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Knowing the phenomenon

Sir — Swapan Dasgupta has rightly argued that, “in its bid to highlight the tragedy of the riot victims and Modi’s imperious personality, the media have completely overlooked the near-revolution in the culture of governance in Gujarat” (“Larger than life”, Dec 14). Narendra Modi, like a true statesman, had ignored communal politics and sold development as an issue in this year’s assembly elections till the so-called secular media and the Congress stoked communal passions. Why do the secular press and political parties forget that the Gujarat riots were not the only riots in post-Independence India? Is public memory so short as to forget the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and the Bhagalpur riots? There is something odd about the fact that only the Gujarat riots are raked up again and again, ignoring carnage and mass murder in states run by the so-called secular parties. In Gujarat, at least, both the communities involved had shown their respective muscles. If Modi is indeed a rabid communalist, why has there not been a single state-sponsored riot in Gujarat since 2002?

Yours faithfully,
Asoke C. Banerjee, Cambridge, US

Sir — Although Swapan Dasgupta is supposed to be an admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and his ideal of ahimsa, his writings seldom fail to make me angry. In his latest eulogy of Narendra Modi, he has called the Gujarat chief minister a phenomenon. Of course, Modi is a phenomenon — as a communalist and mass killer. Dasgupta himself is also turning into a phenomenon by blindly endorsing the saffron line.

Yours faithfully,
Nileen Putatunda, Calcutta

Sir — Swapan Dasgupta is a scholar and an intelligent writer. It is not easy to refute his claim that Narendra Modi is a phenomenon. Modi has indeed been sound on development. In fact, under him, Gujarat has economically progressed by leaps and bounds. However, Dasgupta does not need to be told that even the greatest economic and law-and-order achievements pale into insignificance against the State-sponsored violence of 2002. No matter how well Modi has performed or manages to perform in the future (provided he wins a third term), history will refuse to forget the events of 2002.

Yours faithfully,
K.K. Sanyal, Burdwan

Sir — Although the media have consistently painted Narendra Modi as communal and virulently anti-Muslim, it is perhaps wrong to single him out as the architect of the 2002 Gujarat riots. It should be remembered that there are Muslims in Gujarat who, in pre-poll surveys, had said that they would vote for Modi. This certainly would not have happened had they indeed looked upon the chief minister as the murderer of their friends, families and members of their community. After all, Modi has delivered very well on development, jobs and other economic indicators. And if Modi is so abominable, why has the Congress-led Central government not taken action against his ‘communal’ words and actions? Could it be that the Indian public has been fed lies and half-truths since March, 2002? The progress of Gujarat under Modi has made him a popular chief minister. The Congress was certainly guilty of provoking Modi through Sonia Gandhi’s “maut ke saudagar” speech. It should be remembered that Modi’s campaign rhetoric had been far from communal and divisive till that moment.

Yours faithfully,
N.C. Batabyal, Calcutta

Future perfect

Sir — India has possibly taken the boldest environmental initiative by a developing country in recent times through its intervention to break the deadlock at the climate conference in Bali. (“India saves the day at Bali”, Dec 16). The real threat to the Bali conference was, of course, not climate change itself but a UN subservient to the developed nations, particularly the obstinate United States of America. Ever since the Kyoto Protocol, deliberations on global warming had been saddled with roadblocks erected by the industrialized nations, especially the US. The US, in particular, wanted to sustain its greenhouse emissions at the cost of the developing world. Even the UN had to withstand arm-twisting by the industrialized nations though the G-77 countries were asking merely for their pound of flesh. Besides, G-77 has been more sinned against than it has sinned because they have not been granted the transfer of clean technologies so far.

The expiry of the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012 makes it ever more urgent to reach an agreement on climate change. The Bali conference has signalled some kind of maturity on the part of the international community. The lesson for India from Bali is that it is time to assert itself on the global stage rather than look to the UN for support.

Yours faithfully,
Surajit Das, Calcutta

Sir — The insistence of developing countries like India and China to be exempted from concrete targets and deadlines does not sound rational. Developing countries justifiably fear that their growth rates would slow down if they were to strictly regulate their fuel consumption and industrial emissions. However, the argument put forward by China and India is narrow, especially in the context of the disproportionate rise in their emission levels compared to the earlier counts. The yardstick for action on climate change must be the same for all countries, and it should be the present levels of emission of greenhouse gases. Neither the developed nor the developing world can afford to cut down emissions completely, but it should not be difficult to contain them. A failure on this count would produce a global disaster. Some discipline on the part of developing countries would also help the argument for the transfer of technology and financial aid from developed nations. At the next conference, it will be important to not only finalize the post-Kyoto plan of action but also to work on controlling the lifestyles of the rich in both developed and developing countries.

Yours faithfully,
C.R. Bhattacharjee, Calcutta

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