The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

Performing badly

Sir — Not unexpectedly, the poor high school results in Madhya Pradesh this year has provided political meat for the opposition to prey on. Although power cuts and poor water supply, which Uma Bharti cited as reasons, could not alone have been behind the outrageous performance of students, they cannot be wished away as irrelevant to the entire issue. Power cuts in the night should not have prevented students from studying in the day. True, Mr Digvijay Singh. But power cuts were not happening only at night. And lack of water would definitely unsettle a lot of homes. It is obvious that the state government is itself at a loss to explain the results. There is no doubt that several factors like the euphoria over world cup cricket and poor state facilities compounded matters. But Digvijay Singh, in his bid to provide a showcase government, seems to have laid undue stress on spreading literacy. But education, as Singh should realize by now, does not merely consist of success figures.

Yours faithfully,
Saikat Roy, Calcutta

Artful dodging

Sir — S.K. Das, director of information, government of West Bengal, has taken umbrage at the report “Lies, damn lies & Bengal statistics”, (May 29). However hard he may try and refute the report, experience and records prove otherwise (“Reconsidering the statistics”, June 6). Das says that the estimation of Bengal’s state domestic product has been “scrupulously” done over the decades by the Bureau of Applied Economics and Statistics under the state government’s department of development and planning, and is based on the standard methodology recommend by the Central Statistical Organization, government of India.

The employees of the BAE&S might not be unscrupulous, but their hands are bound when it comes to SDP estimation. Take an instance. Using the figures supplied by the agriculture department, the BAE&S’s estimate of boro rice production was 42.87 lakh tonnes for 1998-99 (source: BAE&S’s report on sample surveys for estimating yield and production of major crops in West Bengal, 1998-99). Whereas according to the Economic Review 1998-99, the official (that of the agriculture department) boro production figure was 49.22 lakh tonnes.

As for crop area estimates, the collection of basic field data is, no doubt, entrusted to the land and land revenue department officials, but the estimates are framed and presented by the agriculture department, which has scanty regard for truth. The officials regularly tamper with data collection in the privacy and comfort of their offices, without being bothered, most of the time, to actually go to the field for data collection.

Yours faithfully,
S. Datta Ray, Calcutta

Sir — Who was The Telegraph trying to fool when it said that there was no insinuation in the report, “Lies, damn lies & Bengal statistics”' The Merriam Webster dictionary defines insinuate as “to introduce (as an idea) gradually or in a subtle, indirect, or covert way... or to impart or communicate with artful or oblique reference”. Surely, The Telegraph cannot deny having done that.

Yours faithfully,
Debabrata Das, Minneapolis, US

Sir — The report exposing the state government’s art of fudging while compiling official data on the state’s economy has been informative. The false claims made by the state finance minister, Asim Dasgupta, are shocking. It is precisely because of such caprice that the people of the state, investors and economists are unable to arrive at any conclusion about what exactly is happening to the state. Statistical institutions, and not the government, should perhaps be entrusted with the task of preparing reports and compiling data so that the common people have a correct picture about the economic situation.

Yours faithfully,
Rajeev Bagra, Baidyabati

Sir — Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s statement that trade unions should understand and cooperate with the management, has earned kudos from the business sector (“Buddha dawns on business”, June 2). The realization probably stems from the understanding that industrial development is now a must for the state. While answering questions regarding militant trade unionism, Bhattacharjee’s remark that “things are not that bad”, was however an understatement about the rot that has already set in. The left’s efforts at rejuvenating the industrial scenario can be witnessed from what is happening at the city’s oldest capital market — the Calcutta stock exchange — which is on the verge of extinction. The exchange authorities have appealed to the chief minister to save them from the present crisis. However, the chief minister has remained silent on the issue. The middle path followed by the Marxist leaders will not solve the real crisis. The chief minister needs to free the state from the tyranny of the party bosses.

Yours faithfully,
Sankar Lal Singh, Calcutta

Sir — The chief minister may have toured Mumbai to woo businessmen. But what is surprising is that he is conspicuously silent on Haldia Petrochemicals Limited. It is well known that this project is running a huge loss and suffering a growing debt burden. The Gas Authority of India Limited and the Indian Oil Corporation have been interested in buying stakes in HPL. But lack of agreement on the part of the state government is preventing this from happening (“Naik sets stiff terms for HPL”, June 4). The government should realize that it is the taxpayers’ money that has been invested in the project, and it has no right to liquidate the money by taking no positive decision while there is still time.

Yours faithfully,
Rajendra Nath Bose, Calcutta

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