Itching for war
Sir — The United States of America seems to have developed quite a taste for fighting unnecessary wars (“North Korea expels UN nuclear inspectors”, Dec 28). Or why would Donald Rumsfeld make the deliberately incendiary statement that the US is capable of fighting two wars at once' Since, the US has stopped supplying oil to North Korea, isn’t the latter more than justified in reactivating its reactor in Yongbong to meet its energy requirements' As to the US’s war with Iraq, it is more of a ploy on the part of George W. Bush to divert the attention of the American populace away from the failure in Afghanistan — but things may not turn out quite the way he hopes they will. After all, none of the US’s allies in the Islamic world has so far supported its agenda on Iraq and both Japan and South Korea are opposed to a war against North Korea. Surely, even the most powerful man in the world cannot will history to repeat itself'
Pradeep Deb, Calcutta
Voice of sanity
Sir — Rudrangshu Mukherjee’s evocation of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, in particular his insistence on non-violence, was timely given that violence has become the mainstay of our existence today (“No victors in a violent world”, Dec 14). What is most shocking is the intolerance and seeming bloodlust of the middle classes. These are perhaps the result of the self-righteousness of political discourse over the past decades. The tendency to make holy cows of state policies has led to much historial dissimulation, the bottom line of this campaign being — we have been wronged and have silently suffered, and now seek retribution.
As a result of such propaganda, the average citizen nurtures woolly-headed notions of the country. For example, he finds nothing wrong with India’s interference in Bangladesh in 1971, but is peeved at the latter’s sheltering of alleged Pakistani militants. He does not question the government’s role in Sikkim and or that of the armed forces in the Northeast or Jammu and Kashmir. He is proud of the popularity of yoga and Indian classical dance and cuisine in the West, but is angry that Western culture is eroding our own. Perhaps, it is this selective sense of social propriety and obliviousness to such double-standards that form the foundation of endemic violence.
Sandeep Mukherjee, Calcutta
Sir — The contention of Rudranghsu Mukherjee that the only way to end the cycle of violence is to abjure violence in any form is perhaps too naïve. For one, violence has increased all over the world, and two, violence invariably begets more violence. Thus India cannot, even if it wants to, adopt a pacifist position unless its neighbours do so too.
Jyoti Dasgupta, Calcutta
Sir — Sometime ago I visited Dakshin Bhowanipur in North Dinajpur. The people here are so poor that they do not get a meal a day; there is no primary school here or a health centre. It made me realize how far we had drifted from the ideals of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The condition of the poor has not improved despite all the good intentions of our policy-makers. Globalization, particularly, has hit them hard. Our politicians should have considered the effects of globalization on countries in west Europe and Latin America before embracing it so whole-heartedly.
Aritra Roy, Shyamnagar
Sir — The link between child labour and lack of education is undeniable (“Schooled for life”, Dec 18). As long as children remain out of school, they are at a greater risk of being forced to work. In fact, children in India can be divided into two categories. While the fortunate work hard on their homework only, the rest work in tea-stalls or as domestic help.
Free midday meals may be one way of arresting the drop-out rate in schools. It will lead to a reduction in child labour, as also prevent malnutrition in poor children. Also the needy could be provided with free education and vocational training. The parents of poor children must also be made aware of the benefits of sending their children to school.
Sujit De, Sodepur
Sir — It is poverty which causes child labour and not lack of educational opportunities, as N.R. Madhava Menon argues. Even if there are adequate opportunities for the children of poor families to go to school, they will not as long as they remain hungry. Such children are forced to work primarily because their parents’ income is not sufficient for their family’s upkeep. Instead of simply condemning those who employ children as domestic help, they could be asked to finance these children’s education.
Diptimoy Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — The design, theme and quality of commemorative stamps in our country is appalling when compared to those of other countries. In India, most stamps are based on personalities; few depict the flora, fauna, tourist destinations and monuments found here. There is very little attention to the quality of paper, design and colour.
Stamps should also be released in miniature sheets. The postal department could, from time to time, organize seminars to help philatelists. There is also need to improve the philately counters in post offices.
Subrata Dey, Tezpur
Sir — While releasing a commemorative stamp to honour Kanika Bandopadhyay, Pramod Mahajan remarked that this was the first time a stamp with inscriptions in a regional language was being issued in India. This is not true; the postal department has previously issued stamps with inscriptions in Urdu, Assamese, Telugu and Gujarati, among other languages.
Sekhar Chakrabarti, Calcutta