End of an affair
Sir — Why is Britney Spears under the illusion that the public is as stupid as she is (“Love’s recipe that failed”, July 10)' No one could have believed her when she claimed that she would stay a virgin till she married. Now when she pleads “I’ve only slept with one person my whole life”, people have even less reason to buy her words. What was the need to make the sudden confession, one may ask. It is probably because the unattached Spears now feels that she needs to get a little sexed up to keep her male fan following and to get herself another man.
M. Sarkar, Calcutta
Hammer and tongue
Sir — I cannot but disagree with the editorial, “Tongues out” (July 2). Bengal is steadily deteriorating, and so is its language. Bengalis are being driven away from Assam, Tripura, Maharashtra. Now they are being threatened in their own state. This is all because Bengal has opened its doors to people from other states. It is true that the Bengali-speaking refer to settlers as “non-Bengali”, but they would never adopt a stance as intransigent as Bal Thackeray’s.
Bengalis are not piqued about residing with non-Bengalis. Their only demand, and justifiably so, is that people who live in Bengal also learn the language most commonly spoken here. It is essential for those living in the southern states to learn their respective languages. Why should it be any different in West Bengal' Unless Bengali is given encouragement, it will die the way Sanskrit has. Moreover, making Bengali compulsory for those who speak a different tongue does not mean Bengalis are anti-non-Bengali. Many Bengalis residing in other states are often forced to learn Hindi or other languages peculiar to the states they choose to live in. I strongly commend the government’s move and wish a bill was passed making Bengali a compulsory language for students in Bengal.
Sayan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — Bengali is the official language in as many as three districts of Assam — Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi. Assamese is not encouraged in the schools of these three districts. In Tripura, Bengali is the state language because immigrants from erstwhile east Pakistan have outnumbered the indigenous population of the state. There is no Assamese programme aired on Doordarshan Silchar, nor on All India Radio there. An Assamese department has not been introduced in the Central university in Silchar.
Pro-Bengali activism has been the cause for much bloodshed in the Northeast. The main problem with the Bengali immigrants in the region is that they have a specific cultural hierarchy which, with them at the topmost rung, they seek to impose on the people who shelter them. There is a vast number of Nepali settlers in the northeastern states too, but they have not posed a problem as they do nothing to subvert the traditional values in the region, which the Bengali settlers do.
Arambam D. Singha, Guwahati
Sir — There appears to be a distinct similarity between the legendary Kumbhakarna and our Marxist leaders so far as the sleeping habit is concerned. It took 26 years for the Marxists to wake up to the importance of English education at the primary level. Their jingoism with regard to the matribhasha or mother tongue has already crippled Bengali students when they have to compete outside the state. No one doubts the greatness of Bengali, but it is at best a vernacular language which is confined to the state. Proficiency in Bengali is of little value in the global job market.
There is no doubt that good students studying in the Bengali medium have shown excellence in life. But for the average students, it becomes difficult to continue with higher studies which are mostly conducted in English. An entire generation of Bengalis are suffering because of the Left Front’s misdirected language policy. Even a reintroduction of English will not solve the problem immediately for the simple reason that good English teachers at the primary level will be impossible to get, particularly in the suburbs.
Tapan Das Gupta, Calcutta