Sir — It is heartening to learn that the chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, was “feted at the highest level” on his maiden trip to Pakistan (“Zardari’s armoured limo for Nitish”, Nov 10). He was received by government officials and offered the president’s armoured limousine for travel. Considering the fact that Kumar’s stay will be the longest by any Indian politician visiting Pakistan, his visit has attracted a lot of speculation.
There is no denying that after the change of guard in Bihar, Kumar has succeeded in improving the law and order situation extensively and has worked to improve the quality of governance in his home state. His administrative acumen should be emulated by the chief ministers of other states in India. However, it is improbable that another country — in this case, Pakistan — would put him on a high pedestal. The editorial, “Other frontiers”(Nov 9), correctly assesses that Kumar’s visit will hardly attract Pakistani investment to India. It also remains to be seen how much of a difference the visit would make to New Delhi’s bilateral ties with Islamabad. But, considering Kumar’s “growing stature” as a politician, it could well be in Pakistan’s scheme of things to establish ties with a parallel centre of power beyond Delhi — one that has not been too vocal about Pakistan’s complicity in the 26/11 attacks and has its sights set on spoiling the prospects of a hardliner like Narendra Modi. In this, at least, Kumar’s interests may have coincided with those of Pakistan.
Babuti Banerjee, Calcutta
Sir — After coming to power, the Trinamul Congress has created history of sorts by organizing countless cultural events (“Let them watch films’’, Nov 11). It has also supported other activities that have nothing to do with the responsibilities of governance. These include doling out largesse to minority communities and para clubs, announcing monthly stipends for imams and having government buildings painted blue and white. Spending funds on the ongoing film festival amounts to a wastage of the taxpayers’ money at a time when the state’s coffers remain depleted. One hopes that the chief minister would realize the gravity of the financial crisis and avoid wasting funds in the future.
A.S. Mehta, Calcutta
Sir — The editorial, “Let them watch films”, presents a sordid and chaotic picture of West Bengal under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee. Given the deteriorating standards in law and order, the increasing financial burden, the rise in crimes against women, countless political clashes as well as the government’s indifference to the problem of unemployment, the chief minister’s enthusiasm for the 18th Kolkata International Film Festival remains inexplicable.
However, Banerjee is known to be fond of the arts. The purpose of organizing the festival is purely commercial: the chief minister wants to invite cinema entrepreneurs to invest money in the state’s attractive shooting-spots. To equate her enthusiasm with the infamous comment made by Marie Antoinette may be too harsh a criticism.
Dilip Kumar Kar, Jalpaiguri
Sir — Old houses that have been left unrepaired and without maintenance for a long time are a common sight in Calcutta. Parts of these houses jut out dangerously. If these houses are demolished and cooperative flats built, a lot of homeless people can have a place to live in. Tenants have been living in these houses for a long time. In some cases, they pay a meagre rent. Some of them are the descendants of those to whom these houses had been originally rented. There are also others who have bought the lease from the original tenants. The current owners often no longer possess the documents that prove their ownership. Goons collect money from the owners of such buildings — often with the tacit support of political parties — and, at times, threaten the tenants to have such buildings vacated.
Indian families have traditionally been large and the dynamics has been complex. The owners of land and property have been known to pass away without having wills made. Their relatives and descendants seldom undertake the long procedure of litigation and division of property. The resultant confusion can only be avoided if the law is suitably amended. A large amount of property lying deserted or being misused must be made use of in a proper manner. Suitable laws must be framed so that the procedure is made simpler.
Benu Kumar Bose, Calcutta