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Celebrate causes, not birthdays

Sir — Has Laloo Prasad Yadav taken the cue from the lady in Uttar Pradesh (“55. Chacha Laloo parties with kids”, June 17)' Although he celebrated his birthday among poor children in Jawaharlal Nehru style — complete with a cap, albeit a fez — it was not difficult to guess who he was trying to outdo. Mayavati, who had justified her two crore rupee birthday bash in March as an event to mark Dalit resurgence, ended up facing a lot of flak for it. Laloo Yadav, by keeping things at a lower key and by roping in underprivileged children, need not have any such fears. After all, he has been in the business longer than the Dalit ki beti.

Yours faithfully,
Shukla Sinha, Jamshedpur


No entry

Sir — The new visa regulations of the United States of America would be detrimental both for its business community and tourism industry (“Tough US visa laws bring fears of a long wait”, May 26). This is of course one more way in which 9/11 has taken its toll. And why is there a different set of rules for people from Muslim countries' Is this any way for a democratic country to function' Is it fair or democratic to single out Muslims for such treatment just because some terrorists happen to be Muslims' While Asia and Latin America have come in for heightened scrutiny, European countries have been showered with preferential treatment, which makes the whole thing appear even more unfair and sinister. How long can the US survive in an isolated world'

The question now is: will the US be able to prevent terrorist attacks on its soil through these measures' The answer is a resounding “no”. As the report mentions, one of the September 11 conspirators was denied US visa four times. That did not stop him from making 9/11 happen. These regulations should have been waived for businessmen and students.

Yours faithfully,
Bijoy Ranjan Dey, Tinsukia


Sir — Being an engineer myself, I read with great interest the story about Yahya Jalil, the Pakistani graduate student who has been facing problems under the new US visa laws (“Students face visa hurdle”, June 7). The report mentions that Jalil arrived in the US to study electrical engineering at Stanford University 11 years ago, and was doing his MBA when he was refused entry after his trip to Britain last month. This is where his story sounds a trifle unconvincing. It takes four years to complete engineering and two years thereafter to get an MBA. Certainly not 11 years. Although Jalil has been reported as having worked for at least two American companies, one wonders whether studying and working were all he was doing these last 11 years. The paranoia of the US is quite understandable because many in the past have blatantly abused the generosity of this nation.

Yours faithfully,
Rabindra Singh, Calcutta


Parched hopes

Sir — Once again the rain gods appear to have let us down, and once again we have found solace in religion, and performance of useless yajnas (“Rain rites”, June 3). We, Indians, have a defeatist mindset which makes us turn to religion for answers to all our problems, be it SARS or riots or monsoons.

This blind faith in religion and god has had a debilitating effect on us and has taken a toll of our rational thinking.

Yours faithfully,
Rohit Jain, Rishra


Sir — The government of Karnataka, probably the most advanced state in the country in terms of science and technology, has decided to seek divine intervention now that it is faced with acute water shortage and the prospect of a delayed monsoon (“Karnataka to pray for rain”. June 1). Karnataka’s minister for rural water supply and even the chief minister are going to temples, offering prayers for the speedy arrival of rains. This should act as an eye-opener for the people of West Bengal, who, thanks to communist rule, have mostly become atheistic, cynical and selfish. The left government of the state has all but turned the state into a wasteland. The people should turn to the gods to deliver them from this misrule, and bring on good governance.

Yours faithfully,
Aparna Ghoshal, Calcutta


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