The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

Another tyrant is born

Sir — With the bringing down of the Saddam Hussein regime, it was hoped that tyranny would come to an end in Iraq. However, the post-war developments in the country, particularly in Basra, tell a different story altogether (“No sex please, we are scared”, May 29). The statue of Ozymandias has been destroyed and brought to the ground. Theatres in Basra have been forbidden to “show any romance movies, only action”. Films and theatre are supposed to be for public entertainment, but in Basra, what is best for the public must be determined by the Shia clerics, led by the ayatollah, Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim. The end of the Saddam era seems to have cleared the ground for a dictatorship of the taliban kind to take root. The deposed leader at least never tried to impose his cultural and religious writ on his people. The ruins of Saddam’s tyranny can be seen all around Iraq. What is sadder and more fearful is that a worse tyrant is trying to raise its head from these ruins.

Yours faithfully,
Rimi Halder, Calcutta

Let’s talk about sex

Sir — I cannot agree more with the editorial, “AIDS with a figleaf” (May 26), about the views of the Union health minister, Sushma Swaraj, on how to handle the AIDS crisis in India. HIV, the fundamental causative agent for AIDS, has been in India for almost over a decade now and India, with 4 million HIV patients, is second only to South Africa in the number of persons who have already contracted the deadly disease. There is no doubt that preventive measures need to be taken quickly. In the absence of any proven cure, public awareness and education are perhaps the only way to prevent sexual transmission of HIV and thereby control AIDS. Although absolute abstinence would perhaps have been the surest means of combating the disease, this is not a practical solution. The next best option, of course, is the compulsory use of condoms. The health minister’s irresponsible attitude in promoting the condom might prove very costly for the people of her country.

In the modern era of internet and information technology, the notion that the state may somehow control the sexual behaviour of the citizens is flawed. Swaraj’s prescription of an “appropriate” sexual behaviour to control AIDS is an extremely whimsical way of approaching the problem. Several African countries have been successful in handling the crisis by imparting sex education and promoting the use of condoms. Many schools in the West distribute condoms among students. Trying to shape the moral character of Indian youth will not go very far in eradicating, or even combating AIDS.

Yours faithfully,
Kunal Saha, Columbus, US

Sir — The survey report prepared by J.K. Ansell Limited revealed that for Indians, sex is no longer restricted to the bedroom alone (“Facts of life”, May 25). Breaking free of the confines of the bedroom, sex for Indians appears to be dependant only on opportunities. Although sexual activities have become commonplace these days, findings such as this should not be used for purposes of generalization, since they are based on scattered samples.

With the rise in sexual activities of both conventional and unconventional kinds, the threat of AIDS is on the increase. Apart from the red-light areas where sex workers operate, there are several beauty parlours and massage parlours which promote promiscuity and unprotected sex.

Yours faithfully,
Diptimoy Ghosh, Calcutta

Sir — Varuna Verma’s article on a sex survey of upper-middle-class Indians is quite revealing. However, the survey cannot be taken as a comprehensive one because it focusses only on a miniscule section of the Indian population. The only remarkable discovery of the survey is perhaps that most of the people questioned believe that fidelity is the key to a successful marriage. When placed against the increasing incidence of divorce on the grounds of infidelity, this only brings to light the web of hypocrisy in which most of upper-middle-class India is caught.

Another trend that the survey highlights is the licentiousness among women, which could be said to be a result of an excess of freedom granted to them. The term, “housewife”, which has been amended to “homemaker”, should be corrected as “home-breaker”.

Yours faithfully,
Arabinda Bose, Calcutta

Sir — Although “New government proposal for sex laws” (April 1) was evidently an All Fool’s Day joke, a set of practical sex laws is the need of the hour. The Telegraph should be congratulated for at least floating the idea. The government and the legislators can now work on it.

Yours faithfully,
Jayanta Datta, Chinsurah

Sir — We were indeed fooled by the “new government proposals for sex laws” on All Fool’s Day. But aren’t we fooled every day by the government’s anti-people policies'

Yours faithfully,
Alpana Baruah, Dibrugarh

Parting shot

Sir — I agree completely with Dibyendu Ghosh’s letter about the services of British Airways in Calcutta (“Off air”, May 26) . Having travelled the London-Calcutta route myself on numerous occasions, I have experienced difficulties amending tickets and obtaining correct information. This March, it took three separate journeys to the BA office to eventually make what should have been an easy change. Then, of course, there is the problem of 10-hour flights with poor food arrangements, and enforced sleeping due to the “lights out” policy. If my father didn’t get air-miles tickets with BA, I would never have endured such unsatisfactory service. I am told Air India is much better.

Yours faithfully,
Verity Worthington, Kidderminster, UK

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