Manner of greed
Sir — The news of the death of Madhubala comes too soon after the heroism of Nisha Sharma (“Dowry death in nuptial bed”, May 18). Both Madhubala’s and Nisha’s cases show what a menace the dowry system is. But is it just the dowry system or the entire system of marriage that needs to be altered in India' For, despite the courage of Nisha, there is no denying that her marriage, even that minus the Rs 12 lakh, would have been the same monetary transaction that Madhubala’s had been. Neither Nisha nor Madhubala’s family had raised an outcry before the additional demands were made. Which means that the concept of dowry is so intricately connected to the Indian marriage market that no questions are asked when girls depart for their marital home laden with gifts and cash. It is only at certain times that in-laws get more greedy than they should be. Which is why Nisha’s felicitation should not blind us to the fact that other Nishas will continue to be treated as commodity.
Abhishek Bhattacharya, Calcutta
Sir —The Frontier Mail mishap once again indicates the inability of the Indian Railways to ensure the safety of its passengers (“Death strikes in sleep on burning train”, May 16). The railway authorities, having dismissed the theory of a short circuit, is planning to concentrate on highlighting cigarette or stove as the likely causes of the fire. But how could either of these two explain the rapidity with which the fire spread to the three coaches' Ideally, the railways should be using fire retardant materials, including flame-proof wirings for the coaches. Unfortunately, such materials are hardly ever used.
Far from focussing itself on ensuring a comfortable and safe journey for its passengers, the railways is concentrating on diversifying commercially to make up for lost revenue. But it should remember that its prime function is to run trains punctually and efficiently. In fact, the railways should consider handing over all other associated activities like manufacture (for example, of bottled water), cleaning, catering and selling tickets to private firms on a contractual basis.
In the meantime, the railway authorities concerned should see that the inquiry committee investigating the accident comes up with its report soon. All such committees should include relevant industry experts and professionals serving in non-governmental organizations.
Raghubir Singh, Pune
Sir — The inferno which engulfed the Amritsar-bound Frontier Mail was reported to have been caused by a stove burst. It is common knowledge that hawkers selling tea and coffee board trains carrying stoves to keep the beverages hot. Neither the passengers nor the ticket examiner or other railway officials object to such hazardous objects being taken into coaches. Passengers travelling in groups sometimes light stoves to prepare eatables in the presence of fellow passengers.
When there is such scant regard for safety rules, it is but natural that accidents of the Frontier Mail kind should occur with increasing frequency. Indians seem to have a tendency to flout norms in every sphere of life. Which is also why no one objected to the doorways being blocked by black boxes belonging to the security personnel. Entrances are often jammed with the luggage of unauthorized passengers and it is nightmarish for the genuine passengers to even go to the toilet. So long as passengers prefer to remain indifferent to or are ignorant of the reason of such macabre accidents, it will be useless blaming the railways alone.
S. Ram, Calcutta
Sir — The railway authorities should not be blamed for every problem or accident on every train. Each rail accident has its own cause. However, certain general safeguards necessarily need to be taken. And for this, passengers are as much responsible as the authorities. Strict vigilance is necessary, both from passengers and the railways, so that stoves are not taken inside trains. Smoking should also be strictly forbidden in train compartments
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi
Sir — Why are the railway authorities ruling out sabotage' A lot of terrorist activities are taking place in the country. Kerala and Mumbai are the recent examples. Besides, the three coaches got burnt all too rapidly, indicating the presence of particular chemicals which hastened the fire. A detailed and unprejudiced enquiry should be conducted.
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore
Sir — The blame game has already started. The railways will try to prove how passengers were themselves responsible for the accident. This might be true. But that does not absolve the railways from the crime of not being vigilant enough.
R. Raghu, Siliguri
Sir — Glenn McGrath’s sudden outburst during the fourth day of the final test between the West Indies and Australia in St John’s is deprecatory (“ACB urges Steve to rein in players”, May 14). He is a mature international cricketer and a much respected one too. The Australians were so confident of a thumping victory in the match that they did not quite anticipate the danger Ramnaresh Sarwan could pose. The statements given by the Australian coach, John Buchanan and the captain, Steve Waugh only underscore McGrath’s immaturity in handling pressure situations. It is time the International Cricket Council, ironically led by an Australian, took appropriate action against the offenders. Merely imposing a fine will not affect these millionaire players.
Moreover, Australians have a history of misbehaviour on the field, which they try to pass off as a cricketing practice. Indian cricketers have been penalized for acts for which Australians have never been. M. Muralitharan and Shoaib Akhtar were tested time and again by the ICC for their bowling action, but not Brett Lee, against whom similar charges were levelled. Cricketing nations must adopt a clear and firm stand against this highhanded and biased attitude of the ICC.
Ratnadeep Deb, Guwahati
Sir — Glenn McGrath’s tiff with Ramnaresh Sarwan has shown the cricketing world that Australians are poor losers. McGrath even went on to allege that Sarwan had made derogatory remarks about his wife despite Australian team members negating this accusation. Besides, Sarwan’s comments were routine sledging that is so common in cricket today. Australia is one of the most popular teams in the world today and the players have to be more careful if they want to keep their image in place.
N.G. Haksi, Ranchi