Our father, the celebrity
Sir — First it was Amitabh Bachchan’s family that went all ga-ga over the actor’s 60th birthday and decided to publish a “tribute” to him on the occasion. And now it is Amjad Ali Khan’s two sons who have given us Abba, God’s Greatest Gift to Us (main photograph on page 7, Nov 19). Their family, it is true, is closest to these immensely successful individuals and knows them best. But familiarity in this instance does not help, it leads to adulation. Posterity, and indeed all but the most diehard of fans, will not really care whether Bachchan was a good father or a husband. Indeed, what will perhaps be most treasured about Abba... is the CD of Khan’s first recording. In sum, it seems such trivia are produced with the objective of generating media hype. Surely, the icons themselves do not need to do anything to attract attention. Are their respective families then serving their own interests'
R.N. Mukherjee, Calcutta
Games superpowers play
Sir — Living in a unipolar world has its pitfalls. Perhaps, the most serious one is having the United States of America as the world’s policeman. It is common knowledge today that the United Nations, formed to be an impartial and autonomous body, has ended up being hostage to US interests. The latest security council resolution, calling upon Baghdad to disarm, is only seemingly unanimous — member countries of the council must have voted in its favour under pressure from the sole superpower of the world.
The fact that the Iraqi parliament unanimously rejected the UN resolution but left the final decision to the discretion of Saddam Hussein should tell the US something (“Saddam’s son supports, House snubs UN”, Nov 13). If Hussein were indeed the dreaded dictator that the US makes him out to be, then the Iraqi parliament, made up of people’s representatives, would surely have welcomed the UN’s call. Instead, it is the people who rejected it, while Hussein and his followers agreed to let in the UN weapons inspectors.
Operation Desert Storm and sanctions have devastated the economy and infrastructure of Iraq. Besides, there is no proof that Iraq has been harbouring terrorists, while Pakistan, with proven terrorist links, continues to be in the good books of the US. Also neither the US nor the UN has said anything against North Korea, a country with known nuclear capability. Isn’t the US, under the pretext of ensuring global peace, building animosities which may lead to a third world war'
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — Even as Iraq accepted the US-sponsored UN resolution calling upon it to declare all weapons of mass destruction in its possession, Israel continued to occupy Palestine, destroy its infrastructure and kill innocent civilians. It also possesses weapons of mass destruction in large numbers. But it is Iraq, and not Israel, which must assent to UN inspection. The Bill Clinton regime admitted in 1999 that it had received information on Iraq from UN special commission inspectors. Media reports in the US have suggested that such information, for example on the movements of Saddam Hussein and other key Iraqi officials, was later used to direct US air strikes during Operation Desert Fox, the US-British assault on Iraq, which primarily aimed to kill the Iraqi president.
Who is to say that the latest round of inspections is not being conducted with the same sinister intentions' The testimony of the former UN senior inspector, Scott Ritter, that Iraq does not have any weapons of mass destruction only lends weight to such suspicions.
One more thing. Neither the UN nor the US has said clearly what these “weapons of mass destruction” are. Until they do so, the weapons inspection will be just a pretext to impose war on Iraq and its people.
Deepak Sarkar, Victoria, Canada
Sir — Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Or else how could the White House chief of staff, Andrew Cart, claim that the US did not need UN permission to attack Iraq (“Why Iraq will be attacked”, Nov 18). Britain and most of the other important nations also seem to agree that the US’s status as the world’s sole superpower means it can act on its own. In the circumstances, does the UN have any relevance any more'
Of course, this has always been the case or George W. Bush could not have proclaimed after the September 11 attacks that countries were either with it or against it in its fight against terrorism. Fighting global terrorism is all very well, but not at the cost of injustice to other nations.
Indrajit Bose, Cuttack
Gates of charity
Sir — The AIDS scenario in India is too grim for an unseemly controversy over the projected estimates of HIV/AIDS prevalence to put in jeopardy the generous $ 100 million donation given by the Bill and Melinda Foundation for the care of those living with the virus and for the prevention of HIV/AIDS in India (“No Figureheads”, Nov 13). AIDS experts believe that India will have to radically improve its AIDS programmes and introduce more innovative ones if the country is to avert a devastating pandemic of the magnitude currently sweeping Africa.
Bill Gates has done well to focus on truck-drivers, migrant labourers and their partners. He should also include HIV-positive pregnant women, because if treated early with not-so-expensive drugs, the chances of the baby being infected gets significantly reduced.
Moni Nag, New York
Sir — Bill Gates and his foundation are doing yeomen service for the AIDS afflicted. Gates may be a businessman, but he is one with a conscience.
P.V. Madhu, Secunderabad
Sir — How can the new chief justice of India, G.B. Pattanaik, possibly be born on December 19, 1937, and be enrolled as an advocate on February 28, 1937 (“Shortest term for Pattanaik”, Nov 9)'
Sunil Rampuria, Siliguri