With anger from rural Bengal
Sir — Samata Sinha was allegedly heckled in Pandabeswar near Durgapur because she dared to use her car during the “chakka bandh” called by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) against the United States of America’s attack on Iraq (“Girl harassment cloud on two CPM activists”, March 24). Peaceful protests against this war are being held all over the world and are perfectly acceptable. Even in the US, protestors in the thousands are expressing their disapproval. Some have even taken recourse to disruptive activities in order to get their message across to the government. But how will a bandh in rural Bengal serve any purpose, other than inconvenience citizens and adversely affect businesses and the functioning of the state' The US does not give a dime about our scruples over the war, or our opinion about any of its policies. What can we expect now — a train aborodh in Liluah protesting against the Indian cricket team’s loss in the World Cup finals'
A. Mahapatra, Columbus, US
Sir — Raju Mukherji may condemn them for their “ingratitude”, but he must accept that cricket fans in India are extremely emotional (“Ingratitude, thy name is the Indian cricket fan”, March 20). Cricket is very important to them. They cannot bear defeat — they want the national team to keep winning. They treat Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly as demi-gods and consider them infallible. It is grief at the team’s failures that leads them to do foolish things like take out mock funeral processions or burn effigies.
Ganguly has, over the years, been the favourite whipping boy of many a commentator and former cricketer. Even Imran Khan recently called him “an irresponsible captain”. But surely, Ganguly can’t play well in every match' Despite his three centuries in the just-concluded World Cup, he has been in indifferent form lately. Even so he managed to inspire his team when they were low in confidence. The British media had, not so long ago, dubbed Ganguly “Lord Snooty”; but even they have been full of praise for the way he led the team in South Africa.
Mukherji is right on one count however — unbiased and witty commentary is a commodity that is very scarce these days.
Tarakdas Majumder, Calcutta
Sir — Raju Mukherji is rather unfair on the Indian cricket fan who has always supported the moderately successful and inconsistent Indian cricket team. True, some impulsive fans sometimes cause trouble but to call all of them ungrateful is unwarranted. Mukherji’s remark that Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar lost their captaincies because the fans vilified them shows his immaturity as a cricket-writer. Does he think captains are selected through general elections' The maturity with which they have accepted the defeat in the World Cup final should tell Mukherji just how wrong his assessment of Indian cricket fans is.
Tomojit Bhattacharjee , Silchar
Sir — Raju Mukherji is probably right in calling Indian cricket fans ungrateful. But coming from him, the comment is like the devil mouthing the scriptures. After all, wasn’t he one of those who cast aspersions on the team at the time of India’s tour of New Zealand early this year'
Vasan Nair, Calcutta
Sir — Krishnamachari Srikkanth’s comments on the Indian team were perhaps both ill-timed and unnecessary. But it was churlish and immature of Raju Mukherji to call cricketers of such international standing as Srikkanth, “mediocre” and irresponsible. What gives Mukherji the right to make such comments'
R. Ramani, Calcutta
Condoms make sense
Sir — Amongst giant-killers like cancer, heart attacks, tuberculosis and so on, the only disease that can be prevented is AIDS — by practising safe sex. In most countries of the world, the use of condoms is openly advertised in the media as the most basic AIDS-prevention measure. India has the highest number of AIDS victims in the world after Africa but the Union minister of information and broadcasting, Sushma Swaraj, has stopped such ads from being aired on Doordarshan because she feels it will encourage sex (“Sushma ad jolts to AIDS project”, Jan 11). But what is wrong with sex, as long as it is safe '
N.B. Grant, Pune
Sir — In the absence of precise information regarding AIDS, many misconceptions prevail in society about the disease. Since few people test their blood regularly for the HIV virus, they could be infected for years without knowing it. Many men believe that sex with virgins can cure AIDS. The best way to dispel such myths is to have a sustained media campaign to highlight the importance of using contraceptives to prevent spreading the HIV virus.
Also, parents should be involved in sex education programmes to ensure that they give their wards the right information, especially on the consequences of not using a condom.
Mohan Lal Sarkar, Budge Budge
Sir — The Supreme Court ruling that both the bride and the groom are entitled to know the HIV status of the other, is timely (“Seal on HIV test before marriage”, Jan 3). For an AIDS patient not to tell his prospective spouse about his condition is nothing short of criminal, because this would amount to deliberately spreading an incurable disease.
Govinda Bakshi, Budge Budge
Sir — With rapid increase in AIDS in India, the apex court’s decree, which makes it mandatory for prospective partners to know the other’s HIV status, is commendable. Alongside, the utilization of condoms in red-light areas must also be encouraged as an AIDS-prevention measure.
B.N. Bose, Calcutta