Show some restraint
Sir— How can L.K. Advani comment on the alleged activities of the Inter-Services Intelligence in Bangladesh when such a statement cannot be corroborated by Indian intelligence agencies' The report, “Ammo for Advani” (Nov 12), states that the available information about terrorist bases cannot be used as evidence since the huts are “makeshift” and can be easily dismantled. One would have expected a little more restraint from the man who has been home minister for some years now. There is also another possibility. By making such a statement and corroborating the views of the chief ministers of Tripura and Assam, Advani has provided the latter with a convenient scapegoat. Both Tarun Gogoi and Manik Sarkar will not have to explain their failure to curb militancy in their states. The home minister’s thoughtless behaviour before Khaleda Zia’s visit to India may have jeopardized the prospects of that visit and put on hold the discussion of important bilateral issues.
Mitul Datta, Calcutta
Sir — Bhaskar Ghose’s “Fiddling with knowledge” (Nov 7) raises an important concern — learning. As society becomes more and more complex, conflicts among different groups of people tend to challenge and even threaten traditional beliefs and values that were once held sacred. The education system sometimes becomes the focal point of struggle as dominant groups and political parties try to safeguard their ideology and beliefs through their control over the dissemination of knowledge and information.
This does not hold true only for India. In the former Soviet Union also, the communist party had full control over the education system. This stranglehold over education was broken only during the era of perestroika under Mikhail Gorbachev. The left and saffron attempt at rewriting history in India is part of the same power struggle. Both will continue to distort the truth for their own survival.
However, Ghose’s suggestion that a number of school principals form a body that would replace the National Council for Educational Research and Training, though well-meaning, is unacceptable. It may be quite impossible to find academics or educationists who do not prescribe to one political ideology or another.
Surajit Basak, Calcutta
Sir — Although adequate number of seats have been reserved for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in educational institutions, those who actually make use of the provision are ones who do not need the privilege. For example, STs living in urban areas are usually well-off, but continue to benefit from reservations. On the other hand, a meritorious yet poor student of the general category is unable to get admission into a good college because the seats are numbered. Deserving candidates from both the backward classes and the general category should be given a chance to get a good education.
Krishanu Chatterjee, Durgapur
Sir — The fact that the Left Front government has decided to alter the Madhyamik syllabus comes as a pleasant surprise. My parents, who had taken the examination under the West Bengal board of secondary education, had studied the same syllabus some two decades back. Given that Madhyamik is a stepping-stone for students, it is important that the board revamps the syllabus regularly. This will help students from the state when they appear for competitive examinations at the national level.
Suchi Arya, Calcutta
Sir — The recent star shows by the Tamil Nadu film industry in Neyveli to press for the release of Cauvery waters by Karnataka, and the subsequent fast by the filmstar, Rajnikant, clearly showed that the Tamil film industry is divided even when it is united in its stand on a particular issue (“Baptism by fast for southern superstar”, Oct 14). Rajnikant’s kind of independent protest can only create further divisions in an issue that is already much exploited politically.
R. Sekar, Angul
Sir — While Rajnikant plays political games, the Cauvery water crisis gets muddier. At the suffering end are neither the filmstars nor the politicians, but the poor farmers of Tamil Nadu. Perhaps Rajnikant’s hunger strike is a political stunt. After all, there is little doubt about his political ambitions.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — To avoid crises like the one over the Cauvery, river water should be nationalized urgently.
P.V. Madhu, Secunderabad
Sir — It is immaterial that S.M. Krishna had filed an unconditional apology before the court and released some water, anticipating that the apex court would not take his disobedience kindly. Unless Krishna is adequately penalized for his contempt of court, subsequent chief ministers of Karnataka will follow his disgusting precedent.
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur