Sir — The families of MiG victims have rightly grounded George Fernandes with their “Stop this circus: MiG families” (July 26). The defence minister has become some kind of a hero among jawans for his flying visits to the Siachen, his trip on a submarine and his flight on the Sukhoi. There is no doubt that Fernandes has brought to his interactions with ground level soldiers a verve and sincerity that had been singularly missing from the dealings of the ministry. But in his zeal for firsts, Fernandes is turning the entire episode into a joke. A defence minister who has a feel for the needs of his men, and Fernandes claims to have it, should know that the urgent pleas of the MiG victims cannot be written off as madness. The planes have been crashing with frightening regularity, so much so that it has been already named as a flying coffin. Fernandes is trying to make light of this allegation. But a lone flight on a MiG might not be enough for him to succeed.
S. Chatterjee, Calcutta
Sir — It was heartening to know that the Supreme Court has come down heavily on the Tamil Nadu government employees for striking and holding the state to ransom (“SC urges Jaya to take back workers”, July 22). However, in a perfect balancing act, the Supreme Court has also asked the state government to “show magnanimity and grace” and take back the sacked employees after they tendered an unconditional apology and give it in writing that they would not strike work and abide by rule 22 of the state government’s service rules.
It is unfortunate that government employees and political parties all over the country hold the country to ransom by striking work for long periods under the pretext of upholding democracy and constitutional rights. While the strikers are aware of what they claim to be their “fundamental right”, they neglect their fundamental duty, a fact highlighted by the Supreme Court in its verdict. The striking employees also fail to understand that in the long run, they are the ones who lose out, not the trade union leaders who make a career out of exploiting them. In the present case, the bench has rightly observed that strike as a weapon is always misused and this results in chaos and total maladministration”. By observing that the state has taken appropriate action as there is no alternative today to deal with the strike, the apex court has patted Amma on her back, while sending out a loud and clear message to government servants that their recalcitrance will be most severely dealt with.
Srinivasan Balakrishnan, Jamshedpur
Sir — J. Jayalalithaa’s whimsical decision to deny the Tamil Nadu government employees their deserved increments, pension and gratuity, and her subsequent order dismissing 1.7 lakh protesting employees once again betrays her dictatorial ambitions. It defies logic how the government can renege overnight on a long established and basic agreement with employees in its service. Moreover, the government employees cannot be victimized for protesting or made to suffer because wrong economic policies of the government and the misdeeds of the politicians have brought the state to penury. The judiciary, which has refused to come to the aid of the employees and has lauded Jayalalithaa for punishing the striking employees, must also ensure that our elected representatives do not turn into sadistic dictators. They must not be allowed to feel that they are authorized to do anything they feel like.
Shivaji K. Moitra, Kharagpur
Sir — The Supreme Court has given a balanced verdict in the case of the Tamil Nadu government employees. Government employees are among the most well-paid employees who also have their share of perquisites and facilities which most other employees in the private sector do not have. What is more, they are the best placed to benefit from the institutional corruption in the government. The Tamil Nadu chief minister, J. Jayalalithaa, has shown exemplary courage and her proved her competence by not bowing to pressure of the government employees. Jayalalithaa has shown herself capable of governing the country.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi
Sir — Like Margaret Thatcher, J. Jayalalithaa has tackled the striking government employees in the way they deserved to be handled. The labour union leaders have misled a vast majority of employees who are now victims of the administrative decision of the chief minister. They may now no longer have the right to strike work, but they will continue to be assured of a well-paying job and job security.
C.R. Bhattacharjee, Calcutta
Sir — The report, “Death from loneliness at eighty”(July 22), highlights the sociological problem of alienation that has become part of the modern civil society and the modernization process. Karl Marx had predicted that a pre-eminently industrial society would make human beings feel alienated from one another.
Later, Herbert Marcuse, the noted German philosopher, held that technological determinism of the modern era would appear as an obstacle in the development of the multi-dimensional personality of man. Undoubtedly, we have become uncritical followers of the religion of modernity that fails to take a compassionate look at man himself.
Indranil Chaudhuri, Calcutta