Strictly a no-fly zone
Sir — What millions of angry protestors around the world have not been able to do, can our feathered friends manage to achieve' Make the United States of America defer its attack on Iraq, that is, if not put it off completely (“War web before birds”, March 14). The impact of a war in Iraq on the flight paths of migratory birds may seem awfully trivial in comparison to the larger issues of the destruction of innocent lives and property. But now that these dangers have been brought to light by concerned ornithologists, it should serve as yet another reason not to wage war and to continue with the weapons’ inspection exercise in that country. But the question which comes to mind is, does the Bush administration realize the extent of destruction that war would cause to both bird and beast' The war, if it does happen, will leave Iraq a graveyard of many millions; but its consequences for the planet’s biodiversity will be far worse — leaving the world devastated, in a very real sense.
Sushant Bapna, Jaipur
Two steps back
Sir — Jaswant Sinha has cited pressure from his colleagues and the opposition to justify the withdrawal of the hike in fertilizer prices, but by his actions he has proved that he is no different from his predecessor, Yashwant Sinha (“Sinha or Singh, rollback is king”, March 12). Needless to say, this rollback will further burden the exchequer and set back attempts to bring down the fiscal deficit to reasonable levels in the near future. The opposition and indeed, all those politicians who only look for short-term gains will, but naturally, oppose any tough proposals in the budget. But finance ministers need not give in to their demands, especially with the subsidy bill growing by the day. Singh’s rollback may bring in a few additional votes for the ruling party in the coming assembly elections, but it certainly makes bad economic sense.
Also, if Singh had no intention of implementing most of its suggestions, why did he waste precious resources on appointing the Vijay Kelkar committee on tax reforms' People are beginning to get tired of such political gimmicks.
Sankar Lal Singh, Calcutta
Sir — While framing a budget a government ought to consider its long-term effects, not merely what impact it will have on any elections being held a few months down the line. Jaswant Singh had enough reason to increase urea and fertilizer prices in the budget and it is sad that petty party politics made him backtrack. In a market-driven economy that India is becoming, it is such biased policies that hinder economic growth.
A. Roy, Shyamnagar,
Sir — Why propose measure in the budget, only to withdraw them later' Why not make a definitive budget that does not need such “roll backs”' It is time the government went about formulating budgets in a more scientific manner.
T.R. Anand, Calcutta
Sir —Jaswant Singh’s decision to withdraw excise duty exemptions given to some industries in the Northeast will have an adverse impact on the economy of the region. The investor who set up factories in the Northeast feels cheated today. He had expected freedom from excise duty for 10 years, as promised under the 1997 Northeast industrial policy. Worse, Singh not only proposes to withdraw the exemption, but he has also proposed to do so with retrospective effect. This will adversely impact small-scale units who may even be forced to down shutters. Worse, Singh has now announced tax holidays in four more states — Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Jharkhand. But such a policy of giving with one hand and taking away with the other will make potential investors think twice before believing in the government’s so-called developmental policies. The government has every right to change a policy if it does not find it economically viable. But to do so with retrospective effect is grossly unreasonable.
Nishi Oswal, New Delhi
Hero or villain'
Sir — The opposition, especially the Congress, created a brouhaha over the unveiling of V.D. Savarkar’s portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament (“Late rush to keep Savarkar out”, Feb 26 ). But these leaders have no right to object. In 1970, it was Indira Gandhi who issued postal stamps on Savarkar. As a Hindu ideologue, why was he deemed worthy of such a honour'
The opposition’s plea was that Savarkar had supported Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s two nation theory. But is Savarkar the only one to blame for the Partition' Is it not true that the greed for power and the complacence of some other leaders were what had made Partition such an inevitable extension of independence'
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — V.D Savarkar might have been a hardcore Hinduvta leader, but no one can deny that he played a significant role in India’s freedom struggle. The slogan he coined during his student days in London — “One country, one god, one caste, one mind; brothers all of us; without difference; without doubt”— shows his vision of a united India. His treatise, The Indian War of Independence 1857 (for which he secretly accessed the records on the Sepoy Mutiny in the India Office Library, London), shows his intellectual inclinations. The Bharatiya Janata Party should have unveiled Savarkar’s portrait in Parliament, but only after arriving at a consensus with other political leaders. This would have helped it to avoid unnecessary controversy.
R. Sekar, Angul
Sir — In his news report, “Shinde picks on immigrants” (March 12), Anand Soondas describes V.D Savarkar as a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader. However, I would not agree with this because Savarkar was never a member of the RSS; but a leader of the Hindu Mahasabha. There is a general tendency in the media to confuse issues relating to the sangh parivar.
G.K. Maliwal, Hong Kong