Surely, you must be joking
Sir — Ever since he took over as the tenant of White House, George “Dubya” Bush has been the world’s favourite butt of jokes. He has probably got a little tired of the whole world laughing at his expense (“Want to insult Bush' Take his permission”, Nov 28). The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre, which has asked an advertising agency to ask for Bush’s permission before taking a dig at him, might save the American president some embarrassment from being ridiculed in television commercials. But can it save Bush from his legendary gaffes, which add colour to his speeches'
P. Konar, Chinsurah
Sir — The absurdity of the decisions of the Central government and especially the Union home minister, L.K. Advani, comes to the fore every once in a while. The latest instance is the decision to award death penalty to rapists (“Govt. favours rape death penalty, women don’t”, Nov 27). Wouldn’t a higher rate of conviction than the current rate of one per cent be of more use' It is ridiculous to talk about death penalties when most of the convicts manage to get away scot-free. Advani and others like him need to realize that there is an even greater need to be more sympathetic to the victim. Capital punishment will be effective only if there is a simultaneous effort to make institutional changes.
Sir — Amidst all the debate about giving death penalty to rapists, one aspect seems to have escaped the Centre’s attention. Rape is also used by women to frame men against whom they might bear a personal grudge. This could be why the proposal has been opposed by many women’s organizations. Besides, since Indian law does not distinguish between various degrees of the crime, it would be unfair to treat all rapists with a common penalty.
D. Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — The underlying purpose of the Centre’s decision on death penalty seems to be to relieve the society of a heinous crime assumed to be beyond reprieve. However, such a drastic step may well complicate matters further for the victim. Besides, commutation of a death sentence is a time-consuming process, and the president of India could soon find himself spending a considerable amount of time deciding the fate of those convicted. The government has to think of alternative and more practical punishments which can effectively deter the offenders.
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Come a cropper
Sir — Environmentalists deserve praise for stalling the cultivation of genetically modified mustard that claims to boost yield (“Greens force mustard red light,” Nov 8). The multinational company that is promoting sales of this crop will have reasons for harping on its merits. But then, it was the same story for cotton too. It is too early to speculate on the extent of damage the use of this crop will cause to the economy in the long run.
Its benefits will temporarily cloud our judgment, but the problems will show up as soon as we grow accustomed to its daily use. Any genetically modified product is bound to come with adverse side-effects. A boost in yields is only one aspect of the story, several doubts about food, environmental and bio-safety have not been removed satisfactorily. Mustard is a highly consumed food crop in India. This should be reason enough to make the concerned authorities think seriously before giving the green signal for the use of this crop.
Arta Mishra, Cuttack
Sir — Reports in The Telegraph on contract farming, are full of praise for this “vision statement (“A future crop”, Nov 8). The truth is that only a handful of farmers will benefit from such farming. The average size of farm holding for individuals in west India, and most of India, is very small. The farmer will not be left with much after he gives up most of his land for contract farming. Moreover, capital availability for farmers is minimal due to uncertainty of yields. What is needed now is crop insurance for all farmers. Just as insuring property is essential for protection against accidents, a farmer’s crop yield, being frequently subject to the vagaries of nature, needs to be insured.
B. Ghosh, Durgapur