Sir — Priyanka Gandhi must know that one Ram Bhajan will not win her Uttar Pradesh from the Bahujan Samaj Party (“Amethi ‘cause’ dumps Priyanka for Mayavati”, Jan 1). Oh no, that project will neither be that easy nor as simple. Anyway, the Congress has neglected the state, including Amethi, for far too long. By now, Mayavati and her ilk have become far too adept at the art of populism. Gandhi, however much she may seem blessed with her grandmother’s charisma in the eyes of indulgent Congressmen, just cannot compete for a place in Dalit hearts with a Mayavati who has the backing of government largesse. Also, the party has neglected the backward classes too much for its sudden sympathy for an evicted Dalit to be taken seriously. No wonder then that caste proved much thicker than water. Then again, Gandhi can hardly hope to descend on Amethi whenever she has some spare time from her two children and hope to take up where her father had left off.
R.K. Sharma, Calcutta
Sir — The 15-day crash course for college principals in West Bengal is a complete waste of time (“40 principals in B-school class”, Dec 14). For starters, management practices are not going to bring back the atmosphere of learning in our colleges, which has been completely eroded by politics. How can sending principals to B-school help those who have been appointed more for their political connections than their academic accomplishments' Often, principals themselves indulge in politicking to ensure that the political party which favours them wins in the college elections. If the authorities had been serious about bringing in changes, they would have first tried to rein in the goons of the political parties who disrupt classes. Most of them are not even students of the college but wield considerable influence because of their strongarm tactics. For example, in North Bengal University, the vice-chancellor had to give in to the demands of the students and affect changes in the admission policy in law courses.
Sometimes, college principals do not have any choice — if they do not give in, they run the risk of being gheraoed by these lumpen elements. The indifference of university authorities and the Directorate of Public Instruction makes the situation worse.
Education is the casualty in all this. Many students keep away from classes, driven away by the antics of these rowdies and thus allowing teachers to earn their salaries without working for it. All this constitutes a colossal waste of government funds. And the government does nothing to stop this because teachers and students constitute a large constituency for the left.
Thus the crash course will end up being a drain on college funds and give principals an opportunity to miss college in the salubrious environs of a management institute.
S. Basu, Calcutta
Sir — Why should India care to design its system of higher education so as to attract more foreign students (“Atal backs UGC reform roadmap”, Dec 29)' One, India has considerable reserves of foreign exchange. Two, our students face enough difficulty getting admission in colleges in the country. Lets not add to it by encouraging competition from foreign students. Besides, is it not more important to ensure that our students have access to higher studies' There are many other sources which can be explored and tapped for foreign exchange. The government should instead strive to make India an attractive destination for domestic students so that they do not go abroad for higher studies.
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Sir — Avijit Ghosh may rest assured — the lives of women like Parvati and Tulsi do not represent that of the quintessential Indian women (“Give us a break, Parvati”, Dec 22). Also, but for a few exceptions, most Indian woman do not endorse these “K-serials”. Ekta Kapoor and her ilk should realize that it is neither desirable nor necessary for Indian women to be like Parvati of Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki or Payal in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. It is only their extreme ignorance of human psychology that makes them conjure these women as superwomen on the one hand and a scheming she-devil on the other.
Maushumi Guha, Calcutta
Sir — The “K-serial” melodramas have been extremely popular lately on prime-time television because of their opulent settings, glamorous clothes, mawkish dialogues and shrill drama. In most of them, the fair sex is shown to be indulging in extra-marital affairs, bigamy and so on. Some of the women protagonists are also depicted as being extremely wily and devious. Aired at an hour when the remote-wielders are largely adults, the youngsters too end up watching these soppy sagas. This has the effect of distorting the moral values of these impressionable viewers. It’s pathetic to hear school children discuss the antics of Tulsi and Shaina over their tiffins.
Neha Bihani, Calcutta
Sir — Crimes against women — sexual harassment, eve teasing and rape — are on the rise. While the death penalty for rape is being considered, one ought to keep in mind that punishing the criminal is only to treat the symptom. Diagnosing the real cause and eradicating it is more important — the decadence that has crept into our society because of the encroachments Western culture has made into our moral and ethical values, mainly through television and cinema.
Take the indecent exposure of women in fashion parades and beauty contests. Television commercials also use the female form to allure consumers. Thus TV serials, commercials and films must be strictly censored to check whether the image of women they portray is not derogatory. We should look at the West where affluence has led to decadence and the destruction of the family as the basic unit of society.
C.V.K. Moorthy, Bellary