Tough journey; More trouble; Spot the culprits; Timely decision; Parting shot
• Sir - The Indian Railways has introduced several amenities in express trains to make journeys comfortable for passengers. But it remains indifferent to the ordeals of those who travel daily in local trains. Basic amenities like lavatories are absent. It is particularly difficult for long-distance commuters, such as those who travel on the Howrah-Midnapore local. As a result of this, passengers are often forced to disembark if they need to use the washroom. This is inconvenient for ill or aged travellers. The railways should immediately build lavatories in local trains.
Achyut Kumar Mukherjee,
• Sir - The recent spate of violence in Shillong has fostered a deep sense of insecurity among the Dalit Sikh minorities who have been living there for generations ("Shillong under curfew after clashes", June 2). The majority community in the hill station has often unleashed violence on minority groups - Bengali, Nepalese, Bihari and now Punjabi - with the intention of driving them away. Could the state government's miserable failure to control the violence be construed as a deliberate strategy to appease the majority?
• Sir - Shillong has a long history of ethnic violence. In the recent incident, tensions between the Khasi and the Dalit Sikh communities escalated further when the former believed fake reports about the decapitation of two Khasi boys by a group of Sikhs. The chief minister of Meghalaya, Conrad K. Sangma, should take the local community into confidence and address their concerns to avoid a recurrence of violence.
Vijay Dattatray Patil,
• Sir - It was distressing to read about the violence in Shillong. The government must work harder to maintain law and order there.
Spot the culprits
• Sir - Since the nationalization of banks in 1969, the Centre has taken several measures - constituting debt recovery tribunals, putting in place the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act - to prevent embezzlement. In spite of this, however, public money is repeatedly stolen by dishonest businessmen. As Ashok V. Desai said in his article, "Borrow and run" (June 5), it is the bank managers who are responsible for this.
Corruption almost always starts at the top. When a bank approves funds for a corporate house, the decisions - depending upon the quantum of money - are taken by the top brass. Lower-ranked managers rarely have a say. Often, the fear of getting transferred to remote places prevents honest managers from speaking up against wrongdoing. The collusion between the higher banking authorities and corrupt borrowers makes such large-scale embezzling possible.
Shyamal K. Sur,
• Sir - It is true that borrowing huge sums from Indian banks and fleeing abroad has become a trend among businessmen. But how can bank managers lend thousands of crores to unscrupulous borrowers unless they are ordered to do so from above? The article, "Borrow and run", does not mention anything in this regard. Merely punishing bank managers is not the solution. Moreover, it is unlikely that they would have any role in transporting the defaulters out of the country.
The idea of opening a safe deposit box in each house is not tenable at all. Given the abysmal rate of employment, theft will flourish.
• Sir - The decision to divest Sovan Chatterjee of the environment portfolio is welcome. Chatterjee has done nothing significant to protect the environment in Calcutta in particular and West Bengal in general. He even refused to believe the air pollution data provided by the consulate of the United States of America, and believed those provided by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board instead. He was not keen on protecting the East Calcutta Wetlands; he reportedly contemplated constructing a flyover in the area.
• Sir - By associating themselves with 'health' drinks like Horlicks - which have a high sugar content - and encouraging people to consume them, celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan have been doing a disservice to the programme of healthy nutrition promoted by the World Health Organization and the government of India. People should be encouraged to eat well-balanced meals instead.