The great divide
Sir — Recently, I saw several homeless men, women and children, loitering around in the vicinity of the New Alipur railway station at night. They wore ragged clothes, and looked weather-beaten and malnourished. The sight was thought-provoking. It pointed to the huge inequalities in the distribution of wealth in society. The pro-poor welfare programmes initiated by the government, however path-breaking they may appear to be, seem to have had no effect on destitute families.
Biplabratan Sarkar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri
Sir — Brijesh D. Jayal makes some pertinent observations on the methods of strengthening the national security system in “Security in the balance” (Nov 19). But the article seems one-sided in its arguments.
Being a retired air marshal himself, it is only natural Jayal would ask for a defence-man at the top of the proposed national defence university of India. But the avowed emphasis of the university would be on developing gameplans and undertaking serious academic exercises rather than on fighting battles on field. This being the case, is a three-star officer necessary for the post? Jayal says that the committee on national defence university visited the national defence universities of China and the United States of America before submitting its report to the defence minister. The defence realities of the US or China and of India are vastly different. The US military is an offensive expeditionary force, which, with no borders to defend and no internal insurgency to deal with, is intent on defending the country’s interests. Our military is more focused internally. The US army has a well-developed command, control and communication structure that enables it to fight wars away from home. Developing such a logistical and infrastructural back-up is not exactly the priority of the Indian army now.
The US army is outward-looking and intellectually expansive, with a tradition of producing scholar-soldiers. Unlike in India, in the US, a two-star general needs to have an academic, diplomatic, or foreign stint to widen his world-view before he gets the third star. It is often believed that the generals of the Indian army are not so academically inclined, although this may be hearsay. But no one knows how many IIT-ians or AIIMS-ians or Stephenians are on its payroll. Having a three-star rank officer to “educate and adequately prepare national security leaders to enable them to look at strategic security challenges holistically” at a time when the battles are mostly fought across the table sounds absurd.
Tapan Pal, Batanagar
Sir — We have now heard the versions of all the stakeholders involved in the drive to clear out cows from the Visva-Bharati campus (“Cows come home, from Visva to road”, Nov 19). The university had banished the bovines from its premises. The cow-owners —poor tribal people — cannot afford to build cow-sheds. As a result, the animals now roam about freely, creating a problem for cyclists. A possible solution lies in creating cattle pounds, confining the cows there and charging the owners for the service.
Ashok Kumar Ghosh, Calcutta