Who’s in control'
Sir — The games politicians play. “Musharraf joins China’s war on separatists” (Nov 4), shows that Pervez Musharraf has agreed to help China keep its autocracy firmly in place, evidently in return for future assistance in its nuclear weapons programme. China, and not without reason, has made no noises about the help it would lend in the setting up of a promised nuclear plant in Pakistan. That seems to have been kept pending in wait of Musharraf’s realization of his promise, given his natural propensity to renege on his words. There are also chances that he might not be successful at all given that he is unable to control separatism and ethnic violence in his own backyard. The “agreement” once again proves China’s ability to keep both of its squabbling neighbours, Pakistan and India, under its thumb. If India has been soothed by China’s sudden nonchalance about Sikkim, Musharraf has been kept at bay by dangling the nuclear carrot. Either way, China is king.
C. Chakraborty, Calcutta
Sir — There is a distressing slide in our society towards brutal authoritarianism. The fundamental premises of a liberal, democratic society are being undermined in a series of mindless actions on the political, judicial and social planes. A citizen in Kerala was reportedly jailed for questioning the prime minister’s massive security arrangements which so inconvenience the ordinary citizen. After the terrorist strike on policemen in front of the American Center in Calcutta, a witch hunt was started against madrasahs. Now almost the whole of north India is exclaiming in righteous indignation at how Daler Mahendi duped people. Where political correctness is concerned, law and its interpretation are becoming increasingly subjective and “creative”.
This is particularly true in defining sexual misconduct. The report, “Bengal ‘monk’ held for rape of student” (Oct 30), talks about a “guru” who has been charged of raping a college girl. The girl was propositioned in the crowded Sealdah station, taken to a nearby hotel, “raped”, and then “locked up” in a room in Purulia. The incident can be read differently. A mature woman receives a sexual proposition in a public place, accompanies the man to a hotel, checks in, but alleges that the subsequent sexual act is rape. Would one still think it right to demand castrations in rape cases'
Sandeep Mukherjee, Calcutta
Sir — Men today are in an unenviable position in India. They are expected to outperform their female counterparts who are as educated and continue to derive the benefits of being the fairer sex. The average man is often pushed out of offices to accommodate an equally average woman who has a pretty face. It is discrimination working the other way. A woman lawyer is always heard with more interest by the judge than her male colleague. Women tennis players are often more popular than male players. And female models are more highly paid that the men who walk the ramp with them. The violence against women than we witness today is not entirely because of indecent exposure of their bodies. The growing antagonism between the two sexes is a prime reason.
Farhan Ahmed, Calcutta
Sir — In “Violent ways”(Oct 26), T.R. Anand makes prime time soaps on satellite television responsible for growing incidence of domestic violence. The logic seems bizarre. In a nation of a hundred crore people, how many households have access to satellite TV' How can that minuscule minority be seen to reflect the collective mindset of the nation' Domestic or gender violence is a global phenomenon and there are many factors at work here. The broad social acceptance of the practice in India is one of the worst. A national family health survey in 2001 found that in Madhya Pradesh, 72 per cent married women believed that husbands are justified in beating their wives, while in neighbouring Chhatisgarh, 61.8 per cent married women supported domestic violence. The lack of education and general awareness among women themselves is another major factor.
Tapan Pal, Calcutta
Sir — Recent findings and some incidents once again prove that it is not merely ignorance or illiteracy that lead to female foeticide and dowry death. Greed and selfishness are the primal instincts that are responsible. Nilanjana S. Roy’s “How to kill a baby (Oct 26) , shows that a mother who nurtures her daughter with all her devotion will not cringe when she tortures her daughter- in-law. A family which will murder whoever harms their daughter will not bat an eyelid when it comes to harming a woman who has come to their fold by way of marriage. Why blame the proverbial mother-in-law alone when such crimes could never be committed without the active or passive participation of the entire family. The state ought to give more emphasis in incriminating those responsible for mental torture of the bride as well. For women bound by duties and bondages of love and responsibility often find it difficult to raise their voice against mental harrassment and die many deaths every day.
Smita Toppo, Calcutta
Sir — I am shocked to read the report, “Raped teen dies on road after a month”(Oct 30). The 14-year-old was brutally gangraped and dumped on the highway. Save except one journalist, nobody bothered to shift the girl to the hospital in the entire time that she survived on the road. What were the human rights commission and the scores of women’s welfare organizations doing all the time'
Sudarshan Nandi, Rangamati, Midnapur
Setting it right
Sir — This is with reference to my article, “When surplus is a problem” (Oct 22). I would like to point out that the sentence, “This organization…and modernization”, towards the end of the fifth paragraph, is incorrect. I had written, “In India, financial institutions and banks…had advanced roughly Rs 35,000 crore to the greenfield plants and to the existing plants for expansion/modernization.” In the sixth paragraph, the Working Group on Steel had only forecasted the rosy demand estimates. IDBI, IFCI and some banks had advanced the money.
Dipankar Bose, Calcutta