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Not the best

Sir — Amartya Sen’s advice that India should take a lesson from China on developing the quality of life is questionable. South Korea, Israel and Taiwan have a better record than China in this respect. China ranks 89 on the Human Development Index, while South Korea and Israel are placed at 12 and 15. Doing better than India cannot be a yardstick for judging a country’s performance. One needs to be compared with the best-run states. And India — ranked 119 on the HDI— should emulate the the best and not another laggard country.

Yours faithfully,
Taroon Deb, Calcutta


A bit rich

Sir — In “Healthy lessons” (June 8), K.P. Nayar has dealt with two important aspects — health and education — in Bengal. But I was surprised to find that Nayar had not offered any practical suggestion on improving these two important spheres in his lengthy article. Instead, he delved into the transformation of health and education in Ethiopia during Marxist rule. However, the measures adopted by the ruling Dergue in Ethiopia are certainly not practicable in Bengal, an Indian state sworn to a democratic Constitution.

Secondly, as soon as the Dergue was overthrown, the gains achieved during the Marxist regime were nullified. Hence, the new chief minister of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, has to think of sustainable measures to improve health and education in her state. Following a former Ethiopian dictator’s suggestions may well prove to be futile in this case.

I agree that Banerjee has to adopt measures that will be effective. It would not be out of context to mention that the suspension of the director of Bangur Institute of Neurosciences was meant to be a lesson in ‘shock therapy’ on the chief minister’s part to ensure that other medical professionals in Bengal follow the rules. Perhaps she knows that the problem lies mainly with the Group D employees who neglect their duties in the belief that they will be protected by their respective unions. Banerjee has to think of rooting out this cancerous attitude.

Bringing about a sea change in Bengal’s health and education will not be possible in a short time, given the decrepit hospitals in rural and urban areas as well as the absence of a work culture among citizens. But well-thought-out strategies could be put in place and then implemented in a proper manner. Nayar is entitled to his views. But methods applied in Ethiopia are neither pragmatic nor practicable in the case of Bengal.

Yours faithfully,
Ranesh Ch. Dey, Calcutta


Sir — I was amused to read “Healthy lessons” by K.P. Nayar. I wonder whether the columnist was serious when he suggested that West Bengal’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, could consider taking lessons from the former Ethiopian dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, to improve the state of health and education. Under the dictator’s brutal regime, countless people had died from starvation. Many more citizens were killed in the name of wiping out opponents.

Banerjee, undoubtedly, has learnt from Bengal’s erstwhile rulers — the Marxists in the Left Front government — how to go about ruining a vibrant economy, destroying health services, inflicting terror on the people and torturing opponents.

There is thus no need for Banerjee to take further lessons from any other Marxist leader. After all, communism as a philosophy has failed across the world.

Yours faithfully,
Asoke C. Banerjee, Calcutta


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