A woman’s place
Sir — With advocates like Sushma Swaraj, Indian women need few adversaries (“No chokha for Laloo till he signs women bill”, March 5). In her eagerness to get the women’s bill passed in Parliament, the minister does not even care whether she is doing as much harm to Indian democracy as she is to the women’s cause. What else does one make of her suggestion to the Bihar chief minister that the latter stop her husband’s daana-paani until he ensured the passage of the women’s bill' As if Laloo Prasad Yadav’s putting up his wife as a proxy for him were not bad enough, Swaraj’s comment makes light of the utter illegitimacy of the arrangement. Not only that, she seems to think the bill can be passed by simply putting in a word here and there, in the ears of a few eminent women politicians. Rabri Devi is not an icon Indian women need, and her’s is not the method women should seek to get into politics. Swaraj should realize that it is best to keep the kitchen out of politics.
R. Bhattacharjee, Calcutta
Sir — In the face-off over Iraq, it is George W. Bush, more than Saddam Hussein, who is beginning to look like the villain of the piece, what with global public opinion expressing its solidarity with Iraq, the inconclusive reports of the United Nations inspectors and Bush’s attempts to arm-twist the security council. It is clear that the world’s largest consumer of oil needs to make sure of its oil-supplies. For this, Bush and Tony Blair need a puppet at the helm in Iraq, and Hussein must go.
Evidence of the US’s gameplan can be found in the Dick Cheney report, published during Bill Clinton’s reign, which linked US national security to access to west Asian oil. A 1980 Jimmy Carter report, which had stated that the US would prevent any impediment to the flow of oil from west Asia and would even use military force if pushed, was invoked during the 1991 Kuwait war. Thus Bush’s pugnaciousness is not about fighting terrorism or even about justice, it is simply an exercise in power. Also one can be sure that the US will not stop at Iraq. It may target India before long. The US has never approved of India’s nuclear programme. Its “friendly” military exercises with India have probably given it an insight into our defence preparedness.
The war on Iraq will push more people towards jihad. Thus the price of Bush’s decision will be borne by people all over the world. Those protesting against the war should do something more drastic like boycotting British and American goods.
M. Roy, London
Sir — France is one of the five permanent members of the UN security council who have the power to exercise a veto and the US has no business preventing it from exercizing it on a possible UN resolution on a war with Iraq (“US fires warning shot at France”, Feb 26). Such strong-arm tactics goes against the norms of the UN. The US cannot interfere in the working of the UN or it might just be the reason for its collapse.
Aritra Roy, Shyamnagar
Sir — George W. Bush and Tony Blair have been demanding that Iraq disarm for quite some time. But what authority do they have to dictate terms to a sovereign nation' By this logic, any nation that has some militarily strength and does not toe the US line may be asked to disarm.
C.V.K. Moorthy, Bellary
Sir — Going by George W. Bush’s current obsession with Iraq, it seems he is driven by a personal grudge against its leader. Unprecedented protests across the globe have not moved him. Bush’s views about terrorism are lopsided, to say the least. He went to great lengths to “smoke out” Osama bin Laden in a bid to rein in terrorism, all the while giving full support to a terrorist state like Pakistan. Evidently, he has a soft spot for Pervez Musharraf, but one would expect that the leader of the world’s only superpower would have a better understanding of world peace.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — There is no point in giving UN weapon’s inspectors in Iraq any more time, as proposed by France, Germany and even India. The US had deployed thousands to trace Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, but the two have thus far managed to stay a step ahead of their pursuers. Similarly, it is unlikely that the inspectors will find anything incriminating in Iraq. No amount of inspection will reveal what Saddam Hussein has up his sleeve.
The US can fight terrorism single-handedly and it should waste no time in waging a war against Iraq. It should play a decisive action in deposing Hussein and in destroying his cache of weapons of mass destruction.
M. Nagender Goud, Hyderabad
Sir — The way George W. Bush is going about disarming Iraq is not far from terrorism itself. Instead of bringing untold misery to millions of people in Iraq , he should just let the UN take necessary action.
Soumitra Dey, Agartala
Sir — The article, “Everybody’s talking about Mandira” (March 2), seemed like an attempt to justify Sony Max’s objective of attracting the fairer sex towards cricket by having glamour dolls like Mandira Bedi or Sandhya Mridul on its world cup presentation team. If the objective is to attract women then why not promote women’s cricket and leave the men’s version to those who know the game' Irrespective of what the surveys say, Bedi’s comments can be really irritating. By using such tactics, Sony seems to be reducing cricket to the level of the saas-bahu serials.
Tomojit Bhattacharjee, Calcutta