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Babes in the wood

Sir — If a Grand Slam tournament is here, can a “babe-hunt” be far behind' Maria Sharapova of Russia already seems to have bagged the award of the “US Open Babe” in her pink dress, although she may actually mean it when she says that she does not care about babedom. After all, these tags are invented by the media and fashion industries to consolidate their constituencies, not so much to serve the cause of tennis. Those, like Anna Kournikova, who get sold to glamour, soon find that tennis has no place for them. Sharapova had better beware.

Yours faithfully,
Soma Lahiri, Calcutta


The bomb ticks

Sir — It is surprising that feminists like Githa Hariharan should oppose the present population policy of some state governments based on incentives and disincentives (“A new Emergency”, August 24). Pioneering crusaders for birth control like Marie Stopes, Margaret Sanger and Annie Bessant believed that the emancipation of women lay in having smaller families so that they could have complete control over their bodies.

By advocating the successful Kerala model for the rest of the country, Hariharan has made the mistake which, sadly, most policy-makers here make. Kerala has made exemplary progress in education, healthcare and population-control which has furthered social development in the state. Applying the same model in socially backward states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh is certainly a recipe for disaster. It has now been established that education can hardly help in birth control in these states: it is common to find postgraduates having more than three children. Socio-cultural evils like dowry plague these states, and contribute to population surge. Population growth falls as living standards rise. The larger a family, the lower its living standards, thus creating a vicious circle. The policy of incentives and disincentives adopted by some of the states is therefore the only viable way to control population in these states.

Yours faithfully,
Raja Sen, Dhanbad


Sir — At its current growth rate, India will overtake China in the near future. The Supreme Court’s verdict to disallow anyone with more than two children from contesting elections is a step in the right direction.

Yours faithfully,
Dinabandhu Mukherjee, Calcutta


Not involved

Sir — Nishit Dholabhai’s report, “Senator takes up Naga cause” (August 18), contained gross inaccuracies in its references to Senator Barbara Boxer.

The story’s entire premise is false. Senator Boxer did not attend the “inauguration of the National Socialist of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah)’s office in Washington”, nor, from what we understand, did this event ever take place. The senator has made no speech or statement about Nagaland or the Naga movement, nor taken any position on the issues involved. She has had no involvement with this issue.

Since our office was never contacted regarding this story, we can only assume that it may be related to another grossly inaccurate story that appeared in the Sentinel on August 6. That story referred to a purported speech that Senator Boxer delivered at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Nagaland. But there has been no Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the subject of Nagaland, and again, Senator Boxer did not deliver any speech on the matter.

The “speeches” attributed to Senator Boxer in both stories were in no way written, requested or approved by the senator or any member of her staff, nor did they ever take place. In fact, the senator never saw any such speeches. The senator and her staff had no knowledge of any such speeches until the stories appeared in the Sentinel and The Telegraph and we received press calls inquiring about them.

Any characterization which indicates that Senator Boxer has taken a position on the issue of Nagaland is false.

Yours faithfully,
Sam Chapman, chief of staff to Senator Barbara Boxer, San Francisco, US


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