The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

To kill them all softly

Sir — There is no doubt, characters like Raja Bhaiyya have provided the stuff which Bollywood villains are made of (“Scorned Mayavati fells ‘rebel’ raja”, Nov 27). However, unlike in Hindi films, it is not an “honest” police officer or a committed politician who comes to the rescue of the people. In this case, it is an opportunist chief minister who brandishes the thick file on Bhaiyya’s misdeeds. Mayavati, the minister in question, has resorted to strong-arm tactics before. She made quite a success of bureaucratic shuffling, and more recently, after the state elections got over, has shown enough ingenuity in trying to defend her legislators against poaching by keeping them locked up in circuit houses. There is no reason to believe that the use of law against political opponents is her chance discovery. But seldom has any other politician used this policy with more effect. One hopes this policy becomes more popular with politicos as this is the only one that guarantees mutual decimation.

Yours faithfully,
M. Chatterjee, Calcutta

Fall in line

Sir — Starting at an economic level similar to India’s, China has fared much better than the former. A lot has been written and speculated about the Chinese advantages over us. Most of the learned commentators bemoan the lack of liberalization in India, the antiquated labour laws, the poor infrastructure and, of course, the biggest cause of all — lack of enough foreign direct investment. They believe if only India could attract more foreign direct investment, its gross domestic product would rise and India would become more affluent. The trickle down effect will ensure that the poor get enough morsels from the tables of the rich.

This perspective ignores the fact that an equitable distribution of food does not invariably follow economic progress. It is a necessary pre-requisite and hence has to precede it. The basic resource of India is its people, and if this resource is undernourished, it cannot become a useful contributor to the nation’s wealth. The way we are aiming at growth without any regard for equity will forever nullify the efforts we make. It is a well-known fact that undernourishment affects the mental and physical abilities of humans for the rest of their life. When undernourishment afflicts large numbers of our population, no magic wand or infusion of FDI will allow India to go on the path of rapid progress. In 1982, when liberalization was just starting in China, approximately only 10 per cent of its population was undernourished, while there was 50 per cent such undernourished people in 1992 in India. We have to create conditions by which most people have the adequate purchasing power to keep themselves well-nourished. This is the basic need for India to sustain its economic growth.

Yours faithfully,
Shailesh Gandhi, Mumbai

Sir — Sunanda K. Datta-Ray’s article, “Marriage of advantage” (Nov 23), compels one to recall Karl Marx’s habit of rejecting any thesis, survey or analysis on the plea that it was journalistic. One could do the same to this article. Datta-Ray does not seem to have gone through crucial reports, for example the one placed by Jiang Zemin at the 80th anniversary of the Communist Party of China on July 1, 2001. Which is probably why Datta-Ray could write that “Jiang Zemin’s Three Represents doctrine proudly marries communism with capitalism”.

Jiang first enunciated the concept of Three Represents at the 80th anniversary of the CPC. “Reviewing the course of struggle...and looking into the arduous tasks and bright future in the new century, our Party should continue to stand in the forefront of the times...In a word, we must always represent China’s advanced productive forces, the orientation of China’s advanced culture and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people in China (hereafter referred to as “Three Represents”). Even by the wildest imagination, one cannot find either capitalism or capitalists here.

Jiang is a staunch follower of Deng Xiaoping. He has added Deng’s basic tenets to the purposes of the congress, besides Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. The theme of his speech at the 15th congress was to “hold high the great banner of Deng Xiaoping Theory for an all-round advancement of the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics into the 21st century”. At the 16th congress too, he stated, “The theme of the congress is to hold high the great banner of Deng Xiaoping Theory, fully act on the important thought of Three Represents, carry forward our cause into the future, keep pace with the times, build a well-off society in an all-round way, speed up socialist modernization and work hard to create a new situation in building socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

I am not a blind supporter of the CPC nor the CPC leaders. But a commentator must try to stick to facts.

Yours faithfully,
Siddhartha Ghosh Dastidar, Calcutta

Sir — China is at the crossroads of history today. For decades it had followed an inward-looking, controlled economy based on the Soviet model. It was already time for a change though. Globally, the Soviet model has turned out to be a dismal failure, while the market-friendly policies of south Asian countries have made some of them even richer than nations in the West. It was China’s turn to include the country’s business classes into the communist progress of the nation. One wonders when communist parties in India will be able to understand the same need and acknowledge it.

The Left Front in West Bengal seem to have some set ideas. It believes that foreign investors are not interested in exports, they will not bring in the best technology, they will drain the country’s wealth through monopoly profits. That multinationals with their inherent advantage will kill indigenous industry, that foreign investment is a vehicle for neo-colonial domination and foreign funds will erode self-reliance.

The new dispensation will hopefully realize that foreign investment will bring in a large amount of foreign exchange in the form of equity. Two, it can provide insurance against a debt-trap besides bringing in the best know-how and managerial skills. Debunking market-oriented growth will leave us poor and disadvantaged. The new path does not require India or the left to give up any of its social goals. The social indicators of growth, in fact, are stronger in market economies than elsewhere. Social democrats in Sweden and Germany have proved that social justice is entirely compatible with markets and multinationals, so have South Korea and Singapore.

Yours faithfully,
Surajit Basak, Calcutta

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