The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

Some luxuries are not for all

Sir — The Telegraph’s Poila Baisakh issue contained a supplement named “Splurges”, with a bottomline, “money means nothing if you can’t spend it”, on its cover. I could not agree with you more on the issue. But a serious query is, are such supplements necessary' Do the people of Calcutta need to be reminded on the Bengali new year that there are some luxuries in this world that they will probably never be able to afford' There are Calcuttans who can afford Louis Vuitton travel apparel, but does this small percentage of people need to be informed about the existence of this brand' A newspaper should be pan-society. Why should supplements highlight income disparities in a region or in a city' Instead of concentrating on such inconsequential matters, The Telegraph could bring out a weekly booklet about people’s experiences in diverse fields of work and information about who to contact about which matter. This will help people in more ways than Louis Vuitton can.

Yours faithfully,
Simanti Banerjee, Calcutta

As destiny had it

Sir — The controversy involving Sahara Manoranjan’s much-publicized soap, Karishma: The Miracles of Destiny, hints at the picture of things to come in the new regime into which cable television is entering in India (“Karishma: plot behind the story”, May 10). The slamming of the copyright suit by the bestselling Manhattan-based English author, Barbara Taylor Bradford, has once again raised the question of the credibility of the private television channels resorting to such unethical means to get an edge over the so-called saas-bahu serials.

With the saas-bahu battles lording over prime-time viewership, channels have been wary of experimenting with new ideas to woo the viewership. Even these serials lift their plots from a number of sources. There is a joke that copying from a particular source is called plagiarism, but copying from multiple sources is called research. Perhaps something of this kind has been happening with the soaps on Indian TV. At least Sahara was trying to move away from the overused formulae.

It will be interesting to see what stand the court finally takes on the case. Because the verdict will determine the limits and boundaries of the Indian TV serial producers.

The loser in Sahara-Bradford controversy has been the viewership which had been expecting to see their favourite stars in the comfort of their living rooms — something Sahara had promised.

Yours faithfully,
Syeda Kulsum Khan, Chennai

Sir — The controversy that has been generated around the launch of the television serial, Karishma — The Miracles of Destiny, is entirely unnecessary. The producers should have, before starting work on the serial, obtained Barbara Taylor Bradford’s consent, as the Hindi soap was obviously indebted to Bradford’s novel, A Woman of Substance for its storyline. The producer of the serial, Akashdeep, has admitted to having based the script of the serial on the book. It is understandable if there is an unintended similarity between the story of a novel and that of a film or television serial. But when the similarity is intended or within the knowledge of the makers of the film — in other words, the film or serial is a direct lift from the book — it would save everybody a lot of trouble if the makers/producers of the screen version take the permission of the novelist.

It is because of this irresponsibility on the part of the makers of the serial that it has run into trouble after crores of rupees and thousands of man-hours have been spent in completing the serial. It appears from reports that the legal wrangle is going to be a long-drawn affair. Can’t the two sides sit down and work out a compromise'

However, it should be made mandatory for film producers in future to seek the written consent of a writer if they wish to make a film based on a work or works of the writer.

Yours faithfully,
S. Ram, Calcutta

Sir — Sahara television’s fracas with Barbara Taylor Bradford reflects the problems that have cropped up with the liberalization of broadcasting. Tens of private television channels have come up, and many of them are vending pure trash in the form of the so-called serials. In most homes, women and young boys and girls are glued for hours on end to these worthless serials.

The channels are only rendering people into perfect idiots. There is hardly any content which is uplifting, inspiring or instructive. The government will be justified in prescribing the content and quality of the broadcasts. Liberalization should not mean purveying the cheapest entertainment, subversive of morality and decency. The government should also encourage the formation of surveillance or advisory committees, and there should be obligatory meetings between the channel owners and these advisory councils.

Yours faithfully,
T. Mani Chowdary, Secunderabad

Improper schooling

Sir — The school service commission this year decided to sell its forms for an exorbitant fee of Rs 310. Last year’s form was priced much lower, nearly Rs 100 less than the current price. However, those belonging to the reserved categories, no matter what their affordability, have had to pay a nominal price of Rs 100 only for each form. How long will this discrimination continue' Could the government make allowances for those who do not belong to the reserved category, but are below the poverty line'

Yours faithfully,
Ahtesham Ahmad, Andal

Sir — The proposed policy of filling vacancies in schools and colleges of West Bengal with part-time teachers will sound the death knell for education in the state. The acute shortage of funds in the government exchequer has, perhaps, compelled the education ministry to consider the proposal. But this is unlikely to resolve the crisis. Examinees for the secondary and higher secondary levels have already suffered owing to the carelessness of the examiners. This lack of devotion and commitment on the part of the teachers and examiners would be enhanced by the introduction of this system.

Yours faithfully,
Baneswar Bhattacharya, Calcutta

Parting shot

Sir — It is unfair to compare Salman Khan with Hansie Cronje (“Salman sermon”, Feb 20). Cronje at least had made some meaningful contributions for his country. What are Khan’s contributions for India — flirting with his leading ladies, hunting endangered species, hit-and-run accidents, and underworld links' The organizers of the Abu Dhabi conference which invited Khan could well be thinking of Dawood Ibrahim for next year.

Yours faithfully,
Arta Mishra, Cuttack

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