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Letters
In a literary vein
Well-timed comment: Vikram Seth at the Calcutta Literary Meet. Picture by Anindya Shankar Ray

The report summing up the highlights of the last three days of the Calcutta Literary Meet was very well written (Travellers’ tales & Sir Bhagat, February 2).

The comments on the contents of some of the books — In Search of Lost Time, The Sly Company of People Who Care, The Yellow Emperor’s Cure by Proust, Rahul Bhattacharya and Kunal Basu respectively, were interesting and instructive.

I also liked Kapka Kassabova’s “wicked answers” to questions, as much as I did those of Chetan Bhagat, Vikram Seth and the legendary Imran Khan, whose latest book has just come out.

Vikram Seth’s riposte to Manu Joseph’s perception about the success of a handful of Indian writers in English having had a corrupting influence seemed well-timed.

Last but not the least, nothing was more satisfying about the meet than that it opened and ended with Tagore. Who else could leave such an enduring appeal to posterity by virtue of the volume, vastness and variety of his output? “Taar Chhaya Deergho Hochhe (His shadow is lengthening)”, chaired by Jadavpur University teacher Samantak Das at the concluding session, was a fitting finale to the Literary Meet, keeping in mind the year-long celebration of the poet’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

P.B. Saha

Deep-rooted mindset

I teach in an inclusive school, where children with special needs study, take part in sports, dance and do most of the extra-curricular activities that their more able-bodied classmates do.

You can imagine the indignation and anger felt by everybody when they heard about Jeeja’s ordeal (Pilot sees palsy, not spunk, February 20). While the little ones thought that the pilot was very “mean” and should have known better, our senior students had some interesting points to make.

One said that anyone in a plane could fall ill anytime, have a heart attack or a fit. So, why was someone who had a doctor’s certificate declaring her fit to travel, asked to get off?

How dare they offload someone without giving any explanation for their action! Jeeja is a highly accomplished, widely travelled person who can communicate very well, not a sack of potatoes.

The whole episode is all the more shocking because this is not the first of its kind. People with disabilities are treated with no dignity, as if they are second-class citizens.

Airlines should have training programmes where pilots and cabin crew are sensitised about people with additional needs. Just smiling and doing a pretty namaste will not do.

Piyali Gupta

Jeeja’s deplaning is a clear reflection of a deep-rooted mindset that discriminates against physically and mentally challenged persons (Do you think Jeeja’s experience was a one-off incident or a reflection of society’s mindset?, February 21).

Unfortunately, such a mindset prevails across the society; it has nothing to do with a person’s qualifications. Did any of Jeeja’s co-passengers raise their voice against what was clearly a case of harassment? Unity against such injustices is, sadly, rare in Calcutta.

Titli Dasgupta,

Survey Park

I was shocked to read about how the pilot refused to fly with Jeeja Ghosh on board. It was a shameful, inhuman act by the airline. Jeeja should take SpiceJet to court.

No one has been given the right to humiliate someone. The culprits should be penalised.

Debojyoti

Jeeja Ghosh’s experience is certainly not a one-off incident; nor is there even the remotest possibility of it being a mistake. It is very much the mindset of our society that claims to have progressed, yet hovers in the medieval age.

I was a casualty of wrong treatment while I was a toddler and have faced discrimination all my life. I had a lonely childhood, with few friends, just because I could not walk normally or run. I have also been overlooked in various spheres of my life.

Despite being well settled in life, many people have a cynical and sarcastic attitude towards me. Society fails to recognise the potential behind the slightly flawed exterior.

Smita Toppo

Security risk

The decision of the state government to allow government employees to stay overnight at the state secretariat and other government offices to beat the strike was not a wise one because of the immense security risk it posed (Strike-eve at Writers’ with music and makeshift beds, February 28). Who knows, the building could have been sabotaged during the night. Important files and documents could have been stolen.

We all know that there is virtually no work on any bandh day, irrespective of the party calling the bandh. So, what did allowing the employees to stay overnight really achieve?

Raj Bagri,

Ho-Chi-Minh Sarani

One fails to understand why the government permitted office space to be used as bedrooms for a handful of babus who stayed back. This futile exercise would only result in additional expense for the treasury by providing food and electricity.

We all know that the work culture in government offices is abysmal, especially on a bandh day. The chief minister and other officers must immediately stop such gimmickry just to present a wrong picture about the bandh to the media.

A.S.Mehta,

New Alipore

Metro suicides

The Metro tracks have become a common place to commit suicide in the city. I would request the Metro Rail authority to take a few steps which, I believe, would lower the number of suicides on the tracks.

• Police officers in civil dress should be posted at all stations to watch commuters and look out for any suspicious activity.

• Anti-suicide messages should be shown on the TV sets at the stations.

Mukur Sarkar,

Motilal Mollick Lane

Dirty greeting

I thank Metro for highlighting the filth that greets visitors to the city (First day, first show: a dirty picture, February 21).

The report showed readers only the tip of the iceberg. The unkempt streets and overflowing garbage vats are all around the city.

I believe it is the duty of the state and its citizens to work together to keep the city clean and beautiful. It would be good to see the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and the people of the city, working together to make Calcutta a safe, clean and beautiful place to live in. As for turning it into London, let’s first focus on making it look like one of the better cities of India — Bangalore, for instance, could be something to aim at, for a start!

Zaven Stephen


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