The great exchange offer
Sir — He came, he saw, he shopped (for software experts). That probably sums up Mahathir Mohammad’s recent visit to India’s cyber city (“Mahathir free with praise, not car plant”, Oct 17). No amount of cajoling from N. Chandrababu Naidu goaded Mohammad to promise anything about bringing Proton to Hyderabad. The story repeats itself each time other dignitaries visit India. They see the Taj, enjoy the kebabs, but commit nothing. And the Naidus, eager to please, offer them everything they ask for — our scientists, our doctors and sometimes even our land. Will this one-way exchange ever stop'
Ranajoy Mitra, Calcutta
Sir — The preliminary report on the investigation into the Rajdhani express derailment is not unexpected (“Rajdhani probe”, Oct 4) . The commissioner of railway safety (eastern-circle) has said that he suspects sabotage to be the reason behind the accident. Obviously, no thought has been spared for passenger welfare. Yet the Khanna committee report makes it clear that the Indian Railway and the railways minister cannot show any complacency where such matters are concerned. But by calling the recent accident at Rafigunj a sabotage, the railway authorities have merely shown how completely complacent they are about passengers’ concern. It would now be hard to accept that the Rashtriya Janata Dal leader, Laloo Prasad Yadav, is wrong when he alleges that the report is being manipulated in order to give credence to the sabotage theory of the railways minister, Nitish Kumar.
Without giving a clean chit to themselves, the railways must act quick to get refurbishments done. For example, the signal system needs improvement and human error must be reduced through responsible action. Theories of “sabotage” every time something goes wrong, must be kept at bay since human lives are precious.
Prashant K. Nanda, Noida
Sir — This is in response to Sudarsan Nandi’s letter, “To keep a track” (Sept 16). We assure the travelling public that the two bridges across Kansabati river and Silabati river referred to in the letter are safe and in sound condition. Neither of the two bridges shakes with the passage of trains. The two bridges, as also the other bridges on South Eastern Railway, are inspected at regular intervals and maintained in safe and satisfactory condition. Nandi’s letter may create fear among the readers. Therefore, it is necessary to clarify the actual facts for the information of readers.
R.N. Mahapatra, senior public relations officer, South Eastern Railway, Calcutta
Sir — Indian Railways took about half a century to realize that an additional train is required on their busiest route — Howrah-Delhi — and a bi-weekly superfast train has been introduced recently. During the last 50 years, several such superfast trains have been introduced throughout India, but except the Rajdhani Express, which is used by the affluent, there are hardly any on the route. When superfast trains became popular, the two old guards, namely Kalka Mail and Poorva Express were merely rechristened as superfast express.
Another point. A lot of development has occurred in the railways — electrification, route relay, automatic signalling and so on. However, all this has not translated into greater speed for the trains. The existing two trains on the route, as also the superfast express, have a journey time of around 23-24 hours, around the same time the first two took when they were first introduced.
J.P. Singhi, Calcutta
Sir — Every society has its share of psychopaths, but it is a sick society that would put a loaded gun into their hands (“Virginia man shot, sniper still at large”, Oct 12). Washington is now paying the price of its government’s failure to enforce gun control laws. That the lessons of the school shootings have not gone home is clear from the fact that even now George W. Bush is turning down proposals for “fingerprinting” guns, a step which, if implemented, would have stopped the current sniper in his tracks after the first shooting. It is also a telling commentary on the security of the self-styled capital of the world that its police cannot stop one madman with a gun.
B. Purkayastha, Shillong