Sir — The Palestinian Authority has received overwhelming international support after the United Nations decided to recognize Palestine as a sovereign country and grant it the status of an observer-state (“Small gains”, Dec 4). It is a step in the right direction. This will help the cause of the Palestinians. It may eventually help Palestine get the right to self-determination and a regular membership of the UN. The latter has to be commended for doing what is expected of it, and that too in the face of threats from Israel and the United States of America. The US and Israel now stand isolated in their opposition to this development. From the manner in which both the countries have reacted, it is clear that they want to keep Palestine under subordination. The double standards of America, the so-called international guardian of democracy, have once again been exposed.
A possible aftermath of the UN’s decision might be that Palestine will lose the monetary aid it was getting from the US. Even if this happens, it cannot be considered much of a loss when one sees what Palestine stands to gain in the long run.The hegemony of the US cannot continue for long. Now that Palestine has been granted a non-member state status in the UN, it can drag Israel to the International Criminal Court to investigate the atrocities perpetrated on Palestinians in the disputed territories. If Palestinians receive a just settlement, many international conflicts will be resolved and this will help establish peace in the Middle East.
The US should recognize the fact that by blindly supporting Israel on every issue, it will end up undermining its own standing in the international arena.
Zulfikhar Akram, Bangalore
Sir — It was heartening to note that at last the United Nations general assembly has voted Palestine as a non-member state with an observer status in the organization (“Electrifying ‘birth certificate’ for Palestine”, Dec 1). One hopes that Israel will take steps to vacate the ‘occupied’ areas in due course. Palestine has been striving for sovereignty for many years. Conflicts in the strife-torn and economically ravaged Palestine should lessen gradually after this move by the UN.
A.S. Mehta, Calcutta
Sir — It is shocking that the culture ministry’s plans for the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda hit a roadblock soon after Pranab Mukherjee left the finance ministry. The ministry under P. Chidambaram has considerably tightened its purse strings (“Funds hurdle for Vivekananda bash,” Nov 28). Several stalwarts of India’s freedom struggle — for instance, Bhagat Singh or Chandrasekhar Azad — are often remembered for their contributions. But the people of this country have forgotten heroes like Khudiram Bose, Bagha Jatin or Surya Sen. It is sad to note that Bengal, which had contributed so much to India’s freedom struggle, is often ignored by the rest of India. Instead of spewing rhetoric about India’s ‘oneness’, our countrymen should honour all our greats irrespective of their racial or religious identity.
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur
Sir — The attack on the judiciary by people in power speaks of the sordid state of affairs in West Bengal. When an issue is sub judice, no one is meant to comment on it. Recently, one of the ministers in the state government launched a tirade against the judiciary. He said that in case the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Singur case does not go in favour of the state government, “the people of Singur will descend on the fields and enact a new law”. This amounts to contempt of court. Earlier, Mamata Banerjee had said that verdicts can actually be bought. This comment was not only uncalled for but also unbecoming, coming as it did from the chief minister.
No democracy in the world functions perfectly. But the principles of democracy cannot be undermined. It is the duty of every citizen to ensure a better functioning of democracy by strengthening its structures and processes. Throttling the voice of the people, condemning democratic institutions and practices, branding the Opposition as useless, pointing fingers at the judiciary, questioning its authority and casting aspersions on it constitute grave threats to democracy. The judiciary should take note of the insults being heaped on it by irresponsible persons in power and bring them to book.
Basudeb Bhattacharya, Calcutta