Father of sleaze
Sir — First the rape; then the birth of an illegitimate child, followed by much mud-slinging and legal wrangling leading to the suspension of the rapist from his political party; then a DNA test proves the man’s fatherhood. And then, a twist in the tail: the rapist marries the victim and names the child High Court. This is not the storyline of some black comedy. On the contrary, this sequence of events is what has brought the former minister of Assam, Rajendra Mushahary, into the limelight. But there’s no reason why the story should have a happy ending for Mushahary. He only came round once the DNA test proved conclusively that he had fathered the child. What about perjury' Isn’t he still an offender for lying to the court' And what about the girl’s trauma before he finally relented and married her, although one suspects the birth of a male child had something to do with the decision. Perhaps the boy will sue his father some day, for naming him High Court, if for nothing else.
Kajal Roy, Calcutta
Sir — India has won dubious distinctions in many fields, be it poverty, literacy, or health. That it has grabbed the 71st rank out of 120 countries in terms of corruption should surprise no one. It is no secret that corrupt, scandal-tainted politicians and bureaucrats run the country. Sadly, while wealth and literacy have not managed to percolate downward, corruption has. Even the local milkman does not suffer any pangs of guilt while generously mixing water in the milk he vends.
What the editorial, “Badly scored” (Sept 1), calls an “unadorned criminality of attitude” has indeed begun to influence the rich and the poor alike. It is most terrifying when individuals, in spite of realizing the magnitude of the problem, become indifferent to the problem. However, in a world growing increasingly smaller, it is important to sell the image of a country well. The poor showing in the Transparency International index will translate into poor saleability of India’s image. Perhaps this will force the men in power to exercise their moral scruples a little more.
Tarakdas Majumdar, Calcutta
Sir — Having spread its tentacles beyond the corridors of corporate and constitutional offices, corruption is now competing with communalism to further debase India. One can perhaps sympathize with people who have, at some point, produced false certificates of academic qualifications or age in their desperation to get a job. But one can only have contempt for ticket-checkers on trains, allotting empty berths to those ready to pay bribes. For the victims of those who occupy and abuse positions of influence, like the fallen chairman of the Punjab state public service commission, constitutional safeguards are alien concepts.
And consider what happens when a government employee is charged with corruption. He pleads innocence, claiming the charge to be a conspiracy against him on grounds of his caste, political colour and so on. An anticipatory bail follows and lawyers are paid hefty fees to ensure that he escapes unscathed. In the process, corruption does to the country what termites do to the woodwork. Hard-hitting editorials, exposes, sterner laws are measures in the right direction. But politicians have to take the lead. For, malgovernance shelters such evils as corruption and communalism.
Kushal Kumar Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — Noam Chomsky has rightly divided the world into two groups of people: the greedy and the needy. If the list of income tax and bank loan defaulters is anything to go by, then greed is directly proportional to wealth in India. But even “regulations against greed”, as suggested by the editorial, “Badly scored”, cannot possibly arrest the rot that has crept into society by way of corruption. This is primarily because of the huge gulf between the rich and the poor.
India might be able to make some advance through decentralization of power and redistribution of wealth. A dynamic, economically empowered panchayati raj system needs to be put in place. Distribution of wealth could be achieved through the introduction of micro-credit and labour-intensive cottage industry schemes. Transparency must be introduced in all administrative procedures, be it in offices, academic institutions, or hospitals. Above all, the mindset of the people needs to change, so that corruption is no longer regarded as acceptable, and even inevitable.
Sujit De, Sodepur
Notes from the north
Sir — The Kamtapur Liberation Organization’s armed movement for a “sovereign” state to be carved out of some areas in North Bengal and Assam reflects the outrage of the Rajbongshis and the Nepalese. The indifference of the West Bengal government towards the latter group was made was made clear by the earlier movement of the Gorkha National Liberation Front for an autonomous Gorkhaland. There is no doubt that the stepmotherly treatment of the state government is behind the Kamtapur agitation as well.
Now that KLO militants have killed Communist Party of India (Marxist) members, the government is working on a war footing to contain the menace. It is lucky that the KLO does not have popular support. But the KLO agitation will surely give a fillip to the People’s War in the western districts of the state. The best option before the chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, is to implement the Prevention of Organized Crime Act.
Niloy Sinha, Azimganj
Sir — The activities of the People’s War in west Midnapore is not an isolated event. It is true that a section of the state police machinery is responsible for their actions. In the light of this, the editorial, “War zone” (July 19), is justified in lashing out at the administration. The home (police) department should see to it that criminals do not go scot free. Perhaps the grievances of the police personnel should also be looked into to enable them to function efficiently.
Naren Sen, Howrah