Slow on the uptake
Sir — Unfortunately for West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is no N. Chandrababu Naidu. This is more than evident from his faux pas at the recent chief ministers round table in Infocom 2002, where he had quite confidently announced that West Bengal would win the information technology race at its own pace (“Fast & furious sermon to CM”, Dec 3). This amounts to an admission of his laid-back attitude in interactions with potential investors. Take for instance his refusal to attend the chief ministers conference during Bill Gates’s recent visit to India. Naidu, on the other hand, had eagerly welcomed the Microsoft chief. Taking things slowly is one thing, looking a gift horse in the mouth is altogether another. In order to come anywhere close to Naidu’s state, or for that matter a few others, Bhattacharjee will have to talk sense into bureaucrats and trade unionists and restore a semblance of work culture in the state. This might be an impossible task, hence the verbal gimmickry.
Maina Guha, Calcutta
Sir — Even when Ashok Mitra, a leading economist and communist, chooses to write on cricket, he is looking for a pretext to criticize India’s present economic policy. His recent article, “Heroes of the market” (Nov 29), is no exception. Unfortunately, Mitra’s criticism of Indian cricketers clearly comes through as a manifestation of his back-dated socialist mindset. It also makes one wonder whether he is a little envious of the wealth and success of the Indian cricketers.
Mitra has purposely undermined the successes of the Indian cricket team which has, despite the loss against the Caribbeans in the last one-day series, come up with inspiring performances in recent times. While the media may have contributed to the growing popularity of the game, there is hardly any reason to believe that this has been less than spontaneous. All Indians irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, or political ideology rejoice when the Indian team is victorious in a cricket match.
It is therefore irrelevant whether the overwhelming popularity of the game is due to the still persisting “colonial haze”. Whether Mitra likes it or not, money will keep pouring into cricket. Further, much less than 15 per cent of the population — which the author thinks is reaping the benefits of liberalization — would have been prosperous if the leftists had been governing the country.
Pabitra Kumar Das, Calcutta
Sir — The growing popularity of cricket over the last two decades has led to the commercialization of the game. However, much of the infrastructural groundwork required to maintain cricket’s first-class structure would be impossible in the absence of sponsorship. Besides, cricket is by no means the only game to receive sponsorship — hockey, tennis, chess and golf have attracted their share of sponsors. Mitra seems resentful of the fact that the popularity of cricket in India has made cricketers like Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar millionaires. Yet, given that the career of a cricketer rarely lasts more than a decade, it is understandable that they try to make as much money as possible during this time. Cricketers should also be treated as individuals with family responsibilities. They too need money to get their children admitted to the best schools or to pay off a mortgage.
Surajit Basak, Calcutta
Everyone’s not invited
Sir — The president of India, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, did a good thing in calling off the iftar party at Rashtrapati Bhavan this year (“Different is as different does”, Dec 1). The practice of holding lavish iftar parties by politicians, irrespective of their party colours, is a fallout of votebank politics. The ritual of breaking fast during or after a religious festival is and should be private and must not be publicized for petty political gains. The money saved can now be used for the rehabilitation of the victims of the Gujarat massacre. There is much that Indian politicians can learn from Kalam’s example about channelize their funds in productive activities.
P. Venkataramanan, Calcutta
Sir — The tradition of throwing iftar parties is premised on discriminatory principles. First, most of the capital’s iftar parties are thrown for rich Muslims, while the poor are left to their sufferings. Second, no other community is entertained in this way. Could this be anything other than vote bank politics' A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, by flatly cancelling the traditional presidential iftar, has proved that he is above such petty politicking.
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore
Sir — A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s sincerity and commitment have never been in question. His respect for all religions is well-known as is his habit of quoting from the Bhagvad Gita. In the light of all this, the news that Kalam has cancelled the annual iftar party at the Rashtrapati Bhavan does not come as a surprise.
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
People with little to say
Sir — Your edit page usually has writers with both style and substance to commend them. Of late though, I have noticed a regrettable infiltration of self-styled PLUs (People Like Us-es), whose friends’ laundry preferences are presumed to be worth their weight in newsprint. I refer of course to the likes of the little-known and much-heard Ruchir Joshi, whose “The Thin Edge” byline is, I fear, the thin end of a most forgettable wedge. Perhaps a more appropriate acronym for PLH (People Like Him) should be PLS (People with Little to Say)'
Anita Sen, Calcutta