This refers to your Cover Story ("New Agenda", June 18). We welcome the new government headed by Manmohan Singh. In a historic step, Sonia Gandhi declined to be Prime Minister. She needs to be congratulated for this mature and wise decision. At one stroke, she took the wind out of the Bharatiya Janata Party's sails. Manmohan Singh had an enviable record as Union Finance Minister. He pushed through economic reforms with an approach that was open, straightforward and professional. Nobody can doubt that he has the national interests at heart.
Bijoy Raj GuhaJabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government faces many tough challenges from within and without. The mandate is for a change. The Common Minimum Programme constitutes a "new agenda" with six basic principles of governance.
The Prime Minister has to play a balancing act, keeping the coalition partners together to achieve targets and give a human face to reforms.
The damage done to education by the previous government needs to be reversed. A comprehensive farm policy with investment in agriculture, with an emphasis on non-farm employment opportunities is necessary. Technology has to be used with required structural changes to benefit the common man.
A. Jacob SahayamThiruvananthapuram
The article "Coalition pangs" (June 18) has brought out the initial hiccups faced by the UPA government. Although the government formation exercise went on smoothly, except for objections from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Ram Vilas Paswan, the UPA should have avoided the induction of "tainted" leaders into the government.
But the positive aspect is the role played by the Left in the formation of a secular government, which has not allowed others to flex their muscles.
Mulayam Singh Yadav's supporters should have been included in the government since the Samajwadi Party played an important role in defeating the communal forces in Uttar Pradesh.
HariVirudhunagar, Tamil NaduProtecting whistle-blowers
This is with reference to the article "Defending the whistle-blower" (June 18). Integrity at the top is an imperative to avert victimisation of the whistle-blower. Needless to say, no law can protect whistle-blowers in the private sector. All complaints would be treated as "motivated or vexatious" there.
R. SajanAluva, Kerala
A whistle-blower acts like a torchbearer in the fight against the darkness of corruption. Since such selfless persons are subjected to pressure and torture, they should be given proper protection under the law. Any law on protecting the whistle-blower should ensure not only his/her anonymity but also protection in the event of accidental leakage of his/her name. The case of Satyendra Dubey reveals the gravity of the situation.
Pollsters got it all wrong because even the biggest survey contacted only 51,000 people, while 350 million voters exercised their votes ("Pollsters versus voters", June 18). The media's judgment was clouded by their peers. They, as all the prosperous, chattering classes, wanted Atal Bihari Vajpayee to win.
This is with reference to the article "Astrology on a pedestal" (June 18). One can very well look at the issue as a matter of freedom of expression, especially academic freedom. There is a school of thought in the United States, which tilts towards academic freedom when it comes into conflict with the issue of "separation of Church and state". Given this, while decrying the irrationality of astrology, one would have to cede grudgingly to its propagation through academic means.
Raghuram EkambaramNew DelhiIraq
Aijaz Ahmed provides an honest and clear argument in his essay "Empire's Nightmare" (June 18). Applying the political theory of nationalism and imperialism to the current political situation in Iraq, the writer seeks to present the Iraqis' struggle as a form of "new-wave resurgent nationalism" or "neo-nationalism". The Iraqis have shown the world what it is to face foreign rule, which the entire world has criticised as "uncivil" and "immoral".
The war was started under the pretext of ousting Saddam Hussein who had stored weapons of mass destruction in his country (It has been proven that the reasons were farcical). While the predators' proclaimed aim was to bring a just, peaceful and equitable reign in Iraq, they ended up brutalising the whole country.
Stuti SaxenaNainital, Uttaranchal
The barbaric abuse of prisoners by the U.S. authorities in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, Afghanistan and at home in America reminds me of the horrendous tales of Idi Amin's Uganda ("The American Gulag", June 18). U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has owned up full responsibility for the Abu Ghraib prison abuse, saying, "I am accountable for them." He should have resigned immediately after taking this. But he did not. Then what did he mean by the word "accountable"?
K.P. RajanMumbaiCyber crime
The article on cyber crime by the veteran policeman of yesteryear, R.K. Raghavan, was an eyeopener ("Catching the Cyber Criminal", June 18). The article will be useful not only for the police fraternity, but also for modern IT technocrats.
Vinod TuliReceived on e-mailVerdict 2004
Your Editorial "India Shines" (June 4) was engrossing and the analysis in-depth. The Indian voter has given a clear, decisive verdict against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). In its haste to retain power by banking on the catchy "India Shining" phrase and the "Vajpayee Factor", the BJP had ignored the silent majority's wish to live with dignity (with food, shelter, water and employment).
Sonia Gandhi, who has created history by proving that she is not after power, has led the nation's oldest party back to power. The victory of the Left parties in their strongholds of Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal, against both the Congress and the NDA is a "heartening feature".
The Congress should take immediate steps to revamp the organisation in States where it lost ground, particularly in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Maharashtra.
Bidyut Kumar ChatterjeeFaridabad
Your Editorial rightly warns that the prospects of the Congress-led dispensation will depend to a great extent on its acting speedily and intelligently on the realisation that this election was lost by the NDA on mass livelihood issues.
Your Editorial also predicts that the Congress-led government has got a sporting chance of completing a full five-year term if it functions on the basis of a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) and respects the spirit of the mandate.
Now that the CMP, which promises "reform with a human face", has been formally released by the Manmohan Singh government, it brightens the government's chances of survival. Having worked out a bold programme on paper, the United Progressive Alliance must start implementing it in a progressive and time-bound fashion.
While the commitment to increase spending on health, infrastructure building and agriculture is commendable, the question is: where the money will come from.
Onkar ChopraNew DelhiCongress comeback
The article "Misreading the mandate" (June 4) highlights the wrong interpretations of verdict 2004 by the BJP. This happened in the case of the 1999 verdict also. The party presumed that it could rule the country for ever. As a result, it changed its ideology and went against what the people desired of it. The same is the case of the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh. At the same time, Naveen Patnaik managed to win the people's trust. The emergence of Sonia Gandhi as a national leader is the main outcome of Verdict 2004. The BJP has to reckon with this, notwithstanding its objections to her foreign origin.
C.P. Velayudhan NairKochi
The results of the 13th Lok Sabha elections are unprecedented. Nobody had predicted the victory of the Congress-led coalition in this much-hyped poll. All the opinion and exit polls had predicted the victory of the BJP-led NDA coalition. But there was resentment among the voters against the anti-farmer, anti-poor policies of the NDA government. The BJP tried to create a "feel good" myth on the basis of statistics and advertisements, but it was rejected by the cautious voters of the country.
The NDA government failed to create employment opportunities and contributed to an environment of fear among the minorities. These were the major reasons for its defeat. The NDA was drubbed in key States such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Hopefully the Congress-led government will solve the major problems facing the country, especially unemployment, poverty, overpopulation, corruption and riots. The Congress should learn a lesson from its past mistakes, which kept it out of power for eight years. It should also revive its organisation. The BJP should also analyse its defeat and play the role of an effective Opposition.
Akhil KumarNew Delhi
This referes to the article "Liberation at Last" (June 4). How does the author define liberation? Why does the article not talk about the liberation of millions of people of Bihar, who do not even have the basic necessities of life? There is no rule of law in Bihar, but the article supports the Rashtriya Janata Dal just because it is a secular party. What about corruption and the daily killing of people? If communalism is bad, then so is casteism. We should criticise both.
If the Left parties' economic policies are right, then why is the West Bengal government inviting foreign capital into the State? With the Left ruling West Bengal for more than 25 years, why does the State not have the highest standard of living in the country?
If the people have rejected the NDA, they have not accepted the Congress and the Left parties either. It is mainly the anti-incumbency factor that has led to this verdict. Both the Congress and the BJP lost the elections in States where they previously ruled.
Raj MahtoReceived on e-mailTransit of Venus
This refers to your article "A celestial spectacle" (June 4). As a teacher of Physics, I know that explaining the phenomenon of the transit of Venus is quite difficult.
But the author has done it in a lucid language. Though the inferior and superior conjunctions of Venus have been explained very clearly, an illustrative diagram could have been included.