Sir — On the one hand Britain teams up with the United States of America and accuses France of being a fair-weather friend. On the other, the British tourism minister, Kim Howell, takes a dig at American filmstars for not travelling to France (Cannes) fearing terrorist attacks (“Granny tag on stars”, May 22). Howell seems to be particularly angry with Tom Cruise and compares him to “the grannies of New York”, but with little reason since American elderly women have never been known to be a scared bunch of people. Howell has more to learn from a trip to the US than Hollywood stars have from a visit to Cannes.
Sudeshna Sinha, Calcutta
Sir — Though around 40 million of the workforce struck work on May 21, it is doubtful that the left will make much headway with its bandhs. The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress are devoted to capitalism. Witness the Indian National Trade Union Congress stayed away from the bandh. There has been little sound from the BJP-affiliated unions. In future either the BJP or the Congress will form the government. The left, never close to capturing Parliament, will continue to bother with its fruitless strike calls. Probably it needs to take the plunge for a bloody revolution, once and for all.
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — Undergraduate students were put into particular trouble because of the bandh called on May 21. The Jawaharlal Nehru University entrance examination was on the bandh day. Students had to fix taxis the previous day and pay huge sums of money to persuade them to go to the examination centres on the day of the bandh. Those who could not make such arrangements, could not sit for the examination although they had been preparing for it throughout the year. How will the political parties compensate for their loss'
A. Dasgupta, Calcutta
Sir — Comrades in West Bengal, as is their wont, tried to stop even vehicles belonging to the army. Will Alimuddin Street please teach its loyal cadre that it is anti-national to prevent the Indian security forces from doing their duty'
Sujit Sharma, Calcutta
Sir — With electricity and water supply undisrupted, bandhs turn out to be general holidays. But if industrial bandhs mean that there will be no exception for essential services, why should water and electric supplies continue as normal'
Jagdish Kumar, Calcutta
Sir — Banking- and insurance-sector employees should have wage cuts for attending strikes. A lot of state government employees also abstain from work. Yet rule 3B of West Bengal Service Rules Vol I, which governs service conditions, stipulates that “if a government employee...abstains from work without permission or refuses to work...he shall...not be entitled to draw any pay and allowances for such day.” Public money is not meant for indiscriminate charity.
Chameli Pal, Batanagar
Sir — The fact that just a minority of the eunuchs we see are natural born eunuchs is perhaps the least known. Many of the eunuchs seen dancing on auspicious occasions trying to extort money have been forced to join the community for some compelling reason or other.
However, the Union government should enact a suitable legislation with regard to eunuchs. If parents reject children whom they consider eunuchs and if eunuchs take such children to become members of their community, both should be punished. Eunuchs should be able to enjoy a normal life among their families. This section of society should be protected under the reservations scheme of the government, especially in spheres like education so as to allow them the chance to study and enter the mainstream of professional life. By creating an environment in which they could lead a normal life, the government would be preventing them from trying to live by extorting money.
Madhu Agrawal, Delhi