On watery ground
Sir — Calcutta was in for a post- puja surprise — a last stand from the departing monsoons (“Rain sucks homes dry”, Oct 8). The rains paralysed normal life and cast our minds back to the floods of the late Seventies. Although the rain gods cannot be blamed for their bounty, the state government cannot be excused for its negligence. The streets of Calcutta disappeared underwater and the public transportation system did a quick vanishing act. The chief minister might consider adding “a cleaner and drier” Calcutta to his already expanding list of promises to keep.
Samik Sen, Calcutta
Sir — The discovery of the oldest civilization in India on the banks of the Subarnarekha river has done residents of this area proud (“Footsteps of man over 2 m years”, Sept 8). What makes this discovery truly unique is the fact that there are no signs of terra incognito (break in continuum in human habitation) in the Subarnarekha valley, unlike in other archaeological sites in India. Geologists at the Ranchi University and the team from the Archaeological Survey of India should ensure that the site is excavated properly so that the treasure trove of knowledge concealed for so long is not lost.
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — The explanation given in the report, “Footsteps of man over 2 m years”, for the similarity between the stone age tools found in the Subarnarekha basin and in east African sites raises some questions. During the Cretaceous period, Gondwanaland was breaking up into smaller land masses that closely resemble the modern continents. It was during this time that India too broke away and started drifting towards Asia. But the Australopithecus (pre-Paleolithic man), who were supposed to have used the tools found on the banks of the Subarnarekha, had not evolved by then. Second, how could the Australopithecus in India and Africa evolve similarly over millions of years in the same pattern in spite of being separated by thousands of kilometres of ocean, with no means of communication'
A. Bhattacharya, Ranchi
Sir — The Subarnarekha excavations may well push back Indian history by a few millennia. It is being said that the site is more important than the Stonehenge of England, the Aldovai Gorge in east Africa or the Somme Valley in France. Instead of coming to such hasty conclusions, we should wait for the next round of excavations which begin in October. A claim of this magnitude can only be made after exhaustive research.
S.K. Ghoshmaulik, Santiniketan
Sir — I wonder what the right-wing hawks in the Central government make of the excavations' The sangh parivar is a master at distorting history to suit political ends. It has rubbished the Aryan invasion theory for this reason. Will they manipulate this discovery too to suit their petty ends'
L.R. Roy, Calcutta
Sir — After the excavation is completed, the authorities must ensure that the area is declared a heritage site and preserved carefully. Our country boasts of many such archaeological treasures which are in a derelict state owing to the lack of proper maintenance. We should not allow this to happen to this particular slice of history.
Ashok Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — In a recent speech, L.K. Advani spoke of the “providential escape” of N. Chandrababu Naidu and attributed it to the grace of Lord Venkateswara. The honorable deputy prime minister was misleading the nation, for I have it on the highest authority that the divinity responsible was either Lord Panduranga or Lord Murugappa; though some hold that the two worked as a team. To resolve this crucial issue, I invite Advani to a public debate.
Mukul Dube, New Delhi