Her majesty’s disservice
Sir — The Constitution of India may need to be reformulated. For J. Jayalalithaa seems destined to set up an autocracy in her state (“Amma in sack-a-lakh strikeback”, July 6). If the people of the country are forbidden from voicing their independent opinion regarding the rules they are asked to follow, what justice are we doing to the term democracy' The Tamil Nadu chief minister’s decision to dismiss all government employees who had tried to object to the state government’s decision to deprive them of their pension benefits is an arbitrary act. It cannot be justified by the rule of law nor by the rules that guide government service. When innumerable government servants in the rest of the country, particularly in left-ruled West Bengal, remain happily assured of their pension in spite of absenting themselves from work, neglecting their duties and licking the boots of their political masters, what wrong have the Tamil Nadu government employees done to deserve such a sack'
M. Srinivasan, Calcutta
Pride and prejudice
Sir — Riyaz Hassan in “Grappling with a new and changing world” (June 5), highlights the dilemmas faced by Muslims across the world. But it would be wrong to suggest that Islamic radicalism would prove to be the bane of the Muslim world in the future. For one, fundamentalism is not unique to Islam. It has afflicted every other major religious tradition. In fact, it has been only a late development in Islam. In the initial years again, the fundamentalists were not allowed to have much control over the social and political mainstream. But the lionizing of religious leaders and the fear of fatwa have given them increased hold over people. Add to this the manipulation of these heads by powers, for example, the American support for the inept rulers of the Arab world, and support of zealots like Zia-ul-Haq and Saddam Hussein. Western powers have never support progressive Muslim rulers like Gamal Abdel Nasser or Yasser Arafat. Which is why while talking about the complications that might be created by fundamentalism for the future of the Muslim ummah, it would be unwise to leave out the influence of the world powers. A truly heterogenous Islam can develop only when Muslims in general and Arab Muslims in particular are able to understand the gameplans of Western power and pledge to build their own destiny.
Rajarshi Sengupta, Kharagpur
Sir — The well-researched “Insight” article, “The older generation saw Ayodhya as a religious problem. We see it as political” (June 29), goes to prove two things. One, the sections of people interviewed for the article show that Indian society has enough space to accommodate the community if it cares to join the mainstream. And two, the community is gradually waking up to the fact that their religious leaders, in pursuit of their political agenda, were, and still are, misleading the community. If a sizeable section of the Muslim community was to ever condemn the militancy in Kashmir, the attack on Parliament and similar other acts of Muslim fundamentalist attack, I am sure there would also be no “Hindu backlash”, as it is commonly perceived. I also believe that had the media not over-played the Babri Masjid fiasco, when the identity of the edifice as a mosque or a temple is yet to be determined, had the Congress, together with communists, not hummed on the note of “secularism” in ceaseless monotone, Hindu-Muslim relations would not have been so acrimonious as it is today, nor would the Praveen Togadias and Ashok Singhals been born. I still think it is possible to overcome the differences, that is only if the government and the opposition start thinking about the interests of the country and not their own.
A.K. Bhattacharjee, Calcutta
Sir — Sunando Sarkar’s report, “Bias tag on OBC offices” (June 26), is highly commendable for highlighting the discrimination faced by Muslim and Christian claimants of the other backward classes certificates. The West Bengal minorities commission is justified in taking up the matter. Ansaris have also been denied the benefit of getting OBC benefits since 1998 although the backward classes welfare department of the government of West Bengal under memorandum number 1212-BCW/MR-132-2000, dated May 14, 2001, circulated to all OBC certificate-issuing authorities had said that Jolahs (Ansari-Momin) residing in West Bengal since March 15, 1993 or before, irrespective of their mother tongue, shall be eligible for the certificate. The offices concerned, in flagrant violation of the above circular, have continuously harassed the community and deprived them of their legitimate right by demanding unnecessary documentation like detailed address of place of origin and proof of traditional occupation as practised. The government officials seem to be deliberately engaged in undermining the secular image of the state.
Ashraf Ali Ansari, secretary, West Bengal Momin Conference, Calcutta
Sir — It is unfortunate that the government is still delaying the reforms in madrasah education. The Kidwai committee recommendations have been kept in the dark nor is there much enthusiasm in implementing its findings. All schools, even those not aided by the government, are subject to government supervision. Why should the madrasah be any different'
Subhash Hada, Calcutta
Sir — I appeal to the Muslim personal law board to take immediate action against the man who divorced his wife for allowing their child to be administered polio drops (“Divorce for polio drops”, June 13). Islam does not permit talaq on such flimsy and erroneous grounds. Sheikh Nazrul of Rabindranagar has committed an anti-Islamic act. I am also shocked at the neutral stand reportedly taken by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on this sensitive matter. All political parties and religious heads should unequivocally condemn this act. Secularism does not mean mutual tolerance of evil.
M. Mandal, Hyderabad