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The price must be paid

Sir — Has the Central Bureau of Investigation really revealed anything about the murder of Madhumita Shukla that we did not already know, or had not guessed (“Madhumita did not live to tell this tale”, Aug 5)' Don’t we know too well what happens to women who are daring enough to enter into amorous relationships with married politicians' Haven’t “realistic” Hindi cinema of the Nineties such as Satya, Shool and Satta shown us the ugly face of Indian politics' The way Shukla’s mother and sister went back and forth on their statements was echoed in the way Zahira Sheikh, the sole witness in the Best Bakery case, withdrew her charges against the ruling dispensation in Gujarat, and pressed them again only when she was assured protection. What the CBI reports will never tell us — although that is something we have almost been made to learn by rote — is that the price of messing around with people in power must always be paid with one’s life, or dignity.

Yours faithfully,
Shama Mishra, Patna


Hope flies

Sir — The editorial, “Georgie in the sky” (August 3), does not seem to have any suggestions to offer on what George Fernandes and the ministry of defence and the Indian air force can and should do in the face of a vicious, misinformed and cheap publicity-seeking (if not actually motivated) campaign by a section of the media against a perfectly good flying machine. Whatever the defence minister’s faults, nothing can take away from his contribution to a better understanding of the problems of Indian soldiers fighting in the Siachen and other difficult terrains. Fernandes does anything but “walk about”.

While balanced and informed criticism is necessary, mindless slander is better done without.

Yours faithfully,
Alok Sarkar, Calcutta


Sir — The National Democratic Alliance government, and in particular, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has played on the patriotic feelings of the citizens. It is therefore surprising that the defence ministry is behaving in a stepfatherly manner with those families which have lost members in MiG crashes. These families are perhaps more patriotic than the rest, because they had sent their sons to fight for the country. But the 25-minute gimmick of the defence minister only made fun of their dedication and love for their country. If, as the government wants to prove, the crashes have been caused by human error, then is it not the defence ministry’s fault that it had allowed these inexperienced pilots to venture into the air' Can Fernandes’s publicity exercise erase the fear in the parents whose sons are in the air force' If not, then the defence minister’s bravery will be of no use; Fernandes should try to introduce greater transparency in the workings of his ministry instead.

Yours faithfully,
L. Mallick, Calcutta


Sir — What did George Fernandes want to achieve by flying in the MiG-21 aircraft ' Prove that it is airworthy' When the defence minister of the country is flying an aircraft, it is likely to be so well-serviced that it would definitely not develop any technical snags during the flight. Had he visited the families of the deceased pilots and spoken to them, he would have earned their goodwill and trust. There is no denying that the MiG-21 fighter planes have become outdated and they need to replaced by more sophisticated and technically advanced aircraft. Can the defence minister assure that there will not be any accidents involving MiG-21 in future' In case of any future mishaps, will he take responsibility and quit since he himself has given these planes the certificate of air-worthiness'

The defence minister could for a change concentrate on serious matters rather than hanker after some cheap publicity. It is encouraging to note that the president, A.P.J. Kalam, has decided to meet the families of the deceased pilots and one hopes that he will, as the supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces, take a suitable decision on the continuance of MiG-21s. If anyone has the authority to overturn the decision of the defence minister, it is Kalam.

Yours faithfully,
S. Ram, Calcutta


Anthem blues

Sir — The recently released advertisement with the national anthem sung by Shubha Mudgal in the background, is an insult to our national anthem. It ostensibly tries to make Indians aware of the glory of their national anthem. But the anthem sung by Mudgal exceeds 52 seconds, the time limit set for the song. While the anthem is supposed to be sung only on special occasions, the commercial is aired two or three times a day. As a result, people watch it sitting on their drawing-room sofas. Let us not reduce our national anthem to a joke.

Yours faithfully,
Payal Bhattacharya, Calcutta


Sir — The advertisement showing an elderly, crippled cobbler braving inclement weather and his disability to show respect to the national anthem playing on the radio while pedestrians and shoppers are busy running for cover from the rain, reads the signs of the times well. The Constitution has not been able to make all Indians respectful towards their anthem. This trend reflects the erosion of values in Indians, and the flaws in the education system. It is a shame that advertisements are needed to inject patriotism into people’s minds.

Yours faithfully,
Dipankar Bera, Howrah


To be noted

Sir — The report, “Pollution cry in bank plastic pouches” (July 22), blames the Reserve Bank of India’s order against stapling of currency notes for a specific bank receiving summons from the state pollution control board for using plastic pouches to pack currency notes in lieu of staples. The report is misleading in saying that the RBI’s instructions have led to the present situation.

We clarify that the government of India and the RBI decided to discontinue the practice of stapling the note packets as the stapling/multiple stapling of the currency note packets caused damage to the currency notes, and there were several complaints from the members of the public against the multiple stapling of note packets. The RBI has advised the banks to use alternatives to staple pins to secure currency note packets. This could be done by banding/cross-banding the note packets with paper/polymer/twine and packing the note bundles of ten packets in plastic pouches, if necessary. It is entirely left to individual banks to use any of these methods or a method beyond these alternatives to secure note packets. In case a bank decides to use plastic pouches, it is again for the bank concerned to abide by the law of the land regarding standard thickness and composition of the plastic.

Yours faithfully,
Alpana Killawala,

general manager, Press Relations Division, Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai

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