Grin and bare it
Sir — What is worse — Manisha Koirala’s masses of cellulite squeezed into skimpy dresses, or a double doing the flesh-baring scenes for her if the film requires it' There is no chance now of fooling the audience into thinking that the wonderful contours in Ek Chhotisi Love Story belong to Koirala. The world knows now that they belong to Jessica Choksi, thanks to the ruckus the star created. When most Bollywood heroines evidently love doing bare-all scenes in an art film, Koirala should stop carrying on about a few shots which even our holier-than-thou censor board thought fit to be screened.
Sonali Guha, Serampore
Sir — Aveek Sen’s article, “Something understood” (Aug 18), is fascinating, particularly his tribute to the noted scholar and teacher of English literature, Kitty Scoular Datta. One feels nostalgic about this mode of teaching, which made literature come alive in the confines of the classroom. I am reminded of some of my own professors in the late Forties, who could evoke a spontaneous response in students by their interpretation of great literature. This method of teaching, based on the liberal humanistic tradition has, however, become nearly extinct. Perhaps this followed the onset of the “era of literary theory” in universities since the Seventies and the Eighties.
P.C. Banerji, Calcutta
Sir — The report on Partha Sarathi Dasgupta appeared strange to me and my contemporaries who studied economics in the early Fifties (“Professor from Bengal is now a Sir”, June 16). My professor, Dhiresh Bhattacharyya, told me that the report surprised him, too. It is difficult to believe that all Dasgupta had told the reporter about his father was that he was not happy to have left Dacca and migrated to India, and that he was restless and kept changing jobs.
Dasgupta’s father, Amiya Kumar Dasgupta, was an eminent economist of his time. He was the second Indian to obtain a Ph.D in pure economics. The result of Amiya Dasgupta’s research was The Concept of Surplus in Economic Theory, later a part of our postgraduate syllabus at the University of Calcutta. Many of his students in Dacca, such as Ashok Mitra, the former finance minister of West Bengal, have distinguished themselves in different fields.
There is also a factual error in the report. Partha Sarathi Dasgupta’s sister was married to the former governor of the Reserve Bank of India, I.G. Patel, and not to his son.
Nirupom Som, Calcutta
Sir — In his article, “The Meritarian principle” (Aug 2), Andre Beteille has put forward an interesting and provocative idea. While commenting on the absence of this principle in Indian society, particularly in the academia, he has not mentioned any country which can boast of adhering to it. Beteille refers to the book, The Rise of the Meritocracy, but appears to be unaware of another called The Rise of the Mediocracy, published some years after the first. The decline of judgment on the basis of merit seems to be a global phenomenon, not confined to the Indian context.
In a country where self-styled intellectuals have all surrendered their conscience to the whims of their political masters, it is not possible for merit to be a deciding factor in any institution, academic or otherwise. For, as Beteille points out in his discussion on the role of competition in the selection of individuals, both the judges of merit and the ones being judged are eager to keep their prospective masters in good humour. Merit is the obvious martyr in this sordid game.
Bijay Kumar Datta, Calcutta
Sir — Cigarette companies are known to target teenagers. But if television commercials are any indication, soft drink manufacturers target teenagers and even children in a big way, using film and cricket celebrities to promote their products. This despite researches having established that certain soft drinks can be harmful. It was recently reported that colas and other soft drinks are very acidic, dissolve tooth enamel and may cause liver cancer. They have also been found to contain caffeine, a stimulant. Should not the government order soft drink manufacturers to print statutory warnings on their product-labels'
Kaushik Dutta, Durgapur