The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

Crime knows no border

Sir — First Octavio Quattrocchi, then Abu Salem and now Anees Ibrahim. The efforts of crime busters in India to convince foreign governments to deport criminals wanted in this country seem truly jinxed. Is it that a crime committed against India is any less serious than that committed against any other country' It would seem so, since India had no problems in convincing Dubai to extradite Aftab Ansari — an accused in the American Center attack in Calcutta. Or is it the innate inefficiency of crime-fighters in India that is indicated by this serial failure' The British court that ordered the Indian government to pay damages to Nadeem Saifi seemed to think so. But it needs to be pointed out that India is not the only loser in this. The countries who have refused to deport the criminals back to India are harbouring criminals and indirectly encouraging crime. That’s what has given rise to the Osama bin Ladens of the world. But perhaps the world is yet to draw the appropriate lessons from that episode'

Yours faithfully,
R.H. Ganguly, Calcutta

Hate them not

Sir — Sarmila Bose rightly apprehends that India today shadows Nazi Germany (“Hindutva’s willing executioners”, Dec 10). Almost nothing has been done in all these years to change communal prejudices. Take the deep-rooted belief among most Hindus that Muslims are polygamous and is the reason the population of the community is growing faster than that of the Hindus. According to the 1981 census, for every 1,000 women there were 1,068 Muslim men (“For god’s sake”, Dec 7). The fact that men outnumber women among Muslims just as they do among Hindus, can be taken as evidence that polygamy is rare in the former community. Muslims accounted for 11.2 per cent of the population in 1971 — in 1991, they were 11.4 per cent. A growth of 0.2 per cent in 30 years is marginal and cannot be labelled as alarming. The success of the “hum paanch hamare pancheesh” variety of hate campaigns in Gujarat, masterminded by chief minister-elect Narendra Modi, has its origin in the failure to wipe out these erroneous notions. In a way, these myths are the groundwork on which fascist forces build on. A counter-offensive based on hard statistics can demolish such baseless assumptions, but how many people are bothered to go to all the trouble'

Yours faithfully,
Sujit De, Sodepur

Sir — If the British exploited communal tensions before independence, it is the sangh parivar that is harnessing the hatred against Muslims that most Hindus harbour in their hearts today. But Hindus are living in a fool’s paradise if, fuelled by the demagoguery of the Hindutva brigade, they believe that a Hindu India, without any Muslims will be an oasis of peace — it will witness the same chaos and violence that plagues Pakistan today.

Within a quarter of a century of the creation of Pakistan, linguistic differences led to its dismemberment. But even this did not bring peace to the country. Apart from rumblings of discontent in the North West Frontier Province and Sindh, the country has witnessed fierce clashes between the mohajirs, who migrated from India, and the original inhabitants of the country, and between the Shias and Sunnis. Once begun, there is no end to this process of fragmentation, which takes on different hues at different times. Take Bal Thackeray. The Shiv Sena founder first came on the public horizon with his championship of Maratha chauvinism. Down the decades, he found Hindu communalism had greater appeal. When his goal of marginalizing Muslims succeeds, perhaps his ire will be directed again at its original target — all (even Hindu) non-Marathis. Instead of casting aspersions at Muslims, Hindus should attempt to free themselves of evils like casteism.

Yours faithfully,
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur

Sir — Sarmila Bose is one of the last remaining armchair leftists. She completely misses the point when she says that Muslims are being persecuted because they are different. What about the Christians, Jews and Buddhists with whom Hindus have not had problems as long as they lived and let live' The animosity towards Muslims perhaps stems from the fact that most Muslims support Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. By getting hold of a book on the Nazis and finding a few superficial similarities between them and the advocates of Hindutva, Bose can hope to prove nothing. A simple refutation of her thesis is the number of Muslims killed in communal riots before the creation of Pakistan.

Yours faithfully,
Ranganath, US, via email

Abortive flights

Sir — The fact that the obsolete MiG-21 aircraft constitute the backbone of the nation’s combat fleet reflects badly on the operational capabilities of the Indian air force. Repeated mishaps involving the MiGs have compromised national security. It would have been best if the indigenous light combat aircraft had been ready for induction, but since they are not, the government should make sure the MiGs are replaced fast, with the latest available technology. The plan to phase them out by 2015 is not good enough — in that time, we will have lost many pilots, not to speak of the waste of precious resources and taxpayers’ money.

Yours faithfully,
Devv Paul, Bangalore

Sir — “Sabotage” has not been hinted at in any of the recent mishaps involving the MiG aircraft. Were the accidents then caused by mechanical faults' If so, why haven’t the aircraft been phased out As it is, our meagre resources are stretched in paying for their maintenance and also compensation after the accidents.

Yours faithfully,
Shaswati Bahubalindra, Moyna, East Midnapore

Matter of style

Sir — The highly critical review in The Telegraph of my translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Lipika is oddly weighted (“Madness, neurosis and the red book”, Oct 11). Such facts as it gives are misleading. Far from providing “no historical or textual information throughout”, my introduction takes a close look at Tagore’s approach to poetic prose, in his English Gitanjali, in Lipika, and in his introductory note to Punashcho. The evolution of Lipika’s textual format is discussed. A sharp historical context is provided in an appendix that carries (entire) the recollections of P.C. Mahalanobis of the days following the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Tagore’s state of mind as he began Lipika is shown here with a certain authenticity, I submit. Also, the work is set in perspective in an impression of the author’s life. Had your reviewer commented on inaccuracies in the information provided instead of saying it is not there, his wholly dismissive reaction may have been a little more understandable.

But it is not. Irritation at my style is the only visible explanation for the critic’s tone throughout. As far as the text of the translation goes readers are merely informed that it abounds in words like “parasol-maid” (chhatradharini). In fact, the predilection for compound words is more a feature of the original than the translation.

Yours faithfully,
Joe Winter, Calcutta

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