Sir — If Kashmir were like Hindi films, India and Pakistan would be in agreement. The futility of the official ban on Hindi films in Pakistan shows just how close Indians and Pakistanis are culturally (“In Pakistan, films must be Indian”, July 13). It also proves for the umpteenth time that entirely fictitious divisions are created by the political establishments of the two countries for reasons best known to them. The people of the two countries are oblivious to such prejudices, a feeling that is reinforced with every bus journey across the Wagah border. It is not difficult to understand why Pervez Musharraf’s men, and those of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, would want to clamp down on cultural exchanges — such as the screening of Ram Gopal Varma’s Bhoot in Pakistan — between the two countries. Such exchanges serve to reduce the differences between the two people. As long as such differences persist, and better still, grow, Vajpayee and Musharraf can sleep in peace.
Sreya Roy, Calcutta
Not a time to party
Sir — In the Seventies, the Congress reaped the advantage of a division in anti-Congress votes. The Bharatiya Janata Party is surviving by the grace of a similar division in anti-BJP votes. The Congress has lacked the initiative — particularly after the Panchmarhi conclave — to form a secular front which could seriously challenge the BJP and the sangh parivar. However, the Sonia Gandhi’s announcement that the Congress is ready to go for pre-poll seat adjustment with like-minded “secular” parties has now opened fresh avenues for the formation of a secular front (“Heartland tie-up woe for Sonia”, July 11). It seems unlikely that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) will join a Congress-led coalition, considering the former’s ideological moorings. However, the Congress could easily get support to form a government at the Centre from the Samajwadi Party and the Kranti Dal.
Subhra Sen, Digwadih, Dhanbad
Sir — To regain the support which it previously enjoyed from the Dalits, adivasis, other backward classes and the Muslims, the Congress in its recent Shimla sankalp has decided to extend the concept of “reservation” even to the private sector (“Seat-share cure gives Cong heart burn”, July 11). It is futile to adopt a reservation policy in India, for the only thing it succeeds in doing is prevent the really capable from holding responsible offices. This hampers the efficiency of administration. The desire of the Congress to garner a sizeable vote bank and return to the forefront of Indian politics cannot be reason enough for allowing the introduction of a system which does not benefit the country in any way.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi
Sir — Instead of merely aping the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress should project progressive and distinctly secular policies on the one hand and also pay careful attention to the organizational strategies adopted by the BJP.
Contrary to the views expressed in the editorial, “Call of faith” (July 9), I feel that the confirmation of Sonia Gandhi as the undisputed leader of the Congress in its vichar manthan shivir at Shimla is hardly a boon. The balanced power distribution among the BJP senior leaders proves that the basic organizational structure in the BJP is still alive. The same cannot be said for the Congress. Inducting young leaders is what keeps an organization alive, and this is one of the many areas where the Congress has failed. Except for the issue of Sonia Gandhi’s leadership, Congressmen are at loggerheads with each other over every other issue. The Congress has to get its house in order soon, or it might be too late.
Raja Sen, Dhanbad
Climb every mountain
Sir— It was quite an experience to be “In the land of the gods” (July 7) with Sayomdeb Mukherjee. However, what touched the hearts of the readers more than the beauty of the Himalayas was Sayomdeb’s courage, faith and determination. Anyone else with the kind of disability from which he suffers would not even contemplate undertaking such a tortuous expedition. His visit to the Himalayas and the famous temples situated on the high altitudes prove that “where there is a will there is a way”. Sayomdeb will undoubtedly be a source of strength and inspiration for everyone afflicted by physical disabilities.
Urmila Guha, Burnpur
Sir—I fully agree with Sayomdeb Mukherjee’s conclusion that the Himalayas are not merely spiritually uplifting but also full of helpful people. I was able to get over my fear of visiting Darjeeling owing to the Gorkhaland movement last year by the hospitality of the people of the region. The people of the Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir also welcome tourists with heartfelt warmth and cordiality.
The article was more than a piece of travel writing because it came from someone with severe disabilities who still took all the pains of ascending a hill to visit a holy spot. Sayomdeb’s act of sheer courage has set an example for others to follow. The fact that after visiting the place Sayomdeb did not forget to thank the people for being so helpful is commendable. Our political leaders should stop interfering with the lives of the people of the hills and let them remain in the unspoilt state that they are in.
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur
Sir — The death of the Iranian twin sisters, Laleh and Ladan Bijani, is being mourned by the country (“Separated, twins die”, July 9). After spending 28 years of their lives in the conjoined state, the willingness of the sisters to get operated was a brave step indeed, especially given the risks the surgery entailed. Apart from mourning their death, we should recognize their contribution to the field of medical science. They have probably made sure that in future, conjoined twins like them will not meet with a similar fate.
M. Agrawal, Delhi
Sir — It is sad that the Bijani twins, Ladan and Laleh, succumbed to their wish of leading separate and independent lives. Twins like them, joined at birth, are rare but this is not a completely new phenomenon. It is important for the medical fraternity to devise a method for treating such rare cases. It would require a lot of research for such a scheme to be successful. But the medical world cannot go on helplessly witnessing such deaths. The death of the Bijani sisters will hold some meaning only if doctors and surgeons learn from the mistakes of their case and devise a risk-proof way of separating conjoined twins.
Aritra Roy, Shyamnagar