How hard is an iron hand'
Sir — No matter how J. Jayalalithaa’s treatment of Tamil Nadu government employees has gone down with the people of her state, the iron lady has drawn quite a few followers. The Andhra Pradesh chief minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, is one of them (“Staff trouble' Speak to & speak like Jaya”, July 26). To teach truant doctors a lesson, Naidu has decided to resort to nothing less than their outright dismissal. Rather than being an infringement on fundamental rights which Jayalalithaa’s step was thought to be, Naidu’s strict stand could set a welcome precedent for handling similar situations in future. After all, not attending duties at the time of an epidemic is irresponsibility of criminal proportions. However, with the Lok Sabha elections round the corner, all political decisions become suspect and the possibility of their implementation remote. Why is it that the same politicians who exhibit an iron fist before the elections seem to wear kid gloves at other times'
Smita Dey, Calcutta
One law for all
Sir — Although the Supreme Court judges have spoken their minds on the need for a uniform civil code in India, the implementation of the code seems like a distant dream (“SC clears statute path for common civil code”, July 24). Muslim religious leaders and scholars have already raised objections to the proposal. By rooting for the common civil code, no one is trying to infringe upon the private nature of religion. Rather, it is an attempt to strike a balance between the different laws for different religious entities living in the same country. A uniform civil code would let everyone freely practice his or her religious preferences, while making sure that the same laws applied to one and all. A Hindu, a Muslim or a Sikh can practice his religion freely if he goes to a Western country, but in none of these countries is the law of land modified to suit the dictates of individual religions. The common civil code should be welcomed unanimously. Though the Constitution of India has provisions for a uniform civil code in Article 44, which says that the “state shall endeavour to secure a uniform civil code”, the Parliament has not yet taken proper initiative for achieving this objective. It should not let go of this opportunity to implement the uniform civil code.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
nSir — The chief justice of the Supreme Court, V.N. Khare, and two other judges, S.B. Sinha, and A.R. Lakshmanan, must be thanked for speaking strongly in favour of the common civil code. Although there are doubts regarding the actual implementation of the bill till the political parties reach an agreement, there is no doubt about the benefits of a uniform civil code.
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — The uniform civil code calling for a common law across India has added fuel to the debate over the feasibility of several sets of laws in civil matters like marriage, divorce and inheritance. Divorced Muslim women who can hardly ever get their former husbands to pay for their maintenance, have not been paid the attention they deserve in the proposed format of the common civil code. Since the controversial Muslim Women’s Proclamation Bill of 1986, the sorry plight of Muslim women in the country has not improved. The uniform civil code must ensure that this neglected group can see better days.
Srimoyee Dey, Calcutta
Sir — The Supreme Court has recommended a uniform civil code. The Muslim clergy is not willing to accept this. In fact, initiative towards reform and uniform civil code should have come from within the Muslim community long ago. It is necessary today for the Islamic clergy and intellectuals to introspect and find out why the progress of Muslims in India is not matching the progress of other communities. The uniform civil code could be just the right way of going about tiding over their backwardness.
Hara Lal Chakraborty, Calcutta
Development and decline
nSir — Alok Ray, in “Red flags and red lights” (July 24), has very succinctly laid down the reasons for the economic decline of Bengal. The sickness of the factories and industries in and around Calcutta bears testimony to this decline. While the fortunes of West Bengal has steadily gone down, those of industries in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana or Delhi have only improved. It is no use criticizing the prime minister because he chose to speak the bitter truth. The irony is that the people and the government of the state realize this, but are not willing to address the issue or act upon it.
Sunil Garodia, Calcutta
Sir — For all the useful information Alok Ray provides, he forgets to mention the neglect of English education in West Bengal till only recently. This has seriously impeded the growth and development of the state. While facing interview boards at national or international level, youngsters from West Bengal do not fare well owing to the lack of confidence in communicating in English. The political leaders of the state seem to have realized that keeping the people ill-educated is a sure way of keeping their constituencies intact.
Bijit K. Sarkar, Calcutta
Sir — While emphasising the laggardness of West Bengal in every sphere, Alok Ray states, “These days, only Bengalis or people with strong roots in Bengal decide to stay in Calcutta”. This is not entirely true. Will Ray try to explain why are Calcutta and the whole of West Bengal being flooded with immigrants from other states' Like any other state in India, West Bengal too has its share of problems. However, compared to its neighbouring states, the quality of life in West Bengal is quite good. Moreover, immigrants have always found in West Bengal a favourable soil to earn their livelihood. What reason can Ray provide for this strange affinity that outsiders seem to have towards West Bengal'
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur
Sir — When the prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, stressed the need of retrieving the past glory of Bengal through proper industrialization and revival of work culture, he implied that the condition of the state is a reflection of the left’s tendency to cling to dogma and an extreme ideology. This has resulted in the flight of capital, poor economic performance and an erosion of work culture. I feel that with a little more help from the Centre, West Bengal is capable of making a quick recovery and competing with developing states like Maharashtra.
Naren Sen, Howrah