Hire and misfire
Sir — It might have been the brainchild of the N. Chandrababu Naidu, but it is strange that none present at the chief ministers’ meet had the brain to question the practicality of the move (“CMs discover contract virtue”, Sept 3). The system of hiring government employees on a contractual basis in no way guarantees work efficiency. In fact, it doubtful whether the denial of the much sought after benefits of job security and pension would make a better worker of the typical government servant. Besides, five-year contracts haven’t made Indian governments any the less ineffective.
S. Mukherjee, Calcutta
Sir — The objections raised by certain sections of the minority community in West Bengal over the recital of the Ganesh bandana in the latest edition of Kishalay are meaningless (“Ganesh Bandana in textbook stirs storm”, August 22). How will a few lines of Ganesh Bandana affect their faith' The allegation that both teachers and students will face a lot of discomfort while reading the chapter is irrelevant. The lines are being asked to be recited like panchali because the tribal Chou- dancers read it that way. The apprehension that the government is attempting to corrupt minority religions is baseless. The left government does not seem to be trying to propagate any particular religious view. In fact, the inclusion of the passage on Ganesh Bandana is probably meant to make students aware of their own culture. There is no reason for the book to be withdrawn.
Surajit Basak, Calcutta
Sir — Why should children be taught religion, and with that religious differences, so early in life' Did the government assume that its Kishalay would be read without as much as a protest from the minority community' Given the furore the edition has generated, it is natural that the controversial chapter will cause resentment among parents and thereby discomfort in the classroom. The government would be well-advised to withdraw the text.
Sir — Books like Kishalay are meant for students of the lower classes and contain many mythological stories which may have religious associations. It would be wrong to regard these lessons as offensive. The education imparted at the primary level is aimed at widening the knowledge base of the young in the form of stories. Those studying in missionary schools have to study stories from the Bible as a part of their moral science syllabus. No objections are raised against this. It is sad that the inclusion of the Ganesh bandana has raised such a storm.
Avishek Ganguly, Howrah
Sir — The secular character of India will not be threatened if Kishalay is read in the primary classes. Knowledge cannot be restricted by religious or sectarian boundaries. Don’t Hindus and Christians read the Quran' Secularism and minority appeasement are two entirely different things, although they are easily confused in India. Christians and Buddhists in this country are less sensitive than Muslims about what is perceived as “threat” to their religion. It goes without saying that such threat perceptions are often wrong.
Diptimoy Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — The panchali is a form of recitation common to Bengal’s villages and is part of the syncretic rural culture. Panchali audiences have always drawn crowds both from the Hindu and Muslim communities. Why should the Ganesh bandana read out as panchali suddenly cause a furore'
C. Chatterjee, Calcutta
Sir — Given the highly volatile communal atmosphere in the state, an avowedly “secular” government like the Left Front should have avoided hurting the religious sentiments of the minorities. Why should Muslim students be forced to recite the Ganesh bandana in the primary classes' Have Hindu students ever been made to recite verses from the Quran'
M. Aslam, Calcutta