Sir — If there’s one thing that little girls have loved through the decades, it must be fairy tales, where the beautiful maiden always gets the prince in the end (“No fairy-tale ending for your little one”, Nov 27). The link between success and beauty is established anything but subtly in the ageless tales of Cinderella and Snow White. But while American social scientists are not willing to take this connection lying down any more, Indians are indifferent to the report of the researchers. This is probably because we continue to regard fairy-tales as childhood paraphernalia equivalent to toys, and pay no attention to their formative role in children’s psyche. In a similar way, we continue to turn a blind eye to the flourishing business in fairness creams. In stark contrast is the way in which the West has begun reacting to young girls’ idolizing of Britney Spears. The research paper on fairy tales may have come in a little late, but it is never too late to sit up and take note.
Ananya Ray, Calcutta
Sir — The decision of the West Bengal chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, to ban the media from hospitals shows where liberty and democracy are headed in this state. That corruption is rampant among doctors and hospital staff in government hospitals is well known. But its effects have been guarded by the administration. With this the order, Bhattacharjee has proved that he does not want the corruption to be exposed, fearing that it will harm his government’s interests. If this were not so, would not Bhattacharjee have put more emphasis on punishing the guilty who are shielding the truth'
Avishek Ganguly, Bally
Sir — Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s ban on the media entering hospitals in the state is quite absurd. The government-run hospitals’ inability to provide quality healthcare to patients has been exposed, and it is the media that deserves credit for this. Nobody can say that the journalists entered hospitals in order to create chaos. Rather, their efforts to expose the terrible conditions of state hospitals will help protect the interests of the poor and hapless patients.
The editorial, “Guard the chaos” (Nov 6), asks a pertinent question of Bhattacharjee, who justifies his decision by referring to the embargo on the media’s entry into hospitals in the West. Would the notorious elements, who rule the roost in government hospitals in the state, have flourished unchecked in these countries' The chief minister forgets that the condition in government hospitals — the pervasive mismanagement, callousness, corruption, lawlessness, and the complete lack of accountability — has deteriorated during the Left Front’s rule. This truth seems too bitter for the government to accept, which is why it sought to impose such a ban.
Niloy Sinha, Murshidabad
Sir — The ban on the press inside hospitals is meant to cover up the government’s misdeeds and the disarray in the public healthcare system. The media must have free access to information, especially on crucial issues such as health. In this case, the government is not only cramping the media’s functioning, but it is also hoodwinking the people by concealing facts.
Sudhi Ranjan Saha, Darjeeling
Sir — The media is one of the pillars of democracy. But it is treated rather poorly in West Bengal. First journalists are beaten up in one of the oldest government hospitals in Calcutta and then the chief minister bans the media from entering hospitals. Was the ban imposed to protect the political goons who attacked journalists or to divert attention from the issue'
Sachindra Nath Mitra, Calcutta
Sir — An inefficient health department and insensitive doctors are to blame for the regular loss of lives in government hospitals in Bengal. It is thanks to the media that lately, we have come to know of such gross maladministration. But instead of addressing the problem at hand, the government and the doctors are trying to shift the blame on to others. The ban on the media in hospitals is a fallout of this strategy. In the circumstances, the claim of the state director of health services that nowadays, complaints of medical negligence arise after almost every hospital death is utterly ludicrous. It is only the bungling healthcare bureaucrats and the medical lobby which is crying foul after the media exposé.
Death due to medical negligence is not unheard of in the West. Although the value of human life can never be assessed in monetary terms, surviving victims are adequately compensated. More important, errant doctors never go unpunished in the West. The delinquent physician loses his license, either temporarily or for good — the best punishment possible. This is the precedent from the West that the Bengal government should follow.
Kunal Saha, Columbus, US
Who are his countrymen'
Sir — Geetha Krishnan has asked in her letter if it is Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani’s fault if many of his countrymen have sold their souls to fascists (“Fascism comes calling”, Nov 2). Certainly not, but who are Geelani’s countrymen' Geelani has said, “J&K is a disputed territory…if the people of Kashmir want azadi, I’m with them”. Those who subscribe to the ideal of azad Kashmir are also those who sympathize with the terrorists, sponsored by fascists from across the border. There shouldn’t be any doubts over who sold their souls and to whom.
Ajoy Roy, Shillong