It’s lovely to be branded
Sir — This is a time when brands rule, so what if we have never quite made sense of what it is all about. And thus the mad rush to transform everything into a brand, even a country of over a billion people (“Rum, tandoori and party pooper”, Nov 13). Being a brand has its advantages, no doubt. But when India becomes a brand that rings a bell from Krakatoa to Kamschatka, its advantages are likely to be reaped by everyone other than the Indians living in India. They, poor chaps, will still have to grapple with the harsh reality of droughts, famines, and lack of drinking water.
Sanjukta Mitra, Calcutta
Sir — The overwhelming desire of enjoying life to the hilt has resulted in a complete erosion of moral values. While the deprived resort to snatching, pilferage and robbery, as pointed out by Ashok Mitra (“Rich but unembarrassed”, Oct 31), the rich and the powerful indulge in corruption. Apart from creating a huge economic difference in society, this also makes the government poorer and some individuals richer by the day.
It is not that the government is unaware of the prevailing situation. Rajiv Gandhi had once commented that for every rupee provided for in the budget, a mere 16 paisa percolates to the beneficiaries of a proposed scheme. And yet, the government is either unable or unwilling to combat the menace. The inability or reluctance comes from political compulsions. Of late, the government has shown some initiative by suspending or terminating the service of officials found guilty of corruption. But does it really matter to those who have amassed wealth far in excess of what they could have earned as salaries' Severe punishment would be more effective than mere suspension or termination of service. Consistency, not tokenism is the need of the hour.
Faiz Ahmad, Calcutta
Sir — The hiatus between the rich and the poor has become a matter of exhibition for the rich here. Why else would swanky restaurants come up with all-glass fronts, so that the street-dwellers can watch the wealthy spend their money on expensive food that they can never dream of having' And this is apart from the millions of rupees blown away in the name of Durga Puja in the face of natural calamities.
Sujit De, Sodepur
Sir — Ashok Mitra captures the prevalent mood of Indian society well — that of willingly immersing oneself in consumerism, while remaining indifferent to the plight of the poor and the deprived. The zeal to possess luxury goods at any cost obviously widens the rich-poor divide.
In a consumerist society, not honesty or principles, but material possession becomes the identity of people. The underprivileged also succumb to the temptation of adopting dishonest means to reach their end.
Yours faithfully, Kajal Chatterjee, Calcutta
Home secretary, please
Sir — I noticed that in the report, “Visa hawk visit” (Nov 7), David Blunkett has been variously referred to as the interior minister and home minister of Britain. In fact, Blunkett is the home secretary of Britain.
Saptarshi Ghosh, Warwick, UK
Sir — “Atal offers US a way out” (Nov 14) informed readers that “the crisis in Iraq was grave and India hoped that a solution would be found to ameliorate it.” A “crisis” hardly calls for a solution in the way a problem or a puzzle does. And if one tries to “ameliorate” a crisis, it can only deepen, since “ameliorate” means “to make better” or “to improve”. The prime minister surely did not mean such a thing although Indian leaders always do their best to “ameliorate” the sufferings of Indians.
Indrajit Banerjee, Calcutta