Set your own tune
Sir — If the Bharatiya Janata Party success in Gujarat has forced the Madhya Pradesh chief minister into performing yagnas, in Rajasthan it has achieved something more risible — forcing the administration to try snatching trishuls from the hands of bajrangis and their indomitable hero, Praveen Togadia (“Togadia held but untamed on trishul”, April 14). Congress chief ministers are unwittingly becoming the catalysts in the experiments which people like Togadia wish to accomplish in their mini-labs like Rajasthan. It would probably be wise to remind them that the best way to combat the march of the Togadias is not by hoarding them into police jeeps with their trishuls, but to counter the saffron propaganda with something more definite, say a concrete agenda for welfare. The lack of it, in fact the lack of any focus, had been responsible for Congress failure in Gujarat. The party would be duplicating that experience in the next round of elections if it plays by the tune the Togadias set for them, and worse, gets the administration to play with them.
Jagannath Desai, Calcutta
Sir — It has become increasingly painful to watch and read reports of the post-war looting in the war ravaged cities of Iraq. The latest incident is the looting of Baghdad’s national museum. According to reports, the looters destroyed and looted about 170,000 items of antiquity worth billions of dollars from the museum under the noses of the American forces. Nabhal Amin, deputy director of the museum, could not hold back her tears while narrating the incident to reporters. For the last few days, the television has brought to us scenes of wholesale looting and burning of invaluable national property and remains of the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia. By allowing this anarchy to prevail, the Americans are wilfully inflicting wounds on the Iraqi people, whom they claim to have liberated.
Paresh Malakar, Calcutta
Sir — The events of the last few days indicated rather strongly that the United States of America would definitely take over Iraq. However, the apparent ease with which the coalition forces marched into and took over Baghdad was baffling, to say the least. The United Nations was perhaps to be believed when it said specifically that Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction. Otherwise, where were the Iraqi military when the US was wreaking havoc on Baghdad' Going back in time, it must be remembered that it was the US which had sponsored Saddam Hussein’s rise to power. This was done to exploit Iran’s resources as well as to have a hold over Iraq’s oil. However, the Americans could not bear the fact that Saddam was becoming powerful and thus he had to be proclaimed a threat. In these last eleven years, through a series of sanctions, bans and UN inspections, Iraq’s power was minimized. The US, by needlessly using its muscle power, has started another era of imperialism.
Sarit Ray, Calcutta
Sir — The pre-emptive strikes against Iraq has shocked and awed the whole world. The political think tank in the US believes that a regime change in this country can nip terrorism in the bud. The root cause of terrorism is not the regime but US foreign and economic policies. Look at the way it abandoned the cause of Afghanistan just after the Russians withdrew, leaving behind an utterly devastated country. Ever since Afghanistan has been the hotbed of Islamic fundamentalists and the likes of Osama bin Laden. The war in Iraq has not ended, it has probably only just begun.
Parikshit Acharya, Rishra
Sir — The Americans may be on their way to victory but they have not succeeded in unearthing the much-touted weapons of mass destruction. Hans Blix’s reiterations about the absence of any such weapon have been conveniently ignored, in fact many of the US’s allegations and reports about conditions in Iraq have been discovered to be fabricated. The war has exposed the American bluffs. The media has been used by the superpower to vilify and accuse Iraqis of all possible crimes. The same method will be used in the case of other states the US wishes to subjugate. The Germans had been brought to book right after the world war, but clearly this time, the international community is in no position to hold the Americans accountable for their wrongs. The UN has lost its credibility and plays second fiddle to the most powerful nation in the world. The sooner India withdraws its membership from the UN the better because it will be the US’s next target in its agenda to dominate the world.
H. Kalsi, New Jersey, US
Sir — Now that the war in Iraq is almost over, much will be said about multilateralism versus unilateralism, although it is clear that multilateralism, of the UN variety, is ineffective in making the world a better place to live in. Apart from the hypocrisy of supporting a brutal dictator in Iraq, the world has taken undue advantage of this country. This is a good time to rethink what it means to be part of the international community where it is expected that countries will protect one another’s interests and fight evil when they see it. This duty has been performed by the coalition forces in Iraq while the French, Germans, and an assortment of leftists looked on.
Atin Basu, Lexington, US
Sir — The Americans have lost a lot of sleep over the so called weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein has been allegedly hiding. How could the Americans forget so easily the attrocities they had perpetuated in the Vietnam war using nerve gas and other substances' Even now, America continues to batter Iraq and its people, but such crimes are quickly covered up by apologies or by labelling them as “mistakes”. Where is the international war crimes tribunal now' America had mourned the dead after the September 11 attack for a year. But those dead and dying in Iraq do not seem to bother the US at all. Does this mean American lives are more valuable than those of Iraqis'
Neeraj Poddar, Siliguri
Sir — It is sad that we have to hear George W. Bush first wreaking havoc in Iraq and then pledging support and compassion to its people. It is disappointing that the people of both US and Britain who will face the brunt of the anti-West feelings are not doing enough to force their leaders to stop the war. It is not enough for a minister to resign and a film director to denounce his government before his audience. It needs millions of people in these countries to rise up in silent and non-violent protest against this unjust war.
N.G. Haksi, Ranchi
Misrule of law
Sir — Law unto himself' Recently, a Delhi judge has reportedly punished a man in his court in a novel way for having approached him through a Union minister. The man was asked to do several sit-ups. Though the intention of the judge is admirable, by awarding such punishment, he certainly went against the spirit of the law which does not allow such humiliation of a human being. Moreover, what happened to the minister who did the bidding of the punished. Are there separate laws for VIPs'
The judiciary should take notice of the incident and ensure exemplary punishment for bureaucrats and politicians who engage in nefarious deals. This will set a healthy trend and prevent the common man from taking advantage of a minister to get his work done. Ministers who refuse to be disciplined should be sacked by the government.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi
Sir — The reported incident of a judge ordering a man to do sit-ups as punishment for trying to pull strings shows the sincerity of the judge in question. Although the punishment was a bit harsh, particularly given that the punished was almost seventy, there is no doubt that such instances will prevent ministers from indulging in favouritism and also the people who make full use of it.
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore
Sir — Judges should go strictly by the book in awarding punishment. Otherwise we might soon have courts ordering hands to be cut off.
S. Samanta, Calcutta