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Only in India

Sir — In his article, “Inadequate state” (Dec 17), S.L. Rao deftly peels away the veneer that hides the reality of India. Rao’s article is timely because India seems to be the flavour of the season all over the world. In the midst of all the “Incredible India” campaigns, it is easy to forget that the pillars on which India’s democratic structure is built are almost crumbling. A system that fails to treat its own members with the respect and dignity they deserve can have little to offer other nations.

The version of the liberalism practised in India does not rest on “individual rights and equality of opportunity”, as Rao points out. Instead, it depends for its functioning on the “chalta hai, adjust kar lo” mindset of the majority of Indians. Indians are seldom flexible in their beliefs, however bigoted they may be, and no amount of persuasion can make them see reason. For all their protestations, the tolerance of Indians has always been on the lower side, vulnerable to the machinations of the Modis and the Shiv Senas. Perhaps our dogged refusal to espouse liberal ideas has its roots in our ‘victim’ mentality, which is a legacy of our colonial past. We might remind ourselves that our British oppressors are long gone. The future of the nation lies in our own hands. Till we start looking at ourselves objectively, as Rao does in his article, we will remain stuck in our dismal past and unflattering present.

Yours faithfully,
Jaikishan Desai, Bangalore

Sir — Our Constitution was planned and drafted with much care. If followed in letter and spirit, it would take care of most of the problems highlighted by S.L. Rao in his brilliant article. Unfortunately, the people’s representatives both at the Centre and the states are no more than swindlers, arsonists, or murderers, and their interpretation of the Constitution is to suit their ends alone. The framers of the Constitution could not have comprehended that on such wretched individuals would rest the hopes of the common man.

Yours faithfully,
A.S. Mehta, Calcutta

Sir — As correctly pointed out by S.L. Rao, it is pseudo-liberalism, rather than liberalism, that is practised in India. A liberal democracy can thrive only in an environment that provides considerable opportunities to all. This is possible only when a nation is run by a transparent state machinery and has a supportive political class. Sadly, India can boast of none of these. A dysfunctional electoral system going hand in hand with vote-bank-politics is behind things coming to such a pass. The way to a better future lies in the empowerment of the people through education and employment opportunities.

Yours faithfully,
Jaydeep Chakraborty, Calcutta

Sir — One rarely comes across articles as unbiased as S.L. Rao’s “Inadequate state”. Rao does not hesitate to point out that every Indian political party is as culpable as the other in unleashing state terror as in Gujarat or Nandigram. It is good that Rao tears away the holier-than-thou mask that the parties take to wearing before polls.

Yours faithfully,
Ravindra Kumar, Calcutta

Break free

Sir — Just two days after about 100 Maoists escaped from prison in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada, the Maoists took control of the Beur jail in Bihar, albeit for a few hours (“Maoists ‘liberate’ jail for 8 hours”, Dec 19). Alarmingly, these are not stray instances of Maoists breaking through security barriers. In November 2005, they had broken jail in Bihar’s Jehanabad. These daring escapades only prove that the Maoists can do what they like while the administration can, at best, look on helplessly.

The failure of the Central and the state governments to tackle the Maoists bears testimony to the incompetence of their many law-enforcement agencies. Even the few who get caught manage to work out an escape. The government professes to spend lakhs of rupees on security but to what effect? Unless the government pulls up its socks, Maoists and other terrorists will have a free run in this country.

Yours faithfully,
Danendra Jain, Ranchi

Sir — The latest escapades of Maoists speak volumes about the ‘competence’ of our policemen (“Mass jailbreak by Maoists”, Dec 17). Since the police force all over the country comprises mostly criminals in uniform, their complicity in the jailbreak cannot be ruled out.

Yours faithfully,
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore

Sir — Reports reveal that 16 sentries were supposed to guard the Dantewada prison of 373 inmates till 5 pm. Are 16 securitymen enough to manage about 400 prisoners? Moreover, out of these 16, only five were on duty the day the Maoists broke free. Was there no contingency plan to replace absent sentries? It seems from the way the prisoners finished their meal that the escape was well-planned. It is common knowledge that policemen in Naxalite-infested areas are at the mercy of the outlaws. In all probability, the jail-authorities were forced by the Maoists to have only five guards present on December 16. The incident is a damning comment on the capability of the Indian police force.

Yours faithfully,
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta

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