Sir — What will it take to convince Mayavati, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, that however hard one might try, it is impossible to put her on the same pedestal as Jawaharlal Nehru, Charan Singh or S. Radhakrishnan (“Every Mayavati has her day”, March 12)' She has made a valiant attempt to wag her Dalit card and stir up a sentimental storm about the neglect meted out to Dalits. But the storm never quite blew, probably because the people were too busy laughing to shed a few tears for the poor little rich Dalit girl. If indeed it was so important to celebrate a “day” to highlight the development work for Dalits, why not choose the birthday of B.R. Ambedkar, who was surely a bigger champion of the Dalit cause than Mayavati, and better still, is already dead and canonized' One other thing: neither of the three leaders Mayavati mentioned chose to celebrate their own birthdays, the people of the country did. Mayavati, for obvious reasons, has no such confidence in the people.
Sangeeta Banik, Howrah
Sir — The recent harassment and manhandling of Indian information technology professionals by Malaysian police is utterly shocking (“Delhi fumes at Malaysia action”, March 11). More so because it comes from the police of a country that aggressively promotes itself as “truly Asia” and takes pride in its multi-ethnicity.
The slick advertising campaigns promoting Malaysia as a tourist’s paradise has led to many Indian families making a bee-line for Malaysia at the first available vacation. But Indians must now think twice before choosing this southeast Asian country as a holiday destination — not only for reasons of security, but also to show solidarity with the 270 Indians who were subjected to endless harassment for no plausible reason. The government of India must drive it home to the Malaysian authorities that targeting members of the Indian expatriate community is tantamount to hurting India’s national pride. The Indian tourism department and private tour operators should also actively discourage Indians from visiting Malaysia till a formal apology is tendered by the government.
The possibility that the midnight raids by the Kuala Lumpur police was a premeditated campaign to discourage Indian professionals from taking up responsible positions in Malaysian industries cannot be dismissed either. Indonesia was the first to target an Indian IT company and ask it to fold up its operations from Indonesia. Now Malaysia has targeted the Indian IT community. The sentiment is not uncommon. Countries want to send back Indian IT professionals as they are taking away jobs of their citizens. It is not possible for India to mete out a tit-for-tat treatment in this case since there are hardly any foreign nationals working in the Indian IT sector. But then, when countries sell their goods in the Indian market at prices cheaper than that of Indian products, it also amounts to taking the market away from Indian producers. These are inevitable in a post-World Trade Organization world.
However, India should put an embargo on goods from all those countries that do not allow Indian knowledge professionals to work freely. This would include the United States of America as well, since its H1-B visa system is discriminatory. The Malaysia incident will hopefully make the Indian authorities wake up to the dangers of globalization.
Avijit Banerjee, Calcutta
Sir — There are a few things about the administration in Malaysia which Indians who are shocked at the news of police harassment of Indian IT professionals ought to know. The police in Malaysia have the power to do just about anything they want. A Malaysian of Indian ethnic origin would be lucky to be presented in court to be charged if he was ever arrested. Chances are that he will be found dead in the police lock-up, with no reasons provided for the death. This will perhaps explain why none of the detained Indians complained directly to the authorities but chose to move with the help of the Indian consulate instead. Given the kind of police atrocities Malaysia is known for, the Indians who were arrested or pulled out of bed should thank their luck that they only had their passports defaced and bodies bruised, but managed to get out alive.
Paul Warren, Malaysia
Sir — If the Malaysian government thinks it could do without Indians, then so be it. The Indians have gone to Malaysia to lend their expertise to the Malaysian technology industry so that it can compete at the global level. The Indian government should settle for nothing less than adequate penalty for the guilty police officers and an apology from Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohammed. Else, Indians in foreign countries will be victimized in the same way in future.
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Sir — With the United States of America signalling its determination to wage a war against Iraq, and now Malaysia ill-treating 270 Indian computer engineers, the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre finds itself surrounded by uncomfortable happenings. The Malaysian problem is more immediate since it directly involves innocent Indian nationals. How could a small country like Malaysia ill-treat Indian professionals and get away with it'
T.R. Anand, Calcutta
Sir — Amit Chaudhuri feels that the cat has eluded theology (“Understanding cats”, March 2). But the cat has quite an aura of divinity among the Hindus, since it is supposed to be the vahana of Ma Shashthi, the goddess of child welfare.
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee had interestingly used the cat as a symbol of socialism in Kamalakanter Daptar. He jocularly interpreted the spectacle of a cat stealing Kamalakanta’s milk in terms of the “have-nots” snatching the surplus from the “haves”.
P.C. Banerji, Calcutta
Sir — Amit Chaudhuri’s article, although very well written, needs a correction — the Bengali saying is that the cat is the tiger’s maternal, and not paternal, aunt.
Amitava Banerjee, Calcutta