Out in the wilderness
Sir — Monkeys have become the bane of the very person who did everything in her power to make things better for them. With Maneka Gandhi being asked to resign from the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals, the poor simians used in research laboratories all across the country have lost whatever little hope they might have had of an improvement in their condition (“Maneka loses last charge”, Dec 24). But isn’t it strange that the Gandhi bahu, who has loads of experience in politics and governance, should be caught on the wrong foot' Surely, with her influences, she could have tried to arrange things better' Indeed, time and fate has not been very kind to the former minister who seems to have been reduced to a political lightweight now. With the exit of Gandhi from the CPCSEA, yet another crusader for animal rights has fallen victim to the errant officials and their narrow, vested interests.
A. Basu, Kharagpur
Sir — Indiscriminate use of the word “reforms” by policy-makers in our country has divested it of all meaning. The word has become an euphemism for government policies which were meant to be progressive, but have become regressive over time. Economic reforms have come to mean selling state enterprises and balancing budgets with the proceeds. Interest rates have been cut but it hasn’t led to any appreciable investment in infrastructure. The Unit Trust of India is dying a slow death after having robbed millions of small investors of their hard-earned savings. Educational reforms have boiled down to rewriting textbooks and introducing vedic astrology in universities. Labour reforms have nothing to do with increasing the efficiency of workers through training and effective management — they are only a legal sanction to sack workers indiscriminately.
Fiscal reforms, labour reforms, educational reforms — we have had enough of these. What is now needed is, perhaps, a total reform of the political system.
Pareshnath Mukherjee, Calcutta
Sir — The proposed securitization and reconstruction of financial assets bill is a bold and pragmatic piece of legislation. It will certainly act as a deterrent to deliberate defaulters of bank loans. It will also prevent bank dues from becoming non-performing assets in future. Wilful defaulters must be taught a lesson and if necessary, criminal proceedings should be initiated against them. But the banks must make productive use of the seized assets. It is not feasible for banks to run the factories and other institutions seized but there must be a way to make productive use of the latter.
R.N. Lakhotia, New Delhi
Sir — Directors and other high-ranking employees in banks, who make decisions regarding whom to give loans, are usually appointed after a series of examinations and much screening. Unfortunately, more often than not, they are not held responsible for bad debt — the guilt being borne entirely by borrowers. Loans are given to applicants after considerable paperwork and cross checking. The borrower is not at fault every time since external factors may make him default and the lapses of officers cannot always be brushed under the carpet. In this sense, the proposed securitization bill needs reconsideration because it will not help matters much (“Second loan clean-up gambit,” Dec 11). The power to take over a borrower’s assets in case of default will not be very conducive to the process of loan-taking and loan-giving in our country.
R. Sajan, Kerala
Sir — The joint parliamentary committee report on the Unit Scheme ’64 scandal has blamed the finance ministry as a whole. That includes Yashwant Sinha, who was then finance minister. So why does the report blame him only implicitly' Surely, given our system of legislative accountability, a minister is responsible for the deeds of his officers' Or, what is the point of having ministers at all'
C.V.K. Moorthy, Karnataka
Sir — Over the past few years, interest rates on small savings schemes have come down from 12 per cent to around seven per cent. At the same time, prices of essential commodities, including medicines, have escalated considerably. This has affected retired people the most, who have mostly invest their money in post office schemes or in fixed deposits of banks. In the absence of any social security for the old, economic planning should keep in mind the plight of this lot.
Sanat Kumar Nandi, Jamshedpur
State of religion
Sir — The Constitution allows all Indians the freedom to practice the religion of their choice. But when this freedom starts to become an obstacle to developmental work, the state should have every right to take appropriate action against it. Take the Muslim community’s refusal to relocate the mosque situated on the airport premises. All citizens should remember that proper infrastructure is essential for development of the country. Hence, proposed sites for building infrastructure projects should be made free of encroachments like mosques and temples.
Kajal Chatterjee, Calcutta
Sir — Calcuttans take pride in being more secular than their compatriots elsewhere in the country. While this is true in general, stray incidents tarnish this image. For example, inaugurations and other auspicious occasions in government and public sector organizations in the city are often marked by typically Hindu rituals like pujas, accompanied by the chanting of mantras and smearing of vermillion tilaks. Offices and commercial institutions cater to all communities, irrespective of caste, creed or religion. So why must such overtly religious practices be followed in them'
Javed Alam, Calcutta
“March of the saffron brigade” (December 26), was written by Madhushree C. Bhowmik, and not Mashushree C. Bhowmik. The error is regretted.
— The Editor