Dial a wrong number
Sir — The Indian prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, decided to ring in changes by launching a mobile phone network in Nagaland (“Vajpayee dials to connect Kohima”, Oct 28). If he thinks this will solve the problems of the state, he is really naive. An inhospitable terrain, insurgency and ethnic violence have stunted development in Nagaland. The situation has been further aggravated by the indifference of successive Central governments. Vajpayee’s overtures merely reflect the myopic attitude of New Delhi towards the northeastern states. Formulating a comprehensive policy to weed out the problems of militancy and unemployment, and comprehensive education and healthcare programmes are the need of the hour. Instead,Vajpayee has resorted to meaningless sops to mask the Centre’s failure. The prime minister should know that such blatant populism will not solve the state’s pressing concerns — real issues need more pragmatic solutions.
Nilima Mukherjee, Calcutta
Sir — Rudrangshu Mukherjee is absolutely right in castigating Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hound (“Abandon all hope”, Oct 18). The controversy over Amitava Lala’s directive on rallies is a case in point. Initially, the chief minister of West Bengal set a bad example by maintaining a studied silence over the issue. Taking advantage of his non-committal stance, his party colleagues in Alimuddin Street moved court and obtained a stay order. But the common man was steadfast in his support of the directive. And sensing this divergence with the popular will, Bhattacharjee did a quick volte face. First he banned rallies within hospital premises. He followed this up with a draft which sought to regulate the timing and location of all rallies, processions and meetings in the city.
Bhattacharjee’s inconsistency should not be taken as mere political whim. It only confirms the point Mukherjee makes in his article — the dream of a new Bengal under a firm and resolute new leader has gone sour.
Govinda Bakshi, Budge Budge
Sir — The two articles, by Rudrangshu Mukherjee (“Abandon all hope”) and Sukanta Chaudhuri (“How should little children die'”, Oct 19) which followed each other on two consecutive days, were both commendably bold. They should provoke concerned and intelligent citizens to raise their voices against the distorted mindsets of politicians and administrators. Sadly, a large section of the public has become indifferent to social malady and human distress. This is what leads to the perpetuation of deception, fraud, corruption and lack of accountability in society. It is time the people of the state demanded a minimum level of service from the administration.
Mihir K. Goswami, Calcutta
Sir — Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has betrayed the promise he held out when he first took office — of being a messiah of change. He had promised to put the interests of the people over party ideology. Unfortunately, his opposition to the ban on rallies clearly shows that the chief minister has failed to keep his word.
On the other hand, his predecessor, Jyoti Basu, was not one for similar double-speak. He was a straight-forward communist who valued his party over everything else. Thus, nothing has changed since the days of the patriarch. Despite a change of guard, the party rules supreme in hapless Bengal.
Dipti Banerjee, Calcutta
Sir — Rudrangshu Mukherjee’s assessment of West Bengal’s chief minister is one-sided, biased and out of touch with ground reality. Moreover, the criticism of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s ability and accountability is uncalled for. The chief minister is not only a public servant, he is also a loyal party worker. So long as he has his party’s support and the people’s mandate, no one can question his right to continue as chief minister. In fact, Bhattacharjee has shown exemplary courage by striking a balance between pro-poor, pro-labour policies and not being anti-industry. He has been sincerely trying to revive the state — industrially, technologically and culturally.
The picture, “Rallying point” (Oct 18), showing him in a Confederation of Indian Industry-sponsored golf cart, highlights Bhattacharjee’s industry-friendly side. There is no need to worry about the future of Bengal — it is in the safe hands of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
Phani Bhushan Saha, Calcutta
The long goodbye
Sir — The editorial, “ Bye Bye Birdie” (Oct 25), was interesting. The service rendered by the Concorde — the world’s supersonic aircraft — can be described as exceptional. Its ability to fly at double the speed of sound, at a height of 55,000 feet, will remain an unique technological feat. The decision to ground the “queen of the skies”, owing to non-availability of passengers and high operating costs, will be unbridgeable in the history of human aviation.
Anand Sensharma, Calcutta
Sir — In all the commotion of bidding farewell to the Concorde, we may be forgetting the darker side of this human invention (“Concorde roars into supersonic sunset”, Oct 25). It has been proved that this aircraft damaged the earth’s ozone layer while the sonic boom it emitted was a source of immense sound pollution. Those residing near airports were exposed to various health hazards as a result of the Concorde’s operations. Instead of glorifying this awesome machine, we should consider its retirement as good riddance.
Pratap Mitra, Calcutta
Sir — There is no need to mourn the farewell of the Concorde. Neither is there any need to pine for a similar replacement. After all, the aircraft was the exclusive playground of the rich and the famous. It is sad that despite the many strides made by human civilization, man has not been able to use technology to bridge the great divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.
Jeevan Sharma, Calcutta