Fine art of copying
Sir — Indian television has not only run out of imaginative steam, but also seems to have left all sense of professional ethics by the wayside (“Jeena faces California copy suit”, Nov 25). One can understand that the makers of Jeena Isi ka Naam Hai took the concept from elsewhere, but what is the harm in acknowledging it if they did so' After all, the hit Kaun Banega Crorepati was also copied from the successful British show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire' And the producers of KBC made no bones about their show being licensed. Besides, mere copying is no guarantee of success — take the fate of the numerous quiz shows which followed KBC. There are also several shows that have done well on foreign television that have proved flops in India, take Kamzor Kari Kaun', based on The Weakest Link. Is it then the licence fees that came in the way in this case' Imitation may be the best form of flattery, but not if it means that the originator of the idea loses out on royalties as a result.
M. Sen, Calcutta
Hikes all around
Sir — The West Bengal government’s decision to increase fees in medical colleges is justified for more reasons than one. The education of a single doctor costs the taxpayer Rs 1.5 lakh. Besides, it is not as though students will be footing the entire bill for their education — the government is merely reducing the subsidy, not eliminating it. And it is time the government increased the fees, since it has not done so for more than 50 years. Surely, the monthly hostel expenses of Rs 500 is much less than what one would spend living at home.
But the principle of making students pay for their education should not mean that admissions to medical colleges should be opened to all those who can pay for it, regardless of merit. Besides, most medical students would rather settle abroad; very few even think of practising in villages. Why then should the government waste taxpayers’ money on medical students' I have two suggestions on improving matters. One, at the time of admission, medical students should be given the option of signing a bond pledging to practise a minimum of 5 years in the villages. The education of all those who chose to sign may be subsidized. Two, doctors who emigrate without serving at least 10 years in India should be made to pay back to the government what it spent on their education.
As for the lawyers who are protesting against the hike in court fees, they are merely couching their concern at the loss in business as public interest. Do lawyers protest when the courts go on a two month-long holiday' Whose interest is harmed if people think twice about filing a petition that may not get a verdict in years, if not decades' What public interest do the lawyers serve by striking'
Ankan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — Professionals like doctors and lawyers in West Bengal continue to suffer from a hangover from Nehruvian socialism, though they may otherwise be in favour of opening up the economy. They enjoy the good things in life — the fancy home appliances and designer clothes — that liberalization has increased access to, but go berserk when their pecuniary interests are threatened. Nothing else can explain why lawyers stopped work to protest the hike in court fees, and why doctors protested against the tuition fee hike in state medical colleges (“Doctors join student protest”, Nov 22).
It would have been a different matter if these communities had been responsive to social causes. Instead, in the common man’s perception, lawyers and doctors are not exactly the paragons of virtue.
Tapan Pal, Batanagar
Sir — Medical students must realize that a fee of Rs 12 a month is as good as nothing and that Rs 1,000, the new fees the government has fixed, is really not all that much. Besides, one does not much value things that come free. This is probably why the standard of medical education has gone down in the state. Medical education in the West is very expensive but students can make use of loans which they pay back when they start earning. When rich countries do not subsidize higher education, why expect a poor country like India to do so' As for poor students who wish to get medical education, the government should arrange for soft loans. After all, these students will start earning handsomely after they become doctors and would be able to pay back the loans. In fact, the necessity to pay back the loan would make the students study harder.
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Sir — The decision of the West Bengal state government to charge for fire services is amazing (“Foot the bill to battle the blaze”, Nov 18). If citizens have to pay the government for essential or emergency services in addition to numerous other taxes, why should they not look forward to getting such services from the specialized agencies in the private sector instead of going for the lacklustre services of the government sector'
Perhaps a time will come when citizens will have to pay the police in advance before using their services during emergencies. But even with the hiked charges, what is the guarantee that the government will provide the required services' None, going by the government’s apathy towards maintaining roads for which it collects road tax from vehicle owners. How long will the authorities shy away from their responsibilities '
P.J. Koshy, Calcutta
Sir — Medical science was one way for the youth from the poor sections of society to improve their future. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee should understand that the present fee hike will not harm the well-heeled, but the chances of a poor young man becoming a doctor will dim. This will not only further accentuate economic differences in society, but also lead to the neglect of those who have the ability but not the means.
Anurag Jaiswal, Calcutta
Sir — How can there be money for some things and not for others (“Slow to change”, Nov 22). Teachers’ salaries are delayed by two weeks because there are apparently, some other urgent payments. Shouldn’t the government have some reserves' Review of college fees, court fees, hospital charges may be new ways to garner income. But it seems the government wants to kill the hen and gather all the golden eggs at once.
Shiv Shanker Almal, Calcutta
Sir — The proposal to increase the rent of government flats by 25 per cent will prove too much of a burden on lower middle class tenants of these apartments (“Rents of govt flats raised by 25 per cent”, Nov 23). Private landlords increase rent by 10 per cent once in 3 years. How can the government ask for a 25 per cent hike' The left stands to lose much of its popularity with this move.
T.R. Anand, Calcutta