Lost ground beneath her feet
Sir — What Rodham Hillary Clinton could do, Laura Bush can do better. So if Hillary once campaigned for health, Laura must throw her weight behind “childhood education” (“Laura to mend US image”, Sept 29). But has Mrs George W. Bush weighed the odds against her' For one, she would find it difficult to match the the suaveness and dexterity of the lawyer-turned-first lady, Hillary Clinton. And second, the strong anti-Americanism that her husband’s bullheadedness in Iraq has inspired worldwide is likely to make her problem insurmountable. Much like Laura, Hillary too had persevered to fill the necessary gaps in the American policy. But helping conduct policy at the end of the Cold War was much easy for her than for Laura Bush now. For example, how would Laura explain America’s commitment to childhood education when it has singlehandedly banished all such hopes for the countless children of a vanquished Iraq'
S. Chatterjee, Calcutta
Sir — As expected, the framing of charges in the Babri Masjid demolition case has created a lot of political heat. It has to be kept in mind that the Indian judiciary took 11 years to frame charges, a feat that is unlikely to create a good global impression about the criminal justice system in India. Secular fundamentalists have criticized the Central Bureau of Investigation for diluting charges against L.K. Advani, thereby allowing the Rai Bareli special court to exonerate Advani. But what surprises is the fact that the prime minister has given the CBI the green signal to go ahead with the investigation. This speaks volumes about the government’s transparency. Under the Congress regime, the CBI would have never dared to touch any member of the Nehru-Gandhi family. Even in West Bengal, the government has fought shy of facing up to allegations like the pogrom against the Ananda Margis or the Bantala rapes. The BJP government has been hounded over the Babri Masjid case unnecessarily. Most other regimes have got away with worse crimes more easily.
Tapan Das Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — The death sentence to Dara Singh, the Supreme Court’s stricture on the Gujarat government, the Central Bureau of India’s chargesheet against Murli Manohar Joshi are indicators that the judicial mechanism in the country is still not defunct. As Indians are accustomed to seeing criminals go scot-free even after complex legal proceedings, the court orders come as a pleasant surprise. However, it would be unwise to consider veteran politicians like L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi as the ones responsible for the Babri Masjid demolition. It is difficult to accept that these leaders would have been frivolous enough to have instigated a mob to bring down a structure like the controversial masjid. The chargesheet against Joshi, especially when similar charges have been dropped against Advani, will cause further confusion. Already the Bharatiya Janata Party has started rolling up its sleeves to fight the legalities of the chargesheet to Joshi. This seems a preamble to the acquittal of all the accused in the case.
Tridib Roy, Calcutta
Sir — The Indian print media appears obsessed with two incidents that took place years ago — the purchase of Bofors guns and the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. The first is thought to represent an unthinkable magnitude of corruption at the highest level of government while the second event is considered a gross violation of India’s secular principle. While time would have helped people to get over the shock of betrayal of trust in the first case and healed the wounds in the second, the media interest has kept the scars raw. It is the fertile imagination of the media that has forced people to see the resignation letter of Murli Manohar Joshi as a trap for L.K. Advani.
Aparna Ganguli, Calcutta
Sir — The Babri Masjid controversy has been one of the greatest blows to the secular image of India. It has taken more than a decade for the Indian judiciary to come anywhere close to nailing the perpetrators of the crime. Anything that affects public interest as seriously as the Babri Masjid controversy should not have been allowed to go on for so long. Ten years is a long time in politics. Those who were not in power in 1992 are already well-enmeshed in the establishment, which gives them a good chance to escape censure and punishment. Witness how Advani has been absolved of all charges. In the end, many of the guilty may walk away free.
Rajkumar Bose, Calcutta
Voice of the dead
Sir — It is sad that the director of medical education in Calcutta, C.R. Maiti, had to wait to read the story of the unfortunate death of a young boy of snake bite before realizing that the government’s order that no patient should be refused emergency admission is being flouted (“Bed count scan after boy death, Sept 22). We should however realize that contrary to the claims of the Indian Medical Association, the government is not entirely to blame for the abysmal healthcare. Medical malpratice is common to both government hospitals and private nursing homes. Which means the fault also lies with doctors who have to be held accountable.
Kunal Saha, Columbus, US
Sir — Patients who require emergency treatment should never be refused care. As in the United Kingdom, there should be a bed-manager, assisted by proper technology, for all government hospitals who should be responsible for the later transfer of the patient to another hospital which can accommodate him.
Somaditya Banerjee, Crawley, UK