Trauma of being Lynched
Sir — The media has ensured that Iraqi lawyer, Mohammed al-Rehaief, and the young American prisoner of war, Jessica Lynch, whom he had gone out of his way to save, will not be forgotten in a hurry. Relentless television coverage, a barrage of reports and renewed controversy have revived Lynch in public memory. In the course of it all, unfortunately, the true colours of America have once again been revealed. Lynch had an overdose of media hype , but unlike her saviour, one cannot remember her ever going public in acknowledgement of Iraqi kindness. The reasons were obvious. Iraqis had to be shown as villains. For the same reason, there is an all-out effort to ensure that the current stalemate between Lynch and al-Rehaief is confined to an obscure corner in newspapers (“Jessica snubs Iraqi saviour”, Oct 30). But now that both Lynch and al-Rehaief have penned their accounts, it will be easier for people to draw their own conclusions about America’s sense of ethics.
Shaoni Das, Ranchi
Sir — The editorial, “Empty vessels” (Oct 27), does not shy away from openly advocating in favour of Sonia Gandhi. Such editorials bear a great import, especially as elections are round the corner. Sonia Gandhi’s image as a foreigner is largely her own doing. Even after decades in India, she still sounds hopeless while delivering a speech in Hindi. Besides, she has never cared to explain why she had shunned an Indian citizenship as a Nehru-Gandhi bahu till soon after Sanjay Gandhi’s death when she suddenly changed her mind. Quite obviously, the death of the youngest scion had evened out Rajiv Gandhi’s road to becoming the next dynastic ruler of the country. Sonia Gandhi’s acceptance of Indian citizenship was thus more an opportunistic, than patriotic, choice.
Sonia Gandhi may have the support of those who believe that she is the mantle-bearer of the Congress legacy. But they should not forget that she would then also have to carry the moral responsibility for Emergency, the Bofors scandal and other such political aberrations. A prime ministerial candidate should represent the nation’s hopes and aspirations. It is difficult to visualize Sonia Gandhi in that important role.
Tapan Das Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — The saffron brigade’s obsession with Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origins raises several questions. If loyalty to a nation is determined by a person’s birth on its soil, then most of our present leaders should have been as committed to the country as Mohandas Karamchand had been. Second, if the state has already made up its mind about barring foreigners from holding public office, then it should consider the rationality of granting citizenship to foreigners. Third, Peru’s sovereignty was not sacrificed when an ethnic Japanese, Alberto Fujimori, became its president. In contrast, consider how Jawaharlal Nehru had compromised India’s sovereignty by inviting third party intervention in Kashmir. Fourth, if Indians are so averse to Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origins, they should, ideally, stop using all things foreign.
Opponent political parties can contest Sonia Gandhi’s claims to the prime minister’s chair on grounds that she is from the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. But to disqualify her because she is a foreigner is to be uncivil.
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur
Sir — India should follow the policy of the United States of America which debars people of foreign origin from occupying high positions in the public office. Besides, it is time the Congress reconciled itself to the fact that it has been losing out because it continues to project Sonia Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate. It could better its prospects if Sonia Gandhi was restricted to being a functional member.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi
Sir — The article, “Jindal races ahead in Louisiana” (Oct 7), serves as a timely reminder. Like Bobby Jindal, there are many Indians who occupy high posts in foreign countries, be it in politics, business or education. There is no reason why something similar cannot take place here. Those who speculate on a potential disaster if Sonia Gandhi becomes prime minister of India should probably learn from Jindal’s story.
Sebastian Lourdu, Asansol
Too short a time
Sir — The report, “Army officer commits suicide” (Oct 28), alleges that an army officer committed suicide due to the behaviour of his superior officers. The matter has been investigated into and there is no truth in the allegation. Lieutenant Sumit Bhat had joined his unit on September 2003, on being commissioned from the Officers’ Training Academy, Chennai, and after having availed three weeks’ leave. Like all newly commissioned officers, Bhat was being groomed to become a good regimental officer. He had proceeded on a short leave on October 14, statedly due to his mother’s illness and was due to report on October 28. During the time Bhat was in the unit, he was looked after well and was not under any pressure from any of his superiors. The time was too short for any pressure to develop. In fact, the unit had been doing its best to make him feel an important member of the team. It had also gone out of its way to grant him leave so soon.
S.N. Mukerjee, chief public relations officer, ministry of defence, Calcutta