No points for peacemaking
Sir — So what if Saddam Hussein has just made a major concession by allowing United Nations weapons inspectors inside Iraq' That doesn’t impress George W. Bush much (“Saddam blinks, accepts ultimatum to disarm”, Nov 14). Iraq’s gesture may have been motivated by its urge to prevent a war, but Bush can’t wait to have one. So no eyebrows will be raised if, all of a sudden, Hussein is heard to be interfering with the working of the weapons inspectors or not cooperating with them. For, when has Bush let something as trivial as world peace stop him from pursuing his hegemonic agenda'
Chaiti Ganguli, Calcutta
Sir — A non-resident Indian living in Hong Kong, I was happy to learn that Calcutta Telephones was reportedly upgrading its technology and thinking of introducing 8-digit numbers which would help the organization provide better services.
The department seems to be following the same method as Hong Kong during the switchover. For the first three months after the change was introduced in Hong Kong, all callers were informed by a pre-recorded voice to add the digit 2 before the existing seven digit number. I would suggest another technological upgradation. Calcutta Telephones should devise a system that would enable consumers to keep the same telephone number even after shifting house or relocating themselves. This system is prevalent in Hong Kong and one does not have to pay any extra charge for it. To generate additional revenue, Calcutta Telephones could impose a onetime charge for this facility.
B. Ramesh, Hong Kong
Sir — The Central government has recently announced certain schemes to popularize the use of the internet among the public. Internet users in cybercafes would be able to access the world wide web through the dial-up connection at a cost of Rs 12.50 per hour instead of Rs 25 per hour. However, this reduced rate would be available to only those users who accessed the web between 10:30 pm and 6:30 am. One fails to realize how this will make the internet more popular among users since there are a lot of people who do not access the internet during the night. A scheme announced by the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited is equally meaningless. It had declared that internet users would be able to access the web for 24 hours and at a monthly charge of Rs 1,800, with no additional telephone bill. However this scheme is not yet available from all exchanges.
If the government is serious about popularizing the internet, it must be willing to give away packages like the direct internet access system at a reduced rate of Rs 500 a month with minimum registration charges. Dial-up charges should also be reduced by about 50 per cent.
Samir Raha, Dankuni
Sir — That members of the Chinese communist party have realized the importance and inevitability of change is evident from their decision to allow people from other classes to become members of the party. They have now accepted the fact that China cannot cling to Marxism and emerge as a forerunner in global politics at the same time.
In the Chinese province of Liaoning, state-owned units have sacked 4,89,000 workers within the last one and half years. While China has closed down 103 small steel units, socialist West Bengal has not been able to take the decision of winding up its loss-making units. West Bengal should follow China’s example since reforms and competition are the only way of surviving in the free-market era.
Sudarsan Nandi, Rangamati
Sir — A law that allows a woman of marriageable age to have a child out of wedlock with the help of donated sperm is indeed revolutionary, especially if it has been enacted in communist China (“Radical Jilin steals Beijing’s thunder”, Nov 12). Change may have become the buzzword with the mandarins of the Chinese communist party, but it is unlikely that this law would survive for more than a few months in a country which has stringently enforced the one-child norm in order to reduce its population.