Her claim to fame
Sir — If Dashiell Torralba, the former girlfriend of Fidel Castro’s son, Antonio Castro, had wanted revenge against the Castro family, she should perhaps have aimed for a little more than a few smuggled videotapes depicting the senior Castro’s decadent lifestyle (“Smuggled tapes expose Castro’s luxurious lifestyle”, Nov 21). Surely most Cubans have by now suspected that Castro, like other communist dictators, lives a life of luxury while most Cubans remain poor and unemployed' The tapes are by no means as earth-shattering as the revelations about Nicolai Ceausescu’s wealth and atrocities that had followed the fall of communist Romania in 1989. Neither Castro’s wife, whom Torralba wanted to embarrass, nor Castro himself, will lose a night’s sleep over the contents of the video. Rather than exposing the C astros, Torralba seems to be in search of some publicity herself. The videos have certainly given her more fame than she could have ever hoped for.
Meera Dutta, Calcutta
A matter of choice
Sir — There is no denying the truth of Gautam Bose’s statement: “It may be advisable to throw out bad decisions once they turn out to be bad. But to make this a habit invites more bad decisions, since one does not then expect to bear the full consequences.” Bose’s contention that it is our parents who have beaten into us the habit of thinking of all pros and cons before buying something is also spot-on. It is this habit that explains how the middle-class holds its head above water during a recession.
But things have changed with the advent of liberalization in the Nineties. The consumer today is confronted with more choices and may often find himself succumbing to the temptation to possess the latest fashions or the newest gadgets. Industry, taking advantage of the change in consumer attitudes, also seems to advocate the virtues of “shop till you drop”. Consumers may thus find it quite impossible to “look before you leap”, as they compete with friends and neighbours in acquisitions. Consumerism thus robs one not just of wealth, but also of the spirit to resist.
Parents must teach their children the importance of thinking well before making decisions. A good exercise may be to ask children to choose between a good place described by a drab Atlas and a bad place glorified by a colourful poster for a picnic.
Sujit De, Sodepur
Sir — Gautam Bose analyses human behaviour using hypothetical situations and speculating how people react to it. But Bose does not consider many factors. Take the person who has lost his ticket while going to watch movie A. He may buy another one if he has the money or if he wants to watch it very much. His decision will also depend on whether he was going to watch the last show of the film. If he finds out, on going to the hall, that movie B was showing and not movie A, the decision to sell the ticket or watch B would depend on whether he watches movies to pass time or for emotional and intellectual stimulation. If it is the former, watching movie A would be the same as watching movie B. Those who watch films for stimulation may find it difficult to change their decision.
Also, the decision made by a prince and by an ordinary middle-class boy will differ according to their upbringing and circumstances.
Surajit Basak, Calcutta
Sir — It is the unwillingness of the Indian defence establishment to upgrade its aircraft that has resulted in the crash of yet another MiG-21 at Bagdogra (“Cursed MIG swallows air force’s best”, Nov 15). There have been 17 such crashes in the past 11 months — nearly two crashes a month. The defence ministry is yet to wake up though. Although the initial reports do not point to mechanical failure but human error and weather conditions, the air force should take the MiGs off active duty.
Hundreds of MIGs have crashed during test flights. Given its poor endurance, it is unlikely that the MiG could disable an enemy base during war and return safely. Although each crash is followed by a routine investigation, the defence ministry has failed to replace the MiG with more advanced jet fighters. Also, it is time India stopped depending on Russia for its defence equipment and started collaborating with other countries.
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — Not only have the MiG crashes resulted in the loss of military hardware but also in the death of trained pilots. It is the Indian taxpayer who has to bear the increases in defence expenditure. Despite the frequency of these crashes, there has been little debate on the issue in Parliament.
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore
Sir — The news that only a few petitions stating their grievances were received by the parliamentary and state assembly committees from the people of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura does not imply that people in these states are content with the governance (“Not complaining”, Nov 20). Most likely, it is because neither the government nor the media gave enough information about the committees. The large number of letters sent to the editor of The Telegraph, for instance, is an indication that people in West Bengal have a lot of grievances about which they are willing to complain.
Moni Nag, New York, US