Arms and the man
Sir — Leave it to the fertile imagination of Laloo Prasad Yadav to come up with an idea about how to make the country a safer place to live in. Experience tells us that this idea would be entirely unviable (“‘Junglee’ Laloo wields lathi as blood spills”, May 1). Experience also tells us that it is futile to question him. So naturally not too many questions have been asked about his attempt to arm party members and followers with lathis. Laloo however was not completely off the mark when he spoke of “the dogs and jackals” having joined hands — his reason for taking up lathis. Although his allusions were clearly directed at his political rivals, there is no reason to believe his men lack the virtue of either of the species. In fact, if one considers the mayhem during the rally — two consecutive murders in a matter of hours — there is enough evidence to prove that Laloo’s dogs and jackals have more cunning than the rival packs of canines.
T.K. Mishra, Calcutta
Cross with this connection
Sir — The government of India has always tried to monopolize telecommunications in the country. It is only recently that private cellphone companies like Hutch and Reliance have given it some competition. They hit the government hard when they decided to offer their customers a host of benefits including free calls. The Telephone Regulatory Authority of India reacted by making all incoming calls free across all telephone networks. In the process, TRAI did not forget to slay the fixed line phone subscribers by reducing the pulse rate, number of free calls and increasing the monthly rentals.
Such hikes, which have become routine, are burdensome, especially since the services have nothing to commend them. I, for example, have an old and near defunct telephone set, which has been giving trouble since the day it was installed. Repeated requests to the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited office for repair and replacement have fallen on deaf ears. I don’t see why one has to continue paying high rentals for such dismal service. BSNL’s indifference to its customers is only giving the cellular operators the opportunity to widen its reach among disgruntled consumers.
Subhasish Majumdar, Sonarpur
Sir — The cellular war has been raging for quite some time now, with each company trying to grab a slice of the cake by offering freebies to its consumers. Giants like Airtel and Hutch had also adopted an aggressive advertising campaign. But all seems to have been in vain. In one fell sweep, the government has throttled competition (“All incoming calls free”, April 20).
Free incoming calls are fine, but it has to be remembered that the majority of the telephone users still rely on landline and thus will not benefit from the move. More important, rentals have been raised from Rs 250 to Rs 280 and the number of free calls have come down from 75 to 50 in the rural areas and 60 to 30 in the urban areas. A word of caution for cellphone users also. The wireless loop technology may seem like a dream, but beware there must be a catch somewhere.
Bijoy Ranjan Dey, Tinsukia
Sir — All incoming calls across all telephone networks — fixed line or cellular — have become free since May 1. Surprisingly, when I enquired about the matter from my mobile service provider, I was told that they had not received any circular in this regard so far. Earlier, several similar proposals have turned out to be non-starters. This too might remain a pipedream.
A.K. Ghosh, Ranchi
Sir — The newly introduced telephone tariff is unfair on the middle class, especially senior citizens. The argument of the BSNL that increase in landline tariffs is due to interconnection user charges, which necessitates landline users to pay mobile phone companies for using their network, is not justifiable. The reduction of free calls from 75 to 50 per month in fact accounts for nearly a 60 per cent increase in call charges. The government seems to be robbing Peter to pay Paul, that is favouring the rich and the mobile industry at the cost of middle class subscribers of telephone services, which anyway has already become a luxury.
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore
No mean achievement
Sir — After two decades of fighting against impediments, India has managed to develop the light combat aircraft (“ Tejas soars above control barriers”, May 5). It would be wise not to forget the contribution of the pioneers who had initiated the work and have now retired. The LCA incorporates the latest technologies like carbon fibre composites, which augurs well for the corresponding industry in the country. However, the LCA has to be tested in a war and may never live up to the awesome power of weaponry developed in the West. Even though the LCA is already obsolete if evaluated on the basis of today’s combat aircraft standards, we should not wait for another decade to see if it is inducted into our air force. It may then end up in the war museum ultimately.
Bijit K. Sarkar, Calcutta
Sir — The LCA, named Tejas by the prime minister, is one of the most important steps taken by India towards strengthening its security and defence. This indigenously developed LCA has proved to the world super powers that India is not behind any other country in respect of defence support. The scientists who have achieved this splendid success should be given due recognition.
This achievement is definitely a moral booster. With as many as 76 experimental flights, the LCA is surely going to help the Indian defence. The ongoing researches like the Dhruv, Kaveri and so on will definitely add to India’s glory. Pakistan by now should have definitely got the message, and so will have the West.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta