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Brothers in riches

Sir — What do you call it when some of the richest individuals in the country organize a dinner to raise funds for their club' A joke, of course. The Indian Cricket Players’ Association fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency on October 31, despite all the hype surrounding it, managed to be little more than that. There was no need to prove for the umpteenth time that when Indian cricketers decide to lend their names to something, be it a soft drink or a home for underprivileged children, money just refuses to stop flowing. The cash haul of Rs 60 lakh at the Hyatt only underlined this very well-known fact. As far as cricketers’ rights are concerned, the drama before the ICC Trophy in Colombo had made it clear that even the regulating bodies of world cricket must bow to the demands of those who have the forces of the market behind them. What was the need for all that razzmatazz to prove a point about which we had no doubt in the first place'

Yours faithfully,
Soumitra Sinha, Calcutta


Acts of commission

Sir — The ruling of the five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court on the Gujarat assembly elections is absolutely fair: it favours neither the Election Commission, nor the government of Gujarat or the Bharatiya Janata Party’s leadership (“Court backs EC on Gujarat”, Oct 29). The court upheld the power of the EC to “conduct and superintend” elections under Article 324, arguing that this was the “exclusive domain” of the EC. But the apex court’s September 2 verdict — in which it had said that “Gujarat is not an issue before us” and “we will proceed to hear the matter taking whatever the EC has stated in its order as correct and we will not entertain any clarification” — had already hinted that the Gujarat elections would be held in November-December, as desired by the EC.

But the EC too got a mild drubbing from the court which pointed out that a law-and-order problem should not “ordinarily” be made the ground for postponing elections. The Supreme Court’s clarification that Article 174 is applicable to an assembly which has completed its full term and not where the assembly has been dissolved prematurely as in Gujarat is very important.

With the Jammu and Kashmir elections having been a free and fair affair largely, one hopes that the December 12 elections in Gujarat, under J.M. Lyngdoh, will also be so. Let us see what the Supreme Court has to say in its response to the public interest litigation pertaining to the presidential ordinance on poll reforms.

Yours faithfully,
Srinivasan Balakrishnan, Jamshedpur


Sir — The former chief election commissioner, T.N. Seshan, was extremely frank. District collectors were afraid of him. He had occasional fights with politicians and even had a brush with the Supreme Court. But he left an indelible mark on the election process by starting the process of issuing voter identity cards in spite of stiff resistance from political circles.

J.M. Lyngdoh, the present CEC who has invited comparisons with Seshan, made himself famous with his road show at Ahmedabad. The media may have been jubilant at the EC’s stand on the Gujarat assembly elections, but the apex court has struck down the EC’s suggestion to impose president’s rule, which was the main agenda of the opposition parties.

But Lyngdoh’s recent remark that “allegations of rigging in West Bengal were grossly exaggerated” must make him a saint in the eyes of left (“Lyngdoh lays to rest rigging slur”, Oct 30). These comments have exposed Lyngdoh’s ignorance. Does he think the popularity of the communists is behind their wins in polls after polls by huge margins' Does he know the police too have been tainted red in West Bengal' Or that even district magistrates and superintendents of police are forced to behave like CPI (M) cadre' Does he know that in polling booths, especially in rural areas, opposition parties’ agents are not allowed into polling booths' Doesn’t Lyndoh wonder why the anti-incumbency factor does not apply in West Bengal'

Yours faithfully,
Tapan Das Gupta, Calcutta


No help for AIDS

Sir — Those who frequent cyber cafes may well have been shocked to find that pornography sites — which depict every kind of sexual activity, even the violent, perverse and illicit — are amongst the most popular on the net. Young males are especially vulnerable to such porn sites, which may lead them to practise or experiment with, often unsafe, sex.

This has no doubt led to the steady rise in the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases and especially AIDS in India. For example, a recent report of the Central Intelligence Agency says that India is already one of the principal AIDS flashpoints in the world and estimates that by 2010 — only eight years from now — there will be as many as 20 to 25 million AIDS affected in the country (“India among AIDS flashpoints”, Oct 2). One way to combat this scourge, is for parents to impress upon their children the importance of abstinence or limiting one’s partners to spouses.

Yours faithfully,
J. Waldron, Shillong


Sir — In the early Eighties, when we first heard of the HIV virus, it was assumed that it was the problem of cultures where free sex was prevalent.

This assumption is totally false, as even a conservative society like India is one of the worst affected. Matters are not helped by the tardy pace of administration in the country. Also India, which is yet to win the fight against tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy and polio, does not have the equipment or the resources to fight AIDS, which has daunted even sophisticated societies. For most of the country, even the cost of medicine for a common cold is unbearable. How then will they buy the expensive drugs for AIDS'

Yours faithfully,
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur


Parting shot

Sir — Whatever Bacchi Karkaria may say in her article, “I am sexy, harass me” (Nov 3), sexual harassment is not the only kind of harassment that takes place at the workplace. It is just that sexual harassment is handled extra-cautiously, especially by large companies, because it is bad for the image. Many, and more invidious, kinds of harassment go unnoticed perhaps because they cannot be proved. These include creating unnecessary work pressure, forcing people to stay late and generally making life miserable — which can be very painful, especially for the average middle class working woman, who juggles the needs of the workplace and the family. It is necessary to tackle harassment on the whole, something that need not be gender-based.

Yours faithfully,
Smita Toppo, Calcutta


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