Everyone loves to hate this city
Sir — So “Advani does not like Calcutta” (Sept 18). But there is no reason why he should. Delhi leaders who have found it virtually impossible to bite into Calcutta’s political pie have found the city repulsive for one reason or the other. But what did L.K. Advani find so “unimpressive” about Calcutta — the traffic, the billboards or the filth' Truly, each of these sore points, taken individually, does make Calcutta’s record rather unimpressive. For example, even with its chaotic transport, Calcutta cannot beat New Delhi in traffic jams. Mumbai again will give it stiff competition where billboards and filth are concerned. Probably, Advani should answer some questions himself. Does he like Chennai' Does he like it less than Mumbai' If so, can he vouchsafe that his liking has nothing to do with the political colour of the cities' For, we suspect Calcutta has unfortunately become the favourite whipping boy of politicians who do not like the colour red.
M. Chatterjee, Calcutta
A war of words
Sir — It is unfortunate that Pervez Musharraf chose an international forum to settle political scores with India. In his characteristic style, he justified the terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir as a continuing struggle for freedom by the people of the state. He also charged India with committing atrocities against minorities. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had no option but to contest these charges, point by point (“Atal matches Pervez, blast for blast”, Sept 14). Musharraf needed to be reminded that there are more Muslims residing in India than in Pakistan. If Musharraf is so touchy about the minorities issue, what about the selective massacres of Christians and the sectarian violence in Pakistan' At least in India, people are not attacked while they are praying in temples, mosques or gurdwaras.
If the Jammu and Kashmir elections are a farce, what about the referendum held in May this year that polled a whopping number of votes in his favour' Was it not rigged' Does Musha-rraf think he is being democratic in the way he has barred Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif from contesting in the October 10 elections in Pakistan'
Vajpayee has demonstrated his maturity as a world leader by not restricting himself to Pakistan only. In his speech he dwelt on developmental issues like healthcare, environment and equitable global trade. One must remember that global fora like the United Nations are for discussing problems faced by the world community and not for bilateral bickering.
Sir — There is no doubt that the Indian prime minister was at his rhetorical best during his address to the UN general assembly in which he asserted India’s status as home to the second largest Muslim population in the world. But Atal Bihari Vajpayee should have been aware that mere numbers does not guarantee that the community also feels absolutely safe in our country. Had it been so, Muslims would not have borne the brunt of the communal violence in Gujarat. Vajpayee may try his best to flaunt India’s pluralism in the international fora, but statistics cannot veil the gory picture within the country. If Vajpayee is really proud of the multi-religious character of Indian society, will he please tell us about the Vidya Bharti Sansthan courses in schools which not only deride Christianity and Islam, but also go to the extent of claiming that Muslims actually worship the shivalinga in Mecca'
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur
Sir — Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s reply to Pervez Musharraf’s speech at the United Nations general assembly was unimpressive. Ineffectual diplomacy has weakened India’s presence in the general assembly. Is it not embarrassing for a country with such insignificant global standing to wish for a permanent seat in the security council'
Iftakhar Latif, Guwahati
Sir — Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave a fitting reply to Pervez Musharraf. He demolished the theory of a so-called “freedom struggle” in Kashmir, where civilians are being killed by Pakistan-trained terrorists everyday. It is a well-known fact that most of these killers are either Pakistani nationals or mercenaries who have been brainwashed by Islamabad’s destructive designs. Had there been no Pakistan factor, there would have been no Kashmir problem.
D.V. Vamsee Krishna, Bhubaneswar
Sir — “Atal matches Pervez, blast for blast” shows that India cannot be pressured, either by Pakistan or China or the United States of America, into being made the scapegoat in the Kashmir imbroglio. For the first time perhaps, Pervez Musharraf has met his match in A.B. Vajpayee.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Better with age
Sir — By making it to the finals of this year’s US open, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi have proved that hardwork, and hardwork alone, is the key to success. There are no shortcuts. Passion, dedication and self-belief are the only things that take one to the top. Also commendable, in this dog-eat-dog world, is the healthy competition, the mutual admiration and respect, the two players share.
Sandip Sen, Calcutta
Sir — Meghna Poddar, in her letter, “Hurry up please, it’s time” (Sept 15), advises Pete Sampras to quit since he is “way past his prime”. Why do some carpers feel that players should retire after a certain age' Perhaps, it is because we measure age in years and not in terms of mental agility and physical fitness. Instead of being so critical, we should learn from the Samprases, the Agassis and the Martina Navratilovas the art of keeping fit as we grow older. “Catch ’em young” does not necessarily mean “throw the old”.
Sujit De, Sodepur