Sir — The renovation work being undertaken at Arjun Munda’s residence in Ranchi befits only a prince (“Munda spends Rs 50 lakh on house”, April 7). The problem is that the fairy tale with Indian princes has already ended. Wall to wall carpets, curtains, upholstery, ceramic-tiled floors does not behove the chief minister of a state which is already groaning under the weight of useless expenses. Munda’s extravagance reminds one of another lover of luxury and diamonds up north — the Dalit chief minister, Mayavati, who recently celebrated her birthday with much pomp and feudal splendour. There is no doubt that upper caste ministers have been just as corrupt. But while sinking into their plush gaddis, do these tribal and Dalit men and women not remember the sacrifices their subaltern fellowmen made for them to reach their posh, teakwood adorned bungalows and leave their dirty imprints on Indian history'
Amrita Basu, Kharagpur
This show can’t go on
Sir — An independent and critical media is an essential requirement of an informed democracy. Nowadays however, the media is seen to be cozying up to the powers they need to keep an eye on. Mergers in this industry have further limited its manoeuvrability. For example, the media in the United States of America are owned by major conglomerates and supported by corporate advertisers. This has compromised its independence and spirit since the business houses’ sole intention is to maximize profit, and this interferes with responsible journalism.
Take what is happening in the US now. The media seems to be suddenly dazed by the state’s blitzkrieg. The foreign policy coverage and the war reporting has become confused. The reason is not difficult to see. Powerful media houses routinely make large contributions to the two major political parties while receiving millions of dollars in return for running political advertisements.
In this incestuous culture, “news” is defined chiefly by the actions and statements of the people in power. Reporters, dependent on the access and leaks provided by official sources, are often unwilling to risk alienating these sources by giving a critical coverage. Nor are corporate media groups interested in angering bureaucrats who have the power to regulate their business. But as citizens who want to be informed truthfully about what is happening in the war, we must demand fair reporting. Censorship of news cannot be tolerated, especially of the ongoing anti-war or peace movements or the adverse effects of US interventions and corporate control of world resources.
Joy Horiuchi, Seattle, US
Sir — People like the Oscar winning documentary director, Michael Moore, are crusaders for a better world. His “controversial” music video featuring Serj Tankian, singer of the hard rock band, System of a Down, is apparently not being aired on MTV because it shows peace marches around the world. That however has not prevented him from conveying his anti-war message from the Oscar podium itself.
Media moguls, especially in the US, have double standards. They insist that they are showing live and updated coverage of the war in Iraq. At the same time they are taking care to suppress footage, including music videos, shot long ago in case they instigate people.
Dyutiman Bhattacharya, Howrah
Sir — Of late, there has been a lot of complaints from viewers about the menace of television serials. Prime time soaps have had harmful impression on the minds of children for their over-emphasis on household crises, extra-marital affairs, politics inside the home and and broken marriages. Children watching them are alleged to have become rude, indisciplined, and heedless of what their elders have to say. The young brigade have also emerged victims of the serial-makers. They are often found taking immense pleasure in discussing the inane stories of these serials during their spare time and even at their work place.
Arpita Chandak, Howrah
Sir — I watch Ptv with great interest, particularly to gauge the extent of the misinformation being spread among the Pakistani population. A recent telecast alleged that innocent Hindus were being killed by Indian security forces to “malign the image of Pakistan”. In most of these programmes India is taunted and ridiculed. Often stories that make it to the telecast are ones which barely make news in India. One showed the pathetic state of a court in Uttar Pradesh, another showed the suicide of a family in Mumbai and yet another the homeless in Delhi. Pakistan seems to be only second to the US in propagating lies.
Sir — The editorial “Short, but not sweet” (March, 8) is ridiculous. While it accepts the dynamism of the English language, it tries to impose some sort of a linguistic morality. What about our inalienable right of freedom of expression' The basic purpose of language is to communicate. SMS does just that, precisely and economically. It is handy, saves time and is also creative. There really is no need to be so deprecating of the younger generation’s new fangled mode of communication.
Tapan Pal, Batanagar