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End of innocence

Sir — The report, “Sit-in opens school doors to HIV kids” (Feb 17), rightly ends on a discordant note. The almost forcible admission of the two HIV-positive children, Benson and Bency, into a local school is no guarantee that their time in the classroom will be happy. That the apprehension of parents had in the first place stalled the admission itself shows how intense the persecution will be. The children, in their respective classes, will most probably be made to sit separately and treated differently. The other children will keep away (on the advise of parents) and so will teachers. Does the government think it can foist a “positive” attitude from above, even in a state which has the distinction of having the highest literacy rate in the entire country' That the two children at all had to go through this nightmare (which incidentally just begins) is proof that the government ought to concentrate on raising awareness about AIDS and, most important, about HIV-positive patients.

Yours faithfully,
S. Samanta, Calcutta


War games

Sir — Most of the vociferous pro-Israeli neo-conservative policy-makers in the George W. Bush administration make no effort to hide the fact that part of their intention in promoting the war against Iraq is to guarantee Israel’s security by eliminating its greatest military threat. They wish to have a regional balance of power overwhelmingly in Israel’s favour and a bonhomie that will help Israel’s ambitions in west Asia. Yet, many of those who oppose the war against Iraq as also the policies of the Bush administration, reject any suggestion that Israel is pushing the United States of America into war. Anyone who has the temerity to suggest Israeli instigation to war-planning is inevitably branded an anti-Semite.

Even if one were to agree that Israel is not actively pushing for war, there is no denying that Israel will tremendously benefit from the war on Iraq. Since the defeat of Saddam Hussein will affect the strategic balance in west Asia profoundly, it is understandable that Israel has an interest in supporting the Hashemites in their efforts to humble Iraq. But Israel’s new agenda signals a clean break with its earlier policy of strategic retreat.

Yours faithfully,
Chiranjib Haldar, Calcutta


Sir — The anti-war propaganda has reached feverish pitch. But there is no reason to believe that all wars are bad. The war waged against Afghanistan brought down the taliban regime. The defeat of Saddam Hussein may also have a positive side to it.

Yours faithfully,
Shiv Shanker Almal, Calcutta


Sir — Twelve million people all over the world have joined hands to protest the impending war against Iraq and show their solidarity with the people of Iraq. Although not without precedent, the protest is remarkable, especially given that India, with a population of one billion people, supposedly the “largest democracy in the world”, did not even bother to host a protest worth of mention. Even the mainstream media here has, by and large, ignored this momentous event. This is amazing and pathetic.

Yours faithfully,
Shyamal Datta, Farley, US


Sir — It is amusing to watch the world’s only superpower struggle everyday to justify its decision to attack Iraq. Even a child understands that the Americans are after Saddam Hussein and are being driven by the one and only aim of perpetuating their hold over west Asian oil. Saddam is a popular leader and the Sheikhs are not, although the US always finds it convenient to deal with the latter.

But isn’t it blatant hypocrisy on the part of the Americans to go about punishing Iraq — perhaps the most secular and progressive Muslim country in the world — while praising some of the most despotic sheikhdoms of the region that nourish and fund Islamic fundamentalists like Osama bin Laden' By leaving the real targets like Pak- istan and the sheikhs unscathed and turning its gun on Iraq, the US has derailed the global war on terrorism.

Yours faithfully,
Shivaji K. Moitra, Kharagpur


Sir — As Madonna herself points out, it is utterly wrong to label her anti-US (“I am not anti-US, says Madonna”, Feb 16). A sizeable section of the American people themselves are against the war against Iraq. That does not make them anti-nationals.

Yours faithfully,
T.R. Anand, Calcutta


Sir — In its 400 inspections carried out so far at 300 sites in Iraq, the United Nations inspection team has not found any signs of the weapons of mass destruction. The report placed before the security council by the UN’s chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, almost gives a clean chit to Iraq. In his second report, Blix has again said that accesses to inspection sites were “almost always” prompt on the part of Iraq and that there were no signs that the Iraqis knew of the inspections in advance.

While France, China, Russia, Germany do not see any necessity for the immediate use of force against Iraq and the British foreign secretary himself believes that a peaceful solution is still possible, the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, has accused world leaders of refusing to face reality. The US’s bullying of the security council should be condemned. It is virtually asking the world body to surrender itself to the self-appointed world policeman by sanctioning the war.

Yours faithfully,
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow


Sir — Gwynne Dyer in “The wrong question” (Feb 10) rightly defends Saddam Hussein as a progressive Arab leader. The US does not tolerate progressive Muslim countries, because with such modernism, the US would lose its stranglehold on Arab oil. There is sufficient reason to believe that the US has engineered much of the political changes in Iran and is also behind the long Iran-Iraq conflict. Saddam Hussein is now giving it a taste of its own medicine.

Yours faithfully,
Natranjan A. Wala, Jorhat


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