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Move over bard

Sir — Did William Shakespeare and G.B. Shaw ever imagine that they would have to face tough competition from an Indian prime minister and president (“Vajpayee scare for Shakespeare”, August 15)' Atal Bihari Vajpayee may be a good orator, and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam a great scientist and visionary, but that hardly makes them eligible to replace Shakespeare and Shaw in the undergraduate and postgraduate syllabi of Meerut’s C.C. Singh University. And why should students be forced to read the translated works of Vajpayee or Kalam for an English course' If at all their writings can be included, it should be done under the category of “Indian writing in English” and certainly not by displacing a Shakespearean tragedy. The whole idea, of course, smacks of the authority’s eagerness to cosy up to powerholders. The saving grace is that the members of the academic council have rejected the bizarre proposal. Shakespeare and Shaw can breathe in peace for now, it seems.

Yours faithfully,
Priyanka Aich, Calcutta


Blast from the past

Sir — However much the world may denounce the twin bombings in Iraq and Israel, the West will have to take full responsibility for the mess they have created in west Asia through their obsessive neo-imperialist policies. The targeting of a top United Nations official, Sergio Vieira de Mello, in the UN headquarters in Baghdad should make it clear that the United States of America and its allies are not even willing to grant the apolitical world body the immunity it deserves.

George W. Bush and his cronies are bent on making the US a new colonialist, supposedly for their country’s own survival and for keeping up its so-called “high” standards of living. However, at every step they are realizing that their calculations are wrong. As a result, they are finding to their horror that the loss of American lives and property is several times greater than they had calculated. The Americans will only support Bush as long as the going is good, but they have no stomach for “sacrifices”. The US has to find a middle path of co-existence and cooperation with the rest of the world.

Yours faithfully,
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai


Sir — It has been rightly said that the first casualty in any war is truth. This is nowhere more evident than in the Iraq war. As many as 18 journalists belonging to various international agencies have been killed, by mistake or by design, since the allies invaded the country on March 20. When Operation Iraqi Freedom was at its peak, a US tank deliberately shot at a photo-journalist in a Palestinian hotel in the Iraqi capital, killing him and his assistant. According to eyewitnesses, he was only taking a photo of the tank, while the Pentagon insists that the tanks were responding to enemy fire.

The Reuters cameraman, Mazen Dana, has become the latest victim of US negligence. It is impossible to digest the explanation offered by the US military that Dana’s camera had been mistaken for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Would a professional army ever make such a mistake'

These incidents are an index of the frustration of the coalition troops in Iraq and their desperation to conceal the truth. Someone — anyone — who tries to expose the truth must be eliminated. Journalists, quite naturally, have become the prime targets. No war so far has claimed as many press-men as the Iraq war has. Isn’t it strange that the media in the US is yet to come out strongly in protest against the attacks on their fraternity' Is the fourth estate crumbling'

Yours faithfully,
Dipankar Bera, Howrah


Sir — It was amusing to learn that that the American president, George W. Bush, was play golf at the time of the bomb blast at the UN headquarters in Baghdad (“10 killed as bomb rips UN hub in Baghdad”, August 20).

The reasons behind the attack on the UN headquarters are quite clear. If one look at things objectively, one will have to admit that the UN’s stand on Iraq has been far from impartial. The UN has been merely acting as the US’s stooge, failing to prevent the war even after Iraq fulfilled all the demands of UN resolution 1441. It is likely that this is not going to be the last of such attacks.

Yours faithfully,
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur


Sir — The US has in the past displayed nonchalance at the suffering of the victims in wars they consider just. From the atom bomb, the napalms in Vietnam to the present daisy cutters and smart bunker busters in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to speak of the possible presence of alarming levels of pesticides in the all-American fizz in third-world countries, the US seems to assume that lesser mortals are endowed with greater endurance levels. As Iraqis and Afghans carry the legacy of the “functionalism” perpetrated by the US, and farmers in Kerala wonder at the killer fertilizers, given for free by multinational giants, which had helped them produce hybrid bananas and greens, we wonder when the world’s only hyper power will wake up to the reality that it does not pay to pursue policies in national interests only. A more humane approach towards the developing world, and an understanding of the peculiarity of non-Christian cultures and their society would go a long way in resolving some of the most pressing problems of the world.

Yours faithfully,
Susenjit Guha, Calcutta


Documentary value

Sir — The recommendations of the Human Development Report 2003 should be an eyeopener for our policy-makers and for those who advocate unbridled privatization in every sphere of our lives as a panacea for all the ills affecting this country (“When markets don’t deliver”, August 18). The problem does not lie with private or public services, but with our professional attitude, or the lack of it. Professional dishonesty in India is rapidly becoming the most serious variant of corruption.

It is therefore important that concomitant to encouraging private participation in social services like health and education, strict and efficient regulatory mechanisms are put in place. Professional ethics must be inculcated in individuals undertaking professional courses. And most important, we must strengthen our institutions. A virtual absence of this has allowed, for instance, private medical institutions and individuals to mint money by adopting unethical means.

Yours faithfully,
Raja Sen, Dhanbad


Sir — Why is The Telegraph wasting space by reproducing one UN document or the other everyday' Anyone interested in these can visit the UN website and download them.

Yours faithfully,
D.M. Hazarika, Calcutta


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