Exceptions prove the rule
Sir — Honest taxi-drivers who return cash left behind by absent-minded passengers are rare, but they aren’t unheard-of. So a similar incident in the United States of America involving a cab driver of Indian origin, Mohammed Hussain, would not have evoked much interest except for one thing (“Out of job, still a jewel”, Oct 25). Ever since September 11, 2001, the US has become increasingly intolerant of Muslims; as if, the entire community were responsible for the criminal acts of a few mad extremists. So when the media in the US goes ga-ga about an obscure Indian Muslim’s honesty, it does make one wonder. We have seen how, time and again, the US media has manipulated American public opinion, goading people into believing that everything “Muslim” is bad or evil. Will this little incident, which would have gone unreported had it not involved a celebrity jewellery designer, bring about a change in such bigoted attitudes now'
Nandini Ghosh, CalcuttaGirls are not for killing
Sir — Evidently, economic prosperity and education make no difference to Indians’ obsession with the male child (“Girl-child graveyard in capital’s cradle of rich”, Oct 22). The fact that in rich states like Delhi, Haryana and Punjab, the sex ratio is lower than elsewhere in the country and is getting more skewed with time, shows that despite the ban on it, prenatal diagnosis continues — at times under the very eyes of the police and lawmakers.
Blaming only the well-to-do in society, because they can afford pre-natal tests, is unfair. The problem is far more deep-rooted. Those who cannot afford such tests wait for the child to be born and then kill it if it is female. Such practices will continue as long as girls are considered liabilities and boys assets. Now, the birth of a girl leads to anxiety about dowry — a practice that has gone up with the increasing consumerism in society. If things are allowed to continue this way, the sex ratio is likely to tilt even further. The government has been trying to change the bias against the girl child and increase awareness with the help of advertisements campaigns. But India still has a long way to go before it can boast of greater parity between girls and boys.
Masood Md Sohail, Calcutta
Sir — Nilanjana S. Roy’s “How to kill a baby” (Oct 26) is confusing. She terms the abortion of a female foetus “killing” and evokes all the horror that goes with the premeditated murder of innocents.
Feminists and “pro-choice” liberals in the West maintain that foeticide, especially in the early stages, isn’t the same as killing a human being. They accuse anyone who opposes the right of the mother to terminate the pregnancy of being an obscurant or a right-wing reactionary. So why is female foeticide, “killing”' Or, is the abortion of a female foetus murder, and that of a male foetus, “choice”' The personal, it seems, is always political — be it in the bedroom or the womb.
Sandeep Mukherjee, Calcutta
Sir — Sexual discrimination is not a new phenomenon. Female foeticide and infanticide have been a part of society for so long we have become indifferent to them. It always happens to someone else, not us. Few of us tackle it even if we find it among people we know. This attitude must change. That, along with stringent action by the authorities, is the only way to solve the problem.
P.K. Mukhopadhyay, Calcutta
Sir — How can we boast of economic progress when women in our country are considered second-class citizens'
Arindam Banerjee, Calcutta
Sir — The prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, seems to have lost his raj dharma. Who would have thought that a veteran politician, in such an important office, would stoop so low' He appeared unfazed as the rape victim, Jamnibai, was paraded at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s rally in Bhopal (“Atal faces rape ‘parade’ ire”, Oct 22).
Worse, it was his party’s chief-ministerial candidate, Uma Bharti, who used the rape victim thus. This does not speak well for a so-called sanyasi. What will the BJP do next'
B. Poovathinkal, Elanji, Kerala
Sir — Indian politicians are not only immoral, they are also heartless. They think nothing of parading a rape victim at a rally for their narrow electoral gains. Focussing on the fact that crimes against women have gone up in the Digvijay Singh regime may be a good campaign tactic, but it could have been done differently. Not only was she denied justice, but Jamnibai has also now to cope with the trauma of being thus exposed. Bharti should have spared a thought for how rape victims are stigmatized in Indian society.
Shameek Bose, Calcutta
Sir — Human rights organizations in India should castigate the politicians who are using Jamnibai. If the BJP used her as an example of “all the ills of the Digvijay regime”, the Congress wants her to tell everybody how promptly the state government paid her compensation. The Congress wants to move the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission over the issue when it may be an offender itself. No wonder, Jamnibai has gone underground (“Vanishing act blow to rape politics”, Oct 23)'
Chaitali Chakraborty, Calcutta