to work successfully in India. No one saw this more clearly than B.R. Ambedkar who had said in the Constituent Assembly: “Democracy in India is only a top-dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic”. For a modern, secular and democratic society to come into its own, many things inherited from the past have to go, and they do not all go easily. The social arrangement of various castes and communities worked after a fashion in a static society in which they more or less accepted their allotted places. It cannot work in the same way in a dynamic and changing society where their places are no longer fixed.

The processes of economic, political and social change have in the last fifty years unsettled old arrangements and introduced new disparities. There is already a large and expanding middle class, and there are millions of persons in cities, towns and even villages waiting to join that class. Those who have enjoyed socially secure positions in it for three or four generations may occasionally yearn for the lost world of their ancestors, but there are countless other less fortunate and less experienced persons who are eager to taste the sweets of middle-class existence. The appeal of that kind of existence is not confined to only those who have opted for India; it extends also to those who are presumed to stand for Bharat.

My aim is not to maintain that modern Indian society is a seamless web or that there are no cracks and fissures running across it. It is only to point out that the modernizing elite and the socially disadvantaged masses do not constitute two nations any more than do Hindus and Muslims, or north Indians and south Indians, or dwijas and shudras. There are many cleavages in Indian society, but they do not all run along the same lines. This means that there are not only cleavages — of language, religion, education, occupation and so on — but also cross-cutting ties. Political expediency might lead interested parties to focus upon one cleavage while ignoring all the others, but polarization, no matter how destructive in the short run, is at odds with the basic design of Indian society.

Far less than in the case of language, religion and caste, there is no clear line of division separating the educated middle class from the rest of Indian society. Those who pursue modern, secular and cosmopolitan lifestyles and those whose lives are governed by the traditional values of caste and community do not live in distinct watertight compartments. Not only are there many linkages of family, kinship and marriage between persons at different states of modernity, but very liberal and highly conservative orientations to society and politics may also be found in one and the same individual.

There are many differences between India’s modernizing elite and the rest of Indian society. But one must not exaggerate the differences or ignore the many linkages between the two. For one thing, the elite is not a unity with a homogeneous style of life or even a singular conception of mod- ernity; and the rest of Indian society follows many different traditions, varying with region, religion and caste. It is not true that modern values such as those attached to technological progress, success in competition and respect for impersonal rules are simply imposed from above by a miniscule minority of secular and Westernized intellectuals and they raise no echoes in the rest of the population.

Millions of Indians, whether urban or rural and whether highly or only moderately educated, want modern technology and modern education. There are no doubt some hypersensitive intellectuals who never cease to complain about the alienating effects of a modern education on the Indian psyche. But that does not prevent them from arranging for their children to have precisely that kind of education, and then trying, if possible, to send them on to Harvard or Princeton which one might suspect to be even more alienating than Modern School or St Stephen’s College. A modern education is valued by all, irrespective of ideological orientation. Indians are given to talking much about values in the abstract. But their real values are revealed in the plans they make for the education and employment of their children. As far as that goes, India and Bharat seem to vote in the same way.

The author is chairman, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta


Shortly after the acrimonious debate in Parliament on Gujarat under Rule 184, the speaker of the Lok Sabha was chosen with so little noise that it shocked the country. The National Democratic Alliance-government had in fact held talks with the leaders of the main opposition parties in order to avoid a contest for the office and this gesture had yielded the desired result. Since no other party offered its candidate, Manohar Joshi took the place of the former Telugu Desam Party speaker, G.M.C. Balayogi, who died in a helicopter accident.

It is significant that the Bharatiya Janata Party did not place its own candidate on the chair. Perhaps it has realized that parliamentary affairs would be more chaotic and critical in the coming months and a BJP speaker would be under fire during those sittings. By choosing Joshi, a Shiv Sena leader, as the speaker, it has kept the plum post in the coalition’s grip without actually taking the risk of a direct confrontation with the opposition.

Moreover, Joshi as minister of heavy industries reportedly had differences with the high-profile disinvestment minister, Arun Shourie. This sometimes created insurmountable problems for the prime minister. Joshi’s departure is likely to ease matters.

Easy choice

There were a number of BJP leaders who were said to be eagerly eyeing the speaker’s chair. Had one of them been chosen, others would have clamoured for a ministerial berth. For all these reasons, the BJP hierarchy decided to offer the office to a close ally.

The speaker has been elected without a contest, but has it been a unanimous decision? The issue does not concern technicalities alone. Some opposition leaders have pointed out that the ruling party had indeed consulted them, but consultation does not necessarily imply that their recommendations had been heeded. This suggests that the choice of the speaker has not been unanimous.

The Congress was, at the outset, offered the deputy speaker’s chair. So it found it improper to contest the speaker’s office. When the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, was informed that the ruling coalition had shortlisted Joshi and Ram Naik for the office, she summarily left the matter to the government. In due course, Joshi was chosen without an electoral battle. Some opposition leaders however believe that when the country is facing a crisis as serious as that in Gujarat, the choice of the speaker from the Shiv Sena sends a disturbing signal and affects the liberal image of Parliament. Whatever the political implication, it is good that another political tussle had been avoided on the issue.

Rule of convention

A British convention has been followed in the matter. One of the valuable conventions which the British have evolved is that the speaker’s election is not contested both inside and outside the House of Commons. Of course, on very rare occasions, the opposition has contested a speaker during the general elections. For example, in 1935, the Divisional Labour Organization decided to oppose the speaker, Fitz Roy.

But in India, no such healthy convention is followed, although it would be significant to note that the presiding officers’ conference held at Trivandram in 1951 unanimously passed a resolution in order to make the speaker’s re-election uncontested. The matter was taken up in the presiding officer’s conference of 1953. The idea was communicated to Jawaharlal Nehru also. But the attempt to set up such a convention failed.

It can be said, therefore, that the British convention has had little effect on the election of the speaker in India. On rare occasions, as this time, the incumbents have been chosen by mutual agreement. Almost invariably, the ruling side has, by its strength of numbers, been able to capture the office because attempts to choose a person unanimously have failed more often than not. There have also been times when new speakers have been chosen to replace the existing ones. The former speakers have then been accommodated in the cabinet.

This time, however, the British convention was followed for some practical reasons. It could be a humble beginning. But it is worth the wait anyway.


Now that India has offered a process of military de-escalation to Pakistan if there is evidence of the latter’s curbing terrorism, to ask whether there will be a war or not is perhaps to ask the wrong question. The right question would be whether the Pakistan president, Pervez Musharraf, is willing and able to stop the infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir and put an end to cross-border terrorism.

On the answer to this question will depend whether the Indian promise of positive reciprocity will work and how soon the process of demobilization of troops can start. If, however, the general is not willing to stop infiltration and ter- rorism or if he is willing but unable to do so, then Indian diplomacy and military action may perhaps have to proceed together. And that is a dangerous scenario.

There is a sneaking feeling in New Delhi that General Musharraf may not be willing to persist with curbing infiltration and cross-border terrorism, that he may also not be fully in control of the situation, and that if the United States of America does not manage to get Pakistan to desist, then this may well turn out to be the unravelling of the American war against terrorism.

There are several reasons why the Pakistan president may not be able to sustain his stated desire of stopping infiltration and cross-border terrorism. The amount of men, material and money committed to pushing Pakistan’s case on Kashmir through militancy and cross-border terrorism is substantial. A strong ideological justification has been created both within Pakistan and the militant groups operating from there for launching a low-intensity warfare against India over the last 15 years. The Kashmir cause provides the rationale for the privileged position that the Pakistan army has carved for itself. A sudden ideological recanting, therefore, may have its own adverse consequences for the government of the day in Islamabad.

Then there are groups of militants active in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir over which Musharraf may not have full control. There is a difference between the Islamic extremists who are opposed to what Musharraf is doing under US pressure in relation to Afghanistan and al Qaida, and those who indulge in cross-border terrorist activities against India. Musharraf may not be fully in control of the former, but the Pakistan army and its Inter-Services Intelligence fully control the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Hizbul Mujahideen. The only other major militant outfit active in Kashmir is the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which is opposed to Musharraf, and over which Islamabad’s control may be limited.

Therefore, for Musharraf, tackling all these issues effectively in a short period of time and dismantling, what India calls, the structure of terrorism created to push Pakistan’s case on Kashmir may not be an easy task. Yet, for de-escalation of military tension, India has to decide soon whether the army and the ISI are one with Musharraf when he says that terrorism in the name of Kashmir will not be allowed on Pakistani soil.

There is also an impression gaining ground in New Delhi that General Musharraf may not be in full control and that perhaps not all his corps commanders listen to him entirely on changing the Kashmir policy. The Pakistan president is on record in his last BBC interview as having said that he has the full support of the army because he always consults the army (he, of course, added that he consults others also). This could, however, suggest that what the general is able to do depends on what the traffic would bear among his corps commanders. He is, therefore, not free to give the commitments he wants to the world or to India on issues of strategic significance to Pakistan. And Kashmir, as the general has repeated several times, “runs in the blood” of Pakistan.

A change in Pakistan’s Kashmir policy is also complicated by a belief in the country that there is a US-India nexus against it. Why should Pakistan voluntarily submit to this combined pressure? Therefore, Musharraf is probably being advised to play the US’s game, because Pakistan has no other choice, but to somehow keep his policy towards India intact. This would amount to supporting the US’s efforts to curtail the jihadis associated with Afghanistan, the taliban and al Qaida, but not give any relief to India by continuing with Pakistan’s Kashmir policy through subterfuge.

If this is what Pakistan chooses to do, then it is unlikely that the US would not know what it is up to. The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, has, therefore, been forced to say in public that despite assurances to the contrary, the US could still see evidence of infiltration across the line of control. He was clearly refuting General Musharraf’s claim in a recent interview to Washington Post and in his May 27 television speech that there was no infiltration taking place along the LoC. The US has once again urged General Musharraf to give necessary orders and take all possible action to stop the infiltration.

If, however, the Pakistani establishment persists with its policies, the Indian belief is that the US may then not mind India administering a slap to Pakistan. Then there would be a real prospect of a US-India tie-up against Pakistan.

The India-Pakistan stand-off, if it is not resolved by the US and the Western world standing firmly against using terrorism as an instrument of state policy, may lead to the unravelling of the US’s war against terrorism. If what is happening in Jammu and Kashmir is terrorism — and Jack Straw says it is — then it must be stopped.

If it cannot be stopped, it would mean that Pakistan, the primary ally of the US in the international alliance against terrorism, is unwilling to fight terrorism. This would also send an important signal to the Islamic extremists — they might be emboldened to emerge from hiding and regroup.

It would, therefore, be in the interest of the US to finish the jihadi “assets” developed by Pakistan to conduct terrorist operations against India. These capabilities, if they continue to exist, could some day target the US. For, there can be little doubt today that Islamic extremists of all hues continue to see the US as their prime enemy. They might also direct their extremist ire at other members of the alliance against terrorism. A job half-done would then be worse than not attempting it at all.

Some members of the international alliance against terrorism like Britain and Japan have hinted that they would re-examine their attitude to Pakistan if it did not desist from sponsoring terrorism against India. They may review the economic assistance they have been providing to Islamabad in recognition of its role after September 11.

However, there is no point in merely “hinting” to Pakistan that it would face an economic squeeze if it did not dismantle its infrastructure of terror. It has to be told directly and clearly what the US and its allies might do if it does not act in the desired manner. This was done after September 11 and this is what requires to be done even now.


National ambient air quality standards have been notified under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, and in the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Research and technologies: Research, development and demonstration projects ...of electric vehicles under alternative fuel, for surface transportation programmes are also underway. The objective of this programme is to develop non-polluting EVs with rechargeable batteries and fuel cells as a power source. Compressed natural gas buses and other forms of less polluting modes of transport are being given incentives. The strategy of the government to develop an integrated transport system aims to improve the efficiency of the system.

Railways have a well-devised system of working with regard to traffic management and increasing safety. The improvement in traffic indices is being achieved through: improved terminal handling; upgradation of signal and telecommunication; introduction of new concepts like engine-on-train; reduced detention to rolling stock for improved turn-around.

Financing: The main sources of funding for building infrastructure like national highways are the national budget, cess collected from sale of petrol and diesel and assistance from external, multilateral and bilateral agencies. In addition, a small amount of funding is from the private sector.

Cooperation: India is a member country of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and is a participating country in the Asian highways system. Bilateral agreements for the transportation of goods between India and Bangla- desh and India and Pakistan exist. Indian railways is a member of both UN-ESCAP and the International Union of Railways. UIC is a voluntary association of world railways with over 140 members around the world. UN-ESCAP and UIC are currently engaged in the process of developing a trans-Asian railway corridor connecting Europe and countries in the Far East. The proposed corridor passes through Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Singapore. Indian Railways will cooperate with both UIC and UN-ESCAP with regard to the corridor development plan.

India is associated with various international organizations in the field of highways and management like PIARC, International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering and International Road Federation. India is also associated with regional groups like the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the Bangladesh India Myanmar Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation.

Sustainable tourism:

The ministry of tourism, government of India, is the nodal agency for the formulation of national policies and programmes and for the coordination of activities of various Central and state government agencies and the private sector for development of tourism. However, all the environmental regulations are enforced by the ministry of environment and forests.

State governments/district administration/local bodies and councils are responsible for sustainable tourism at the local level. The forest departments of the respective state governments and the Union ministry of environment and forests enforce environmental regulations.

Legislation and regulations: There are several acts and laws which ensure sustainable tourism. These are the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, the Environment (Protection) Act 1986, and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1986. These do not set aside any specific area for tourism, but such areas have to be identified by the state governments and the required approvals/relaxations obtained.

There are established procedure stipulated by the ministry of environment and forests for project clearance and monitoring. There are deterrents in these strategies to check, control or penalize damaging environmental practices on the part of businesses and visitors.

Strategies, policies and plans: The national policy on tourism lays emphasis on sustainable development of tourism. In addition, the government has brought out a comprehensive eco-tourism policy and guidelines...The eco-tourism policy and guidelines will ensure regulated growth of eco-tourism and nature-based tourism with its positive impacts on environment protection and community development.

Eco-tourism policies and guidelines have been formulated by the government in consultation with industry and are being implemented on a voluntary basis. The environment regulations are mandatory. All the players in the tourism industry including consumers have hailed these codes and have shown sensitiveness to the environment. The national policy on tourism lays emphasis on development of eco-tourism and preservation of natural and man-made tourist attractions and resources. The policies and guidelines on ecotourism are specifically on the development of sustainable tourism.

Major groups’ involvement: The national tourism policy envisages a very big role for all the stakeholders in the decision-making process. They are involved in the development of tourism and have contributed substantially to sustainable tourism in the country.

To be concluded



When there’s no help for it

Sir — Poor J. Jayalalithaa. The one time amma decided to think about her subjects, instead of accumulating shoes and jewellry, the kind impulse all but threatened to backfire on her. The Tamil Nadu chief minister had decreed she would receive petitions from ordinary citizens at the secretariat; unfortunately, many of the distressed petitioners — who had come to their puratchi thalaivi as the last resort — committed suicide in front of the building (“Jaya gets a team of shrinks”, June 3). Three months later, a wiser Jayalalithaa has decided to enlist the help of 10 psychologists to counsel the petitioners. Strangely, Ajit Jogi, the chief minister of Chhattisgarh, too has been facing a similar predicament — at least three people have attempted to take their lives in front of his residence (“New job for Jogi security staff, June 3). Psychiatric help may be all very well and fine, but that’s not needed here. How about solving some of their problems instead?

Yours faithfully,
Moumita Haldar, Calcutta

Doctors in the dock

Sir — A serious allegation has been brought against me by the Indian Medical Association (“Medical forum slur on Saha”, June 2). It has been alleged that the legal battle I have been fighting over the past four years in search of justice for my departed wife, Anuradha, is because of a “conspiracy” with American insurance companies to help them gain entry into the Indian health market. It has been further alleged that I have been funded by these insurance companies to fight this legal battle.

I am shocked and outraged by these baseless allegations by the IMA. I challenge the IMA to prove these allegations and vouch that if anyone is able to establish such ludicrous claims, I will immediately drop charges against all doctors/hospitals. The IMA’s shameful actions are obviously motivated. Although I had to spend close to Rs 1 crore over the past four years, not a dime of this money came from unethical means. I had to get a second mortgage on my house and incur a huge personal loan on top of the decent salary that I earn, even by American standards. It has driven me to near bankruptcy, but I never took a rupee from any insurance company or anyone else. These facts were stated under oath by me during the criminal trial and are on record at the Alipore court. Neither have I ever met or made any deal with any insurance company as has been alleged.

The only reason that I’ve been fighting this almost impossible battle against the corrupt but influential medical lobby in India, staying thousands of miles away, is to bring justice not only for Anuradha but also for the millions of innocent victims of medical malpractice. More important, this fight is to save the millions of lives that would be lost if such pervasive malpractice in India is not stopped and like any other profession, Indian doctors are not held accountable in some manner for their wrongful acts. If money had been my motive, then this seemingly impossible battle would never have started in the first place. At that time, way back in 1998, even my most faithful friends and family were convinced that it would be unending and certainly futile. Indeed, money has lost its perspective in my life since the day Anuradha died in the most incomprehensible manner during a social visit to India. I’ve already declared that if I win the Rs 77 crore suit pending before the national consumer forum in Delhi, every rupee will be donated to charities in India which work towards the promotion of health, including People for Better Treatment, and for the children of India, whom Anuradha always loved.

The IMA has also criticized and questioned the judgment of “medical negligence” by the magistrate. It is truly amazing that the IMA doctors who have dubbed the judgment as wrong have neither seen the 146-page judgment (even I’ve not seen it yet), nor do they know of the evidence presented during the trial, based on which the judge found the two doctors guilty. For example, the Calcutta branch president of IMA has observed that the judgment was wrong because no “post-mortem” was done after Anuradha’s death at Breach Candy Hospital. A post-mortem is only necessary when the cause of death is not known. As her death certificate shows, the reason for Anuradha’s death was obvious (sepsis in a case of toxic epidermal necrolysis) and never mandated a post-mortem. Even Faroque Udwadia, one of India’s most eminent physicians, has testified to the same view during the trial. Many cases of “medical negligence”, upheld by different high courts and even the Supreme Court of India, were cited during the trial. The explicit support extended to the two convicted doctors by the IMA, the largest medical society in India, is nothing but an attempt to maintain the “untouchable” status of doctors and deprive the millions of victims of medical malpractice in India of justice.

Yours faithfully,
Kunal Saha, Ohio, US

Sir — Going by the reactions of the Indian Medical Association to the judgment in the Anuradha Saha case, it would seem as though Indian doctors were infallible (“Doctors behind convicted duo”, May 31). Not only did the IMA describe the judgment as “unfortunate” but it also came very close to saying that the courts had no business adjudicating on cases of medical malpractice, which had best be left to the wisdom of the West Bengal Medical Council. The medical and legal ramifications of this judgment are likely to be far-reaching and it is not surprising that doctors are apprehensive about its impact on their relations with patients. But doctors make decisions involving life and death, and there is no reason why they should not be made accountable for their actions. The argument that doctors will be afraid to take risks from now on is ridiculous. Instead of being defensive, doctors should welcome the judgment.

Yours faithfully,
Mohua Banerjee, Calcutta

Sir — Why must The Telegraph give so much publicity to the lower court’s judgment in the Anuradha Saha case? As the chief judicial magistrate of Alipore court rightly pointed out, the conviction of two of Calcutta’s most leading doctors is likely to send the wrong signals to the medical fraternity. Instead of sensationalizing the issue, it is better to concentrate on accurate representation of facts.

I would also like to point out that the drug, Depomedrol, which according to the judgment was administered without a thorough study of its probable effects is widely used in our country.

Yours faithfully,
Bharat Bhushan Kukreja, Guwahati

Sir — The conviction of two of Calcutta’s most eminent doctors in a case of medical negligence tells the story of the decline of the medical profession in the city. Not long ago, hospitals and doctors in Calcutta were known for providing exemplary medical care. People from Bihar, Orissa and even Banglad-esh, Bhutan and Nepal came to Calcutta for treatment. The situation is quite different now. It is all the more shocking to hear of doctors’ negligence given that most of them make a great deal of money. Further, they also get handsome commissions from private nursing homes and diagnostics centres everytime they recommend a patient for treatment or tests. Even if the verdict of the lower court gets overturned by the high court, the outcome of this case is likely to give hope to other victims of medical negligence. The media has done well to give the news front page billing.

Yours faithfully,
Shyam Sundar Goenka, Calcutta

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