Fighting over a lie
Sir — Why did the deputy prime minister suddenly strike a discordant note in the theorizing that took place after the Rajdhani accident (“Advani derails Nitish theory”, Sept 12)' Was it to chide Nitish Kumar’s Samata Party, whose other member, George Fernandes, has once again become bothersome to the Bharatiya Janata Party' For there is no reason to suspect that L.K. Advani was fired by the noble objective to bring home the truth. If Gujarat is any indication, truth, for the BJP, is a baggage that has been lost in transit. Which means, like Mamata Banerjee, Advani was only carrying out a political haggle over bodies.
M. Mahato, Calcutta
Where religion hurts
Sir — Kudos to the West Bengal government for its recent decision to do away with the existing practice whereby applicants seeking admission into educational institutions are asked to state their religion (“Religion off Bengal education forms”, Aug 31). This change, long overdue, is in conformity with the basic stipulation of a secular polity which regards an individual’s religion as a personal matter that has no relevance to the state’s activities in the public sphere.
Accordingly, whether for government employment or for admission to public institutions, no query should be made regarding a person’s religion. The Left Front should extend this path-breaking measure beyond educational institutions.
J.C. Bose, Calcutta
Sir — At a time when the nation is being turned into a laboratory for Hindutva experiments, the bold initiative of the Left Front government deserves to be upheld. The credit for this goes to Tehmina Khatoon, who dared to challenge the system. Her fighting zeal may prove to be an inspiration for us.
Santanu Mukherjee, Hooghly
Sir — The removal of the slot to state one’s religion from admission forms in schools and colleges is another shrewd move on the part of the Left Front government to win over the minorities. How can the government not be moved by the plight of Tehmina Khatoon' But is it just as responsive to the suffering of low-caste Hindus' It is public knowledge that they are ruthlessly discriminated against and subjected to mental abuse in this Brahmin-dominated Marxist state.
Surajit Basak, Calcutta
Sir — “Beard bars boy from school” (Aug 31) is a shocking instance of intolerance. Such communal intolerance has also been extended to Muslim school-going girls in veils. I appeal to the state government to take action against the principal of Ling Liang School.
One other thing. The Ling Liang School is in Bowbazar, not Tangra, as mentioned in the report.
Adnan Ahmed Shamsi, Calcutta
Sir — The action against Zeeshan Alam was unexpected in a state that prides itself on its secularism. An institution can refuse admission to any student. But should it take disciplinary action against a student for growing a beard' By the same logic, a girl might be refused admission for cutting her hair.
Rajat Bakshi, Dumka
Sir — In “Close encounters” (Aug 31), Chandrima Pal asks if it is wrong to snuggle up in public. She should know that in our society, the young still offer their seats to the elderly in public transport. If couples do not show their affection in public, it is as a mark of respect for elders. Moreover, doing otherwise would send the wrong signals to children and adolescents. The advocates of such public display argue that the act leads to successful marriages. But there are as many couples who have lived their life without doing so as there are estranged couples who have openly displayed their love for each other.
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur
Sir — Our values as Indians prevent us from showing our affection in public. Besides, the display of affection is a private act. That is why our bedrooms are separate from our verandahs. In fact, those who do not believe in this distinction should be meted out the same punishment that one is given for urinating on the lamp-post.
Sujit De, Sodepur