Better half, worst offence
Sir — It is one thing for villagers in an ex-apartheid country to take revenge on their former rulers, and it is entirely another for the first lady of the country to evict two old and harmless people from their home of 25 years just because she has taken a fancy to the property (“Step out, your farm is First Lady’s chosen land”, Dec 27). In the case of Zimbabwe, of course, the support of Robert Mugabe’s government to the killing of white farmers and looting of their property is more than overt. But the outrageous act of his wife, Grace, gives the whole series of land-related violence against the white farmers in the country a state stamp that will be impossible to erase. Grace Mugabe, of course, is the newest member of the club of first wives (remember Imelda Marcos'), on whom their husbands’ powers rub off a little too well for comfort. Could it be that a powerful husband makes a woman a fearsome creature' After all, it is difficult to think of a “first husband” who has been similarly tainted.
Sirajul Islam, Calcutta
Power to the people
Sir — The Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation has approached the West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission in the past to increase tariffs to help it cover its losses. The sixth schedule of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948, enables the CESC to shift the burden of losses on the consumers. As for cross subsidies, the Supreme Court had observed, “if the state government so chooses to subsidize supply of energy to any particular class of consumers, the same can be done provided, of course, the burden of loss suffered by the company is borne by the state government and not imposed on any other class of consumers”. So instead of running to the high court, the state government has to ensure now that the accounts of the CESC are audited properly, by a responsible and authoritative body, to confirm whether the CESC has really incurred such huge losses (“Subsidy shock drives govt to court”, Dec 18).
In fact, the CESC evaded the WBERC’s demand that it be shown proof of the CESC’s losses. Higher tariffs had already been fixed on this presumption, and with government sanction. So the WBERC was within its rights to demand the CESC’s accounts. Sadly, in Bengal, the brunt of the hike has to be borne by the low-tension energy consumers, much greater in number than high-tension energy consumers.
L.K. Chatterjee, Calcutta
Sir — Would the people who have endorsed the WBERC’s decision to remove cross subsidy — a move whose beneficiaries will be the industrial units — ask the industrial units to reduce the selling price of their products in proportion to the decrease in their power costs'
Kajal Chatterjee, Calcutta
Sir — No state with a deteriorating fiscal condition can afford to continue subsidizing services for too long. Education and health are sectors which ought to be subsidized to some extent on account of their importance in the formation of human capital. What is needed therefore, is a proper targeting of subsidies so that social objectives are not overlooked. The benefits of subsidies unfortunately accrue more to the better-off than to those for whom they are meant. The network of patronage that subsidies have created will make it difficult for the state government to salvage the situation.
Surajit Basak, Calcutta
Article of bad faith
Sir — Bharat Bhushan’s article, “The specificities of Guajrat” (April 19), only reflected the author’s leftist bias. He has taken out his hatred for the Bharatiya Janata Party on the people of Gujarat. He holds Gujarat’s pragmatic rejection of socialism, a system discarded the world over, as proof of its moral and economic bankruptcy. The article is intellectually hollow and vapid. Rather than analyzing the rise of rightist politics around the world, the author uses the election results in Gujarat as a peg to spew venom on Gujaratis. He does not realize that Gujarat has always been the harbinger of new political thinking in India at all the important junctures in history — from political movement against colonial rule (Dandi march) to the formation of linguistic states to the advent of anti-Congress governments to the first Janata Party state government to the rejection of leftist agenda, and now, politics based on communal polarization. The last is indeed cause for worry, but not reason enough to allow ill-informed journalism and vituperative diatribe to pass off as analytical reportage.
Gaurang Shah, US, via email
Sir — Bharat Bhushan seems to be jealous of the achievements of Gujarat and the Gujarati middle class. Or else, he could not have talked about the achievements of Rammohan Roy in glowing terms while describing the Swaminarayan sect as a power-grabbing institution of Gujarat. If the author had done his homework on the sect, he would have found out that the Swaminarayan Mandir of Calcutta was the first organization to start relief work when floods hit Bengal two years ago. I am afraid many like me would stop reading The Telegraph if you carry on publishing articles of such vindictive nature.
Yogesh Patel, Cleveland, US
Out of the race
Sir — The article, “A day at the races” (Dec 26), contained a glaring factual error. The presiding club of the race course in this city is the Royal Calcutta Turf Club and not the Royal Bengal Turf Club as stated. A newspaper is expected to inform, so to see such a blatant mistake in black and white raises doubts over the credibility of what one is reading.
D. Chatterjee, Calcutta