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Girl interrupted

Sir ' It was amusing that Imran Mirza should be so worked up about his daughter appearing in various forms of stunning outfits in the newspapers ('Sania's dad finds fault with tennis skirts', March 13). The alliterative sobriquet, 'Sizzling Sania', that is now being so generously applied to Indian tennis' latest sensation, has partly emanated from her unconventional closet. But hasn't Imran Mirza chosen and painstakingly cultivated this image for his daughter' Most parents today zealously craft the careers of their children. And if the careers in question happen to be sports or showbiz, the zeal increases manifold. There is no evidence to show that Sania's father is any different, especially since he had no qualms about sharing the centrestage with his daughter after the finals of the Hyderabad Open. Why backtrack now at the sight of a few wagging tongues'

Yours faithfully,
Pinaki Roy, Balurghat


What is fair'

Sir ' Pratap Bhanu Mehta's crisp response to Larry Summer's critics suffers from two faulty assumptions ('A heretic in Harvard', March 9). First, for Mehta, science is not just critical enquiry, but it is something which is necessarily quantitative. This assumption keeps Mehta from considering historical evidence that challenge the certitude of so-called scientific results, which regimes of both the left and the right have used to kill, incarcerate and deport homosexuals, blacks and Jews. If we consider this historical evidence as 'actual facts about us', then can we clearly tell science and ethics apart, as Kant did and Mehta does' Don't we take important ethical decisions based on so-called 'scientific truths' and vice versa' Paul Farmer, the renowned American doctor and medical anthropologist at Harvard Medical School, has shown that scientists in the United States of America had tried to label black Haitian migrants as 'natural carriers' of the AIDS virus in 1982. Such facts shatter our faith in the superiority of science and suggest that critical thinking, open debates and discussions are crucial for policy-making.

Second, Mehta, along with Summers, takes the 'revolution in social norms' in the US for granted. But formal freedom to choose one's career may not lead to substantive freedoms. As a teacher of social anthropology, I find that female students in the US are too cautious to identify themselves with positions that may sound feminist, lest they lose their dates.

Yours faithfully,
Sarasij Majumder, New Jersey


Sir ' Larry Summers may not be aware of it, but he would have found a sympathizer in Manu, the ancient Indian sage. Without going into the fairness or unfairness of Summers's inference, it may be asked why, in the West, where the women's liberation movement has been very successful, do women figure in such small numbers in the fields of arts, science and literature' It is a fact of life that women are different from men in height, weight, overall IQ, and mathematical and scientific aptitude. To voice this truth is not to be disrespectful of women. Remember the wit who said, 'I am the master of this house and in saying so I have the permission of my wife.'

Yours faithfully,
Asoke C. Banerjee, Calcutta


Sir ' In this era of equality of the sexes, is it right to identify one particular day as the International Women's Day' Not only are we denigrating ourselves by doing this, but we are also proving that we need a labelled day to feel proud as women. Why don't men celebrate an international men's day' Not that these 'days' mean anything to anyone, except to a few greetings-card and gift manufacturers, television and radio channels and other commercial enterprises, who make money by making these 'days' appear important. It is strange that even educated women fall for this. Ironically, even women activists do. If we take pride in being women, let us do away with such needless celebrations. We don't need a 'special' day to feel special.

Yours faithfully,
Sharmi Adhikary, Calcutta


Sir ' By declaring March 8 as International Women's Day, the United Nations has merely proved that gender discrimination, instead of being erased, has become a very real and immediate threat in every society. For every little reform in women's lives, there comes to light hundreds of odds against which women have to fight everyday.

Celebration of women's day is the worst kind of tokenism that one can think of. And, in any case, most women in the third world countries are unaware that there is a day dedicated to them.

Yours faithfully,
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur


Road block

Sir ' Stuck in a traffic snarl at the Park Street crossing, I happened to hear a rather constructive suggestion from the driver of our mini bus. If traffic from the south towards BBD Bag is sent left to Outram Road, to enter Red Road past the statue of Jawaharlal Nehru, and incoming traffic from BBD Bag is allowed to come south via Mayo Road, a major cause of traffic jams can be avoided. All vehicles to and from Esplanade including public ones must use the flyover. This will greatly reduce the traffic at the Park Street crossing.

One other thing. The statue of Nehru is in bad shape and should be removed to the rose garden being developed by the corporation. This will be a fitting tribute to a great lover of roses.

Yours faithfully,
A.K. Sen, Calcutta

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