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The science of fudging

Sir — Fudging data is common among science students. They frequently resort to such practices in their practical classes in order to present the best possible results of any experiment conducted. West Bengal’s finance minister, Asim Dasgupta, evidently does something similiar every year in his continuing experiments with how best to juggle the dismal figures of the state’s growth. Also, evidently, students of science do much better than Dasgupta, for they hardly ever get caught. Dasgupta, on the other hand, despite being a senior teacher and minister to boot, has failed on this score (“Lies, damn lies & Bengal statistics”, May 29). Had he asked, even his students would have been able to tell him that he needs to match his magic figures for the state’s domestic product with that of the state’s per capita income and tax-SDP ratio. But just as Bengal has unerring faith in their leftist masters, the party has unerring faith in Dasgupta’s fudging abilities. Let’s hope both are proved wrong.

Yours faithfully,
Ajanta Mallick, Calcutta


On the defensive

Sir — The lenient and often contradictory statements of our national leaders have encouraged our enemy across the border to act so offensively at the line of control. The defence minister, George Fernandes, has said that infiltration has come down and also, “We are not asking them (Pakistan) to abandon their views on Kashmir but change their views on terrorism” (“Advani Kashmir gesture to Pak”, May 17). By the first statement, he almost dilutes India’s concrete allegations against Islamabad. Besides, who is he doing a favour in asking Pakistan not to change its views on Kashmir' Does Fernandes realize that by doing so, he is also indirectly saying that Pakistan need not change its Kashmir strategy' The defence minister sees Kashmir and cross-border terrorism that it has spawned as two different issues. It has obviously not occurred to him that Pakistan’s views on Kashmir are intertwined with terrorism.

Yours faithfully,
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur


Sir — The allegedly leaked message of Jay Garner, outgoing director of America’s office of reconstruction and humanitarian assistance, warning both India and Pakistan of a fate similar to Iraq’s if they refused to follow the American road-map to peace, is thought-provoking (“It takes just two to talk”, May 6). The threat from the United States of America might be real, but the superpower needs to remember that unlike Iraq, both the subcontinental countries possess nuclear powers. No matter what the US has to say, it will, at the same time, make sure that it does not sour its own relations with the two countries.

Besides, one has serious doubts about the US’s own commitment to peace. Had it been fighting a genuine war against terrorism, it would have stopped supplying Pakistan with military aid.

Yours faithfully,
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta


Sir — The Vajpayee regime’s stand on Pakistan has always appeared unconvincing and ambiguous. The bus service between Lahore and New Delhi had been arranged on Indian initiative at the height of militancy in Kashmir, only to be rewarded with the incursion into Kargil. This high altitude warfare proved to be quite expensive to the Indian army both in men and resources. The Agra summit was yet another fiasco for India. Pervez Musharraf caught India on the wrong foot, charmed the media and gained tremendous mileage for himself at home. A lull followed the summit which ended with the escalation of tension in the border and deployment of the army by the beginning of 2002. Within another a few months, troops were withdrawn but no explanation offered by the Indian government as to why such a massive operation had taken place. And now talks have once again been initiated although there has been no change in Pakistan’s policy of abetting cross-border terrorism or protecting dreaded terrorists wanted by India.

India’s offer to resume the bilateral dialogue has only belittled its stand on the war against terrorism. Pakistan’s welcoming the move is only expected because, following its alliance with the United States of America, it is now supremely conscious of the image it will project internationally. Yet most Indians know, as do Pakistanis, that nothing will come of the talks. Why does India have to play into the Pakistani hands every time'

Yours faithfully,
A. Roy, Calcutta


Sir — Pakistan does not seem to have compromised on any of its policies vis-à-vis India so far. It has been harping on the Kashmir issue for years on end, and with the same ferocity. After M.A. Jinnah died and the liberal Liaqat Ali Khan was assassinated, Pakistan has passed into the hands of radicals who are intent on keeping the pledge they made to Kashmir’s Muslims. They have played a major role in transforming Pakistan into an explosive country and the whole of south Asia into a volatile region.

Thus, it is surprising that India should suddenly feel the need to bend over backwards to placate Pakistan. If Atal Bihari Vajpayee compromises on Kashmir, he should be seen as a traitor. Kashmir is non-negotiable and no third party intervention should be allowed. It is possible that Vajpayee is trying to make up for his criticism of the US during the Iraq war. But he cannot sell his country’s interests. India should not let up on its stand on the line of control. The Indian army’s Sarp Vinash operations should be allowed to continue.

Yours faithfully,
R.H. Putran, Calcutta


Sir — Instead of trying to rerun failed efforts to make Pakistan see some sense on the Kashmir issue, India could perhaps divert its energies to better its military ties with Russia. India has to remain cautious about both China and Pakistan. China has expansionist designs, so has Pakistan.

Yours faithfully,
Saibal Basu, Calcutta


Religious on rain

Sir — It is surprising that the cradle of India’s software industry and a highly developed state like Karnataka should be praying for rains (“Karnataka to pray for rain”, May 1). Ridden with the burden of drought for the third consecutive time, the state must be in dire straits. But instead of appeasing the rain gods, it could think of more practical ways like better utilization of ground water and rain water harvesting in the monsoons. These methods would offer better relief than elaborate pujas and yagnas.

Yours faithfully
A.K. Ghosh, Ranchi


Sir — If J. Jayalalithaa fails to squeeze out water from rain clouds and Karnataka fails in its prayers, next year we can look forward to more acrimony on the Cauvery waters front.

Yours faithfully,
J. Krishnamoorthy, Calcutta


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