Opening Pandora’s box
Sir — No public institution can be above scrutiny in a democracy. Which is why the Indian air force’s decision to release the truth about a recent MiG-21 accident is a welcome step (“MiG glasnost begins with human error”, Sept 3). The army must now follow the air force’s example. After all, it has much to account for — the failure to check infiltration in Kargil, the Tehelka scandal and the allegations of human rights abuse against army men in Kashmir. Secrecy, the armed forces should know, does not help — it only serves to confirm the belief that there is something to hide.
Rohit Sharma, Calcutta
Sir — From the way Murli Manohar Joshi picked faults with the education system in West Bengal, it seems that the Bharatiya Janata Party Central leadership wants to pick a fight with the left dispensation in the state (“Barbaric barb, historic punch”, Sept 1). The Union minister for human resources development should know that the quality of primary and secondary education in the state continues to be excellent. At least, the left parties, unlike the BJP, have not tampered with history texts. Joshi has been accused of interfering in the functioning of premier bodies like the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management. In Uttar Pradesh, there were attempts to replace Shakespeare in the English syllabus with the prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and the president, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Instead of berating the left leadership, Joshi should answer some questions himself. Why is his party dividing India along communal lines' Why have the BJP and its allies failed to keep their promises to provide employment and curb terrorism' Why have they repeatedly tried to communalize education' Joshi needs to recall something he must have been taught as a child — those staying in glass houses should not throw stones at others.
Suvrajit Saha, Calcutta
Sir — Murli Manohar Joshi’s tirade against the West Bengal government on a recent visit to Calcutta is not quite unexpected. Joshi may not know this, but unlike in other states, political affiliations do not cut much ice in the field of education in West Bengal. In any case, Joshi, a senior leader of the BJP, has no right to pass judgment on this subject. No other party has been more partisan than the BJP in selecting heads of educational institutions and formulating educational syllabi on the basis of the party agenda. Joshi’s outburst was merely an expression of his party’s anger against the West Bengal government.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — The criticism levelled at Murli Manohar Joshi by the mandarins of Alimuddin Street only shows that the ruling party does not have the stomach to accept just criticism (“Basu & Biswas strike back at stinging Joshi”, Sept 2). Whenever the Centre expresses concern at the state of affairs in West Bengal, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) tries to project the criticism as an insult to Bengal. The Marxists should remember that Bengal is not synonymous with their party, which is responsible for many of the ills plaguing the state today.
West Bengal is lagging behind in various fields — education, healthcare and human development. Instead of accusing the Centre of insulting Bengal, the state government should concentrate on removing the roadblocks in the path of development in West Bengal.
T. Das Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — The verbal tussle between Murli Manohar Joshi, and the former chief minister of West Bengal, Jyoti Basu, and the state’s minister of school education, Kanti Biswas, was interesting. The irony is that both parties are guilty of the same crime — of tampering with history at different junctures of their political tenures. Instead of indulging in a mud-slinging match, the left leadership should work in tandem with the Centre to improve matters in the state.
Abhirup Mukherjee, Calcutta