Money for nothing
Sir — It is typical of India, and the Indian way of governance, that states which are most in need of improving their security systems fail to — or choose not to — utilize a penny of the funds allotted by the Centre for the purpose (“Police upgrade funds go abegging”, Jan 31). And of course, West Bengal proudly graces this list. On second thoughts, West Bengal may just have saved crores of the Centre’s money from going down the drain. A huge technological upgradation would not have made Bengal’s police give New York’s cops a run for their money. State-of-the-art guns and devices would not stop Calcutta’s policemen from extorting money from truck-drivers or leaving busy crossings unmanned. A police force that is feared is a good thing, but in few places other than West Bengal do law-abiding citizens fear the police more than criminals do. What Bengal’s security personnel need, more than better vigilance devices and ammunition, is the will to serve the people in an honest and upright manner. Sadly, no amount of Central funds can buy that for them.
Aashis Majumdar, Calcutta
Sir — The first reports of the recent cabinet reshuffle said that Jana Krishnamurthy had been dropped. Later, it was corrected and the reports announced that he had “resigned”. Surely, this thing could have been handled a little more tactfully. Krishnamurthy has been known for his integrity and dedication to the Bharatiya Janata Party. He did not deserve to be thus humiliated.
A few decades ago, K. Kamaraj, a former Congress chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, was publicly humiliated by a party leader. Congress leaders in Delhi ignored his complaints. This episode was exploited by the Telugu Desam Party to come to power. The Dravidian parties claimed that the Congress was an exclusively north Indian party. Indian politicians do not seem to learn from history.
M.R. Sridharan, Kanpur
Sir — The reshuffle of the Union cabinet is the result of the joint efforts of the trio comprising the prime minister, the deputy prime minister and the party president to effects such changes in the party that it wins a majority on its own in next general elections. For the first time, there has been a reshuffle free of political pressure, where the merit or demerit of the ministers was the sole consideration. Hopefully, the BJP leadership also has similar plans to improve the condition of the nation.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi
Sir — Uma Bharti’s resignation just before the cabinet reshuffle in order to make life easier for the prime minister deserves accolades (“Bharti puts in papers”, Jan 29). But how did Bharti know she would be axed' Did the PMO inform her in advance about her retrenchment'
T.R. Anand, Calcutta
Sir — Shatrughan Sinha has no one but himself to blame for losing the health ministry even though one believes him when he says that he was just getting ready to launch his administration (“Feng Shui blames it on Vaastu”, Jan 30). Isn’t it futile to pin the blame on the mix of Feng Shui and vaastu' Sinha should thank his stars that A.B. Vajpayee and L.K. Advani have given him another ministry, even if it is the low-profile shipping. Now it remains to be seen whether Sinha swims or sinks in the adverse tides
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — Vinod Khanna, recently-appointed minister of state for foreign affairs, has hinted at improving Indo-Pak ties through films, considering how eagerly Pakistanis lap up Hindi films. Since both countries have a common cultural heritage and similar socio-economic problems, these films find a resonance across the border. Many new Bollywood films find their way across the border by a circuitous route through west Asia. They can instead be exported to Pakistan directly, which will also have the added benefit of bringing the two countries closer.
S. Tajuddin, Hyderabad
Sir — The cabinet reshuffle just before assembly polls in nine states shows the insecurity of the BJP government. It is Pramod Mahajan who has been the principal scapegoat. Mahajan has been at the centre of many controversies lately, be it the Shivani Bhatnagar case or the cellular tariffs fiasco. This has seriously dented his credibility. While it is hard to believe that someone as charismatic as he is guilty of such misdemeanours, his departure from the ministry at this juncture may well bring to a close his political career. Hopefully, his tenure in the party will be less turbulent.
Bijoy Ranjan Dey, Tinsukia
Thick as thieves
Sir — The article, “Supping with the devil” (Jan 26), refers to a particular historical conjunction — Germany in the mid-Thirties — that finds many resonances in the Gujarat of today. That was a time of frenetic entrepreneurial activity in Germany. But though their profits soared, businessmen became mere cogs in the war machine and their work was circumscribed by restrictions. The petty trader, who was the mainstay of the Nazis and expected great benefits from Chancellor Hitler, got a raw deal. The analogy Rudrangshu Mukherjee gives between German heavy-armament manufacturers hobnobbing with the Nazi regime and industrialists bowing to Narendra Modi, underlines how capital is always subservient to power.
As pointed out, the chief benefactors of the Nazi project were the German heavy industries which multiplied their profits. Manufacturers were also happy about workers being put on a tight leash by Hitler. Much nepotism and corruption were involved in appealing to decision-makers or in circumventing endless regulations. This is what is happening in Gujarat today where corporate tycoons fête a regional satrap. Whether it is earthquake-shattered Gujarat being rebuilt, or post-taliban Afghanistan being refurbished brick by brick, industry always benefits from its bonhomie with the political leadership.
Chiranjib Haldar, Calcutta
Sir — The message in “Supping with the devil” should be heeded by all. A political victory may have ominous portent. The voters in Himachal Pradesh, which next goes to the polls, must learn from Gujarat and shrug off opportunistic politicians like Sukh Ram.
Shiv Shanker Almal, Calcutta
Sir — Rudrangshu Mukherjee implies that the voters in Gujarat were not mature or intelligent enough because they voted for Narendra Modi who, apparently, has Muslim blood on his hands. The voters had lots of choice, and if they chose Modi why do the others have a problem' Mukherjee’s suggestion that as a penance, industrialists should shun Gujarat is preposterous.
Barundeb Banerjee, Calcutta
Sir — Rudrangshu Mukherjee is worried about what is happening in Gujarat, but what is so surprising in it' Members of the Confederation of Indian Industry fêted Narendra Modi because they are eager to do business in Gujarat and earn profits —but why blame only them' What about Rebekah Wade, who recently took over as editor of the Sun' Hasn’t she turned a blind eye to the page three nudes to ensure increasing circulation' Look at Russia, where rich husbands and wives double as prostitutes and pimps to relieve their boredom. Many Indian industrialists have not repaid loans taken from nationalized banks. Doesn’t all this prove that capitalists all over the world care for just one thing — to earn profits by whatever means possible, without caring for morality'
Sandipan Sen, Calcutta
Sir — Reporting on the conservationist efforts of Junglee, a nature club in Calcutta, which rescued a injured male lesser whistling teal from Burdwan's Purbasthali, the article, “Wounded wing on mercy flight” (Jan 25), says “predators like the jackal or even raptors like the osprey that stalk the area”. But what kind of conservation purpose can be served by rescuing a prey from predators' Humanitarianism is all very well, but if nature clubs go about rescuing preys from predators, our ecosystem will soon collapse. Also, there are far fewer predators these days than their prey. It could have been a real feat if the nature club activists rescued protected fauna from human predators. Also, lesser whistling teals do not always fly back to the Himalayan foothills. These birds are mostly resident and move locally.
Heerak Nandy, Calcutta