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Love thy image

Sir — Love them and leave them. Hollywood stars like Melanie Griffith and Penelope Cruz seem to be earnestly living up to a dictum the West has spawned (“Sabera girl in star war shadow”, Feb 8). This sorry tale of the Sabera foundation only demonstrates the hollowness of the attachment of the stars to their cause and to the victims of their cruel showbiz. Ego clashes and corruption are natural in an organization. Why should the people who are being cared for be affected by these conflicting interests' If Griffith and Cruz have suspicions about how the finances are being managed, they should sort it out with the management of the foundation. Why should they withdraw their affection from the girls' That the stars have been able to distance themselves from the unfortunate girls in a sweep shows that they are in no way different from the thousands of other Westerners who use India to promote their image as social activists.

Yours faithfully,
S. Mahanta, Calcutta


Lingua fracas

Sir — Viren J. Shah is right and Sunil Gangopadhyay wrong. Bengalis must learn English well (“Language row rocks varsity”, Jan 25). They must be able to speak in English. Gangopadhyay is perhaps more worried about the market for his books than for the welfare of Bengalis in general. It is owing to their lack of competence in English — for no fault of their own it might be added — that Bengalis suffer in the job market both inside and outside the country. Being emotional about one’s language and culture does not pay in the modern world. A boy who cannot read, write or speak Bengali has a better chance of getting a job in Calcutta if he can speak English.

Yours faithfully,
Subhasish Podder, Southall, UK


Sir — The argument over English at the Burdwan University convocation took me back to 1951-52, when I was a student of the Calcutta University. CU’s convocation, held in Presidency College, was to have been conducted in English. But when the chief guest, the first president of India, Rajendra Prasad, started speaking in Bengali — to thunderous applause — the university officials too switched to it. In chaste Bengali, Prasad averred that it was the rich heritage of Bengal and Presidency College that had made him what he was. Language should not be allowed to become a pawn in politics.

Yours faithfully,
D.N. Roy, Santragachhi


Sir — There is no reason both Bengali and English cannot be accorded similar importance. English is not only essential as a link language in a multi-lingual country like India, it is also indispensable in this age of globalization and technology. At the same time, it is also important to encourage the use of Bengali in everyday affairs to retain the rich cultural legacy of the state. One way to resolve the tussle would be for English to be the medium of instruction in higher education courses while the dominant language in the day to day functioning of universities in the state remains Bengali.

Yours faithfully,
K. Chatterjee, Calcutta


Loop hole

Sir — The latest recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India regarding tariffs and interconnection charges is unfair (“Ballooning bills for fixed line users”, Jan 29). This will affect the 40 million fixed-line subscribers the most; they have to pay higher rentals, the pulse has been reduced to two minutes, free calls have been reduced and dial-up charges have been raised. Cell-phone users, on the other hand, comprise only 1 per cent of the population but are the gainers in the new tariff structure. This unfairness to land-line users has been perpetrated not because the infrastructure cost of basic telephony has gone up, but to provide concession to cell-phone users and companies. What a paradox!

This move will hurt all those who use landlines for internet-connectivity. Costs of commercial transactions using the internet and phones will also rise. With all the technological advancements of today, access to the internet has become a key to success and hence charges must be reduced.

Yours faithfully,
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore


Sir — By hiking fixed-line charges, the TRAI chairman, M.S. Verma, has ensured that the telephone remains a luxury item and not a necessity of everyday life. It is ridiculous that the government should do this even as it plans to extend telephone services to rural areas by opening new exchanges and to make phones more affordable.

While on the one hand, TRAI has not specified any tariffs for wireless in local loop mobiles, by saying service providers were free to charge as they pleased, it has laid down two crucial parameters for tariffs. Interconnection charges for basic, cellular and WiLL service providers will be 30-60 paise per minute. This will lead to an increase in the cost of basic and WiLL services, which did not have to pay such charges earlier. If basic operators stick to the TRAI ruling, many existing customers may migrate to either limited mobility or cellular connections.

Yours faithfully,
Sankar Lal Singh, Calcutta


Sir — TRAI’s latest proposals are a blow to fixed-income telephone subscribers in general and pensioners, disabled and senior citizens, in particular. Meanwhile, affluent cell-phone users are being gifted with the reduction in ISD, STD and cellular rates.

Yours faithfully,
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow


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