Send the criminal home
Sir — The Portugese authorities are setting a bad precedent by not agreeing to deport Abu Salem. If they object to death penalty and believe in giving criminals a chance to reform themselves, then they must realize that their theory is applicable only to first-timers and not hardened criminals like Salem. Besides, how could the Portugese authorities be so certain that Salem would be awarded the death penalty in India' He would surely get a fair trial in the Indian courts, although there have been cases in the recent past when the accused has had to be acquitted because the prosecution could not collect enough evidence against him. Yet, the Portuguese stance tantamounts to putting a question mark on the integrity of the Indian judicial system. As part of the anti-terrorist drive after the September 11 attacks, it is even more important to deport Salem to India if Portugal wishes to project itself as seriously committed to the cause of rooting out terrorism from the world.
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
To have or not to have
Sir — Ashok Mitra is correct in pointing out that although India professes to be a democratic socialist country, the rich are the eventual beneficiaries of the economic and fiscal policies of the government (“The poor rich”, Sept 20). It is a simple case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Unfortunately, the Peters — the poor and the middle classes — constitute the majority of the population.
Take the farm sector. The powerful vote bank of rich farmers ensures that the government cannot lower food procurement prices. With the rising costs of transportation, storage and distribution, sale prices of foodgrains automatically go up. Earlier, this used to be balanced through subsidies for the poor and the middle classes. Now, with the World Trade Organization obligations of phasing out subsidies, food prices are bound to go up. This will have adverse impact on the sale outflow of the food in stock, and the surplus can neither be distributed at lower prices, nor fed to animals, as Mitra states. Therefore, the paradox of food rotting in the silos while half the nation starves to death, will be perpetuated.
The communist concept of class struggle has long been overrun by present-day policy-makers for helping the moneyed classes under the pretext of fulfilling their obligations to the WTO, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or other foreign aid institutions. Even the directive principles of state policy enshrined in the Constitution have been given the short shrift. It had better be accepted that the government’s largesses will henceforth be directed in different forms to the rich and the privileged, while the poor continue to suffer in silence.
P.R. Anand, Calcutta
Sir — In economic parlance today, the word, “subsidy” has acquired a darker connotation than before. Subsidy today is not an instrument for helping the poor, but an autonomous system run by regional satraps, rich farmers, traders, and those who wield power at the Centre to loot the poor masses. Subsidy is the link between political powers and illicit economic advantages. The diktat of the WTO will not be able to end the subsidy-raj in India, as long as the mafia exists and the Marxists only pretend to fight for the rights of the working class. No political party has the will to take a pro-active stand against rich income tax defaulters. However much Ashok Mitra may rave and rant against the capitalists, communists have integrated themselves too far with this system to fight against its evils.
It is also not clear from Mitra’s article what could be so wrong in tax-payers looking for concessions from the government. Without finding faults with cricketers, who make no bones about the fact that they play to earn more and more (witness the stand-off between the cricketers and the International Cricket Council), Mitra should show us a national level Marxist leader who embodies the virtues of honesty, morality and sacrifice.
Surajit Basak, Calcutta
Sir — Dipankar Gupta’s “Handcuffs and business suits” (Sept 17) offers some credible suggestions to the small investor in India who is more often than not short-changed in the stock-market. Corporate greed is not really endemic to the American system. Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen are merely aberrations and do not represent the overall picture. There are many “corporate good guys” — not an oxymoron — in the United States of America who have not lost investor-faith and are keeping the economy going.
Similarly, neither the Unit Trust of India nor the handful of other wrong-doers will be able to take the Indian economy downhill so long as the key-indicators of the economy are steady or pointing upward. However, even the good guys in the US or in India need to upgrade the education they received long ago in business schools. Ignorance of the laws of the land is a big problem. Business schools should, therefore, include in their syllabi, especially the ones designed for chief executive officers and managers, courses on the laws of the country, including various tax laws, company law and the like. Business ethics, which are a step above legislation, must also be included in the curriculum. The CEOs should no more be at the mercy of the accounting, marketing and advertising managers in their organizations for taking important decisions in such matters. It is really important for the economy to keep our CEOs and other top executives in their business suits but sans the handcuffs.
Kangayam R. Rangaswamy, Madison, US
Sir — Rukun Advani’s parodying of Gayatri Chakravarty Spivak’s “inimitable simplicity” is quite accurate, as far as academic linguistic opacity goes (“A subaltern editor squeaks”, Sept 7). Advani’s article reminds me of a funny incident of my school days. A boy, when asked to give the meaning of sheyal (fox), replied jambuk, a word more unintelligible than “sheyal”.
Academicians must get out of the habit of using jargon when they can present their argument in simpler terms.
Debal Kumar Chakravarti, Calcutta
Sir — The “squeak” of the subaltern editor, Rukun Advani, was music to my ears, deafened by the cacophonous babble of the subaltern historians, including of course, the Derridean-Marxist-feminist diva, Gayatri Chakravarty Spivak. Advani surely deserves congratulations for calling a spade a spade. He is, however, mistaken in thinking that the line, “boxe in which sweets compacted lie”, is from a poem by John Donne. The line is, in fact, from the poem, “Virtue”, by another Metaphysical poet, George Herbert.
Prabhas Kumar Sinha, Calcutta