The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

Defensive manoeuvres

Sir — Talk of ingratitude. Instead of thanking the Indian military for continuing to patronize its defence sector, the Russians have roundly snubbed Indian diplomats for going to other manufacturers for spares (“Moscow snub for spares snub”, Aug 28). Do the Russians need to be reminded that a significant chunk of the country’s defence purchases come from India' Also, despite numerous agreements of defence cooperation between the “friendly” countries, the Admiral Gorshkov and Sukhoi-30 deals are yet to come through. Thankfully, the dangers of putting too many eggs in a single basket seem to have dawned on the Indian defence procurers who are now also looking to other countries like Israel. As for spares, India has had to perforce rely on Russia since most of its defence hardware is of Russian make. But that does not mean that it cannot scout around for cheaper spares. There is no reason for the Russians to cry foul.

Yours faithfully,
Ranjita Roy, Calcutta

Behind bars

Sir — There is very little hope for a state whose law minister, Nishith Adhikari in this case, tries to justify the poor conditions in jails on the ground that if they were turned into decent places, they would be flooded with poor people (“Prisons to repel, not attract, poor: Minister, Aug 26).

Criminals are not born — they are the result of poverty, unemployment and social inequality. The government and society are equally to blame for this because they have failed to provide the poor with the basic necessities. This does not mean that criminals should be let free. They should be put behind bars, but the state has no right to deny them their dignity and human rights in jail.

Moreover, undertrails lodged in lock-ups cannot be clubbed with criminals until proven guilty. Also, what about crimes of passion, those that happen by accident, those committed in self-defence or those in which an innocent has been “framed”' Why must all convicts suffer the same inhuman treatment meted out to hardcore criminals'

Incarceration is punishment enough since it entails separation from the family and the curtailing of freedom. Surroundings in which inmates can preserve their dignity, are treated compassionately and also given vocational training will help rehabilitate criminals after their prison term is over. As it is, petty criminals come out of the dungeon-like jails today as hardened criminals.

Yours faithfully,
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur

Sir — Does Nishith Adhikari think the poor have so little self-respect that they would prefer to be in jail because that would ensure two square meals' India is being bled by the moneyed and political classes who seek immunity despite their crimes.

Yours faithfully,
Surajit Basak, Calcutta

Sir — At a time jails all over the world are being transformed into reformatory centres, it is unfortunate that Nishith Adhikari still prefers the British idea of building “jails to deter offenders from committing crime again”. Perhaps, Adhikari needs to be reminded that the primary objective of the British in India was to exploit the poor natives of the country. But how can our leaders be so callous towards the people whose votes help to bring them to power' Adhikari’s statement reflects society’s double standards — while abhorring petty offenders, we look up to the white-collar criminals.

Yours faithfully,
Sujit De, Sodepur

Meaning of his words

Sir — The Sikkim state government has taken serious note of the offensive headline of the report, “Chamling pays lip-service to pet themes” (Aug 6), filed by Pema Leyda Shangderpa. The headline and the phrase, “slogans that he has been mouthing”, were not only in bad taste, but they also imply that the chief minister, Pawan Kumar Chamling, was not sincere when he called upon his oficers to generate more revenues and make genuine endeavours to transform Sikkim into a self-reliant state. Or does the headline really mean to say that the chief minister was not sincere when he urged his officers to generate more revenue and make the state self-reliant' If yes, then on what basis did The Telegraph reach this conclusion'

The chief minister is a sincere and committed leader who means what he says. It is through his repeated exhortations to his officers that our economic growth rate has reached an all-time high, the literacy rate has shot up to 70 per cent; the prosperity and all-round development that has taken place in the state are there for all to see. Directives of the Central government are promptly complied with and Centrally-sponsored schemes are faithfully executed. Similarly, a number of people-oriented and welfare schemes are regularly initiated and implemented. Sikkim, despite being situated on a very sensitive border, is today the most peaceful state in the country. This is the manifestation of the dynamic leadership of Chamling and his genuine concern for the state’s welfare and his allegiance to the Union.

To belittle such achievements of a young state by using offensive words like “mouthing” his “pet slogans” and giving irresponsible headlines to an otherwise fine report is not expected from a reputed newspaper like The Telegraph.

Also, the Lepcha festival, Tendong Lho-Rum-Faat, was celebrated on August 8, not August 7 as reported. The sweeping statement in the last paragraph of the report, wilfully establishing one community as being outnumbered by two other ethnic communities, is also unfair.

Yours faithfully,
P. Thondup, director, information and public relations department, government of Sikkim, Gangtok

Pyrrhic victory

Sir — Tehmina Khatun’s crusade against the Gandhi Centenary Memorial College in Habra shows that justice delayed is justice denied (“College doors open, jobs shut”, Aug 20). It is disgraceful that, thanks to India’s endlessly procrastinating judicial system, wrongdoers can bully with impunity while victims get no succour. Is it not sad that the college authorities have had the last laugh while Khatun is left with only regrets'

Yours faithfully,
Dipak Ghosh, Calcutta

Sir — After Tehmina Khatun gets her BEd degree, she should be allowed to join any school she wants to. That she is past the prescribed age limit of 35 is no fault of hers. The school authorities should have known that it is merely a convention for the bride to change her last name after marriage — the law does not decree that she do so.

Yours faithfully,
Ratan Gupta, Calcutta

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