Editorial 1 / Horror of it
Editorial 2 / Veiled terror
Fluctuating fortunes
Fifth Column / The public sector dilemma
Conserving the future
Document / Another resolve is being tested
Letters to the editor

There are events in world history whose horror is difficult to translate into words. On September 11, the world witnessed one such event, when hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York, and the Pentagon building in Washington D.C. The identity of the perpetrators of this act of terrorism remains unknown, but the world stands shaken and speechless. The scale of the tragedy is enormous, with thousands dead and injured. The loss to property is incalculable. The snowball effects are already evident in the fall of the dollar and the rise in oil prices. What is baffling, however, is the fact that the heart of the world’s sole superpower could be so easily attacked. This is the first time that the mainland of the United States of America has been hit by an enemy power, and the strikes are on the nerve centres of the country. The success of the terrorist project only exposes a stupendous intelligence and security failure. Powers that be in the US will have to accept that hijackers boarded the aircraft from two of the country’s busiest airports. Obviously, the security checks in these airports are lax and inadequate. The intelligence fraternity in the US will have to explain to itself and to its masters how a conspiracy on such a mammoth scale could remain outside the ambit of its knowledge. The US will have to launch a hunt to locate the criminals. It will also have to look within to locate its own lapses.

It could be argued that the US has paid the price of too much democracy. Anybody who has been on a domestic flight of the US knows that it is possible to breeze into a flight a few minutes before it is ready to depart. This makes a mockery of security precautions. Yet, US citizens value this freedom. They will now have to rethink this freedom and the costs involved in preserving it. Freedom, as the saying goes, can only be enjoyed through eternal vigilance. It is possible that this precept was taken too much for granted in a fit of complacency in the world’s most advanced country. It should be underlined that the terrorists came from the sky literally like bolts from the blue. This was one direction from which attacks were least expected in a country prepared to meet other kinds of contingency.

The attacks on New York and Washington may make the state department and the people of America rethink the double standards they sometimes use. It cannot be the case that attacks on the US are acts of terrorism and violence in Kashmir is a freedom struggle. Terrorism, wherever, can only have one name. The experience might make the US more sympathetic to the plight of those who live constantly under the shadow of terrorism. Across the world, the US has innumerable enemies. To an extent, the scale of this enmity is related to the enormous power that the US enjoys. That power is a function of the historical role the US has taken upon itself after the end of the Cold War. The US is now realizing the dangers involved in being the sole sheriff of the world. These thoughts are no doubt passing through the minds of those who run the world’s most powerful country. Whatever be their immediate and long term considerations, it can be said with certainty that the contours of world politics will never be the same again.


Recent attempts by extremists to enforce a dress code for women in Kashmir must be seen as part of a larger design to destroy the valley’s long-standing culture of tolerance and pluralism. It is critical that these forces of intolerance are not allowed to succeed in their obscurantist vision. On the face of it, it is a fringe militant group, the Lashkar-e-Jabbar, that has been responsible for issuing the diktat that all Kashmiri Muslim women must wear a burqa. But even while most other militant and religious groups have distanced themselves from this decree, the Lashkar has succeeded in spreading terror in the Kashmir valley. Indeed, the militant organization has threatened to shoot those who do not accept the dress code, and many Kashmiri women consequently have been coerced into wearing the burqa.

Targeting Muslim women, however, is only the latest attempt in a systematic campaign, over the last decade, to transform Kashmir’s traditional culture. Kashmiri society derived its syncretic identity of Kashmiriyat, from a variety of influences, including Shaivite Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism and Sufi Islam. Liberal in outlook and progressive in spirit, the Kashmiri people have traditionally exemplified pacifism, tolerance and pluralism that encouraged diversity. Forces of extremism that wanted to inject a more doctrinaire and homogeneous culture of intolerance first targeted the minorities. A campaign of vilification and selective killings ensured the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits, although the Sikhs have so far resisted attempts to force them to depart as well. More recently, the Jamaat-I-Islami and other groups have been denouncing Kashmiriyat as being un-Islamic, and the madrassahs they run have religious teachings that run contrary to the spirit of Kashmiri Islam. In many ways, Jammu and Kashmir is a microcosm of the idea of India: different religious and linguistic groups that have lived in relative harmony over generations. If the forces of extremism are allowed to run their writ in Kashmir, the impact will be felt much beyond the valley. And in ensuring that Kashmir’s traditional culture prevails, both the Central government and civil society groups from the rest of India have a critical role to play. They must take the responsibility of countering as effectively as they can this attempt at enforcing medieval practices in what was once one of the most liberal societies of south Asia.


The International Monetary Fund predicts a global recession when the growth rate of world gross domestic product is less than 2.5 per cent. Most estimates indicate the global economy to be in recession, as per the IMF benchmark. Such fluctuations in fortunes are diagnosed to be inherent in the workings of a market economy. Indeed, the latest recession is supposed to be the fifth since 1973, when the first oil-price shock sent markets trembling.

Recessions have always been triggered off by a shock that the market system failed to anticipate. The information technology bust in the United States is the latest example. Within less than a year, the economy’s growth rate fell from over 6 per cent to around just about one per cent. The European Union has been struggling with the rise in energy prices and a rise in food prices. Japan has been trying out a number of measures to kick-start its economy, including experimenting with zero interest-rate scenarios. Southeast Asian nations are still to recover from the currency shock of 1998. Latin America has also been affected by the slowdown.

While recessions are, of course, nothing new, the current one has some distinguishing features worth reflection. The world economy has changed rapidly since 1970, with global trade growing faster than global GDP. The international financial market has become far more integrated and has grown at a phenomenal pace. The overwhelming bulk of international financial transactions are for arbitrage and speculative purposes. Information technology provides the wherewithal for huge fund movements at awesome speeds. In a more integrated global economy, recession can spread rapidly, and recoveries could be slow and tortuous. The synchronous nature of the current global recession is something new, perhaps ushering in a new phenomenon of the 21st century.

Recoveries have always followed recessions, even after the really deep ones. But recessions, while they last, create anxieties about jobs and incomes. Many people (firms and individuals) lose out and are hurt. The slower the recovery the more deep and widespread the anxieties. Causes for the downturn are sought with fervour. Scapegoats are often made of the foreigners who stake claims to incomes and jobs. Political pressures can build up and the process of globalization called into question. Protectionist policies can take on a populist appeal.

The US economy will be going through much restructuring in the coming months. Opinion polls have already revealed that business confidence is down for quite some time, and that the common person feels that large corporations have strong, yet unwarranted, influence on their lives. Workers are showing resentment against trade liberalization, as well as the inflows of skilled labour and financial capital.

For quite some time, but especially in the last decade, the US economy has been living beyond its means. It has built up a huge current account deficit, and domestic saving has been declining in the past couple of decades. These two together have led to a strong inflow of foreign capital. The IT boom led to the faith in the dollar and investors jumped in to have a piece of the action. The asset bubble has burst. One possible market correction could be a significant weakening of the US dollar.

As an inevitable consequence of the recession, cross-border trade is bound to suffer. This slowdown in trade will, in turn, have negative consequences on the World Trade Organization, its ability to lead and monitor a global free-trade regime. The differences of opinion regarding the millennium round, the general apathy to use the dispute settlement mechanism, and an assertion of national interest as seen in the recent stance adopted by South Africa and Brazil, are all indicative of a globalization going awry.

There are perhaps some lessons to be drawn from the global recession with an unprecedented spread effect, and the growing dissatisfaction with the WTO’s functioning as a mechanism of global governance. First, the risks inherent in a market economy do not reduce with size and reach. The vagaries of demand and supply force the economy to bear the costs of adjustment. These costs are usually disproportionately borne by the disadvantaged: both as class and as region. Tagging one’s economic fortunes to the big and powerful does not necessarily provide insurance against bankruptcy and unemployment. The big and powerful are also vulnerable, but their ability to withstand these costs is significantly more.

Second, the rules of the game that defines the limits of globalization are stacked heavily in favour of the big and powerful. This would be expected to be so in any market economy where endowments and resources are starkly, unequally distributed. However, in democratic political environments these rules are tempered to provide some form of insurance to the small and weak. Institutions of global governance are inadequately equipped to regulate the world economy into a fairer deal across nations. Either like the fund and the bank, they are not run along a one-nation one-vote system. Or, like the WTO, the rules were made by the powerful, and for the powerful.

However, globally unfair systems are difficult to sustain in the long haul. If the WTO is to play its role as the promoter of trade and globalization, its rules have to be heavily amended to reach out to the interests of the majority of the world’s population. It cannot represent de facto the interests of a mere 20 per cent of the world’s population who inhabit just a handful of nation states.

The third lesson pertains to the agenda of globalization. Free trade, economic liberalization and unfettered markets have been promoted as great facilitating devices of wealth-making. Indeed, enabling market mechanisms to work can create powerful forces of wealth-making. And the logic of capitalism does not permit political or geographical boundaries for markets. Thus the efficiency with which markets can work are supposed to increase if non-economic limits are removed.

Markets have, however, never been terribly efficient as a remover of deprivation and poverty. The same logic of capitalism does not permit delivery of wealth where there are no “dollar votes” in markets. World history shows that non-market institutions have been the greatest facilitator in relieving destitution. The most important non-market institution has been government. Wealth-making is obviously as important as the reduction of poverty in any vision of a better world.

The agenda of globalization includes only wealth-making, by largely usurping the autonomy of the nation-state, and dissolving the artificial boundaries of markets. To put the reduction of poverty on the agenda requires a voice that the weak and small do not always possess. It entails the creation of institutional frameworks that current multi-lateral organizations are ill-equipped to handle. The past decade has witnessed a growing divergence in income and wealth between the richest and the poorest people of the world.

It is the same force of global markets that make a worker in the US redundant and a labourer in India unemployed. But the US government has social security measures in place, while the prospects for the Indian worker are far more grim. Globalization needs a new agenda and a new set of institutions if wealth-making is not to be inconsistent with sharp reductions in human deprivations. Depending on global markets will not suffice. Most economists who analyzed in depth the market forces of capitalism, from Smith to Schumpeter, from Marx to Maynard Keynes, had been skeptical about the ability of markets alone to sustain human development in any meaningful way.

The author is a faculty member of the economics group, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta


The state government appears to be in a dilemma regarding the future of its 69 public sector enterprises. A bare 20 per cent of these have managed to wriggle out of sickness and do not depend on the public exchequer for salary-subsidy. The industry minister has cautioned the chief executives that the government was not in a position to bear this burden indefinitely and if they failed to perform, they were free to quit. At the end of March 2001, 7 of the 21 functional enterprises cumulatively recorded an operating profit of Rs 14.7 crore, although the outgo on account of non-plan support during 2000-2001 stood at Rs 61.17 crore.

These experiences convinced the government of the futility of channelizing its scarce resources for maintaining those units whose chances of turning around are absolutely remote. Before the May polls this year, a high-powered committee on public-sector restructuring was set up. The strategic business expert group was asked to make a quick assessment of the viability of all 69 government enterprises and submit recommendations to this committee. The SBEG is yet to submit its final report. Meanwhile, an official brief on the needs of industrial restructuring in the state is in circulation.

Negative perception

The rationale for restructuring stems from the urgency to counteract the negative perception of the potential investors about the investment climate in the state and the desire to create an ambience of healthy industrial relations. Restructuring under the present ground realities would require a policy shift towards a bold and pragmatic programme of divestment or privatization in the state-owned enterprises that have no strategic relevance.

It would secure the release of scarce resources for deployment to improve social and physical infrastructure, while checking their outflow in sustaining non-viable and non-strategic PSEs. Divestment or privatization has a significantly lesser effect where labour reforms have been carried out well before such a move. Measures for workforce rationalization, skill-development and retraining carried out in PSEs prior to divestment have resulted in lesser employment loss after privatization.

If the government cannot continue budgetary support to PSEs in view of the much higher priority for social and physical infrastructure investments, then what should be the logical course of the restructuring process? To start with, profit-making enterprises should be identified, and urgent investments into these enterprises need to be made to make them more competitive in the market.

Strategic partners

Unless strategic partners are found to provide this capital along with their professional expertise, any unit is likely to lapse into sickness. The government’s inability to release funds in time because of its own resource constraint is known. Also, the professional competence of the government machinery to run a business is too limited to need any reiteration.

Loss-making, but potentially viable, units may be considered for divestment or privatization at a latter stage, depending on the success or experience of the profitable ones. Transparency should be the keynote of any decision of either divestment, privatization or closure. If necessary, a public debate should be initiated at the earliest.

Clarity and political will are crucial to conceptualization and realization of any restructuring programme. When the directions come from the political executive, the bureaucracy will automatically fall in line. An inter-ministerial group — comprising of officials from the public enterprises, and the finance and law departments — may be constituted to instil the confidence that there would be the necessary scrupulousness and objectivity in the decision-making process. The induction of experts and professional public relations agencies may be another requirement for transparency.

The cabinet will, of course, be the final authority to approve the recommendations of the ministerial group. True, some politicians have been talking of the futility of subsidizing loss-making PSEs which are costing the state economy dearly. If these politicians accept the challenge of industrial restructuring, economically it would only benefit the state. So instead of wasting time over just discussing and deliberating the pros and cons, it would be better if necessary action is taken immediately.


Should a building associated with the memory of the city’s most illustrious son be turned over to realtors? The city’s mayor and the sheriff have different opinions. Thus, while the sheriff, Suchitra Mitra, has been fighting a lone and perilous battle to make a Sudder Street house — where Rabindranath Tagore had stayed and penned some of his famous poems — a heritage building, the mayor, Subrata Mukherjee, has passed a snide remark on “heritage-feritage” in a third-world city besieged with pressing urban needs.

Predictably, the mayor’s remark has shocked the culture-minded Bengali middle class and kicked up a storm of protests and generated a lot of hate mail. This time, the government has decided to play safe with people’s sentiments. The urban development minister has supported Mitra’s cause and taken Mukherjee to task for his alleged statement. While the government’s stand will reassure the sensibilities of bhadralok Bengalis, the mayor’s opinion, on the other hand, will definitely find takers among the city’s entrepreneurs and materialists.

Keeping aside the obvious political overtones of this controversy (a prominent Trinamool Congress leader reportedly runs a hotel in the Sudder Street premises), we should look at some of the broader issues involved here. The mayor has hitched his argument mainly on two facts. One, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation doesn’t have the necessary funds to conserve all the heritage buildings in the city. Two, the people’s attitude to these monuments is marked with apathy and unconcern. He has jokingly remarked that no one would bother to visit Sobhabazar rajbati, maintained by the CMC, even if he offers hundred rupees for it.

No one will deny that the CMC’s meagre resources should be put to best possible use for addressing the city’s growing civic problems. But to forsake the duty of conserving the heritage sites owing to a lack of public enthusiasm is wrong. Conservation of a city’s past should not be subject to the attitudes of its present citizens. The city fathers cannot ignore their historical obligations. After all, what is at stake here is the identity of a city, something that gives it character, distinguishes it from other cities and provides its citizens a unique cultural space. A city’s heritage is, in a broad sense, its valuable past that gives the present a perspective and the future a setting.

But what constitutes a city’s valuable past? The question becomes complex in the context of a city that had long been the centre of colonial power, that rose and fell as the mercantile hub of eastern India, that had a close association with the freedom struggle, that saw riots, famines, political uprisings and bore the brunt of the largest migration in human history. In fact, Calcutta’s rich ethnic diversity has defied any single reading of its past. Here, every social, cultural and political sub-group has carried its own sense of the past.

Things turn difficult when one subgroup tries to impose its sense of the past upon others. Nearly three decades of Congress rule after independence had seen large-scale nativistic conversion of Calcutta’s street names. When the Left Front came to power, they had had their fair share of it. The most recent example is the conversion of Calcutta into Kolkata, a name by which the Bengalis call their city. Ironically, it has been done at a time when the Bengalis have become a minority in the city’s metropolitan area. Most of the time, such tinkering with the city’s history is dictated by political conveniences. When we do the exact opposite of what our great countrymen believed and worked for, what better way to dispose of their memory but on a street name or on masonry?

The people’s sentiments concerning a house bearing Tagore’s memories is understandable, but doesn’t it also suggest a narrow view of what constitutes a heritage? What about the other landmarks of the city — its riverfront, its network of canals, its tramways, its theatre houses, its once abundant birds and parks — that find a place in Tagore’s writings and have decayed and dwindled owing to administrative neglect and public apathy? Aren’t ecological features part of a city’s heritage?

The vast wetlands of eastern Calcutta, now threatened by urban growth, offer an ecosystem that is unique among the world’s cities. But our culture vultures never make its conservation part of their agenda and would rather leave it to the NGOs. Burrabazar is an important landmark to a student of Calcutta’s long and rich mercantile history. But would we ever give some of its centuries-old buildings heritage status, or open a museum there? And what about the old mess buildings of north Calcutta that had played a nodal role in the city’s cultural history? Calcutta’s urban character is inextricably linked with a vast migration from erstwhile east Bengal. But if one were to learn about it, is there any archive or museum that would cater to one’s need?

Perhaps the city’s mayor was right when he talked about his more urgent civic priorities. Tagore is our great cultural icon, and no self-respecting Calcuttan would like to dishonour his memory. But culture broadly means the refinements of intellect, emotion and thought; art and literature are expressions of it.

For that, one needs the right ambience, and not the subhuman conditions that define city life. Perhaps, cleaning the Tolly nullah and giving it back its original look would be a more fitting tribute to the city’s heritage than confiscating a property where Tagore had stayed briefly. Perhaps the poet would have liked it that way.


The security council, deeply concerned by the increase in acts of international terrorism which endangers the lives and well-being of individuals,...

Condemning all acts of terrorism, irrespective of motive, wherever and by whomever committed,

Mindful of all relevant resolutions of the general assembly, including...Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism,

Emphasizing the necessity to intensify the fight against terrorism at the national level and to strengthen...effective international cooperation in this field on the basis...of the Charter of the UN and norms of international law, including respect for international humanitarian law and human rights,

Supporting efforts to promote universal participat-ion in and implementation of existing international anti-terrorist conventions, and develop new international instruments...,

Commending the work done by the general assembly, relevant UN organs and agencies, regional and other organizations, to combat terrorism,

Determined to contribute, in accordance with the charter of the UN, to efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms,

Reaffirming that the suppression of international terrorism...is an essential contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security,

1. Unequivocally condemns all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomever committed...

2. Calls upon all states to implement fully the international anti-terrorist conventions to which they are parties, encourages all states to consider as a matter of priority adhering to those to which they are not parties; and encourages also the speedy adoption of the pending conventions;

3. Stresses the vital role of the UN in strengthening international cooperation in combating terrorism and emphasizes the importance of enhanced coordination among states, international and regional organizations;

4. Calls upon all states to take...appropriate steps to: cooperate with each other... to prevent and suppress terrorist acts, protect their nationals and other persons against terrorist attacks and bring to justice the perpetrators of such acts; prevent and suppress in their territories...the preparation and financing of any acts of terrorism; deny those who plan, finance or commit terrorist acts safe havens...take appropriate measures in conformity with the relevant provisions of national and international law, including international standards of human rights, before granting refugee status, for the purpose of ensuring that the asylum-seeker has not participated in terrorist acts; exchange information in accordance with international and domestic law, and cooperate...to prevent the commission of terrorist acts;

5. Requests the secretary-general...to pay special attention to the need to prevent and fight the threat to international peace and security as a result of terrorist activities;

6. Expresses its readiness to consider relevant provisions of the reports mentioned in paragraph 5 above...

7. Decides to remain seized of this matter.



Lost among the stars

Sir— Flip flop. That should sum up the Congress’s stand on astrology, as on most things (“UP crystal-gazing makes Cong see astrology reason”, Sept 10). Thundering against the saffron decision to introduce the study of Vedic astrology at first, the party president did a quick rethink shortly before the Uttar Pradesh polls early next year. Or probably was made to. Most of her party leaders and faithfuls are staunch believers in the science, or non-science, and trying to evade that would be hypocritical and foolish. But will this save another flop? The Congress will lose hands-down in the UP polls. Sonia Gandhi knows this as does her party. Holding on to her earlier position would have benefited her more than this last-minute swerve. Has she forgotten that prime ministership is a bit more of a solid hope to hold on to than the chief ministership of a state? And that she should not make it a habit to always begin with a bang, be it the Ayodhya or the Tehelka controversy, and end with a whimper?

Yours faithfully,
Joy Aditya, Calcutta

Home, bitter home

Sir — The advice of the Union home minister L.K.Advani, at the 45th Northeast council to governors and chief ministers of the region that they take the lead in instilling a sense of “Indianness” among the people, reflects his attitude towards the people of the Northeast. He obviously does not consider them Indians, which is why he made such a preposterous suggestion. Such a statement is, however, expected from politicians like him who regard Hindutva the qualifying criterion for Indianness.

His statement has once again alienated the people of the region. Both he and his party fail to understand that insurgency is the very outcome of this alienation. If the people of the Northeast are time and again asked to prove their Indianness, separatism is bound to grow.

The people of the Northeast doubt Advani’s policy towards the region. While pandering to a few insurgent groups and ignoring the sentiments of the people of the region, he is trying to create chaos in the area and hinder its development, like some of his predecessors in New Delhi. Indianness could be an entirely natural feeling unless one is asked to display it under duress.

Yours faithfully,
Sushil Singh, via email

Sir — What is this “Indianness” that L.K. Advani talks about? Is it the Bharatiya Janata Party’s branded Hindutva or the much touted and much hated “secularism” that the Congress identify with Indianness?

Yours faithfully,
J. Sen Sarma, Calcutta

Sir — The home minister’s comment on the northeastern states is correct insofar as the size of the ministries and leakage of public funds to insurgents are concerned. While the second is presumably a region-specific problem, it would be wrong to isolate the Northeast from the rest of the country. The size of ministries has been subject to much criticism in almost all the states. For example, consider the enormous size of the Uttar Pradesh ministry or the Union cabinet itself. The recommendations of the Sarkaria commission is being flouted everywhere.

If L.K. Advani is serious about limiting expenditure, he should encourage the respective governments to try and improve the work culture in the cabinets instead of making them fora for accommodating people on the basis of their caste or community.

The Constitution review committee should also be approached so that a future amendment limits the number of ministers of each cabinet to 10 per cent of the legislative or parliamentary seats. Pressure put on governments by the media cannot make much headway on its own.

Yours faithfully,
C.R. Bhattacharjee, Calcutta

Shame culture

Sir — The report, “Bhopali boost to Bollywood box office” (Sept 5), makes obvious that our self-proclaimed religious guardians, the Bajrang Dal, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and others are becoming incorrigible. On the one hand, they keep saying that India is a democratic country and on the other, they cannot accept certain basic principles of democracy. First it was Water, then Gadar and now Lajja. What right do these organizations have to violate the fundamental right of the freedom of expression? This is not the first time that Ram, Ravan or the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have been narrated against the traditional grain.

Born into a Hindu family, I strongly feel that our religion is patriarchal and this is reflected in our social norms and customs. Lajja questions this. Films are a powerful medium of expression and education. The director has raised certain questions and it is up to the people to make up their minds about these. The religious preachers of India, mostly men, are scared of the outcome of this sort of questioning and thinking. They feel that if women come to understand the basic equations, it will become difficult to keep them in place.

Yours faithfully,
Manisha Majumdar, Bhubaneswar

Sir — After reading about the controversy surrounding Lajja, I decided to watch it and was deeply moved by its portrayal of Indian womanhood. A country of a billion people is still entrenched in a medieval culture when it comes to women. Why does the Indian media repeatedly point at the taliban?

It is strange that India, while heading towards globalization, should still consider the birth of a female child a bad omen. Illegal amniocentesis has grown so alarmingly that many state governments have had to pass legislation banning it.

Lajja has also effectively shown the menace of the dowry system. The treatment of the lower castes by upper-caste Hindus, shown in the film, sent a chill down my spine. The other day, CNN showed pictures of poor Dalit men and women killed by upper-caste Hindus in Bihar.

The most controversial part of the film has been Madhuri Dixit playing Sita. In the film, she was shown refusing to undergo her trial by fire to prove her chastity. This seems to have created an uproar. This is Hinduism at its most narrow-minded.

Yours faithfully,
Shah Affan, Ontario

Poor Australia

Sir — Gwynne Dyer, in, “The poor and the huddled masses” (Sept 10), refers to the Afghan refugees’ attempts to enter Australia on board the ship, Tampa. Unfortunately, the article did not point out Australia’s relatively small population and the enormous financial strain already placed on the Australian taxpayer in assisting refugees who have previously entered this country. Also, I am uncertain whether the rest of the world was reminded of this country’s White Australia policy during this time. Rather, they should have viewed the situation for what it was — refugees trying to enter another country.

Dyer’s mention of “bullying” attempts to make poorer neighbours take the refugees couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is wherever the refugees may now be, the cost of their stay, processing and eventual exit to wherever, will be met by Australia. Australia is not asking other countries for any financial assistance in this matter. The media in this country are not “controlled” by the government. Therefore, they were at liberty to report matters as they saw it and, one hopes, in an ethical and accurate manner. Dyer’s article makes sensational reading. Unfortunately, it lacks accuracy and truth.

Yours faithfully,
Richard Saviel, Perth

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