The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

Say it with lotuses

Sir — “Raves, rant and records” (Dec 26) makes a glaring omission. Although the miles-long cards and hundred-kilogram cakes, together with the 78 roses from the president (who seems to have made it a habit to jump protocol) must have made the day for the prime minister of India, readers would have liked to know what the newly crowned king of Gujarat had to give to Atal Bihari Vajpayee to show his gratitude. For had it not been for Vajpayee’s willingness to take the backseat, his undithering support to his deputy as he took over the show, Narendra Modi would have been elsewhere.

Yours faithfully,
M. Srinivas, Calcutta

We didn’t start the fire

Sir — Holed up in a hospital, better still if it is in the intensive care unit to evade an impending arrest. The usual story. The excuse is a time-tested one to avoid the inconvenience and ignominy of a police inquiry for hours and days inside a lock-up or a jail. And naturally, D.K. Agarwal, owner of the burnt Ludhiana Building used it.

Burrabazar is a concrete jungle. Over the last few decades many high-rises have come up there. It would be quite a job to find out how many of them were built keeping in mind the corporation regulation for safety and environmental parameters. In terms of violations, the area may well vie with Tangra.

The need of the hour is clearly governance of the kind that does not hesitate to take tough decisions or to implement them. Both the chief minister and the mayor of the corporation have to realize that it is probably time for some concrete action against the real estate-wallahs.

Yours faithfully,
Kushal Kumar Gupta, Dum Dum

Sir — It has become a routine affair for Calcuttans to witness a raging fire every now and then. There is no doubt of a sabotage. The recent takeover of the property that burnt to ashes last week lends substance to the theory. But if the Calcutta Municipal Corporation had declared this building as unsafe, why did it allow its residents to continue living within its premises' Why was nothing done to restore its conditions' The best response of the state government is the excuse of an “inquiry”. And not unexpectedly such an inquiry will die a natural death.

Yours faithfully,
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta

Sir — The recent fire raises the question whether the fire department should charge a fee for fighting blazes, especially those in business establishments. The answer is no. Why should business establishments be charged and not people who live in posh bungalows' Two, if the government charges fees for fighting fire, it should also prepare itself to take prompt action. But fire tenders invariably reach the sites of fire late. Should they then charge for spraying water on a gutted building' Also, the government needs to keep in mind that there might be litigation against it if the fire department is as inefficient as it currently is.

Three, if the fire is caused because of the fault of the caretaker in any municipal market owned by the government, like New Market, the owners would not only refuse to make the payment but also ask for compensation. Four, why should a business establishment pay fees if the fire was caused by the fault of his neighbour'

Yours faithfully,
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta

Parting shot

Sir — Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s tribute to John Rawls is fair and comprehensive (“Justly famous”, Dec 1). It is unfortunate that when A Theory of Justice came out in the Seventies, men like Herbert Marcuse and Frantz Fanon on the one hand and the Thatcherites on the other held more sway in the American academia. The situation has not changed much since. Left wing ultra radicalism and Nixonian conservatism guaranteed that a Rawls-inspired approach to liberal governance and policymaking was impossible. Among the functioning politicians his most famous adherent is perhaps Roy Hattersley, who has had no influence on actual policy.

In the long 20th century, perhaps only the Frankfurt School and its intellectual heirs can come close to rival the impact of the liberalism of Rawls. At that level it remains a battle between Kant and Hegel. Rawls refined the political philosophy of the former with significant original additions.

Yours faithfully,
Prasanta Chakravarty, Buffalo, US

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