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A dicey tactic

Sir — Statues of B.R. Ambedkar and casinos in five-star hotels — the Uttar Pradesh chief minister’s vision of a Dalit paradise is rather eclectic (“Mayavati gambles with casinos in cowbelt”, Feb 10). Set aside crude moral compunctions, which have become unfashionable in today’s globalized economy, where everything is subservient to the profit motive. But Mayavati’s plan to allow gambling in five-star luxury hotels in the Taj economic zone, comprising Noida, Greater Noida and Agra, does not even make much economic sense. For one, it is infrastructure, and infrastructure alone — good roads, good and cheap hotels, less procedural hassles — that helps attract more tourists. Few Western tourists will come all the way to India — only to gamble. As for the domestic inflow, the ubiquitous lottery ticket is as far as most Indians will indulge their gambling instincts. Mayavati should realize that it is the Taj most Westerners come to see.

Yours faithfully,
Radha Sen, Calcutta


Truth under arrest

Sir — Maulana Hussain Umarji, who was arrested recently on charges of being the “main conspirator” behind the burning of the Sabarmati Express on February 27, 2002, is the chief maulvi of Godhra (“Plea for PM protection ends in Godhra net”, Feb 7). After the train carnage, he apologized on behalf of his community at peace meetings convened by the collector of Godhra. He also took the lead in issuing a press statement signed by eminent Ghanchi Muslims of Godhra, in condemning the carnage, in praying for the souls of those who died, in praising the efforts of the Godhra authorities in maintaining peace and in running the Godhra relief camp. All through the months when violence raged around Godhra, the maulvi was busy day and night in running the two relief camps in the town, to which no Godhra Hindu made any monetary contribution.

Every day, the maulvi came across innocent women who had been raped and men who had lost their family-members only because they were Muslim. Despite all that, he made every effort to restrain the youth of his community who were straining at the leash to avenge the suffering of those pouring into the relief camps from nearby villages. It is this man who has been arrested, on the basis of an alleged statement by an accused in the incident. Never in the last 11 months did his name feature even once in the wild speculations about who burnt the train. Even if the maulvi comes out of custody with no charges against his name, the experience is unlikely to leave him or those who revere him, unscathed. Like the Congress earlier, the Bharatiya Janata Party too seems adept in turning moderates into extremists.

Yours faithfully,
Jyoti Punwani, Mumbai


Sir — Why does one get the feeling that there is more to Hussain Umarji’s arrest than meets the eye' How very convenient for the police to have found the evidence to bear out its theory that Godhra was pre-meditated, albeit close to a year later' Or are these only “pseudo-secularist” scruples speaking'

Yours faithfully,
Santanu Chakraborty, Ranchi


Inane commentary

Sir — One expects quality commentary at a prestigious international tournament like the World Cup. Unfortunately, the Set-Max commentary team lacks both expertise and articulation. This has killed much of the enthusiasm of viewers. Only Charu Sharma among them has a little knowledge of cricket.

If the idea was to provide some “masala”, surely there are better ways. Also, Donna Symmonds, the woman commentator, lacks conceptual understanding of the game. Cricket has always been a man’s game, although women’s cricket is being promoted a lot nowadays. Is it that Set-Max could not find the requisite man-power' Since this is only the beginning of the over-a-month long tournament, it is not too late to make changes in the commentary team. If the old horses were unavailable owing to tie-ups with other channels, there was no dearth of other technically sound former players to replace them.

Yours faithfully,
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta


Sir — The World Cup has begun in South Africa, and so have the worries of the parents of students due to take their board examinations. The youngsters’ eyes may be on the books, but their minds are on the television and scoreboard; and the examination schedule and World Cup fixture hang side-by-side on the wall.

Yours faithfully,
Sudarsan Nandi, Midnapore


Sir — Will Sony Set-Max spare viewers the inanities of Charu Sharma, Maria Goretti and Mandira Bedi' They are difficult to take for those used to experts like Harsha Bhogle, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shashtri and Navjyot Singh Sidhu.

Yours faithfully,
Adhiraj Maitra, Calcutta


Sir — South Africa’s loss to West Indies in the first match of World Cup 2003 might have broken many hearts, but it must have been an eye-opener for both the home team and its supporters. It is a good sign that predictions are having to be revised this early in the tournament.

Yours faithfully,
Arup Saha, Guwahati


Sir — Such is the advertising hype surrounding the Indian team in South Africa — at least a dozen companies have come up with special campaigns — that one wonders what the reaction will be if the team fails.

Yours faithfully,
G. Banerjee, Calcutta


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