Sir — Barely a month after the debate over the efficiency of the vikash purush and lauh purush was laid to rest, new doubts have been raised about the leadership of the prime minister. This time by the principal opposition party (“Cong warning shot after origin salvo”, July 20). Yet by questioning the competence of Atal Bihari Vajpayee as prime minister, the Congress is doing nothing more than turning the tables on its political opponents who have raised doubts about Sonia Gandhi’s ability to lead the country on account of her foreign origin. It is sad that political leaders in India seem more interested in settling old scores than paying attention to the real problems of the country. It is also strange that Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin or Vajpayee’s age should be reason enough for their disqualification, without any questions being raised about their leadership qualities. When will our political representatives learn to separate the wheat from the chaff'
Srimoyee Dey, Calcutta
Sir — The editorial, “Warring reasons” (July17), on the decision of the government of India to not send troops to Iraq, fails to appreciate the public sentiment on the issue and to properly evaluate the compulsions of domestic politics. The unilateral decision of the United States of America and its allies to invade Iraq has raised a storm of public protest all over the world. Subsequent revelations have also proved that the reasons cited by the Western powers to support the aggression are false.
Given the public outrage against the betrayal of trust, it would have been unwise on the part of India to send troops to Iraq at this instance. The Indian government has taken a judicious decision. The editorial seems to be unnecessarily concerned about the “defining momentum in Indo-US relation” and has laid undue emphasis on the decision of Pakistan to send troops to Iraq. Given the US’s pro-Pakistan stance, nothing could have veered the US towards India, not even its complying with America’s demand for troops.
Pabitra K. Bhaumik, Calcutta
Sir — The editorial, “Warring reasons seems to assert that it is absolutely essential for India to do everything that Pakistan does. So if Pakistan is sending troops to Iraq, a condition it couldn’t refuse (even if it tried) given that it is the US’s ally in the war against terror, India necessarily has to follow suit. But why' For one, India has not sold its soul to the US, which Pakistan has since US recognition and aid were indispensable to the Pervez Musharraf regime. Second, an undemocratic government like Pakistan’s can go with the US’s political machinations in Iraq, not a democratic government like India’s. Which is why the mere existence of a governing council in Iraq would not have given sufficient legitimacy to the presence of Indian troops on Iraq soil. Yes, India could have packaged its troops as “humanitarian” assistance, but is there any guarantee the Iraqis are foolish enough to not see through the facade' If they were indeed fools, they would have believed the Americans.
K. Mukherjee, Calcutta
Sir — India’s decision to abandon the idea of sending troops to Iraq must have been made with a view to the larger interests of the country. With a multitude of security challenges from different corners of the state, it would have been self-defeating for India to have given in to US demands. Besides, India seems to have wisely evaded the lure of US support for the future. The US government is well known for its lack of gratitude. Look at the way it is hounding the United Kingdom, its chief ally in the war.
Sir — The credibility of the British and American government have reached rockbottom. India’s decision to not send troops to Iraq could not have been timed better. India’s association with the US in Iraq would have been invariably interpreted as its encouragement to America in the oppression of the Iraqi people. The primary reason for the US’s keenness to draw troops from countries like India is that it wants to gain international support for its Iraq adventure. India, thankfully, has averted the US trap.
Susenjit Guha, Calcutta
Sir — India’s dithering and final refusal to the US call for assistance in Iraq confirms that it is a nation that survives without any planning. This is a negative decision and will prove detrimental to the future of the country. How could the government overlook the simple fact that in the days to come, India will continue to need help from the US. The present approach has sounded the deathknell for bilateral ties. This is a continuation of Jawaharlal Nehru’s deeply flawed policy of anti-Americanism. It is unfortunate that the government, despite its avowed anti-Congressism, has failed to break with the past.
Shashank Sinha, Patna
Sir — I was shocked to read, “Lady tonsured, dumped in pond for ‘affair’” (July 15). If this is what happens in the heart of Calcutta in the name of “morality”, are we very far from the taliban regime in Afghanistan' The criminals should be given the harshest punishment possible. These animals deserve no mercy.
Mihir Chakravarti, Calcutta
Sir — Even if Anjali Haldar decided to have an “affair” with the private tutor of her children, it is her personal matter. Yet, the local leftist goons not only decided to don the mantle of the moral police force, they even threatened the Haldars from taking the matter to the human rights commission. Are people secure in West Bengal'
Diptimoy Ghosh, Calcutta