Some more screen presence
Sir — It is probably the flip side of globalization that Bollywood should come to symbolize “Indian cinema” per se (“For UK classrooms, made in Bollywood”, Oct 10). But British academia must be made aware of the fact that films produced in Mumbai, or even those directed by non-resident Indian film personalities like Mira Nair, do not represent the whole of Indian cinema. That would leave out a massive body of regional films. Some of it must have been covered in the overview while discussing directors like Satyajit Ray for example. But India’s regional productions deserve more than just a cursory glance.
M. Sengupta, Calcutta
Sir — Quite obviously, J. Jayalalithaa is falling head over heels to appease saffronites (“Jaya springs decree on conversion”, Oct 7). After having thrown mud on the president of the Congress for her “foreign” origins, the Tamil Nadu chief minister seems to have finally made her point by passing an ordinance that bans forced conversions in the state. Yet, conversions of the kind that Jayalalithaa fears does not have a history in her state. For Tamil Nadu, the problem has always been Brahmin dominance, which means the threat has been from Hinduism itself. The Dravidian movement sprung from its opposition to this trend.
Maybe, Jayalalithaa should be asked: what “conversion” is she afraid of' Could it be Brahminization' For that seems to be what is happening in Tamil Nadu at present. Amma is losing contact with the principles of her party. Her joining hands with the Hindutva brigade will undo all that P. Annadurai and even her mentor, M.G. Ramachandran, tried to achieve.
J. Acharya, Calcutta
Sir — The J. Jayalalithaa government deserves kudos for its bold step to ban conversions. The ordinance attacks the root cause of communal disharmony in the country. Every year, thousands of gullible villagers fall prey to preachers who offer “help” in the garb of “service to the poor”. Conversion, if at all it has to take place, should be a voluntary process, where a person willingly embraces the tenets and philosophy of another religion. One hopes other states will also follow suit with similar ordinances.
Arvind D. Tapkire, Mumbai
Sir — The Tamil Nadu government’s unilateral action in matters of religious conversion is heartening. This is necessary to deter vested interests from exploiting the depressed classes and creating communal tension, especially in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and the Northeast, where conversions are rampant. Politicians should help enforce the law besides making vigorous efforts for the uplift of the downtrodden.
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore
Sir — Madhushree C. Bhowmik, in “To answer a burning question” (Sept 24), draws attention to an important issue. Mine fires cause extensive damage to the ecosystem, waterways, roads and railways because of land subsidence. Most important, they also threaten human security.
It has been highlighted that in Jharia, mine fires have resulted from unscientific mining, reckless coal extraction, and poor land filling. Bhowmik also critiques the proposal of relocating large populations in fire areas. But the main question is how can fires be prevented to improve human security in the region'
Nobody thinks relocation can be a solution in fire-fighting. From my long research experience on coal fires, I can say that to prevent such fires, satellite data can be immensely helpful. Thermal images can give us current and regular information on hot objects both on the earth’s surface and underneath it. India is well advanced in satellite technology, but it does not produce data in the thermal band (10.35-12.50 micro meter) for locating mine fires. To measure them we have to use Landsat TM data. It is unfortunate that space agencies in India do not take note of this problem. It is preparing to develop sophisticated satellite data that will be able to detect enemy troop movements in the Himalayan glacier region, but has never thought about data development in the thermal band to detect coal fires, a knowledge that can help us secure the populations of Raniganj and Jharia.
Kanika Saha, Guskara