Universal basic income possible for Sikkim, but difficult for India
Sir — The Sikkim Democratic Front has promised to implement a universal basic income scheme in the hill state if it comes back to power (“Worth trying”, Jan 15). The UBI is defined as a fixed amount of income transferred by the government to every citizen irrespective of economic wealth and employment status, and it might replace all other welfare schemes and subsidies. For a small state like Sikkim with a population of about 7,00,000, it may not be difficult to generate revenues for the project. But one is not sure if the scheme can be undertaken in the rest of the country.
Spot of bother
Sir — The chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, organized a mammoth rally in Calcutta. Scores of Opposition leaders from around the country attended the event. The turnout at the United India rally led by Banerjee is sure to give sleepless nights to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre. Under the BJP, the common people have had to face unspeakable miseries — the sudden decision to demonetize old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes being a case in point. Besides, the government has not done enough to rein in corruption in high offices, which was a central poll plank of the BJP in 2014. The United India rally will further help to consolidate the public mood against the BJP.
Sir — Leaders of over 20 Opposition parties and a few BJP rebels joined hands at the Brigade rally in Calcutta in a show of strength against the Narendra Modi-led government. It is, however, easy to come together for a day, but quite difficult to sustain that unity in the long run. Some of the Opposition leaders who spoke against the government and promised unity of Opposition parties have already started criticizing one other. For example, Sharad Yadav spoke about the alleged corruption during the purchase of Bofors guns under the Congress regime. Again, Arun Shourie, who was a vehement critic of the Congress and a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, also gave a rousing speech in Calcutta denouncing the present BJP government. Such leaders can change their policy to suit their political prospects.
The sole achievement of the meet, if anything, has been to dim the chances of the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, in becoming the prime ministerial candidate of the Opposition.
Benu Kumar Bose,
Sir — It would be imprudent if one gets too excited about the prospect of Opposition unity, simply because of the presence of a few leaders at Mamata Banerjee’s rally at the Brigade Parade Grounds in Calcutta. The moot point is whether all these leaders are equally opposed to the BJP. The answer is not encouraging for those in favour of a mahagathbandhan.
Even Mamata Banerjee, who organized the rally, had once said that some leaders of the BJP were not bad. This implies that the BJP would be acceptable to her, minus the pair of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Another leader present on the podium, Sharad Yadav, was in an alliance with the BJP till the other day. The unity among Opposition parties, which often have contrasting philosophies, will not be easy to achieve.
Sir — In a pluralist country like India, the role of regional parties is immense. The efforts of such parties to forge an alliance is, therefore, welcome. Our country cannot prosper without the greater involvement of state parties at the Centre. In light of this, the Brigade meet is definitely an important first step.
Chittaranjan, West Burdwan
Sir — That Mamata Banerjee could get so many Opposition leaders to attend her Brigade rally is an achievement in itself. Not many leaders in the country are capable of doing so. This goes to show that she is a respected figure in political circles.
By organizing such a big rally, she has been able to further bolster her image. If both the BJP and the Congress fail to put up credible performances in the next Lok Sabha elections, she can well become the prime minister of the country.
Sir — I have lived in Muzaffar Ahmed Street (formerly Ripon Street) for almost all my life. Even about 10-15 years ago, this neighbourhood used to be quite clean, but this is not the case any more. Of late, many new food outlets have opened in the area. These enterprises mostly dump garbage near the drains, effectively clogging them. Further, many of the outlets are eating into the road space, resulting in traffic jams. Also, there is the problem of illegal parking.
Sadly, the administration seems to be least interested in apprehending the law-breakers.