Fitting the role
Sir ' During Sonia Gandhi's Mumbai visit, I saw an intriguing scene on a television news channel: the Congress president was standing on the footboard of an Ambassador car, tightly gripping the door with one hand while frantically waving with the other as the car zipped along to keep the thousand-strong crowd at bay. I could not but marvel at the lady's fitness and agility. Has someone thought of offering her a role in Hindi films ' perhaps on the lines of a modern Hunterwali. Fearless Sonia, like Fearless Nadia'
Jayanta Dutta, Calcutta
Running after shame
Sir ' The news of the discus thrower, Neelam Jaswant Singh, testing positive at the dope test at the World Athletic Championship in Helsinki hardly comes as a surprise, although this adds another chapter to India's dismal sporting history ('Neelam J. Singh shames India', Aug 14). The athlete has been accused of taking pemoline, a banned stimulant drug. This immediately brings back memories of Sanamacha Chanu and Pratima Kumari, who were thrown out of the Athens Olympic Games for doping.
The fault does not lie with the athletes themselves, but with the Athletics Federation of India, which conducts all the dope tests within the country, and clears the athletes. Year after year, our athletes are sent to countries like Ukraine for advanced training, but no awareness programme on banned drugs is deemed necessary. Will the authorities now think about building a dope-test centre'
Amrit Amlan Pattanaik, Cuttack
Sir ' The disqualification of Neelam Jaswant Singh in Helsinki has brought shame to the country just before Independence Day. As the incidence of doping has grown among Indian athletes, I could not help but notice that most of the athletes caught doping have been women ' be it weightlifters like Kunjurani Devi, Sanamacha Chanu, Pratima Kumari, or a long-distance runner like Sunita Rani or a discus thrower like Neelam Jaswant Singh. Is there a sociological reason behind this' Maybe.
But why do these athletes take drugs' Even if it is accepted that some of them have fallen victims of their own ignorance, others have used the banned drugs knowingly. And where has that taken them' With or without drugs, Indian athletes seldom manage to clear the qualifying rounds. So isn't it better to try the drug-less way first'
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad
Sir ' Before Neelam Jaswant Singh painted the country's face black, Anju Bobby George had managed to carry India's flag high at Helsinki. It is not every day that an Indian features among the top five in a world sporting event. Long jump is not a popular sport in India, but maybe basic athletic disciplines should be encouraged now.
Bhaskar Pratap Swain, Cuttack
Sir ' I recently found out that our national anthem, Jana gana mana, is available as a mobile phone ringtone, and can be downloaded from the website, rediff.com. I understand that people are trying to make us more patriotic. But as a law-abiding citizen of the country, I feel it is my duty to protest against this insult to the national anthem. Imagine being stuck in traffic jam, with Jana gana mana ringing right next to you. How many do you think would stand up' I also find it difficult to believe that people can reverse their cars to the tune of Sare jahan se achha or Vande mataram. Have people lost their minds'
Samrat Aich, Calcutta