Mind your business
Sir — The frequency with which Murli Manohar Joshi courts controversy would put a page three regular to shame. The decision of the human resources and development minister to replace the common admission test with a single national-level management entrance test, reflects a covert attempt to curb the autonomy of premier management institutes in the country (“Testing time for IIMs with Joshi”, Nov 10). As if saffronizing school text-books was not enough, Joshi has now turned his attention to compromising the quality of top B-schools in the country. Such a move would not only cripple these institutions by making them subservient to the Central government, it would jeopardize the career of thousands of students and stop them from contributing constructively to the country’s economy. Government interference is bound to bring with it politics, corruption and lack of accountability. But Joshi and his saffronite brotherhood probably wish precisely that to happen to the entire educational setup of the country.
Sanjib Mahato, Calcutta
A pressing concern
Sir — J. Jayalalithaa has done it again. She has proved that she will not brook any opposition, much less from the media. The Tamil Nadu legislature’s disregard for constitutional conventions is a blot on our democracy (“Jaya stings The Hindu”, Nov 8). Article 19 of our Constitution guarantees citizens the right to freedom of expression. In a mature democracy, the media is not supposed to take dictations from politicians. Unfortunately, this is not the case in India. Politicians use the media to suit their needs and try to throttle it the moment they strike a discordant note.
The time has come to codify legislators’ privileges. In a democracy, the ordinary citizen cannot be allowed to live at the mercy of the legislators. After all, it is the voters who send them to their offices. The electorate must have the right to recall their representatives if it becomes apparent that they no longer deserve to govern it. Above all, we must remember that if The Hindu is a victim today, it could be our turn tomorrow.
Ron Duarah, Dibrugarh, Assam
Sir — Those who are familiar with the state of affairs in Tamil Nadu will not be shocked by the government action against the Hindu journalists. The Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Essential Services Maintenance Act have become mere tools in the hands of Amma to be used against the opposition. That the Tamil Nadu police entered The Hindu premises without the necessary papers only reflects their unprofessionalism. The Hindu, thankfully, has the experience and resources to take care of its own interests and those of the public. However, the fact that the speaker of a legislature can deprive an individual of his personal liberty, without giving the victim a chance to explain his conduct, does not augur well for democracy.
Kangayam R. Rangaswamy, Madison, US
Sir — The highhandedness of the Tamil Nadu government and its arbitrary action against the scribes of The Hindu call for a repeal of the judicial powers vested in it. Why should people be dragged to court the moment they air contrary views' Given the alarming criminalization of politics, India may even have to reconsider the constitutional powers bestowed on any government.
Krishna Swamy, via email
Sir — Tamil Nadu’s “democratic dictatorship” has misused legislative immunity by its strictures on The Hindu. Even before, this immunity has been exploited when legislators guilty of misconduct in the house were allowed to go unpunished. The incident will further limit press freedom. Legislative proceedings should also be brought under the rule of law.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Dariba, Delhi
Sir — It was Vaiko first, then the editor of Nakeeran, and now The Hindu, a newspaper which recently celebrated its 125th anniversary in the presence of the prime minister himself. The Centre should give up its “watch and wait” policy and take suitable action to ensure that the media remains free in Tamil Nadu.
R. Sekar, Angul, Orissa
Sir — The media act as the watchdog of a democratic society. They have every right to report on the workings of the government. There is no doubt that reporters and editors can be hauled up in the court of law for false reporting. But given that politicians today are entirely self-absorbed creatures, concerned with their own prosperity, there is little chance of that happening. Hence the action taken against The Hindu should be condemned.
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore
Sir — First Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee banned the entrance of scribes in government hospitals in West Bengal. Then there were arrest orders against the journalists from The Hindu from the Tamil Nadu assembly. The incidents are scary. They indicate that the political regimes in both the states have opted for a hard line approach against legitimate criticism. The chief ministers of these states must remember that such actions bring them very close to an equally hawkish Centre.
Indrajit Sen, Calcutta
Sir — From what has happened in Tamil Nadu, I fear that sooner or later our politicians will begin to perform the dual role of being law-makers and interpreters of law. This is a dangerous trend and our learned judges should contain the malady in the interests of the people of this country. The crisis in Tamil Nadu is an opportunity for the judiciary to make our elected representatives conscious of their actual constitutional position.
Dipankar Bera, Howrah
Sir — What has escaped notice in The Hindu imbroglio is how deftly J. Jayalalithaa deflects public attention from the core issues. When farmers were agitating for Cauvery water and free electricity, the assault on Mani Shankar Aiyar and the attendant media hype helped focus attention on a non-issue.
Look at the government employees’ strike. The core issues were benefits and better salary. But her hardline stance completely misled the movement and reinstatement of the employees became the main issue.
M.G. Ramachandran was the master of this art of deception and deflection. Jayalalithaa has only perfected this art. The attack on Nakeeran was a signal to the media. The Hindu should have known that it was coming.
D. Chitra, Secunderabad