Sir — No one is fooled by Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s attempts to walk the tightrope between the sangh parivar and the National Democratic Alliance (“Vajpayee finds his voice”, Oct 26). How can he pander to the whims of the sangh parivar on one day and the very next, criticize it' People’s memories are not that short. Such equivocation is quite Vajpayee’s forte — remember his very public denunciation of Narendra Modi in March this year and his volte face a few days later' His condemnation of Modi and Praveen Togadia has come a little too late. What was Vajpayee doing when Ashok Singhal described the Gujarat pogrom as a very successful experiment that would be repeated elsewhere in the country' Unlike the editorial, “His own voice” (Oct 27), the average citizen might find it difficult to sympathize with Vajpayee. Instead of pleasing everyone, this balancing act will only cost the prime minister the trust of both the NDA and the parivar.
Nilanjan Ganguly, Calcutta
Strike at will
Sir — Sunanda K. Datta-Ray’s warning that no country can consider itself safe from “Uncle Sam’s swift and savage strikes” speaks volumes about the crisis confronting the world today (“The world on a short leash”, Oct 12). Given the superior military might of the United States of America — the lone superpower in the world, it is difficult to believe that it can feel threatened by any nation in the world, least of all, Iraq. As Datta-Ray rightly adduces, the US’s adventures in west Asia have the sole objective of furthering its own interests in the region. It has not helped further democracy in the region, or women’s rights or welfare of the minorities. Instead, it has promoted militarism and set off an arms race in the region. If George W. Bush does attack Iraq in the coming days, he will be ending a sequence of events that was started by his father.
Surajit Basak, Calcutta
Sir — Notwithstanding Ashok Mitra’s sarcasm in his article, “The cheaper option” (Oct 18), there is some truth in the statement that murdering Saddam Hussein would cost the US a lot less than a full-fledged war against Iraq. However, the Americans are anything but cost-conscious. The recent war in Afghanistan and the one against Iraq in 1991 were both expensive. Also, Mitra seems to convey the impression that the US has done little other than fighting wars and hiring assassins to kill leaders of central and Latin American countries. That is a bit unfair. One thing is true though. The US’s campaign to oust the Iraqi president has caused much ill-will. It is time the US concentrated on helping less fortunate nations or picked on a more worthwhile cause.
Arta Mishra, Cuttack
Sir — Like Saddam Hussein, whom the US wants to eliminate, the Pakistan president, Pervez Musharraf, too is a dictator. He too is not backed by a popular mandate — he seized power in a coup and the referendum that he claims gave legitimacy to his rule was also a farce. If Iraq is guilty of possessing weapons of mass destruction, Pakistan has flooded India with terrorists who have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of women and children. Would the US then support India if it launches strikes on terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir'
Amit Kumar Dutt, Calcutta
Sir — If the authority of the United Nations is at stake, it is because of the intransigence and arrogance of the US. Having pushed the world a step closer to war, the US is now seeking legitimacy for its actions by forcing the UN to pass a resolution that will enable it to take action against Iraq. That the US’s proposed action against Saddam Hussein has a lot to do with the latter’s control over some of the largest oil reserves in the world is obvious. A war would also divert public attention from economic problems and the many corporate scandals that have occurred in the US over the past year. But doesn’t George W. Bush realize that attacking Iraq will only lead to more terrorist strikes on the US' It is unfortunate that civilians — in the US and in Iraq — are pawns in the games played by politicians like Bush.
Rudrasish Datta, Howrah
Sir — George W. Bush has little evidence that Iraq possesses the biological and chemical weapons which pose such a threat to the world. In the circumstances, it is good that France and Russia have halted the “world’s only superpower” by asking it to get this proof before they endorse the UN resolution authorizing a war against Iraq.
Rajat Bakshi, Dumka
Sir — Rupees 10,000 — is that all a human life has come to be worth in today’s world (“A baby’s life worth Rs 10,000”, Oct 19)' Even a colour television costs more noawadays.
At a time many doctors earn more than that amount in a day, is it not strange that the consumer court in Hooghly let off the doctor, Dwijapada Som, with a fine of Rs 10,000 despite finding him guilty of negligence' Such a trivial punishment will never be able to teach a lesson to the affluent medical community in India. This verdict will only serve to discourage other victims from approaching the courts for justice.
Kunal Saha, Columbus, US
Sir — The death of 10 children in two days in the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital is yet another pointer to the appalling conditions in most government hospitals in the state (“B.C. Roy baby death replay in Burdwan”, Oct 22). The state government’s clean chit to the doctors in the hospital does not mean anything. And how can the minister of state for health, Pratyush Mukherjee, claim that the statistics of more than 800 children dead this year are “normal”' That the progresses in medical science have not made any difference to the number of deaths is nothing short of scandalous. It is the government’s failure to install modern equipment and appoint skilled and dedicated doctors in hospitals and health centres that are responsible for this state of affairs. But does the government care'
Debarati Sengupta, Calcutta
Sir — Why has the media suddenly picked on the deaths of children in government hospitals' The government does not care, the poor doctors and nurses, who work very hard under many constraints, have stopped caring and the poor people who go to these hospitals have no option, and hence they too can’t afford to care. By all accounts the numbers are not uncommon, so why the hue and cry'
P. Roy, Calcutta