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Nation before self

Sir — Benjamin Netanyahu, who took over as Israel’s new foreign minister, was once the prime minister of the country (“Netanyahu”, Nov 7). Despite heading the government once, Bibi did not mind accepting a junior post under Ariel Sharon. Would such a thing have ever happened in India' An Indian politician would consider it too humiliating to ever accept a position lower than what he once held, much less harbour hopes of making a comeback. The difference in outlook and attitudes of the leaders of the two countries is loud and clear. For the former, it is always nation before self, while for the latter, it is just the opposite.

Yours faithfully,
Arta Mishra, Cuttack


Smoking gun

Sir — The efforts of the Union health minister, Shatrughan Sinha, to ban tobacco consumption and promotion are laudable (“Afraid' Not Smoking Shotgun”, Nov 9). Despite the statutory warning against smoking on every pack and the ever-increasing prices of cigarettes, the number of smokers is increasing, instead of dwindling. Some smoke to relax while some others smoke because they think it is fashionable. The last category includes many young women.

Tobacco companies all over the world spend millions annually on publicity campaigns. These companies also provide employment to large numbers. Given all this, will it be possible to close down tobacco industries' But it is necessary to stop tobacco production if the government wants people to stop smoking. There is also need to spread greater awareness of the evils of smoking.

But at least Sinha’s promise that he would rather safeguard people’s interests than be a minister speaks of firm resolve.

Yours faithfully,
Diptimoy Ghosh, Calcutta


Sir — It is good to see Shatrughan Sinha unafraid of the pressure tactics of the tobacco lobby as he prepares to introduce an anti-tobacco bill in the winter session of Parliament. Especially since it is rumoured that the departure of his predecessor, C.P. Thakur, was the result of pressure from the tobacco lobby.

Tobacco consumption causes cancer, cardio-vascular and respiratory diseases. The World Health Organization estimates that about 90 billion sticks of cigarettes are consumed every year and that in India, 2,200 people die every day of tobacco-related diseases and Rs 14,500 crore are spent to treat these diseases. Cigarette is the glamour boy among tobacco products like bidi, gutkha, zarda, all of which are equally harmful.

Yours faithfully,
Manoranjan Das, Jamshedpur


Sir — A ban on smoking would be taking away the fundamental right of a smoker. Smoking has been known to soothe the mind and enhance concentration, in spite of its many adverse effects. Public opinion in India and elsewhere in the world is now in favour of giving legal sanction to suicide, euthanasia, prostitution, homosexuality and so on, on the premise that an individual should have absolute right over his body. So why take away the right to smoke'

Yours faithfully,
Md. Moinuddin, Calcutta


Family company

Sir — Laloo Prasad Yadav, his wife and family are primarily responsible for the sorry state of the Bihar exchequer (“Laloo daughter caught in Bihar Bhavan storm”, Nov 19). That Laloo Yadav’s daughter, Misa Bharati, and her husband thought nothing of staying on in Bihar Bhawan, the state guest house, in the national capital, and using all the government cars, phones and other amenities, is some more evidence of the fact that the Yadavs consider the state their personal fiefdom.

Yours faithfully,
Vikash Goenka, Calcutta


Sir — The report, “Laloo spits out bid to break a bond” (Nov 21), was very amusing. While discerning governments have called for a ban on gutkha and other tobacco products, in Bihar, Laloo Prasad Yadav is encouraging their use. The incident where Yadav accepted khaini from an ordinary villager may demonstrate his common touch, it is also evidence of his support for the use of tobacco products. And without the support of Laloo Yadav in Bihar, can any campaign to ban or discourage the use of tobacco ever succeed'

Yours faithfully,
T.R. Anand, Calcutta


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