Too little, too late
Sir — For most of the time, the Left Front government in West Bengal blunders from one muddled decision to another, with good sense seeming to dawn only as the elections draw near. Look at how the chairman of the school service commission, Arun Kiran Chakraborty, has suddenly woken up to the fact that there are far too many vacant teaching posts in schools across the state and that this is causing a degradation in teaching standards (“Govt escape hatch for teachers far from home”, Feb 24). And what better way to mend matters than to give teachers the option of being posted to a place of their choice' But anyone even slightly familiar with the way the left operates will know that this is merely a scrap being thrown the way of this once captive vote-bank in order to win back its favour. After all, amends have to be made for all the resentment created by delayed salaries, reduced allowances and so on. So who is Chakraborty trying to fool'
P. Ghosh, Barrackpore
Sir — The sangh parivar is indulging in over-the-top histrionics to keep the mandir-masjid issue alive in the run-up to the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and other states. Take the developments over the past week.
At an election rally, the prime minister declared that he had proof of the existence of a temple underneath the disputed site in Ayodhya. The next day, Ashok Singhal told the media about a special survey by a Canadian firm which had established A.B. Vajpayee’s contention, in contravention of a court order that forbids the divulgence of the survey’s findings. Two days later, the Canadian firm denies that it had passed on its report to Singhal (“Singhal claim sinks in survey”, Feb 26). In the meantime, the VHP’s dharma sansad has been mounting pressure on the Centre to allow religious activity at the disputed site. One solution to the problem would be along the lines of what the Madhya Pradesh chief minister suggested for the disputed shrine at Bhojshala — open it to both Muslims and Hindus. But the Centre has not paid any attention to it.
This can only mean that by drumming up the Ayodhya issue, the sangh parivar is not interested in the mandir so much as it is on helping the Bha-ratiya Janata Party reap electoral benefits out of the whole exercise. So much for love of religion!
A. Kabir, Hyderabad
Sir — The sadhus of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad might have given up on their planned march on Parliament, but how did they get permission for the march in the first place (“Sudden death for VHP sound and fury”, Feb 25)' It has become second nature for the likes of Ashok Singhal and Praveen Togadia to threaten and defy the government, and they also seem to be getting away with it every time. Togadia may claim that he has the support of a sizeable section of Hindus but that is only his version of events. The government should ensure that his claim does not became a reality.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — The secular opposition is eager to take on the government over the emotive Ayodhya issue in the ongoing budget session in Parliament, ignoring more important developmental issues. The Ayodhya issue is in court, and a ruling is awaited. The Bharatiya Janata Party clearly wants a temple at the site. But it is not clear what the secular parties want. They seem to be interested only in creating unnecessary confusion in the minds of the people.
V.A. Gopala, Bangalore
Sir — Even if the Muslims in India were to give in to the Hindutva parties’ demand that a temple be built in Ayodhya, it is doubtful whether the latter would actually do so. The Ayodhya issue has become a trump card in the hands of the Hindutva brigade, enabling it to fan the sentiments of the people and win elections easily. It will probably never let go of such an asset.
Iftakhar Latif, Guwahati
Sir — One had heard of the politics of sports, of education and of development, but never of “animal politics”. The VHP’s dharma sansad has demanded a ban on cow slaughter (“VHP seeks death sentence for killing cows”, Feb 24). But India has not yet been declared a Hindu country. Our Constitution till this date retains a reference to secularism and hence, nobody can dictate anybody else’s eating habits.
Hindus may hold cows sacred, but not all Indians share the feeling. Three-fourths of the world population eats beef. Why cows, there should also be a ban on the slaughter of chicken, fish and so on. In this sense, the Lodha commission’s report is not adequate.
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — Until the National Democratic Alliance government stops being hand-in-glove with the VHP, Indians should stop voting for NDA candidates in any future election. The NDA is making a fool of everyone. It is time we said, enough is enough.
Krishan K. Arora, New York
Sir — I am flattered that one Ruchir Joshi has equated me with Sir V.S. Naipaul (“Saraswati in Wiltshire”, Feb 9). I would like to clarify though, that I regard the past he is alluding to with neither nostalgia nor affection. On the contrary, like Sir Vidia, I look forward to a blissful retirement in rural Wiltshire, with Labradors to deter pesky intruders from the dark ages. Unfortunately, this facet of evolution may be lost on those who cannot identify the right meat in a vindaloo and, therefore, remain politically impoverished.
Swapan Dasgupta, New Delhi
The director of Institute of Wetland and Ecological Design, Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, and scientist-in-charge, Tapan Saha, were erroneously referred as Tarapada Bandopadhyay and Tarapada Saha in the article, “Should you have to pay for a breath of fresh air'” (Feb 20). The error is regretted.
— The Editor