Sir — Ramesh Patange might have written a book on B.R. Ambedkar and Sanjay Paswan, Union social justice minister, called upon to release it (“Minister test for minorities”, April 15). But neither has any idea of what Ambedkar stood for. Otherwise neither would have made comments as outrageous as they did. If Muslims are spited for having “caused” the pain of Partition to the majority community and thereby asked to atone for their “past sins”, the same logic should apply to the sizeable upper caste population of India who deprived lower castes of their humanity and worse. But the Dalit messiah, even in his wildest dreams, could not bring himself to think about such a move. It is tragic that people who advertise themselves as upholders of his values and struggle should think in such a way. If Paswan wishes to bring Muslims to the “mainstream”, he should go back to reading his Ambedkar thoroughly.
J. Acharya, Calcutta
Reign of terror
Sir — The report, “Arrest replay fear stalks DMK cadre” (April 14), shows that the apprehension among the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam about a possible arrest of the party chief, M. Karunanidhi, was genuine. The ugly scenes witnessed last year following the detention of Karunanidhi together with Murasoli Maran are still fresh in people’s minds. And naturally, the DMK cadre did not take chances when the police picked up several of its party men in midnight arrests on April 12.
It is unfortunate that in Tamil Nadu, the government in power goes to any length to vilify its opponents. If the DMK made sure that J. Jayalalithaa faced the full brunt of the court cases relating to the Tansi land deals, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has made full use of laws like the Prevention of Terrorism Act to malign its opponents. It has also enforced new legislation, such as the one that bars members of parliament and members of the legislative assembly from holding posts in local bodies, to strip rivals such as M.K. Stalin from mayorship. It is nobody’s concern that the public emerge as the worst sufferers in this crossfire. Development of the state takes a backseat as all energies are channelized towards pinning down of political opponents. Can’t the parties bury the hatchet and work together' The electorate gives their mandate for their own welfare, not for parties to wash their dirty linen in public.
S. Ram, Calcutta
Sir — It is unlikely that J. Jayalalithaa will dig her own grave by doing something as brash as arresting M. Karunanidhi again. Apart from the public reaction this might create, there is also the obvious Central support for the DMK which she cannot ignore. In fact, she has more to worry about the local reactions to her act, than that of the saffronites since her recent measures like the clamping down on the public distribution of rice, anti-farmer policy and her religious ordinance have already sufficiently angered people. It is not without reason that her opponents, both the DMK and the Pattali Makkal Katchi, are thinking of forcing the Centre to use Article 356 against her government. One hopes Jayalalithaa’s power does not go to her head and that she is able to read the writing on the wall.
S. Chatterjee, Calcutta
Sir — M.K. Stalin’s recent arrest was the umpteenth onslaught of the J. Jayalalithaa government against the DMK. Apart from the high profile midnight arrest of M. Karunanidhi and Murasoli Maran, the AIADMK government has harangued DMK legislators and former ministers innumerable times. What the chief minister fails to realize is that actions such as this will only strengthen the DMK, which at present is seriously threatened by squabbling among the successors of Karunanidhi, Stalin and M.K. Azhagiri. Her stripping of Stalin from mayorship, for example, brought him right to the forefront of DMK politics. Her arrest of him will only harden DMK opposition.
Y. Balaji, Chennai
Sir — The report, “Jaya springs ransom probe” (April 10), is major news. The disclosure of the Tamil Nadu chief minister about her predecessor offering ransom for the release of the veteran actor, Rajkumar, from the clutches of the sandalwood smuggler, Veerappan, is not surprising. There have always been rumours about Veerappan’s close links with important politicians. If the allegation in the recent book by C. Dinakar, former director-general of police, Karnataka, has become an issue, it is because of its political expediency. But will the probe be completed during Jayalalithaa’s rein'
T.R. Anand, Calcutta
Sir — I would like to point out a very interesting comparison between the two neighbouring states of West Bengal and Orissa. Recently, I read that the West Bengal government is considering the revival of its educational policy to accommodate and facilitate better learning among non-Bengali speaking students in school by making Hindi the medium of instruction in some schools in Calcutta (“Hindi high as study medium”, April 7). I understand that in these schools, Hindi-speaking students are in the majority. Such a policy, if implemented, would indeed be a boon to the city’s non-Bengali population and also further the goals of education and national integration.
On the other hand, I chanced upon the reservation policy for domiciles in a prominent management institute in Orissa. Such policy would only further the narrow interests of the state’s population by preventing the other Indians from enjoying equal benefits. This is crucial since there are only three major management institutions in the eastern region. restricting other Indians from fully benefiting from the institution. The attempt to restrict admission to such institutions would also create deep suspicion against the Oriya population.
Sir — While introducing the reservation system, the founding-fathers of the Constitution had hoped that half a century was enough time to uplift the downtrodden. Sadly, that has not been the case. Reservation now spells doom for the nation as it promotes mediocrity and divides society. What we require is positive discrimination. For example, lower castes should be made priests of temples as a conscious state policy, awarded scholarships and other incentives.
Moreover, an environment should be created for the weaker sections to gain access to education. Reservations have only prompted more people to add themselves to the list of the “underprivileged”.
Shyam Patro, Raigarh