Under house arrest
Sir — The paanwalla who listens to Lata Mangeshkar from dawn to dusk on his radio has no doubts about the distance that separates him from the melody queen. Hers is a voice that has lent character to heroines from Madhubala to Madhuri Dixit, and one with which he has grown up. But he never makes the mistake of hoping to hear it voice his concerns some day. That is one idea that was born in the head of either the president of India or that of his political fraternity. So they should ideally bear the responsibility of the singer’s so called “absenteeism”. Every year, a few of the country’s “eminent” citizens are nominated by the head of state to take seat in the Rajya Sabha. The nomination is supposed to be an honour no one dare refuse. So every year, distinguished, sometimes disinterested and sometimes very busy people find themselves in the cacophony of Parliament. Some sit through it all, like Mrinal Sen, and others, like Lata, ask for leave. Shouldn’t they be left alone'
J. Acharya, Calcutta
Sir — The Cauvery river water dispute has highlighted several issues of immense national importance. There have been arguments and counter-arguments, interventions by the prime minister and ultimately the Supreme Court in the dispute. The apex court has even issued notices to the Centre, states and Union territories to network rivers to counter the situation where one part of the state is ravaged by floods and the other by severe drought (“Apex court notice to Centre, states on linking rivers”, Oct 1).
In the mid-Sixties, there had been a similar suggestion to build a grand garland canal, connecting all the northern rivers together with the peninsular rivers in the shape of a garland. The scheme then had looked too far-fetched with an estimated cost running into billions of rupees. It was proposed that the canals would be used as hydro-electric turbine drivers, delivering power as an alternative advantage with the help of small buffer lakes. The monsoon-fed rivers would supplement the drying ones and the rivers themselves would work as storage water arteries with controllable barrages. This grand scheme should be revived and implemented.
S.B. Biswas, Calcutta
Sir — In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court has directed the Central government to take necessary steps to interlink all rivers in India within the next decade. Interlinking all the rivers in the country in the same way the national highways have been connected, will be a boon for the country, especially the flood- and drought-prone states. It will also help further agriculture. It is noteworthy that the president, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, had also referred to the matter in his address to the nation on Independence Day. It is expected that the government will accord the matter top priority considering the hunger deaths in Rajasthan, which is suffering drought for the fourth consecutive year. Hunger deaths have also occurred in Orissa earlier.
B.L. Tekriwal, Mumbai
Sir — India and Bangladesh, two independent countries, solved the water-sharing problem between them. The agreement still holds. Sworn enemies, India and Pakistan have also worked out the Indus-water sharing accord quite amicably. Yet states which are integral parts of India are at each other’s throats for generations over the waters of one river.
Last year’s drought in Karnataka has worsened this year. Helplessness with regard to water-release has forced the Karnataka government to even risk contempt proceedings in the Supreme Court. Yet J. Jayalalithaa continues to insist that Karnataka release more water. Farmers in both the states have become embroiled in this controversy, which is essentially a political one.
Politics, rather than the interests of agriculturists, have become important. In the changing political equation, Jayalalithaa’s usefulness to the powers that be in New Delhi is bound to grow if she manages to destabilize S.M. Krishna’s Congress government. The latter’s image and efforts to carry all parties in its endeavours to improve the economy of the state are in striking contrast to the vengeance and calumny Jayalalithaa’s rule personifies. There are as many Kannadigas living for decades in Tamil Nadu as Tamils living in Karnataka. It does not bother her at all that her chauvinism may endanger the lives of these people.
About the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s concern for people’s welfare, only one incident would suffice. In the Seventies, under the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government of M. Karunanidhi, the Veeranam project had been initiated to tap Cauvery waters to solve the problem for water-starved Chennai. Mid-way through the project, the DMK government was replaced by AIADMK and the project was scrapped under a cloud of accusations of corruption levelled against the previous government. No heed was paid to the fact that a colossal amount of money had already been sunk into the project.
N. Narasimhan, Bangalore
Sir — While the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court recently found the S.M. Krishna government of Karnataka wilfully disobeying its orders of releasing the stipulated amount of water to the neighbouring state (“Krishna, Centre share court stick”, Oct 25), the apex court has also found J. Jayalalithaa disrespectful of the court orders. The Supreme Court has the final say in all judicial matters and the politicians had better acknowledge that. If Krishna has been hauled up for non-compliance and contempt, Jayalalithaa should also invite similar proceedings.
Govinda Bakshi, Budge Budge
Sir — Is India doomed to be governed by vastu' Is this what democracy signifies' (“Fault lies in House not occupants”, Nov 23). Hats off to the vastu-expert who has got politicians to believe that the structural fault of Parliament is responsible for the death of 13 members of Parliament. The future will probably not only see the removal of Bapu’s “inauspicious” statue from the premises, but also the addition of wasteful water fountains. The changes will be “vastu-friendly”, but will they be people-friendly as well'
Rohitash Agarwal, Howrah
Sir — Shatrughan Sinha has his Nirman Bhavan office designed according to vastu principles, and now Parliament has fallen into the same vastu trap. With vastu so prominently being worn by politicians on their sleeves, should we not expect it to be declared the grand national architectural framework' We could also be seeing the holding of a mahayajna on the premises of Parliament soon.
T.R. Anand, Calcutta