Target the rot within
Sir — That the West Bengal government, when confronted with the Madhyamik marks fiasco, lost no time in replacing the president of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, Haraprasad Samaddar, betrays a kind of confused thinking that is behind its many failures in crucial sectors like health and education (“Madhyamik successor in trust thrust”, Sept 17). While it is natural that Samaddar should accept responsibility for the mistakes in the results, the government seems to have found in him a scapegoat and an excuse not to delve deeper into the scandal. Inconsistencies in examination results are not new. The marks of as many as 6,192 candidates were altered after post-publication scrutiny in 1999. Bundles of answer sheets have been misplaced by examiners and recovered from public transport. Yet, the government refuses to increase the number of examiners or to pay them well. It is unlikely that Samaddar’s exit will usher in the end of the mistakes-era.
Sanchita Haldar, Hooghly
Sir— Despite Saddam Hussein’s agreeing to re-admit United Nations weapons inspectors into Iraq, there has been no let-up in the United States of America’s war rhetoric. With China, Russia and many of the Arab countries not supporting it, the US may find this move boomeranging too. It is time India realized that the Americans care for no one but themselves. Or it would not have asked India to show restraint in its dealings with Pakistan. The US may attack Iraq saying it was a threat, but it expects other countries will not take action against similar threats. It seems that there is one set of rules for the US and another for the rest of the world. The US cannot take India for granted because Pakistan is its ally in the so-called fight against terrorism. And anyway, the war against terrorism has become an excuse to attack Iraq. This is not expected in a nation of the stature of the US. India must start thinking for itself now.
Indrajit Bose, Cuttack
Sir— It is evident that George W. Bush is bent upon attacking Iraq, come what may. But what is the tearing hurry' It is Washington and not Baghdad that the world must stop appeasing. For, if the US gets away with attacking Iraq even after the so-called weapons inspectors return, soon enough, other nations of the world will find themselves colonies of Washington, in all but name. And as any environmentalist or economist will certify, what’s good for the US is anything but good for the planet.
Biswapriya Purkayastha, Shillong
Sir— George W. Bush’s implacable hatred of Saddam Hussein may well trigger off yet another world war. The first round of bloodshed in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan seems not to have satisfied the Americans who are impatient to test the waters in Iraq again. At least Germany, France and Russia have refused to team up with the US.
P.V. Madhu, Secunderabad
Sir— Gwynne Dyer is absolutely right in “Way to control a mini-Mussolini” (Sep 2). The US may give any excuses it wants to, that Saddam Hussein is developing weapons of mass destruction, that he poses a threat to the US and its allies, but the fact is that the US wants a face-saver from its disastrous “war on terror” in Afghanistan. For Hussein, it’s a case of damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Even allowing the UN special commission back is not a guarantee that the attacks will be put off. And anyway, Unscom was nothing but an American ploy to ensure a regime-change in Iraq. The reason America is hellbent on the attack is that it wants to control Iraq’s large oil reserves. It wants an American stooge at the helm of affairs in Iraq and it wants a market for its multinational corporations. George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” is nothing but places where American MNCs haven’t reached yet. Besides, the Americans are to blame for having armed Iraq to the teeth during the Iran-Iraq war.
Asif Ahmed, Calcutta
Sir— While urging a regime change in Washington, instead of Baghdad, Sunanda K. Datta-Ray seems to forget that Saddam Hussein is a dictator who has amassed immense personal wealth depriving his people (“Bush’s other agenda”, Sep 15). Also, it is the US’s tough stand that has forced Iraq to allow UN inspectors back. There are bound to be casualties in a war and Afghanistan is no exception. But even before September 11, the US was providing food and medicines worth billions of dollars to poor Afghans, despite not recognizing the taliban.
B.J. Borkakoty, Dibrugarh
Caught in the act
Sir — A member of parliament may travel without a valid ticket, but ordinary citizens are more inclined to buying their tickets well in advance (“MP found ticketless in AC coach”, Sep 17). Brahmananda Mandal belongs to the Samata Party, to which also belongs the Union minister for railways, Nitish Kumar, who plans to shift the headquarters of Eastern Railway from Calcutta to Hajipur. It is still unclear what Kumar hopes to gain by this move, but it will mean more Biharis will feel emboldened to travel ticketless.
However, the railway checking staff should be complimented for doing their duty without fear or favour. An MP is not above the law. Mandal should apologize to the checking staff who were only doing their duty.
Diptimoy Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — I am considering contesting the next general elections so that I can get immunity from all wrongdoing. I may not have the kind of track record required for the post but I am trying.
I was travelling by the Howrah-Kurla Express recently and had bought a second-class ordinary ticket for the journey from Rourkela to Tatanagar. Nearing Tatanagar, the ticket inspector fined me for not paying the full fare. I argued that no ticket-checker had boarded the train to whom I could pay the balance. Even so, I had to pay the Rs100 fine. But Brahmananda Mandal, the Samata Party MP not only travelled without a ticket along with his 15 followers, but is also refusing to pay the penalty. It is a shame that the legislators, who are there to uphold the law, have themselves become the breakers of law.
S. Chakravarthy, Calcutta