Digging up a mess
Sir — Indian politicians have made changing their stances according to the demands of the situation into a fine art (“VHP wants longer dig and on telly too”, May 15). But the sangh parivar’s initial opposition to the excavations at Ayodhya which quickly changed into vociferous support as soon as the slightest bit of evidence seemed to go its way is not exactly rich in finesse. Thankfully, whims and fancies of groups with vested interests are of no significance to the Supreme Court. Perhaps the members of the parivar should make up their minds before resorting to their rabble-rousing tactics, for, this endangers whatever little credibility they have left.
Jayati Basu, Ranchi
Sir — The media has played a positive role in giving due importance to the news of Nisha Sharma declining to marry the man who, together with his family, demanded a dowry (“‘Bride’ to icon with dowry whack”, May 15). Not only that, Sharma showed rare courage by informing the police and packing off her would-be husband to jail. Sharma represents a healthy trend. Her example should serve as a lesson to dowry-seekers who continue to carry on the illegal practice. The government should lend Sharma its full support so that women feel encouraged to emulate her. Sharma should be given a government job, if she so wishes, and should be otherwise suitably honoured by the government.
There are certain other steps which need to be taken most urgently. The government should strictly ensure that marriages do not become a show of money power. Ministers have to be cautioned to cut down on their lavish ceremonies. Marriages should be compulsorily registered and gifts and cash transacted on the occasion of marriages must be officially recorded. Since unaccounted for money is spent in marriages, the income tax department should have a special cell to make surprise checks on lavish marriages. In fact, it should be made mandatory for income tax assessees willing to spend more than, say, Rs 5 lakh on marriages to report in advance to their assessing officer. In short, the government should instil a sense of fear in all those who disregard the law relating to dowry and dowry-related malpractices.
Subhash C. Agrawal, Delhi
Sir — Nisha Sharma has become a household name overnight. And she deserves every bit of the adulation being showered on her. Hundreds of dowry cases and dowry-deaths occur every year. Rather than being a problem of rural and uneducated India, the menace is probably more prevalent in urban areas and among educated people. Sharma’s act will make girls think twice now about willingly giving themselves in to this system of exploitation. However, one should remember that Sharma was strongly supported in her action by her parents. Without that, she would never have been able to take such a bold step.
Another thing. The media hype and the attention from non-governmental and women’s organizations should not ultimately prove too taxing for Sharma. The organizations ought to leave Sharma alone now, and let her continue with her life normally. Maybe even to take her examinations.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — Over the past many years, there have been anti-dowry movements in various parts of India, but these have failed to be effective. Nisha Sharma’s case is unique and she can be used as a symbol to promote the anti-dowry message through the length and breadth of the nation. The media, the social welfare departments and even the gram panchayats should showcase Sharma to the people they serve.
Sir — The three new FM channels have opened a new era in Indian radio. One can opt for old Bengali and Hindi songs, as well as the latest hip melodies at the turn of the knob. Music stores may soon have no buyers.
Rahul Dutt, Calcutta