Sir — The Modi government seems to be suddenly feeling the heat two years after the carnage in Gujarat (“Modi duo dashes to Delhi for direction”, Aug 2). However, the holding of the Best Bakery trial outside the state, provided the Supreme Court grants it, is no guarantee the victims will have justice. For one, the Bharatiya Janata Party will try to make sure that the trial is held in a “friendly” state, that is a BJP-ruled state or in a state where it has a say in the government. Chances are, the trial may be held in Mumbai, where some of the victims have taken refuge. But even here, the victims will not be entirely safe from the machinations of Narendra Modi. The Hindu right wing in Maharashtra is strong, and the doddering Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government cannot ensure full security to the victims in such a high-profile case. With the Congress giving the BJP a run for its Hindutva, it is even less likely that it will be willing to take on the responsibility.
C. Chatterjee, Calcutta
Sir — Jawans risk their lives to preserve the sanctity of the nation. In a world primarily swayed by personal interests and greed, they are the heroes who epitomize selfless love. It therefore hurts when one sees the uncaring attitude of the administration and top officials of the army who fail to look beyond percentages and statistics. George Fernandes may be calculating his success by the increased percentage of jawans who get proper equipment. But people like him fail to understand that each of the men serving the country is a human being. Each soldier who dies because he does not have proper shoes or bullet-proof jacket or because of the “technical snag” in the MiG-21 he flies is a life lost due to the callousness of the people at the top whose duty it is to look after his welfare. This is grave injustice not only towards the family that each jawan feeds, but also to the nation which loses its bravest sons. The defence ministry needs to stop making excuses to cover its incompetence.
Sarit Ray, Calcutta
Sir — One fully sympathizes with the families of the victims of the numerous MiG-21 crashes when they strongly object to George Fernandes’ taking a joy ride on a MiG (“ ‘Stop this circus’, MiG martyr kin”, July 26). The defence minister has taken a completely uncaring attitude towards the MiG crashes and his plan to stage-manage another celebrated ride on the killer plane is an insult to the memories of those brave airmen who have lost their lives. And not by way of defending the nation, but because of the nonchalance of the minister and his equally clueless bureaucrats. It is hard to see why Atal Bihari Vajpayee is continuing with a turncoat politician like Fernandes who has also been charged of corruption. May be his ability to keep the National Democratic Alliance’s flock together makes him indispensable to the ruling party.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — The Russian MiG fighter jets have become known as “flying coffins” for the frequency with which they crash. It is strange that the government should prefer holding on to this decrepit fleet at the cost of the precious lives of its pilots. It is possible that this is because people at the helm of affairs are not willing to accept the folly of purchasing these obsolete planes. Or is it that our politicians wish to prove their superiority over our neighbour just by the strength of the number of planes in the fleet' MiGs, which were supposed to be phased out since the mid-Nineties, have become the laughing stock of the world and the cause of fear among air force pilots and their families. How does the nation hope to score a victory over its enemies with a demoralized force'
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Sir — MiGs were first seen in sky during the 1965 war. It is ridiculous that India should still be having them, especially when pilots are crying themselves hoarse about the dangers of flying the plane. The president should intervene in this crisis since he is the head of the armed forces. India should also have more advanced jet trainers.
Shiv Shanker Almal, Calcutta
Sir — The costs of replacing the entire fleet of MiG-21 is enormous. There is no way India can afford it. Why can’t India send troops to Iraq and demand some fighter planes from the United States of America in return'
S. Mahato, Calcutta
Sir — Every year on July 11, we observe World Population Day. Speeches are delivered by leaders reminding us of the necessity of family planning, healthcare for mothers and children. Discussions and seminars are held where NGOs and doctors polish their debating skills. At the end of the day we are back to square one. Each year, we add one Australia to our population. India has adopted the national population policy, but the problem lies in its implementation. Indira Gandhi had tried to check population explosion during Emergency. But false publicity by her opponents and the media killed the effort. What is most pathetic is that the weaker groups in society who need family planning the most are opposing the idea on grounds of either caste or religion. The only way to counter it is to generate greater awareness among women and through their empowerment to decide on family planning.
Tapan Das Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — The West Bengal government is supposed to issue identity cards in its border districts to check illegal infiltration across the border. This a much needed step. The migration from Bangladesh has adversely affected our population stabilization policy and human development index. India has added about 18 crore to its population in the previous decade and about two crore of this have come in the form of illegal migrants. The massive influx negates all development that India has achieved so far. What India should pledge itself to do is to stop illegal infiltration at whatever cost keeping in mind its limited resources, security concerns and the population bursting at the seams.
Dipankar Bera, Howrah