The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

Colour blind

Sir ' The 'Reds' and their supporters need to be congratulated for the landslide victory in West Bengal ('Take it as red', May 12). But is the judgment of the majority always right' In his article, Ashok Mitra remarks that 'The millions who constitute the electorate in West Bengal are not exactly morons'. The voters in Bengal may not be morons but they certainly seem to have become addicted to Marxism and lost their ability to vote for the right party. After all, before voting for the Left Front, they should have stopped to consider whether the people have benefited from communist rule in over two decades. The recent spate of development in the industrial sector hardly balances the closed factories and rising unemployment in the state. The 'remarkable transformation of the agrarian sector' carried out by the Left Front cannot escape criticism either. For instance, the panchayati raj has proved to be more a bane than a boon.

The reason for the success of the left in Bengal can be attributed to the absence of an effective opposition. This is a matter of great shame and it explains why people have been voting for left parties all these years. Till the people gather the courage to bring about a change of government, Bengal would continue to be a bastion of the Marxists.

Yours faithfully,
P. Banerjee, Durgapur

Sir ' Ashok Mitra is wrong in believing that a communist government is the best that the people of West Bengal can get. Mitra contends that people were so annoyed with the 'discriminatory over-zealousness' of the Election Commission that they came out to vote for the left in larger numbers this time. This is a facile argument, to say the least. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is supported by a large number of people ' government employees who never work, school teachers who spend more time at the party office than in schools, and unemployed youth who are lured into the ranks with the promise of jobs. Little wonder then that the party has been winning elections, no matter how many right-minded people vote against them. The communists have stifled the freedom of speech and belief wherever they have come to power, be it in China or in the former Soviet Union. They have also ruined the economies of the countries they rule through their faulty policies ' the plight of present-day Russia is there for all to see. Similarly, the damage that the communists have wrought in Bengal will only be clear once they are voted out of power.

Mitra mentions a letter published in the Economic and Political Weekly which said that the only way to ensure free and fair polls in Bengal is to import voters from other states. This is precisely what has been going on in the last 30 years. The party had smuggled in voters from Bangladesh to rig elections earlier. The CPI(M) managed to win this time in spite of the stringent measures of the EC simply because it has cast its net of terror far and wide and forced people to vote for them.

Yours faithfully,
Anomit Ghosh, Kharagpur

Sir ' Ashok Mitra says that in order to lessen the burden of the unemployed, 'the state must retain control over the framework of industrial planning.' But the recent trends in the state government's planning indicate that it is going precisely the other way, despite rising unemployment rates. The dismal job scenario in present-day Bengal is the direct result of the policies followed by the left parties. Mitra seems to be of the opinion that the state government might 'cajole the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre to instruct the public financial institutions directly under the control of the Centre to allot [it] vastly increased funds. ' But can this really be done, especially since the Centre is unwilling to allot more funds to one state than others'

Yours faithfully,
Asoke C. Banerjee, Calcutta

Changing tastes

Sir ' In 'A managed media' (May 13), Ramachandra Guha laments the failure of the media in performing the triple duties of informing, educating and entertaining. Guha is right in saying that these duties have been superseded by the 'duty to titillate'. Unfortunately, Guha leaves the issue at that and does not analyse the reasons behind the tendency towards the commodification of news, something which would have provided an answer to this particular question. The fact remains that this kind of news is served to the public because there is a demand for it. In other words, while the media might be condemned for indulging in sensationalism, one must take into account the demand of modern consumers who have developed a taste for news of this kind.

Yours faithfully,
Abhinav Walia, Shillong

Sir ' Ramachandra Guha argues that the media today is controlled by the rich. But what Guha forgets to mention is that in order to survive in the face of fierce competition, the media have no other option but to go by what the market says. As a result, ethical journalism has given way to entertainment-oriented reporting. However, Guha's contention that the media in Delhi are more prone to fall prey to the 'the seductions of power' than their counterparts in Chennai or Calcutta sounds a little far-fetched because what determines the quality of news is the market rather than the moral standards of journalists.

Yours faithfully,
Joyeeta Dey, Calcutta

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