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Weighing a problem

Sir — Anastasia Volochkova’s battle against the bulge-watchers, Bolshoi, must have set precedents in the history of ballet (“Bolshoi ballerina wins bulge battle”, Nov 28). There is no doubt that the dance company’s dismissal of her was unjust, considering that there is no weight specification for a ballerina. By what margin was Volochkova overweight' But even if the “weight problem” is considered real for the performing arts like ballet, where physical fitness and thinness become important asset for artistes, there is no doubt that this kind of figure-watch has become another instrument in gender discrimination. Alicia Machado, the 1996 Miss Universe title winner, was warned that she would have to part with her crown because she had, what the authorities alleged, “put on weight”. Reed-like thinness has now become a dangerous obsession among teenage girls. But it is time to ask ourselves, who is setting the standards for women and why should they have to follow it anyway'

Yours faithfully,
B. Basu, Calcutta


Polling time

Sir — The high point of the assembly elections is the realization of the Bharatiya Janata Party that it is not possible to come to power piggyback on Hindutva alone. So it has decided to shift gear and take up “development” as its focus. Arun Jaitley, master craftsman of the party, seems to have been anointed for implementing the strategy. While the people are being assuaged by the development agenda, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad are being kept at bay with the excuse of a lack of political majority. But isn’t it sin to hide the party’s actual agenda from the people' Development is the the BJP’s means to power, the end remains as communal as ever. Thankfully, the Congress is less dishonest, which is why Digvijay Singh needs to win in Madhya Pradesh. It will be difficult to see Singh losing out to an intolerant individual like Uma Bharti. It is alright if have her as the leader of a party, not as chief minister of the state.

Yours faithfully,
Vijaya Kumar, via email


Sir — Heavy expenses incurred by the contestants in elections is often cited as the main cause of corruption. A large amount of money is spent in organizing public meetings during the campaign. This includes money spent on inducing people to attend these meetings, the transport of the minister and other VIPs, cost of the official time spent by the minister, the man hours lost by the people who go for the meetings and so on.

These meetings do not serve any purpose other than the candidate’s own. Promises made at these meetings are not meant to be kept and it is pointless to listen to the politician’s blather. It will be cheaper for both the politician and the state of India if public meetings were stopped and whatever the politician has to convey could be communicated to the people through the mass media like the press, television and radio. The election commission could consider abolishing public meetings once and for all.

Yours faithfully,
C.V. Krishnamoorthy, Calcutta


Sir — Bharat Bhushan’s report, “Bharti gives Britain ‘fist-hand’ view” (Nov 26), has Uma Bharti touring in a helicopter with a bag full of currency notes. In “Uma’s Ravan prays to Hanuman” (Nov 28), Bhushan mentions the Congress chief minister, Digvijay Singh, using the state aircraft. The obvious corruption makes one sceptical about the entire electoral process. Politicians depend more on money and muscle power than on their manifesto to see them through to power. Is this really a “democratic” way to choose the “right” people to run the government'

In another part of the country, the elections were conducted in the most unlikely manner. In Mizoram, there was little pre-poll analysis, opinion polls, and even pre-election exposures. Is this an indication that the North-east continues to be neglected' Wouldn’t the people of the region have been glad to know opinion of others about progress and how their state fares in the national perspective' The media plays a large part during the election time. Doesn’t the silence on North-east signal a failure on their part'

Yours faithfully,
C.R. Bhattacharjee, Calcutta


Sir — Digvijay Singh has been criticized because of bad road and power conditions in Madhya Pradesh. He should have probably taken a leaf from the BJP’s experience in Himachal Pradesh, where it had made vast improvements prior to the elections. He could have also cooperated with Ajit Jogi to better conditions. There is no doubt that the BJP’s economic policies are anti-poor and it is time for the party to go. However, it is also true that a long reign by any one party or person is unhealthy.

Yours faithfully
Shiv Shanker Almal, Calcutta


Sir — It is painful to see leaders using helicopters with such regularity during their electoral campaigns. How can the model code of conduct of the election commission allow contestants to spend tens of thousands of rupees on these planes'

Yours faithfully,
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta


Sir — The elections bring out the worst in India’s politicians. In Delhi for example, the BJP sought to malign Alka Lamba, the Congress candidate from Motinagar, as a part of its campaign drive. Yet the party did not realize that this kind of slander could only strengthen the position of its rival candidate. For targetting the personal life of a candidate is an obvious indication of the BJP’s own weakness. Lamba, thankfully, stuck to the more relevant political issues. People’s personal problems and any apolitical history should not be made into voting issues.

Yours faithfully
Prashant Solomon, New Delhi


Sir — Politicians inimical to Sonia Gandhi have time and again raised the bogey of Sonia Gandhi’s “foreign origin” as a reason for her disqualification from the post of prime minister of the country. Yet the highest electoral body in the country, the election commission has not come in the way of her contesting elections. Which means the Congress president is actually not ineligible to hold the post. Then why the clamour, especially since Indians are now holding more and more positions of importance in foreign governments' Let us come to terms with the reality.

Yours faithfully
S. Ram, Calcutta


Badly projected

Sir — We are pained and perturbed at seeing the report, “PM road project chief shot” (Nov 28). Gammon India has no work at Koderma patch and none of our engineers was ever suspended during this Golden Quadrilateral Road Project.

Yours faithfully,
N.H. Srikumar, project in-charge,

Gammon India Limited, Gaya

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