Sir — The effusive praises showered on Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, by top industrialists and other dignitaries at the Vibrant Gujarat summit were expected (“Modi’s done what Mahatma said: Anil”, Jan 12). After all, the praises were for a person who has demonstrated to the entire nation that with strong leadership skills and vision, it is possible to bring about development in a state even with limited resources.
Modi, who has been under constant attack by the media and by rival political parties after the Godhra episode, has been able to improve his image. He has successfully regained his acceptability as a leader because of his personal charisma and his dedication to the welfare of Gujarat. The fact that he became chief minister for three consecutive terms is indicative of the popularity he enjoys among the people of his state. Under his leadership, Gujarat has made immense progress in all vital areas. The state is now seen as one of the best administered ones.
However, it must be kept in mind that Modi has attained success only with the active co-operation of the people. If the leader’s promises were not translated into action, or if the people of his state did not share his vision, he would not have been able to hold on to his position. Gujaratis are very enterprising and they have always wanted to reach newer heights. They have found in Modi a leader who can guide them on the path of success.
One wonders if Modi could have attained such glory had he been the chief minister of West Bengal. This comparison derives from the fact that in Bengal, hard work is never rewarded. Although politics is a part of daily life here, politicians only seek to serve their own interests. After the golden era of Bidhan Chandra Roy, Bengal has only seen leaders who are more interested in the game of trivial party politicking than in restoring a proper work culture in West Bengal or in inspiring people to think progressively in order to save the state from utter ruin. Modi might have been a misfit in Bengal.
Srikanta Bhattacharjee, Calcutta
Sir — The sports minister of West Bengal, Madan Mitra, must take note of the miserable condition of the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan in Salt Lake, which is considered to be the second largest football stadium in the world in terms of capacity. I am a regular morning walker, and have been visiting the stadium every morning for the past 10 or 12 years. What I saw a few days back made me wonder whether this stadium will be able to survive even for one more decade.
I witnessed the celebration of Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary at the stadium. Ministers and other important guests were supposed to visit the stadium to grace the occasion. Hordes of police personnel were posted at every nook and corner of the stadium to ensure the security of the guests. These policemen came on trucks, buses and vans, storming into the stadium every now and then in a cloud of dust and smoke. They urinated in the open, smoking their bidis and cigarettes nonchalantly. Food stalls and temporary tea sheds had sprung up everywhere, except near Swami Vivekananda’s statue, which the chief minister was to garland. Paper plates, plastic cups, and other kinds of garbage were also strewn all over the place except near the statue. The statue had been amply decorated, as if to camouflage the garbage all around. The greenery of the stadium has long been destroyed, and those responsible for this are oblivious of the fact.
Thousands of school children, artists and rural people had come either to take part in the programme or to watch the show. But the stadium did not have the infrastructure to support this elaborate function. Toilets overflowed, drinking water taps were dry. Although temporary toilet sheds have been set up in the stadium recently — after chopping down many old trees — nobody bothered to use them. The permanent toilets were either locked up or very dirty. Children using these toilets were bound to suffer from infection. Hence, everybody used the green fields around.
The sports minister must take steps to stop this farce immediately. If our stadiums do not have the infrastructure to support such grand programmes, why not arrange them elsewhere? Whom are we helping by organizing these shows ? What purpose is really being served by these other than the total destruction of the very little greenery that is left? Is this how public property should be treated? Our government must do something more concrete for the upkeep of the stadium than installing trident lamps and painting railings blue and white.
Rina Chakraborty, Calcutta
Sir — Amnesty International’s proposal to form a law pertaining to sexual abuse with a gender-neutral approach is perhaps one of the most sensible suggestions made in favour of women’s liberation (“Just words”, Jan 14). However, it is unlikely that the response from the Indian government towards such legislation would be encouraging. Nevertheless, it is high time that laws regarding sexual violence are made more inclusive. The tendency to view women as the ‘weaker sex’ must change. It should be remembered that words like ‘honour’ and ‘modesty’ apply equally to both men and women. But in our patriarchal society, it is only women who are expected to operate within certain boundaries. So it would be useful to remind men of their limits too.
Paulomi Sharma, Calcutta