All in the mind
Sir — Quite evidently, the teacher who was strangled to death by a group of disabled students possessed the same mindset that characterize the minds of millions of her countrymen (“Separated, boys and girls kill”, Jan 28). It is hideous that people like her should still insist that girls and boys, or men and women, maintain a physical distance from each other. Although that is no reason for her to be killed so brutally, yet the issue remains a thorny one in the present social set up. For one, this particular episode reveals the dangerous extremes to which suppressed individuals may go. Their disability did not deter the students from executing their plan to perfection. Perhaps this gruesome incident has its lesson for our prudish establishment. In the name of discipline and morality, too much is imposed on impressionable, inquisitive and young minds. This suppression will show itself in the ugliest of forms, and then there will be no disciplinarian found to take the blame for it.
A. Basu, Kharagpur
Price of competition
Sir — It is conventional wisdom that competition ultimately helps the consumer as it is likely to yield better products and services at lower prices. Not so in India. An alternative to the services provided by the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited came with the advent of cellular phone companies in the country. One expected that competition from these operators would induce BSNL and MTNL to reduce rates. But this occurred only for long distance calls, not for user services.
The recent decision of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to drastically increase charges for fixed line subscribers to “create a level playing field” turns conventional wisdom on its head.Is it intended to motivate people to move from fixed to mobile telephony' As is well known, BSNL and MTNL, with their well-known levels of efficiency have not been making losses .The recent entry of a large business house in the field of mobile telephony suggests that TRAI’s policy has some ulterior motive. It is necessary for TRAI to produce facts and figures in support of its policy to make it more credible.
A.K. Singh, Ranchi
Sir — The reduction in the number of free telephone calls, hike in rentals together with the reduction in the metering pulse for fixed-line phone users will force a crisis on us (“Ballooning bills for fixed-phone users”, Jan 26). The government would have been justified in increasing either the rentals or decreasing the number of free calls. But creating a pressure on consumers through both options is infuriating. The distinction made between metros and non-metros also does not hold as both the places have high and low income groups.
Udita Sen, Calcutta
Sir — The recent hike in telephone charges comes as a shock and is quite contrary to world-wide trends. The telephone is used as a means of communication and not as a luxury item by most consumers. The increase in charges will affect the middle class the most. While interest rates for bank and post office savings are being reduced, the cost of electricity, telephone and transportation costs are being constantly hiked up. This makes survival almost impossible for fixed income groups. The government should ease the burden on the common man.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — The recent revision of telephone tariffs for fixed-line users seem to have been influenced by some powerful lobbies. Now there will be little option but to go for the WiLL technology. Perhaps this was intended.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — The recent TRAI prescription for fixed-line users increases the rental from Rs 250 to Rs 280 per month and reduces free calls from 60 to 30.Interestingly, it also reduces the pulse duration from 180 to 120 seconds. So a subscriber will have to pay a minimum of Rs 100 to Rs 200 more on an average every month. BSNL should probably borrow the catchline of the advertisement of a cell operator and turn it around to “Talk less, pay more”.
Ashutosh Bhattacharjee, Calcutta
Sir — Cellular wars are getting more and more fierce as telecom companies dole out more privileges every day. This should have given BSNL some food for thought, but unfortunately nothing of that sort has happened. In fact, TRAI has given the cell phone operators enough reason to celebrate since they are now the undoubted winners in the rate cut war.
Bijoy Ranjan Dey, Tinsukia
Sir — It is unfortunate that BSNL has decided not to include a statement of calls from January 3 along with the telephone bills. By this decision it deprives customers of the right to verify the bills they pay. Since the services of BSNL are not free from malpractices, the customers might be cheated further. The internet access billing has been reduced with effect from November 7, 2002 ( Rs 12 per hour between 22.30 pm to 6.30 am next day). But why did BSNL never advertise the changes'
G. Bhattacharya, Midnapur
Sir — The British were cruel to the 46 women who were raped so that the colonialists could avenge their loss of the right to rule (“After 60 years, shame still burns”, Jan 24). But it is unfortunate that the government should forsake its duty to the handful of these women who are still living. Like the Koreans, India too could seek compensation from the British government for these hapless women
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur