Sorry end to an affair
Sir — There seems to be no doubt that Edwina Currie’s serial revelations about her secret liaison with the former British prime minister, John Major, stems from her sense of failure as a politician (“Edwina Currie eyed Tory helm”, Oct 1). She seems to have taken media ratings about her “recognition factor” a bit too seriously. Currie’s face might have been more recognized than that of other senior Tories and even Major, but there is no reason to suspect that she was prime minister material who got waylaid in the course of an affair. For one, she had almost bombed as health minister in 1988, when she admitted that most eggs produced in Britain were infected. No minister, however honest, would do anything so suicidal. Major, left on his own, may have performed even worse, but at least he lent himself to back-seat driving by Lady Thatcher. Currie, given her ego, wouldn’t have allowed even that. Could she now please reconcile herself to her role as a broadcaster'
Sheila Goswami, Calcutta
Sir — Addressing a leadership summit organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry, Infosys’s N.R. Narayanamurthy told his fellow chief executive officers that if they were truly ethical in their corporate behaviour, they would limit their salary and perquisites to not more than 15 times the salary of the lowest paid employee in their company (“India Inc’s model hunt ends at Gandhi”, Sept 19). It was not very polite of Narayanamurthy to have asked for it as most CEOs would fail this test anyway. Some would even argue — justifiably — that 15 times is too small a difference. Indeed, if one were to work out this arithmetic over the last 15 years, there would be greater disparity. The fact that one of the key achievements of business leaders nowadays has become how successfully they have “downsized” — read how many employees they have snatched jobs away from — the full extent of the immorality will be evident.
Business has always been driven by the goal to make money. And yet, it is necessary for business houses to pay more than mere lip-service to honesty and transparency. But unlike in the United States of America, which we try to emulate, we do not have adequate institutions to punish the guilty. And unlike politicians, whom we can throw out in the next elections, we cannot penalize businessmen.
Shailesh Gandhi, Mumbai
Sir — It is unfortunate that in this age of market predominance, corporate ethics has taken a severe beating. Witness the recent corporate frauds in the US. It is thus heartening that eminent corporate figures like N.R. Narayanamurthy, M.S. Banga and Sam Pitroda are exercised over the subject of “cleaning up” the corporate sector.
A code of conduct for corporates could be framed by these men. Also senior employees, who are responsible for any company’s performance, should be made to pay.
We probably need to remember the work and ethics of J.R.D. Tata. The first non-political figure to receive the Bharat Ratna in 1992, he was one of the very few to receive the award during his lifetime. His social concerns were many and his work to control the population explosion won him the United Nation’s population award. A great industrialist, Tata was also an excellent man-manager and a great visionary.
It is sad that companies’ social commitment is being weakened by the single-minded pursuit of profits. Instead of running for short-term gains, our CEOs should adhere to the ideals of J.R.D. Tata if they are serious about reviving the image of the corporate sector.
Srinivasan Balakrishnan, Jamshedpur
Sir — As the report puts it, “Salman scoots after crash and kill” (Sept 29), the film-star has got away after having paid only Rs 950, but has anybody thought about the pain the family of the dead and the injured must be going through' Is this because the pavement-dwellers are poor' For these young actors and other rich youngsters, drunken-driving seems to have become a fashion. Should not Salman Khan have come forward to volunteer some compensation to the families of the victims so that they can at least survive' Khan’s movies should be banned and he should be made to pay for this crime and outrage.
Purnima Vasudeva, Calcutta
Sir — It is once again another instance where the celebrity has got away with murder. Does Salman Khan think he can do anything he wants' If he was neither drunk nor driving, as per his statement, what excuse could he give for fleeing from the accident site instead of helping the victims'
Aparajita Dasgupta, Calcutta
Sir — After having landed in trouble after the killing of a black buck, an endangered species, Salman Khan is back in the news again. But the actor will probably manage to “scoot” the law this time again. The victims will be lucky if they manage to get some compensation out of the actor.
P.V. Madhu, Secunderabad
Sir — Salman Khan said he was not driving the car. Fair enough. Then why is he not forcing the person who was driving the car to surrender'
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Sir — It is sad that it needed the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra to remind the police of its duty. Instead of paying the police to shut up, the Bollywood hero should have paid the poor he killed so mercilessly.
Jyotirmoyee Halder, Calcutta