They don’t bond well
Sir — James Bond may be an agent in the queen’s secret service, but Bond movies celebrate Americanism in much the same way as an average Hollywood action movie. Many in the West may like the idea of an American hero overcoming all odds to rescue lesser mortals in exotic countries, but not if one hails from a country which has apprehensions about the unilateral stance of the United States of America on international issues. The report “Die Another Day irks North Koreans” (Dec 15), therefore, does not come as a surprise. North Korea, which was recently warned by the US against restarting its nuclear programmes, has reacted sharply to the movie’s description of it as part of the axis of evil. While filmmakers have the liberty to recreate life-like situations on celluloid, they should know where to draw the line. With countries like North Korea unsure about whether they too could become US targets, movies needlessly add to the unpleasantness and ill-feeling.
Tanima Shikdar, Calcutta
Sir — The West Bengal government had allowed the homeless to settle along the canals in the city, even going to the extent of providing them ration cards. Why have these people suddenly become “illegal settlers” who needed to be evicted by payloaders, and that too on the International Human Rights Day (“Payloaders crush bonfire revolt”, Dec 11)' This is probably all that could be expected from a government which enacts laws only to save its face, oblivious to its responsibilities so long as its vote banks fetch it rich electoral dividends. The front page photograph of the woman watching her house burn was moving. But such sights have not moved the authorities who could have provided them alternative arrangements.
Soon after the drive, I came across some of the evicted people, trying to put up makeshift homes beside the Bagjola canal. This is not surprising. With nowhere to go, these people can only head for the already crowded and dirty settlements along the canals, roadsides and railway tracks, and wait till they are evicted again.
Pabitra Kumar Das, Calcutta
Sir — The front page picture of a dislodged woman looking at her house go up in flames was not only touching, but it also reminded us that the state has failed to provide shelter and social security to all. Without such basic amenities, no person can be expected to live a meaningful life. The drive along the canal will prove to be as damaging as Operation Sunshine, which stole the livelihood of thousands of hawkers. The West Bengal government cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the plight of the poor and expect to bring about positive changes in the state.
S. De, Calcutta
Sir — The recent drive against settlers along the Bagjola canal adds another dimension to the initiative taken by the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee administration to change the face of the city and state. There is no doubt that the chief minister is committed to improvement and social change. Meeting with corporate bosses, the clearance of Wipro schemes and enabling business groups to go on with their projects in the state show that he is ready to do everything to make West Bengal prosperous again. However, Bhattacharjee needs trade union support to improve work culture and create productive human resource. Our grandparents had once seen West Bengal as the economic hub of India. If Bhattacharjee keeps at his job, we may see the state achieve that position again in our lifetime.
Mohammed Asif Iqbal, Calcutta
Sir — “Cheers for Buddha open play”(Dec 14) shows that Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is ready to go to any extent to promote the growth of West Bengal. But trade unionism might prove to be a spanner in his works. The jute industry in the state, for example, has to deal with as many as 18 trade unions according to one estimate.
It was clear from the meeting at Taj Bengal that some of the leading industrialists are still not satisfied with what support they have received from the government. That is natural because Bhattacharjee does not have everything in his hand. There is no guarantee that his party supports his every move. Moreover, the chief minister seems to concentrate his energies on only a handful of industries. Such partisanship has to stop. Bhattacharjee should pay more attention to the already existing industries to make the scenario viable for those willing to invest in the state. The government simply cannot allow the functioning industries to die before fresh investments come in. In that case, investors may not be willing to risk their money in West Bengal at all.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — Although sexual harassment in work places is a reality in Indian society, very few cases are reported. In any case, sexual harassment is just the tip of the iceberg. There are other more subtle forms of harassment that go against women and which are very difficult to prove. For example, a senior officer may harass a subordinate female employee by creating unnecessary work pressure, making her work late or be unnecessarily rude to her. Vindictive seniors may come up with other horrifying ways to force a junior employee to give in to their likes and dislikes. It is imperative, therefore, that a concerted effort is made by non-governmental organizations and women’s groups to tackle the problem of harassment as a whole and not focus their attention only on sexual harassment.
Smita Toppo, Calcutta
Sir — The attitude of the Indian middle classes to sex has been moulded by the country’s ancient legacy, as reflected in the temple sculptures; the notions of Victorian piety which our British rulers brought with them; and more recently, the media revolution. However, even now the average middle-class Indian attitude towards sex is a mixture of guilt and desire. An open display of interest in sex is still considered a taboo. The urban population remains a conservative lot.
Even now, the average Indian male has few opportunities to meet and mingle with a girl of his choice. His attitude to women is therefore, at best, ambivalent — his traditional upbringing makes him view them as subordinates while his modern outlook forces him to accept them as “equals”. This attitude also gets reflected in the way women are treated in the workplace — most men find it difficult to accept a female colleague as an equal. Harassing a female colleague becomes a convenient way of telling her that she is an outsider in a male bastion. No amount of legislation will help unless there is a change in social attitude.
Surajit Basak, Calcutta