Playing games on a muddied pitch
Sir — What kind of example are the India media setting by equating the results of the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir with the outcome of the India-Pakistan hockey match in the Asian Games (“India 2, Pakistan 0”, Oct 11)' Such readings are likely to breed all the wrong ideas in the minds of the people of the two countries at a time when nothing is more important than to restore a semblance of friendly ties between India and Pakistan. Indians and Pakistanis have had enough of cross-border tensions between the two countries being dragged on to the cricket pitch or the hockey turf. If Wasim Akram singlehandedly steers the Pakistan cricket team to a victory against India, then it is because he is an exceptionally good cricketer. It is also unlikely that Dhanraj Pillay thought of the dead jawans of Kargil and decided to score goals against Pakistan. Most ordinary citizens realize that the much-publicized Indo-Pak rivalry is largely a game the political leaderships of the two countries play. It is as important now to de-escalate tensions on the playing field as it is to scale down firing across the Siachen glacier.
S.K. Pandit, Rourkela
Sir — The Telegraph deserves to be congratulated for bringing to light the bizarre mindset of our politicians who also organize Durga pujas. Roads have been blocked, noise pollution has reached its peak, trees have been cut, painted, causing them severe harm, transport has been thrown out of gear and precious man-hours wasted for these people. Worse, they dare to sermonize lesser mortals about “tolerance”, and comfort them with one-liners like, “You cannot have everything in life.”
One cannot understand what this power is that they get from the public that allows them to flout rules so openly. Even the mayor of Calcutta, Subrata Mukherjee, has reportedly commented that pujas cannot be organized if every rule in the book was to be followed to the letter. Who asked him to organize pujas in the first place' The real reason why politicians are so eager about holding pujas is not far to seek. Pujas involve big money, and by organizing a puja, one gets the much coveted access to the chest minus all accountability. If legislators are bent on creating chaos and the executive chooses to keep mum, let the judiciary come to the rescue of the hapless Calcuttans. Why has not someone filed a public interest litigation already'
Tapan Pal, Batanagar
Sir — Over the last few days we have seen seasoned politicians clamber for space on the pages of The Telegraph, giving vent to their own pious reasons for bending the rules during the pujas. From the local members of the legislative assembly to the mayor of Calcutta, Subrata Mukherjee, himself, everyone sees it as a once in a year opportunity to enjoy the light and sound and thus justify the flouting of laws. So where do you draw the line, democrats ' A rule is a rule, be it the Diwali or the Durga puja. But is Diwali a less joyous festival than the Durga puja' Why are then people deprived of enjoyment in this festival of light and sound with a curfew on the decibel level' It is clear that no matter how many excuses they offer, politicians use festivals to gain mileage in their constituencies. Let us bring back the old touch to both these festivals — both feelings and freedom sans hatred and sans politicians.
Rahul Dhanuka, Calcutta
Sir — The Telegraph always exposes the wrongdoings of our leaders, whether political or religious. Recent investigations into the city’s “bypass blockage” and the non-civic sense of our political leaders, who prevent taxpayers from using public thoroughfares for days together, are laudable. The audacity of politicos to make the public dance to their tune in the name of festivities is surprising. Each of these uncaring leaders of today were once known as great terrors in their localities or paras in the Sixties and the Seventies. They once used to, and still do, extort money for the pujas from residents and businessmen, threatening them with dire consequences. Surprisingly, there is no one to contest their claims. The argument of our mayor regarding flouting of rules indicates that we have lost all sense of balance. The silence of the Bengali intellectual, since the matter does not directly go against his interests, is not new.
Is it not possible to organize all sarbojanin pujas at the Maidan or the EM Bypass so that the people for whose enjoyment the clubs “work” so hard, have to take less strain to see the artwork of pandals and idols and the old and sick can enjoy a restful time during the holidays' This would also solve traffic and security problems.
Amitava Banerjee, Calcutta
Sir — The state general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Anil Biswas, had told the press some time in August that the Durga puja is a social function and there is no reason why the left should keep away from it. Ambiguity thy name is Marxism. Marxists never utter the word '”puja”, they address it as “Sharodotsab”.
There is however no way they can now write off religion as the opium of the masses. Vivekananda has shown how religion can be used to spread education and promote healthcare. It is time the Marxists understood the role of religion in the lives of the people over whom they rule.
Tapan Das Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — Henceforth, the pujas will always pose a security threat. Given the growing sectarianism, puja pandals will become the ideal hunting ground for all those wanting to create trouble. Which means there will have to be armed personnel around, close-circuit cameras and the like, all of which will increase the administrative cost of managing the pujas.
Mayukh Chakaraborty, Khardah
Sir — The judiciary has slapped a fine on major soft drink companies for defacing the rocks in Himachal Pradesh with their advertisements. But people in this country immerse thousands of idols in the sea, rivers, tanks and ponds. These idols, made of clay or metal, and coated with paint, are extremely injurious to aquatic life and can cause numerous problems such as silting and consequent flooding during heavy monsoon. Besides, they add toxic elements which include lead, zinc and arsenic. Is this not a violation of the environmental laws and tampering with the ecosystem'
Sir — Perhaps for the first time, Calcuttans have had the opportunity to witness donation-seekers doing their bit for society (“Pandals creative juice keeps flowing”, Oct 3). Congratulations to the organizers of the Bosepukur Sitala Mandir puja, who have been “actually” working on the idea of donating their income from the sale of sugarcane juice to the development of a children’s hospital. Other organizers, who collect money to remunerate or oblige politicians and actors for inaugurating their pujas, to decorate their pandals and light up areas where the pujas are held should follow Bosepukur’s example.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — People or organizations do not consider a few things while setting up old-age homes in the outskirts of a city. These homes need to be localized so that old people in the vicinity can stay there. Also so that people, whose children are away in office during the day, may spend their time in these homes with people of their generation. It will make it easier for relatives and friends to pay visits to these old people, and vice versa.
P.V. Madhu, Secunderabad
Sir — Khushwant Singh’s article, “The old and the beautiful” (Oct 5), should be an eyeopener for people who care little for the aged as well as the greying who venture out on their own, only to stumble and break a bone or two — often a prelude to the end. Singh’s own experiences, narrated with the usual stress on the scatological de- tails — which may be excused on the ground that he is getting old— is rather moving.
N.S. Ramakrishnan, Calcutta