Enough of this violence
Sir — The resumption of Palestinian suicide bombings and the subsequent siege on Yasser Arafat’s headquarters by Israeli troops signal the beginning of the next round of violence in west Asia (“Arafat refuses to yield to Israel demolition”, Sept 22). Those familiar with the history of this conflict would realize that Arafat is not likely to hand over the 20 militants on Israel’s list, nor will Israel want to let go of a chance to humiliate the Palestinian leader. Hence the cycle of suicide bombings followed by Israeli incursions will continue. Recent peace initiatives have at best been half-hearted, given the United States of America’s preoccupation with Afghanistan and now Iraq. Therefore, not too much hope can rest on these so-called initiatives. Instead of being swayed by the jingoistic rhetoric of their leaders, the people of the two countries should speak out against the violence and think of nominating independent negotiators to mediate between their two states.
Apurva Gupta, Calcutta
Protesting too much
Sir — L.K. Advani’s remark praising Calcutta’s Metro Railways while admitting that he had not liked the rest of the city very much when he had last visited it, has been blown out of proportion by a section of the media as well as his political opponents, particularly the Bengal Marxists (“Advani does not like Calcutta”, Sept 18).
Let us face some hard facts. Calcutta was built by the British and was the capital of India till 1911. With the introduction of English education, the Bengal renaissance began with Calcutta as its epicentre. Calcutta produced the best scientists, doctors, lawyers, writers and poets, and even the best newspapers. In fact, the partition of Bengal dealt the first blow to the city since its social and cultural resources became divided. Things changed after the Marxists came to power. The beginning of the Naxalite movement saw the capitalists and intellectuals fleeing the city.
Twenty-five years of uninterrupted Marxist rule have destroyed Calcutta. Infrastructure, education and health have taken a backseat.
The development projects undertaken by the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority are lopsided. While south Calcutta gets priority, north Calcutta has become an urban slum. No new roads or flyovers have been built in that area. Most footpaths in the city are occupied by hawkers, leading to road accidents and traffic jam. Every day, one political party or the other takes out processions. Pollution level is at an all time high. Women can no longer venture out late, and there is hardly any greenery in north and central Calcutta.
The efforts being made to rejuvenate Calcutta are too little and too late. The Marxists cannot hide their own failures by blaming Advani, Rajiv Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru.
Tapan Das Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — Will the media in Calcutta ever grow up ' Every time a comment is made about the city, they are unable to analyse it objectively. They immediately push the panic button and go about recording the reactions of prominent celebrities and looking for similar statements made in the past. The Telegraph too is no exception.
As far as L.K. Advani is concerned, he has on several occasions criticized certain aspects of the city of Delhi. However, the media in Delhi do not go overboard trying to counter his criticism. They quite rightly do not attach unnecessary importance to such passing comments.
Satya Alok Mitra, New Delhi
Sir — Why is it that instead of sitting on the “pile of shit” and indulging in meaningless adda, few Calcuttans try to do something about cleaning up the city' Are garbage-free, pedestrian-friendly pavements too much to ask for' Yet the attitude of the average Calcuttan seems to be — as long as we have Rabindrasangeet, is there any need for clean sidewalks' To make a meaningful start, the money earmarked for hiring loudspeakers for a Durga Puja pandal (Calcuttans have already started gearing up for that yearly assault on the eardrums) could be spent on cleaning up the locality.
Roshmi Lahiri, Calcutta
Sir — Perhaps it is the absence of a communally charged political atmosphere in Calcutta that has offended a saffronite politician like L.K. Advani and made him react the way he has. Even Mamata Banerjee has been rejected by Calcuttans because of her association with the Bharatiya Janata Party and its brand of communal politics. Calcutta, with its relatively peaceful political environment, dignified culture, respect for women, and capacity to accommodate people from different cultures is indeed a very special city.
S.A. Rahman Barkati, Calcutta
Sir — L.K. Advani’s remark about Calcutta is not unexpected. What else can one expect from a man who openly endorsed the demolition of the Babri Masjid and who is now being protected by the most unprincipled political arrangement ever seen in India. It is obvious that Advani can neither understand nor appreciate the communal amity and harmony that is synonymous with Calcutta because he is only familiar with people like Narendra Modi, whom he had supported and praised for his role in the Gujarat genocide. A staunch Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindutva activist like Advani can only be expected to make such remarks since decency is not his forte. With him as the deputy prime minister of India, one shudders to think of what else is in store for the people. He should apologize for his remarks immediately.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta