Editorial 1 / Not cricket
Editorial 2 / Lost fight
Battle hymn of the republic
The loss of vision
Document / From the classroom to the world
Letters to the editor

The election of the office bearers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India proves one thing: those who administer cricket have little or nothing to do with the game. The top billing was the battle between Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya and Mr A.C. Muthiah over the post of president. Neither is known as a player or for his knowledge of the game. For both, the presidentship of the BCCI is an ego trip. But even if one ignores this particular battle and looks at the key actors, there is hardly a top class cricketer to be found. Among the behind-the scenes intriguers and planners were politicians, journalists, corporate executives and so on. A close description of what went on in the lower lobby of the Taj Coromandel hotel in Chennai on Saturday conveys the impression of cloak-and-dagger activity, complete with cabals and secret confabulations inside toilets. It is difficult to comprehend why a BCCI election should call forth this kind of furtive activity. There is an obvious suggestion that nothing in the running of the BBCI is transparent and that the body is ridden with faction and dominated by rival cliques. This makes the BCCI the happy hunting ground for politicians and patronage mongers. No wonder players and former players keep the BCCI at arm’s length. Persons hungry for power and control thus tend to claim the BCCI turf. This may not be an altogether healthy thing for Indian cricket.

The BCCI is a wealthy organization, perhaps the richest cricket body in the world. There is an urgent need that it should be run in a professional manner rather than by people, whatever be their competence in their chosen professions, who can only devote a part of their energies to the running of BCCI. Professionalization will not only make the BCCI efficient, it will also make its operations transparent. It will rule out situations like the present one in which the president belongs to one faction and the secretary to another. Affairs of the BCCI always convey the impression of a shadow play, as if the whole thing is a distorted reflection of some other battle. It is difficult to understand why powerful politicians – including union ministers and former chief ministers --- should take so much interest in the BCCI and attempt to control its affairs through proxy figures. Given the popularity of cricket, control of the BCCI brings with it greater public visibility to which politicians are naturally attracted. In all this, of course, cricket and its future in India falls by the wayside. It is difficult to imagine that Indian cricketers remain immune to the petty, and occasionally dirty, politics that goes on within the BCCI. Mr Dalmiya’s fund raising and organizational abilities cannot be doubted but these, over the years, have not enhanced the standard of cricket at any level, international, national and regional. It is too much to expect that Mr Dalmiya will ring in radical changes during his tenure.


Drama has always been Ms Mamata Banerjee’s forte. It is thus peculiarly fitting that her fall from popularity should be so spectacular. Some of the people evicted from the Tolly’s nullah area had experienced a flash of hope when the Trinamool Congress leader had promised to call up an army of “commandos” and begin a long war against the West Bengal government’s action. But the hope remained just that, a flash. Her ignominious withdrawal from the scene of action and her continued absence as the illegal structures were pulled down seemed almost expected. Later, many of the erstwhile squatters collectively resisted the entry of Trinamool Congress workers into the area. It would seem that Ms Banerjee has purposefully worked towards this total loss of credibility. The obvious unexpectedness of her defeat in the assembly elections in West Bengal should have taught her that unintelligent opportunism and reckless obstinacy without a positive programme of change and development point the road to political irrelevancy. Her blind opposition to the Left Front government pitted her against Mr Subrata Mukherjee, the mayor of Calcutta who belongs to her own party. Mr Mukherjee felt that the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and the government should cooperate in clearing the area around Tolly’s nullah. Ms Banerjee’s famed love for the people goes into eclipse every time the West Bengal government takes on a development project. And this one, ironically, is not just one of environmental import. Without clearing the sides of the nullah, the Metro Railways cannot be extended, and the grant for it is now due to be returned. The plan, however, was ratified during Ms Banerjee’s tenure as railways minister. The scale of Ms Banerjee’s confusion is quite staggering.

The West Bengal government should be lauded for having carried through its plan in spite of protests, tears and general hysteria. The fact that no popular resistance could be organized shows two things. One, that the government had convinced the people that this would be fruitless. And two, rallies and marches have fallen from grace, which bodes well for the city. One thing this will achieve is an environmental improvement. But the government’s action is flawed by its failure to match the eviction with ready plans of rehabilitation. This should not have happened. The illegal residents came to the city mainly as construction workers and were allowed to settle along the sides of the nullah. The government cannot completely disown responsibility here. It is all the more incredible, therefore, that Ms Banerjee could not capitalize on this failing. What this showed was not only the government’s determination, but also Ms Banerjee’s growing ineffectuality in the state.


Let me say at the outset that I consider the attacks carried out in this city on September 11 as heinous and barbaric. I am not one of those who proclaim political non-violence. As a student of politics in colonial and postcolonial countries, I have become convinced that when the structures of domination in the modern world are so deeply rooted in the ability to deploy massive and efficient violence, it is neither possible nor justified to insist that those who fight against unfair domination must at all times eschew the use of political violence. But I know of no anti-imperialist or anti-colonial politics that will justify the killing of more than five thousand ordinary men and women in a deliberate act of violence against a civilian target.

Even if, by some contorted political logic, one were to think that one was at war with the United States, it would be a hard act to justify, even as an act of war. I believe that such deliberate and calculated acts of massive terror have emerged out of a politics and an ideology that are fundamentally mistaken and that must be rejected and condemned. Such ideologies of religious or ethnic fanaticism are widespread today and they are by no means restricted to any one religious community. I am one of those who argue that we must sympathetically understand the reasons why so many people all over the world are persuaded by such ideologies of fanaticism. However, that is not to say that we must sympathize with or endorse their politics.

Having said that, let me turn to the question of the response to these acts of terror. Within hours of the event, the US president announced that his country was at war. Immediately, the analogy was being drawn to Pearl Harbour. Not since World War II, we were told, had America been attacked in this way. I have been asking ever since, why was it necessary to make that announcement? How was the determination made so quickly? Was it because war is such a familiar trope in the public memory of Western countries?

From fiction to history books to the cinema, there are innumerable sources of popular culture in the West that have taught people what war means and what one ought to do when one’s country goes to war. We saw it in this country last week when people flew the flag, lined up to donate blood or sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic in memorial services in church. An unprecedented act of violence was made comprehensible by framing it as an act of war. Perhaps George W. Bush, inexperienced in the affairs of state, was closer to the popular understanding than the seasoned veterans of the state department when he said that he wanted Osama bin Laden “dead or alive”. Revenge and retaliation are also familiar sentiments of war. So when President Bush said, albeit within his somewhat limited political vocabulary, that he would “smoke ‘em out and hunt ‘em down”, he was using a rhetoric long familiar in the American national language of warfare.

It is now clear that by declaring a war so quickly, the US decision-makers have found themselves pushed into a corner from which they are having a hard time getting out. Three weeks after the attack, there has been no visible military response. Experts are trying to tell people that this is not a conventional enemy; it has no country, no territory, no borders. There are no obvious targets that could be attacked. It could take a long time to build an international coalition and strike effectively at the enemy.

This is not a war against a country or a people. It is a war against terrorism. But having been told that this was a war, the people are dismayed by the lack of any recognizable response. There is a virtual volcano of rage and frustration that has built up in this country. The people are in no mood for metaphorical wars. They are, if I may use some plain language too, baying for blood.

In the absence of a clear enemy or target, the rhetoric is frequently slipping into unconcealed religious, ethnic and cultural hatred. And it is not merely rhetoric either, because there have been attacks on mosques and temples, assaults on foreign-looking men and women and at least two killings. Senior leaders, including the president, have attempted to reassure Arab-Americans that their safety will not be jeopardized. And yet the rhetoric of cultural intolerance continues.

Responsible leaders speak on radio and television of what must be done with the uncivilized parts of the world, of keeping a close watch on neighbours with Arabic names and of people who wear diapers around their heads. They speak of “ending” states like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and “finishing off” Islamic militants in Lebanon and Palestine. If this is how the elite speaks, can we blame ordinary people for making sense of this war as a conflict of civilizations?

We can and should, I think, ask questions about responsibility and accountability. If the war on terrorism is a war unlike any other this country has fought, as we are now being told, that should have been clear from the first day. Why then mislead everyone by invoking the familiar language of retaliation against enemy countries and enemy peoples? If the US is indeed the only superpower in a new world without borders, the cultural resources of traditional war will be singularly inadequate and inappropriate for that new imperial role.

Has the leadership acted responsibly in preparing both itself and the country for such a role? I do not think so. We see and hear all around us the signs and languages of traditional American nationalism, unmindful even of the fact that the patterns of immigration into this country in the last few decades have been so vastly different from those of previous decades.

There is another huge question of responsibility concerning America’s role in the rest of the world. Given its overwhelming military and economic dominance, every action by the US in any part of the world cannot but have enormous repercussions on those states and societies. Has America acted responsibly in weighing the long-term, and often unintended, consequences of its actions? I will not speak here of west Asia, for instance, where American policy has had enormous historical impact; there are others who are more qualified than me to speak on that subject.

Let me speak of Afghanistan where, in the early Eighties, the US fought a long proxy war against the Soviet Union. It is said to have been the biggest Central Intelligence Agency operation in history. The US — in collaboration with the military regime in Pakistan and the retrograde conservative monarchy of Saudi Arabia — organized, trained, funded and armed the Afghan militants, encouraged their Islamic ideology and applauded when they successfully drove out the Soviet troops. I heard Zbigniew Brzezinski, a familiar figure in the corridors of Columbia University, say on television last night that when the last Soviet soldiers crossed the Amu Daria back into the Soviet Union, he felt very very good. He also said that he would have felt even better had he known at the time that that would be the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I don’t suppose he even thought for a moment the disastrous consequences the American involvement would have on the region. The taliban was born in the Eighties in the mujahedin camps in Pakistan. Osama bin Laden became a hero of Islamic militancy at that time. The Pakistani army itself became deeply afflicted by the ideology of Islamic fanaticism. The results are now there for all to see. Has the US ever accepted that it has some responsibility for what was done to the region and what the region is now doing to the rest of the world?

The question should be asked today when battleships, bombers and commando units are taking up positions for military operations. Is anyone thinking what might be the consequences for Afghanistan of another deadly war? We heard the other day that the council of ulema has recommended that Osama bin Laden be asked to voluntarily leave Afghanistan. There is only one conclusion to be drawn from this. The religious leaders are terrified of what might become of their country and people if the US chooses to attack. And what about the consequences for Pakistan where a reluctant army, the only organized institution of the state, is being forced to lay the ground for an American invasion? What about the consequences for all of south Asia where there are two countries with nuclear weapons and a political atmosphere seething with religious and sectarian conflict?

Like it or not, comprehend it or not, the US is today the world’s only imperial power. As such, everything it does has consequences for the world as a whole. It is not only the collateral damage of military action that American defence analysts must think of. American leaders must also necessarily think of the collateral damage they do to the history of societies and peoples all over the world. If the US is the world’s only superpower, it must be responsible for its actions to the people of the whole world, not to some mythical international coalition hurriedly and cynically put together, but to countries and people — yes, ordinary and innocent people — who suffer the consequences of its actions.

I am not persuaded that either the American leadership or the American people are aware of the enormous moral responsibility contemporary history has put on them. In the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center, President Bush could only think of the “Wanted” poster he had seen in Western movies. While the whole world is looking for an American policy that is flexible, sensitive, attuned to the enormous changes that have taken place in the world in the last decade or so, what we will probably get is more of the familiar American arrogance, bludgeoning and insensitivity. Perhaps, sadly, the first war of the twenty first century will end up no differently from the many wars of the twentieth.

The author is director, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta and visiting professor, Columbia University. This is the text of a lecture delivered in a meeting in Columbia University


Ever since the terrorist attack on critical targets in the United States, officially characterized as war against the US, a peculiar situation has emerged from the images and words that the tragedy has thrown up. In the glare of the media publicity that an open society allows, areas of blindness become visible. This blindness is not restricted to any one constituent of this tragedy, nor is it entirely devoid of sight. This blindness, which affects all, in fact, is accompanied by a keen insight in some ways.

There is first of all the American people who have woken up to the devastation caused by the attack. They have seen how the unthinkable can happen. They have seen that tall and secure buildings can collapse under attack not only in movies or foreign lands, but in reality as well and in the heart of their own country. They have seen the fragility of life. Beyond their disbelief and tears, they have also seen that they need to come together as a nation and attend to what needs to be done first. The selfless manner in which firefighters and volunteers in New York are carrying out the salvage operation can only command respect.

The determination to turn every piece of debris at hand to save a life renews faith in humanity. Yet these brave people are unable to see that the government of their country is not viewed as the champion of democracy and freedom or all that is good and just in the world. They do not see that their government is identified by many with unprincipled pursuit of material interests, nor do they see the hand of their government in creating brutal forces elsewhere. These common people of the US also do not see the disparity between rich nations and poor nations. They are unable to see that there is a price to be paid for disregarding how the majority of humanity lives in a world where the affluence of the rich is not hidden from the gaze of the poor.

The US government that boasts endlessly of representing the greatest nation on earth was blind to the possibility of such a blatant attack, even though there were enough indications to show that terrorist attacks could not be ruled out. Now that such an attack has taken place and the government has put its act together, after being virtually absent for several hours after the attack, it is blind to several key issues. It does not see that no amount of rhetoric can hide the fact that it has not yet been able to present publicly any plausible evidence in support of its allegation regarding the prime suspect. Nor does it see that in carrying out its threat of physical aggression against Afghanistan without any acceptable evidence against Osama bin Laden, it runs the risk of making itself more unpopular while further popularizing the cause that it wishes to oppose.

In the scramble for greater allocations and immunities as rewards for their inefficiency, different agencies of the US government, such as the Central Intelligence Agency, are unable to see that the struggle against terrorism is not won by bloated budgets but by an awareness of deeper causes. To top it all, President George W. Bush, does not see that he fails to present the best face of his country by his war rhetoric.

Others also cannot be indifferent to their responsibility. Thus, for example, the media in the US, that help others to see what is happening, cannot afford to be blind to the possible impact of the images and the words that are being presented. The work of journalists, photographers and the like, who make an open society a reality and without which no democracy can survive, should see that the situation does not degenerate into war hysteria.

It is important to note that Osama bin Laden, who is suspected to be at the helm of this terrorist organization, and that is likely to be the case, has been credited with much cleverness and organizational ability. He is supposed to have created al Qaida, a terrorist group for fighting the enemies of Islam, principally the US. Clearly, there is blindness on the shores of his sight. No attempt that works on the principle of total destruction or self-annihilation can be justified by carrying out “the holy struggle of ’jihad’ to raise the word of Allah above the words of unbelievers”, as he told John Miller in an exclusive interview. This cannot be the order of Allah, nor can it please Allah to have a fatwa calling on all Muslims to kill Americans where they can, when they can. Strict conditions need to be fulfilled to allow the spilling of human blood in Islam.

In the same interview bin Laden justified killings on the ground that Americans were the biggest terrorists and the only way Muslims could fend off their assaults was by the use of similar means. “Blood, blood. Destruction, destruction” — this chant can only breed destruction.

There is an imminent disaster in pushing war upon south Asia. Quite apart from the complexity of this region, where geographical variety is matched by sociological diversity, it is burdened by the absence of democracy in the countries that are principally involved — Afghanistan and Pakistan. The taliban is actually blind to the realities of this world, though this does not mean it has lost sight of effective ways in which it can oppress its own people. The refugee camps of proud Afghans bear mute testimony to this oppression.

The military junta of Pakistan that sponsors terrorism can be counted upon for doing what it does best. It has mastered the art of deceit and double-talk in furthering its interests. The incompetent leadership of India, a country that has been on the receiving end of terrorism for many years now, is unable to formulate and present concerns regarding terrorism effectively. The issue is not just whether bin Laden is surrendered or not, nor just whether the taliban is made to bend on this point. The issue is whether terrorism in all forms is going to be handled systematically and firmly, going into deeper causes, so that this scourge of humanity can be removed.

Is the US government indeed serious about a sustained global struggle against terrorism? In the hymn, “Amazing grace”, by the English clergyman John Newton, which the Americans like to sing, there are two telling lines: “I once was lost, but now am found, /Was blind, but now I see”. Shall we be delivered from the blindness of war? Shall we be able to see?

The author teaches sociology at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta


Inculcating the national feeling and enabling the student to develop a national vision is another important aspect of education. The knowledge of the history, tradition, values and the world viewed together shape the national vision of the individual. The pupil must be made to understand the basis of our national unity and uniqueness of our culture. Inputs necessary for the learner to imbibe a sense of national pride must be included in the curriculum. If the objective of what is known as the Macaulay System of education was to inject an inferiority complex in the minds of students and create a class of people “Indian in colour but European in culture”, the objective of national education should be to develop an army of proud and independent Indians striving to achieve creativity and excellence in all walks of life and making the youth of the country emerge from the portals of the colleges and universities with a spirit of supreme confidence in himself and in his nation with an awareness that he has something to offer to the world must become the goal of our education.

It goes without saying that education is to be linked with socio-economic needs of the society...education must become an effective instrument of economic development and social change. We are a country with the unique distinction of having enormous resources juxtaposed with abject poverty. We have not been able to harness our resources to raise the living conditions of the common masses because of our inability to attune our educational system towards this end.

Present system of Indian education...mostly confines itself to the corporeal aspects. The non-material individual benefits accorded in the intercourse between the teacher and the taught should ultimately reach the community in an integrated fashion. This aspect should be properly addressed at all levels....

On the social front, the country is marked by cleavages and dissensions. Practices, old and new, that are incompatible with the demands of a just and humane society, dominate the social scene. The right kind of education, tuned to the economic and social needs of the society, is the only answer to our socio-economic problems....

At the primary level, prevention of dropouts must become a matter of top priority. From this point of view, designing a detailed and in-depth study of the causes of dropout should become the very first step of a long-term planning in this direction. Immediate action should include extending necessary facilities and providing right incentives to the young learners as well as to the teaching fraternity.

If there is one singular factor, which is of utmost importance in primary education, it is the imparting of education in the mother tongue or the regional language. There must be a firm resolve to implement this without any delay.

Besides, other measures in this direction should include:

Making the content of education relevant to the needs of day-to-day life. (The curriculum should be indigenous and within the comprehension of both the teacher and the taught.)

Effecting suitable changes in the time-table and academic calendar in accordance with the lifestyles and occupations of the concerned people....

Making learning an enjoyable and a productive activity. In addition, the following issues should guide our immediate attention towards primary education Emphasis on imparting of samskaras. Equipping the schools with the basic infra-structural facilities. An appropriate training to the teacher — not only in respect of reading, writing, arithmetic and core subjects but also on vital issues concerning culture. The vocational stream must be strengthened. The following ideas may be seriously considered for inclusion in this respect:

Bridging the gap between the world of knowledge and world of work. Inculcating the value of respect for manual work and dignity of labour. Connecting the course content and pedagogy with local and regional needs so as to develop an appropriate indigenous technology for “development” and social change. Curriculum must be redesigned to provide for a multi-track path to the future vocation....

Development of skills like communication skills, logical skills, comprehension skills, creative skills, information technology, and management skills must get priority over mere book learning.

To be concluded



The don makes a comeback

Sir — The news that Amitabh Bachchan will star along with his son, Abhishek Bachchan, in a Hindi remake of the Hollywood blockbuster, The Godfather, will give his fans something to look forward to (“Bachchan to breathe life into don’s desi avatar”, Sept 28). It isn’t surprising that sceptics are raising their eyebrows at the mention of yet another movie on the underworld, while diehard fans of Marlon Brando are expecting a convincing performance by Bachchan. Bachchan, who is considered by many to be the greatest star Hindi cinema has ever had, would have to shed some of his exaggerated mannerisms as well as his image as the compere of the television show, Kaun Banega Crorepati, if he is to be convincing as an Indian Don Corleone. The film, which is called Kutumb, could well give Bachchan’s film career a much needed boost and help erase the memory of recent debacles like Aks and Bade Miyan, Chote Miyan. It would however be a mistake to assume that the film would stick to the storyline of the original. The director, Mahesh Manjrekar, has already made it clear that the film would contain the usual ingredients that make up a Bollywood blockbuster.

Yours faithfully,
Ranjana Sengupta, via email

Under a cloud

Sir — The imposition of a two-year ban on the Students’ Islamic Movement of India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has caused widespread violence in Lucknow (“Simi banned, Lucknow bleeds”, Sept 28). The crackdown on Simi came after its president, Mohammad Fallahi Badr, openly spoke in support of Osama bin Laden and called for jihad against “anti-Islam” forces. As expected, the arrest of Simi activists has opened a Pandora’s box for the Bharatiya Janata Party, with major opposition parties demanding that investigations be carried out against pro-Hindu groups like the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad who have allegedly been indulging in anti-Islamic propaganda. The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government should not spare any effort to probe allegations against these groups and ban them if necessary.

However, the government should not adopt a soft stand on terrorism. The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington have proved that all countries are equally vulnerable to terrorism. The hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane last year was a lesson. It is disgusting to see politicians like Mulayam Singh Yadav criticize the Indian prime minister for banning Simi. It is quite obvious that national security comes second as far as Yadav is concerned.

Yours faithfully,
Harmeet Singh Chawla, Haldia

Sir — The government of India has taken the right decision by banning Simi. Given that terrorism is the greatest menace facing the civilized world today, it is time for the government to take stringent steps that will strike at the roots of this scourge. In fact, the most deplorable of all terrorist acts is the brainwashing of the “faithful” and converting them to suicide squads. It is shocking to see clerics and spiritual leaders use their influence to mould innocent and uninformed minds and make them commit the most heinous of acts. The leaders usually lure their followers with visions of paradise. Terrorists today have better access to sophisticated weapons and money and can carry out more successful attacks.

Yours faithfully,
Kangayam R. Rangaswamy, Pennsylvania, US

Sir — It is difficult to understand the hue and cry raised by certain political parties over the banning of Simi and the arrest of its activists in different parts of the country.

Instead of extending whole-hearted support to the Indian prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in his fight against terrorism, members of the opposition like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayavati have been accusing the government of being partisan in its attitude to the Simi. Even though Vajpayee has ordered the setting up of an independent tribunal to investigate the charges against the group, the situation is not without complications.

The government’s stand on terrorism can only be vindicated if the tribunal upholds the government’s decision to ban the group. On the other hand, if the ban is set aside the government would run the risk of further jeopardizing its strained relations with the minority communities.

It would however be pertinent to point out that the government’s fight is against terrorism and not against Islam. The argument put forward by certain groups and political parties that Simi has been targeted because it is a Muslim organization, is not true.

The charges against Simi are serious. The organization has been accused of indulging in anti-national activities and of inflaming communal passions. It is also believed to have links with the al Qaida and other terrorist organizations, many of them overseas ones. It is essential that the truth of these charges are examined before things get out of hand.

Yours faithfully
Neha Chowdhury, Chandannagore

Sir — It is not surprising that the government of India has banned Simi for a period of two years. The organization had come under suspicion since the Independence Day bombings and the violence in Kanpur. It had also been suspected of masterminding the bombing of the VHP and the RSS in Nagpur. That the allegations against the group have never been proved is not surprising given that it is difficult to prove such charges. Unfortunately, however, it is no longer possible to doubt the communal leanings of the group.

It is unfortunate that politicians like Mulayam Singh Yadav are taking advantage of this situation. This will help in the stoking of communal passions. The idea seems to be to further their gains in the forthcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Yours faithfully,
S. Balakrishnan, Jharkhand

Hardly a luxury

Sir — The imposition of a 20 per cent luxury tax by the West Bengal government is a classic case of going one step forward and two steps back. The state government seems determined to keep the state isolated from the rest of India despite all the talk about trying to promote industrial growth and foreign investments. The imposition of the tax is likely to have a negative effect on trade and commerce here, too.

Yours faithfully,
Santosh Saraf, via email

Sir — It is surprising that the government of West Bengal should impose a 20 per cent luxury tax on electronic and electrical items imported from other states. As a result of this increase, the total sales tax on these items will amount to around 38 per cent of the product value which will have to be paid by the customers and people of West Bengal.

Moreover, the resale of these goods to states like Bihar and Orissa from West Bengal will come to a standstill as small businessmen there will purchase these goods directly from Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. It is also ironic that the state government’s decision to impose this tax should coincide with the Centre’s attempt to introduce some uniformity in taxes, import duties and so on. By introducing this tax, the state government is also sending out wrong signals to potential investors who will now question its commitment to globalization and industrial development.

Yours faithfully,
Purushottam Kumar, Calcutta

Food for thought

Sir — The article, “The hunger pangs of Naveen Patnaik” (Sept 12), written by the political analyst, Mani Shankar Aiyar, is extremely disappointing. Perhaps Aiyar was driven more by political impulsion than by scholarly compulsions. Death as a result of starvation has been a popular issue with experienced politicians in our country. More than a decade back, the Kalahandi district of Orissa was the source of much disturbance regarding drought, starvation and death. The situation had been well studied by social scientists, who are acquainted with these areas and the existing tribal way of life.

Contrary to what the writer says, rice is never a staple or “tastier” food for the tribal people and mango kernel cannot be the only food. There are a number of tribal and scheduled communities in Orissa whose food practices are different from the so-called “advanced” society in India. It would be more sensible to consult the authorities working with the various tribal development projects before launching campaigns of this nature.

Although issues like family suicide because of poverty are reported by the media, unfortunately, few politicians are interested to do something constructive about it. It would be heartening to see the media playing a vital role in highlighting subjects like these in order to generate a degree of awareness.

Yours faithfully,
S.K. Ghoshmaulik, Calcutta

Sir — Mani Shankar Aiyar in his article, “The terrorists and I” (Sept 25), has omitted an unpalatable fact. India is one of the biggest sponsors of terrorism within the country itself.

The theory of conflict stipulates that no kind of terrorism or warfare can be successful unless the movement has political support from within the affected area on a quid pro quo basis. Anyone can see that instances of this are scattered all across the country.

Every single militant outfit, be it the Ranbir Sena, the Maoist Communist Centre or the People’s War Group, has the backing of some political party or the other. The government of India did not bother to formulate a comprehensive border management plan in Jammu and Kashmir, allowing the terrorists to operate at their free will. The common man in India is being misled by the misinformation provided by our leaders. The media should expose the blatant lies that we are religiously being fed with.

Yours faithfully,
Jayanta Kumar Dutt, Calcutta

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