An arranged marriage after all
Sir — There is plenty of genius left on this earth. This was recently proved by the Haynes Man Manual which thought of offering health tips to men in car-maintenance terms (“Love your car, love your body”, Nov 6). The logic being that men, who are found to love cars to the point of obsession, will respond better that way about their health, which they tend to ignore. But if men and motors are indeed so inextricably wedded, why is it that Celine Dion, and not Tom Cruise for instance, has been chosen to promote the Chrysler brand of cars (“Celine and Chrysler: sell for each other”, Nov 6)'
Sandhya Mahadevan, Mangalore
Castles in the air
Sir — The defence minister, George Fernandes, recently summoned the top brass of the Indian air force for an urgent discussion of the recent crashes involving Jaguar and MiG aircraft, which have proved prone to such mishaps over the years (“Stocktaking summons on IAF brass”, Nov 7). This is not the first time that an Indian defence minister has convened such a meeting; neither will it be the last.
Traditionally, the blame for such accidents have been shouldered by the user, namely, the air force, and the manufacturer and upgrading agency, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited; the former for inadequate training facilities for its pilots and poor maintenance, and the latter for not taking enough care in manufacturing the fighter aircraft. Several committees were appointed by the government to probe the accidents and to suggest remedial measures but the reports are probably gathering dust in the government archives.
Besides the lives of the air force pilots and other civilians, as in the case of the Jaguar crash, a sizeable chunk of the taxpayers’ money is laid to waste in such crashes. A more fundamental issue continues to be ignored — that the government has taken upon itself the responsibility of air-defence in a holistic manner but has proved unequal to the task. The government is the manufacturer (HAL being a government agency) in one avatar, the inspector in another avatar (the Aeronautics Defence Establishment and other inspection agencies) and finally, also the user. When things go wrong, each starts blaming the other, and the government has no place to hide. One cannot help feeling sorry for Fernandes.
K.R. Rangaswamy, Madison, US
Sir — The regular crashes of fighter planes belonging to the fleet of the Indian air force is a matter of serious concern. Each crash brings to light the inefficiency of the force. Besides, the country is suffering from an acute crisis of funds. The loss of expensive aircraft like Jaguars and MiGs only aggravates the crisis. If this rate of accidents continues, the Indian air force may soon lose more planes during peace-time than other armies lose during wartime. The air force and the defence ministry should take measures before it gets too late.
Sudarsan Nandi, Rangamati, Midnapore
Sir — Why should the poor kalandhars suffer because Maneka Gandhi has thrown one of her famous tantrums (“Maneka faces animal march”, Nov 1)' Forests are no longer safe for wild animals because of unscrupulous poachers. Besides, the forest cover is diminishing with every passing day owing to the reckless felling of trees.
The animals owned by the kalandhars are at least safe from the poachers. These animals also get food and shelter from their masters. It is not a one-sided relationship in which only the master profits from owning the animals. It must also to be borne in mind that children in small towns and villages who do not have access to the zoos of the big cities can only get to see these animals at these roadside shows of the kalandhars. The recreational value of these cannot be ignored either. The so-called animal-lovers need to shed their parochial attitude and ponder over the plight of human beings in general and the kalandhars in particular.
Bikash Banerjee, Durgapur
Sir — Do all kalandhars really love their animals and birds and take proper care of them' Haven’t we heard of masters beating their monkeys, saying, “Badmashi ka yahi illaj hai” (Beating is the only medicine for the truant creature)'
S.S. Almal, Calcutta