A house in disarray
Sir — The report, “Bungalow blow to Arundhati” (May 7) came as a revelation. It was shocking to find that someone who keeps screaming about human rights is so hypocritical. By encroaching on forest land, and by holding on to the property despite the knowledge, Roy has been snatching away the birthright of hundreds and thousands of species of animals, who unfortunately do not have an Arundhati Roy to speak for them. Roy should first clean up her act before she launches another crusade against the establishment. Wonder who will pick up the fight against this publicity-hungry human-rights activist!
Joydip Kundu, Calcutta
Sir — The report, “Holiday 201 days, work 164” (May 8), should provide some food for thought to our administrators. With so many non-working days, it is little wonder that our country is so slow in its progress. To make matters worse, for the left-ruled states like West Bengal and Tripura, one has to add five or more days to the list of holidays on account of the state-sponsored bandhs. It is natural therefore that trade unions should be so violently opposed to the reduction of holidays. Yet they should perhaps keep in mind that the trade union movement is much stronger in Europe where the holiday list is not as ludicrous as it is in India. It is time to took another look at our long list of holidays. All religious and community-oriented holidays must be abolished. Bank holidays also need to be reduced drastically.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — To add to the 201 holidays for the government employees are the bandhs, strikes, pen-down agitations and several other forms of protest which employees at the Central and state secretariats often resort to for one reason or the other. Those visiting the Writers’ Buildings must have had a taste of these methods by which the employees shirk work. A poor country like India can hardly afford such a colossal waste of man hours. Instead of pampering its employees by giving them reason to be absent from work, the government should systematically reduce the list of holidays and spell out proper yardsticks to assess the performance of its staff. Government employees have had it easy for too long. That is why they resist privatization so strongly. Yet, given the situation, privatization could prove to be the only solution if the government fails to rein in its workforce.
Sir — A country cannot prosper with “all play, no work” as its dictum. If China has progressed in such an impressive manner, it is because its people have worked hard. I have heard that their labour force sometimes work for as long as 10 to 16 hours every day. On the other hand, consecutive governments in India have engaged in a game of oneupmanship and added days to the holiday list to either gain sympathy or votes.
It is ridiculous that pay commissions should be increasing salaries while the number of working hours for government employees are reduced progressively. The ripple effect of this has already landed the public exchequer in the doldrums. The government should also think about its people who suffer at the hands of its unsympathetic and highhanded staff. No country can develop without a committed workforce. India should think again before it announces another public holiday.
Govind Das Dujari,
Sir — I find it hard to believe that India’s legislators have made it legally compulsory for the mother to breastfeed her child for the first six months. Either the parliamentarians are out of their minds or the report, “Breast milk is must, but...” (May 6), is flawed. For no country can force such a choice on the mother and violate her right to decide what is best for her and her baby. The ban on the advertising of baby food, however, is welcome.
Kalyan Basu, New Jersey