Sir — Asim Dasgupta should stop to think for himself before begging the finance commission for increased assistance to West Bengal and offering his own wise suggestions to that end (“Asim asks for 1 lakh crore”, July 25). As finance minister of a state, he should have been better informed as to how and on what basis the commission allocates financial resources between states. Why should the Centre agree to his demand for assistance when Bengal has not been able to show that resources meant for developmental projects have been properly utilized in the past' Besides, does he think that the people have forgotten how he used the state’s precious resources to pay state government employees their bloated salaries before the state went bankrupt' Amid all the statistics that are being dredged up to strengthen the Bengal case, Dasgupta continues to display the true colour of the Marxists who expect everything else to change without trying to change themselves.
C. Chakraborty, Calcutta
Sir — After a series of incidents in which American and British troops have been manhandled and slaughtered in Iraq, the government of the United States of America must be extremely glad to announce the deaths of Saddam Hussein’s most wanted sons, Uday and Qusay. Both George W. Bush and his defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, are making the most of the bloody encounter. The news of the killings will help Bush quell growing dissidence and resentment at home about the Iraq expedition. But if the US ends up being as brutal as the previous regime in Iraq, then it cannot claim the moral high ground of “civilizing the brutes”. By publishing the gruesome photograph of the two killed brothers, the US has shown that it is tarred with the same brush as the brutal rulers of Iraq (“Scribes see brutal brothers”, July 26).
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai
Sir — The media is agog with the news of the killing of Saddam Hussein’s two sons by the American troops. Both readers and viewers each time are given a healthy dose of reminders about how the two brothers were responsible for the torture, maiming and murder of thousands of people. To give another sinister twist to the tale, people are also told repeatedly that Saddam’s sons were womanizers and treated women badly. The traits are undoubtedly condemnable. But are these characteristics unique to Iraq’s rulers for the past few decades' Have America’s presidents never womanized nor treated women badly' What about the scandal that rocked the White House a few years ago'
Asok Dasgupta, Calcutta
Sir — It is difficult to believe in the American lie about Saddam Hussein’s two most dreaded sons being dead, once and for all. For one, there is little chance the dictators would do something as foolish as staying on in Iraq at a time the US forces had come rampaging in and the people they had ruled over so despotically could not be trusted to remain servile any more. The ruling dynasty in Iraq has made a record of sorts because of the number of decoys in its service. Saddam Hussein was reputed to have as many as nine doubles. It wouldn’t surprise if the brothers killed in Iraq recently turn out to be decoys of the sons.
Yes, one may argue that the Americans have enough proof — dental and forensic. But we have only their word for it. And so far as words are concerned, the Americans cannot be said to be awfully trustworthy.
S. Haldar, Calcutta
Sir — When the Americans created the myth of Jessica Lynch, the 19-year marine who was allegedly rescued from the clutches of the Iraqis, the media played along. Newspapers were splashed with reports, then still unconfirmed, on how valiantly she had resisted her captors. She was portrayed as the epitome of American gallantry. Such eulogies are sadly lacking for the teenaged grandson of Saddam Hussein who, much like Lynch (if hers had been a true story), resisted his captors till the end and died fighting bravely with his father and uncle. Why' Is it because Lynch belonged to the side of the victors and Qusay’s son was among the losers that his misery went unreflected upon' True, both his father and uncle were of ill-repute, but should the little boy bear the responsibility for that' Where are the voices that once grew alarmed at the torture of a teenager like Lynch' Why do they not speak up for the killing of Qusay’s teenaged son by the American forces'
Ranajoy Sanyal, Calcutta
Sir — We do not have to necessarily believe Padma Lakshmi when she tries to silence wagging tongues by saying that it is the pressure of their respective careers that keep her and her beau, Salman Rushdie, apart (“Padma parries breakup buzz”, July 28). She has always bandied Rushdie as a prize catch. In fact, even now, she should be grateful for the rumours about their relationship not working. Never mind the truth behind it, the allegations are doing wonders to Lakshmi’s film career, which incidentally is yet to take off. For example, the media spotlight is giving Lakshmi free publicity for her forthcoming film, Boom. Besides, if her relationship is really working, why don’t we have any disclamiers from Rushdie himself, given that the writer was once quite mad about her'
Syeda Kulsum Khan, Chennai