Learn to manage
Sir — For us lesser mortals in the third-world countries, “reputation management” is at best an arcane and incomprehensible concept, and at worst, a luxury. The need to “manage” one’s reputation could only occur to our privileged counterparts in the West. If one understands the meaning of the term correctly, then it must be admitted that no one needs it more than Cherie Blair at the moment (“Top PR agent to sharpen up Cherie Blair’s image”, July 15). A high-flying lawyer, wife of the prime minister and a mother of four surely has no time to think about the consequences of each action. So what if it is something as obvious as hiring a serial conman to buy flats on her behalf' But what does it say when a high-profile and professionally qualified woman has to fall back on someone else to take her decisions for her' Although it may not give her image too great a boost, one could surely hope that once she picks up reputation management skills from the professional help, Shimon Cohen, some of it will rub off on Tony Blair too.
Brinda Sen, Calcutta
Fact and fiction
Sir — The spat between the BBC and 10, Downing Street is still fresh in the memory. A new chapter has been added to the saga in the form of the dispute between the White House and the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA in the dock over false Iraq charge”, July 12). It is impossible to dissemble the truth now. It is quite clear that Iraq had been invaded with utterly evil intentions by the United Kingdom and the United Sates of America. What is the point in the White House’s saying now that it was mistaken in thinking that Saddam Hussein had been trying to get African uranium' The damage has already been done, and probably irreparably. It is a good thing though that at least one of George Bush’s many lies could be detected with the help of the available documents. But what about the others'
B.P. Banerjee, Asansol
Sir — It is disgusting to see how low the president of the world’s lone superpower can stoop to defend himself. First, there was his continuous insinuations about the weapons of mass destruction being still there in Iraq. And then, to back up this claim, the accusation that Iraq had tried to buy African uranium. Now that he has been proved utterly wrong, he has quickly passed the blame on to the CIA. So as not to lose popularity among his intelligence men, he has also let it be known, through the national security adviser, Condoleeza Rice, that the White House has every confidence in the CIA and its director. Rather than being a piece of illogic, it is a backhanded way of saying that the CIA might commit similar “mistakes” in future, and with the full endorsement of the White House.
S. Pradhan, Calcutta
Sir — The BBC’s unbiased way of reporting world events has hardly ever been in doubt. The uncompromising character of the institution has been highlighted once more (“BBC battles govt in Iraq weapons report row”, June 30). Tony Blair’s communications chief, Alastair Campbell, may rave and rant about how the BBC lied in alleging, citing an intelligence source, that he had meddled with a September dossier on Iraq’s WMD. But the world has already been witness to the Blair-Bush flounderings after they were probed about the whereabouts of the WMD that had posed such a threat to global security.
In the light of the events preceding and following the Iraq war, it is doubtful if Campbell will find any sympathy with the people who repose greater faith in the BBC than in the Blair government. If there were any doubts about this, they should have been cleared by the poll conducted by the tabloid, News of the World Today, where 58 per cent of those polled claimed Blair to be untrustworthy.
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
With heads hung in shame
Sir — The ordeal that Anjali Haldar, was subjected to by the local Communist Party of India (Marxist) leaders shows that in West Bengal, anarchy has pervaded all aspect of the lives of the citizens (“Lady tonsured, dumped in pond for ‘affair’”, July 16). Those who choose not to subscribe to the CPI(M)’s unwritten constitution of mob rule and “justice” end up suffering the most. If Haldar indeed had an affair with the tutor of her daughters, what business is it of the CPI(M) leaders' Besides, don’t communists separate from their spouses or have extra-marital affairs ' Why are they not treated similarly'
It appears that Haldar’s sole fault was in spite of being a single mother, she had the audacity to ask a married man to tutor her daughters.
This is not the first or only example of the high-handedness and impudence of CPI(M)’s local committee leaders. My 73 year-old disabled sister’s driver is a member of the minority community. This has incited the local party members so much that they tried to lynch him for helping a Hindu woman in our village in Shondanga, Dhubulia. The CPI(M) has neither punished the perpetrators of the crime, nor arranged for any kind of protection for the victim.
At this rate, the ranks of the Anjali Haldars can only swell, given that the party members’ writs run large all over rural Bengal, and also in large parts of the cities. As long as the CPI(M) is secure in its seat of power, no amount of media coverage can salvage the situation.
Sunil Kumar Pal, London
Sir — The para clubs in and around Calcutta have in the past played positive and constructive roles, be it in organizing blood donation camps or in arranging relief for flood- or famine-affected people. But Anjali Haldar’s case shows up these clubs in a different light altogether. The members of Vivek Sangha thought nothing about picking on a helpless and single mother of two on being instigated by Gopinath Mandal, the local CPI(M) leader. They even went ahead on a rampage on the personal property of the Haldar household. Unless they enjoy protection and patronage of the ruling party, how could they take the law into their own hands' No amount of charitable work they might have done in the past can cover up for their rogue behaviour.
Vishal Bhagat, Chittaranjan, Burdwan
Sir — After what the members of Vivek Sangha have done to Anjali Haldar and her two young daughters, the state administration needs to sit up and take note. Para clubs have mushroomed all over the state and in nine cases out of ten, are funded or manipulated by local political parties. These clubs do not seem to be making any contributions to society whatsoever, and only act as breeding grounds for anti-social elements. They must be prevented from becoming the self-appointed guardians of the localities.
Saibal Das, Dusseldorf