Go for a trial run
Sir — Representatives of the “Coalition of the Willing” — George Sibley, the US consul-general, and Andrew Hall, British deputy high commissioner — do not see eye to eye on labour relations and investment in West Bengal (“Bengal’s labour pain cracks Coalition of the Willing”, June 5). There is a grain of truth in what each has to say. Labour unions do need to change their attitude. The people of Bengal are fed up with their capriciousness and their ability to make everybody’s life difficult. Perhaps Hall understands this feeling, which is why he says that “business management” makes all the difference. Investors should make it clear that all investments in the state are on a quid pro quo basis. It is the government’s duty to rein in troublemakers, be accountable for funds and respect time-bound schedules. If it fails, it sinks. Looked at in another way, one success story can alone work wonders by bringing in investment and setting an example for the workforce.
Aashish Majumder, Calcutta
Reaching the summit
Sir — The invitation to the group of eight summit extended to India by the French president, Jacques Chirac, has been a shot in the arm for the National Democratic Alliance government. It is entirely to the credit of the prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, that he handled the show most efficiently, never showing any of the weaknesses that usually plague a third world country leader at such important meetings. The invitation from the French must have also sent a discreet message to the United States of America about India not being entirely friendless.
It is commendable that Vajpayee managed to put forward India’s concerns without showing disregard for the other world developments. Although the tension between the US and the other European countries was palpable, Vajpayee gave neither the US nor any of its allies a chance to question his presence at the meet. As is his wont, Vajpayee also managed to dilute some of the tension with his humour.
The best outcome of the summit was that it gave India a chance to steal a march on Pakistan. For once, India got to play out its own role without being encumbered by the presence of Pakistan. There is a chance that Pakistan might be invited to the next summit. But the invitation can come only from the US, and in that case the US’s Pakistan leaning will be made more than apparent.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — At Evian, India had an excellent opportunity to interact with the world’s top economic and political leaders and to tell the world about its commitment to multi-lateral trade agreement and the global rules that govern the world market for goods, services and capital. Vajpayee went on to suggest international trade reforms, more emphasis on development and debt-forgiveness for developing countries.
It was wise on the part of Vajpayee to not raise the issue of cross-border terrorism at the summit. That would be misusing a rare opportunity. The G-8 has always laid emphasis on democracy. Hopefully, it will remain wedded to the idea of democracy and free enterprise. The members of the group can show their appreciation for India’s efforts to abide by democratic principles by including it as a permanent member.
R.N. Lakhotia, New Delhi
Sir — The G-8 group consists of an exclusive band of eight of the most industrially and economically advanced nations in the world. It is still not clear if India has been able to make the most of the invitation. But given that it is one of the fastest growing economies of the world, has a vast market potential, highly sophisticated software sector, and tremendous potential and relative advantages in the biotechnology and herbal market, India’s inclusion in the summit this year and in the future is not surprising. What India should consider is using the platform to ensure that it is able attract as much foreign direct investment as possible and boost the country’s export sector.
B.L. Tekriwal, Mumbai
Sir — One cannot but take note of the significant seating arrangement at the dinner hosted by the Russian president on the tercentenary of St Petersburg. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had been placed right next to George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin (“Atal at Bush table, Pak on menu”, June 2). But what if the American president has made laudatory references to Vajpayee’s latest peace initiative with Pakistan' That changes nothing since Bush has been blatantly helping Pakistan with diplomatic and financial aid despite India’s repeated appeals to the superpower against Pakistan’s hand in cross-border terrorism.
T.R. Anand, Calcutta
Start at the beginning
Sir — The editorial, “State of corruption” (May 25), sums up accurately the common Indian’s perceptions about corruption. Incidents like the arrest of R. Perumalswamy, personal assistant of Gingee Ramachandran, minister of state for finance, does not instil confidence in him about efforts taken to stem the rot in our political system. Corruption may be a common phenomenon in our society today but it has to be combatted. To do that, the triangular nexus of bureaucrat-politician-businessman has to be broken. Corrupt administrators strike at the very roots of development. The situation is made worse by corruption in the vigilance department which is supposed to keep the bureaucrats in line. But bureaucratic corruption is an offshoot of corruption in politics.
Corruption is a deep-rooted problem. Quality education could go a long way in stemming it. Diligence and honesty have to be inculcated in children from an early age. That is our only hope of removing the evil.
N. Bose, Ranchi
Sir — Contrary to the general take on the reputation of the Vajpayee government, it is laudable that exposures like the Perumalswamy episode are at least taking place. The government has to be cleansed and this is not a bad start to that procedure.
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Sir — Corruption has become so endemic to the system in India that people have come to realize that no work can be done without shelling out a minimum sum of money to the officials concerned, be it at government offices, educational institutions or the judiciary. Perhaps administrative neutrality, economic reforms, educational reforms and lessons in morality are ways out of the mess. Above all, India badly needs leaders who will set an example for the rest to follow.
Niloy Sinha, Azimganj